Help me replace my digital player/vault

Zuman

Active Member
Feb 25, 2023
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Hello, All. I'm thinking about replacing my oldest current component, my NAD M50.2 digital player/vault, which I've had since 2017. The M50.2 stores my digital music files on a 2TB internal low-speed spinning drive with a mirrored backup and incorporates a high resolution network music player. It was designed to store 24/192 files, and can receive files ripped from CDs (it has a built-in optical drive ) and also from a network connection with my computer (e.g., I can download HDTracks files to my laptop, then copy and paste them to the M50.2's internal drive). Ripping CDs is automatic: you simply insert a CD, choose whether you want to play it or rip it, and that's it. It uses the BluOS operating system and is also a Roon Endpoint. I believe one of the M50.2's strengths is its buffer system, whereby both data retrieved from its internal drives and CDs is read and extensively buffered before being processed and forwarded to the external DAC. I have both the BluOS and Roon apps on my phone and tablet and can use either to play my library. The M50.2 also has a color touchscreen on the front panel which displays art from albums being played and accepts command inputs.
The M50.2 is integrated into my system like this:
-The M50.2 is connected to an Ethernet switch with an M101 Nova LAN cable. The switch is connected to an internet router.
-Also connected to that Ethernet switch is a dedicated Intel NUC running Roon ROCK (this, I believe, allows the NUC and the M50.2 to "talk to each other" via a cleaner path than if they connected directly through my internet router).
-The M50.2 outputs to my Okto Research dac8 Stereo DAC via both AES/EBU and S/PDIF cables (I can choose which I want to use).
-The Okto DAC outputs via balanced Hapa Audio cables to my Modwright KWH 225i integrated hybrid amp.
I mostly listen to music stored internally on the M50.2's hard drives, although I sometimes stream Tidal through Roon. I primarily use Roon for management and as my interface and have had a lifetime subscription since its inception. However, I certainly don't mind switching to something else.
The M50.2 was part of NAD's "Masters" series, and was pretty hot stuff when it came out seven years ago. I cannot identify significant specific deficits, but I feel there have to have been improvements in other products launched since its introduction, especially, I'd think, in transparency. I'm not looking for the ne plus ultra, but I'd consider anything up to US$10k.
Thanks!
 
Suggest looking at Lucas Domansky music server. Ample of threads on this forum and friendly members who can share their experiences.
It'll also replace your Roon ROCK which helps offset the cost.
 
For $10,000, you can get a lot of different products that would probably give you more of a sonic upgrade.

I'm also a bit unclear on how your system is currently connected based on your bio.

Is it M50.2 to miniDSP SHD streamer/Dirac processor to NAD M32 amp? Or is it just M50.2 to M32?

Regardless, if I were upgrading your system, I probably won't upgrade the M50.2 unless there is a specific reason to (for example, you have a favorite DAC that just doesn't have great synergy with M50.2 (because it can't handle the jitter or RF noise) but often, you're better off upgrading the DAC still than to upgrade the M50.2). Yes, there are obviously better music streamer/servers out there but I just don't think it's the best bang for the buck.
 
For $10,000, you can get a lot of different products that would probably give you more of a sonic upgrade.

I'm also a bit unclear on how your system is currently connected based on your bio.

Is it M50.2 to miniDSP SHD streamer/Dirac processor to NAD M32 amp? Or is it just M50.2 to M32?

Regardless, if I were upgrading your system, I probably won't upgrade the M50.2 unless there is a specific reason to (for example, you have a favorite DAC that just doesn't have great synergy with M50.2 (because it can't handle the jitter or RF noise) but often, you're better off upgrading the DAC still than to upgrade the M50.2). Yes, there are obviously better music streamer/servers out there but I just don't think it's the best bang for the buck.
Ah. Sorry...I guess I have some updating to do. I no longer have the M32; I replaced it with a Modwright KWH 225i. Because of that, I'm now using an Okto Research dac8 Stereo DAC, rather than the M32's internal DAC. I sold the miniDSP. (Irrelevant to this question, I also upgraded my analog side, and now have a Clearaudio Performance DC turntable with Tracer arm and Hana ML cart going into a Modwright PH 9.0XT phono stage).

To answer your question directly, though, it's M50.2 to Okto dac8 to Modwright KWH225i.

Thanks!
 
Last edited:
To answer your question directly, though, it's M50.2 to Okto dac8 to Modwright KWH225i.
So yeah, if you look at the stereophile review, you can see that feeding Okto DAC8 USB has lower levels of jitter compared to other sources. So I suspect if you upgrade M50.2 to a more modern digital streamer, you probably would get slightly better sound out of the Okto DAC8. But it's really hard to know until you try.
On the other hand, you might also be better off sticking to M50.2 and using a different DAC to feed Modwright.
Because $10k is a lot of money for a DAC. Or you can also buy a streamer/DAC from Aurender/Lumin or other manufacturers for $10k to replace the M50.2 & the Okto DAC8
 
I previously owned a NAD M50.2 so I know exactly what you mean. It was a nice piece of kit, and I had always hoped that NAD would eventually come out with an upgraded version with solid state drives to replace the mechanical ones. I loved the built-in CD player/ripper and was pretty happy with the BluOS ecosystem, which I found easy to navigate.

I switched to the Antipodes CX/EX combo, which was a nice improvement, and then to the Antipodes K50. I'm sure you can find a secondhand K50 (the non-G4 version) for $7-8k. Like the NAD, it has an AES output option but it also has the benefit of acting as a Roon Core.

Since you seem to be straddling the fence on whether you need to really replace the M50.2, one other option would be upgrade the ethernet switch. The Pink Faun clock-modded Melco switch with dual Farad power supplies made a huge difference in the sound of my Antipodes and so it might be a nice addition in you want to keep the NAD.
 

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