NAD M3 Datasheet
The Masters Series – M3 Dual Mono Integrated Amplifier
180 watts X 2, 10Hz – 20kHz, with <0.03% THD,
both channels driven into 8 or 4 Ohms
The M3 is NAD’s concept of the ideal musical companion, capable of
transporting the listener to that place where the music simply exists in its
own perfect space. For this task we have pushed classical analog circuit
design to unprecedented levels of performance. The total lack of audible
noise and distortion is the result of some very sophisticated analog
engineering, and rather surprisingly, the use of digital control.
Dynamic power of 280 watts at 8 Ohms, 480
watts at 4 Ohms, and 785 watts at 2 Ohms
Dual stage high current/high voltage power
Freed of the constraints of traditional analog switches, NAD’s Director of
Advanced Development, Bjorn Erik Edvardsen devised an architecture
using precision 1% resistors controlled by digital switches for all the
level adjustments required for volume control, balance control and tone
control. (Yes we still believe in tone controls – more on that later.) Input
selection is via precision sealed reed relays. A major advantage of this
architecture, in addition to its extremely precise performance, is the ability
to place controls in the most advantageous physical position within the
circuit. The signal never has to travel to the front panel for switching, as
with traditional amplifier designs. Getting to the infinitesimal levels of
noise and distortion of the M3 requires very careful circuit layout, as only
tiny changes in the signal path can have large effects on performance.
Keeping signal paths as short as possible is also greatly aided by the use
of SMD (miniature surface mount) components and multi-layer PCBs
(circuit boards).
Dual Mono topology
Twin NAD Custom-Made “Holmgren” Toroidal
Ultra precise multi-stage electronic volume
control using discreet resistors
7 inputs, including 1 balanced XLR
Tape/Zone 2 output (independent source
selection, no volume control)
Speakers A + B with custom 5 way binding
Biamp mode with selectable 40, 60, 80, 100 Hz
crossover frequency on Pre Out 1
Powered subwoofer
Main Amp input
The design brief reads: “The industrial design must create a physical
presence that is powerful, dynamic, and solid, yet refined and elegant”.
We wanted a design that will still look fresh and new a decade from now, a
design with classic proportions and understated details. We also wanted
an amplifier that was not only easy to operate, but also very flexible and
complete in its control options.
Remote Bass and Treble controls with Spectral
Tilt option
Remote Balance control with 0.5 dB steps
Selectable Mono, Left, Right, and Stereo
RS-232 interface for advanced custom
12V Trigger for advanced control options, 1
3.5mm IR Control jacks, 1 In and 2 Out
Detachable AC cord
M3 System Remote Control
ZR 3 second zone remote
Unlike many high performance amplifiers, the M3 includes a full suite of
convenience features. Speaker switching for two pairs of speakers and
very flexible tone controls are provided, as is a Zone 2 output with its own
independent set of commands and dedicated ZR 3 remote control. Front
panel controls use a multi-function knob and buttons to quickly navigate
all amplifier functions. All operating conditions are clearly displayed on a
2 line dot matrix VFD display. Direct access is available to many functions
via the SRM 3 remote handset. The SRM 3 handset also features basic
controls for the matching NAD DVD/SACD player.
Performance features include a multi-stage precision volume attenuator
with 0.5dB steps and a range of 87.5dB, a remote balance control with
0.5dB steps, and a Mode control that allows stereo, left only, right only,
and mono settings. Tone controls offer bass and treble
adjustment, as well as a ‘spectral tilt’ option that is highly
effective at correcting the tonal balance of many recordings
by simultaneously increasing the bass and decreasing the
treble (and vice versa) to create a warmer (or cooler) balance.
We have also included a second set of preamp outputs
and a switchable high pass filter for the internal amplifier,
to allow easy implementation of an active subwoofer or
The rugged chassis is built using thick 2mm mild steel
plates with a front panel employing extruded aluminum
and die-cast zinc in its construction. Special attention
was paid to the control of mechanical resonance, as this
can affect sonic performance. Special isolation feet use
aluminum and silicon rubber in a vibration damping
configuration. All signal connectors are heavy duty gold
Biamp function allows the use of a second amplifier or
active subwoofer PreOut 2, and offers a high pass filter
function on PreOut 1, with selectable 40Hz, 60Hz, 80Hz,
100Hz or Full Range options. These are analog 2nd order
filters configured around the low impedance differential
Class A output stage of the preamp. This output stage also
employs proprietary distortion cancellation circuitry.
A balanced line input is also provided using identical JFET
buffers feeding a discrete differential amp and yielding
common mode rejection in excess of 80dB.
Separately regulated DC supplies are derived from the
dual mono power supply. Copper buss bars and discrete
regulators keep circuit noise to an absolute minimum
throughout. The display and digital functions operate from
an independent power supply to prevent any interference
with the analog signal path.
The M3 features a Dual Mono design with separate
unregulated, and discrete regulated supplies for different
stages of the 2 channels. The twin custom-made “Holmgren”
toroidal transformers use proprietary magnetic shielding
technology. High current rectifiers feed low ESR 105C filter
plated types specifically engineered for the NAD Masters
Series components. Finished inside and out, the M3 utilizes
powder coating and advanced automotive paint finishes,
creating an enduring and elegant mechanical package.
The preamp uses all discrete low noise high impedance JFET buffer amps and very high quality reed relay switches
at the preamp input. Special high current low output
impedance Class A gain modules provide tremendous
dynamic headroom and high output current, combined with
a exceptional S/N ratio in excess of -100dB (IHF).
The volume attenuator is very unique in that it uses discrete
1% precision resistors that keep impedance (and noise) very
low. It is arrayed in 3 stages to reduce the residual noise in
each amplifying stage and prevent the ‘cascade effect’ of
noise that is present in most preamp designs. This circuit
also provides the balance control, and as a result channel
separation is superb and inter-channel cross talk is virtually
eliminated. These resistor arrays are switched using 15
volt digital switches under software control, keeping all
attenuation at the ideal point in the circuit architecture.
Low impedance stepped tone controls provide +/- 5 db
of boost/cut in the bass and treble regions, or can be
configured to provide variable slope, or ‘spectrum tilt’ at +/3dB per decade.
NAD’s PowerDrive technology measures load impedance
continuously on each channel and adjusts the power supply
voltage for maximum undistorted dynamic power into the
connected speaker at all times and under all operating
conditions. The signal processor also continuously
measures temperature and average long term power and,
based on this information, chooses the optimum voltage.
PowerDrive allows the M3 to sound far more powerful than
its already impressive 180 watt per channel rating would
suggest. Totally effortless sound, even at elevated levels, is
the hallmark of the PowerDrive amplifier.
The M3 utilizes a wideband current-mode Class A voltage
amp featuring large open loop compensated bandwidth,
and running from low noise stabilised power supplies.
NAD’s patented current amp output stage starts with < 0.02
% static and dynamic distortion open loop (before feedback),
even into 3 ohms at 20-20k at all levels. By utilizing small
amounts of feedback the circuit returns distortion levels
at all audible frequencies that are at limit of measurement
– less than 0.002%!
The super rugged output stage features 4 pairs of 150W
discrete bipolar output transistors per channel, for 50A peak
undistorted output current. Massive heat sinking assures a
lifetime of trouble free operation.
Preliminary Specifications
Pre-Amp Section
Line level inputs
Input impedance (R+C)
Balanced Input impedance (R+C)
Input sensitivity, rated power
Frequency response (-3dB - 70kHz)*
Line level outputs
Output impedance
Signal/noise ratio
Source Z + 1k ohm
>110dB (AWTD)
Tone Controls
Spectral Tilt
Power Amp Section
Continuous output power into 4/8 ohms †
Rated Distortion (THD 20Hz - 20kHz)
Clipping power ‡
IHF dynamic headroom at 8 ohms
IHF dynamic power at 8 ohms
IHF dynamic power at 4 ohms
IHF dynamic power at 2 ohms
Damping factor (ref. 8 ohms, 50Hz)
Input impedance
Input Sensitivity (for rated power into 8 ohms)
Voltage gain
Frequency response; 20Hz-20kHz
-3dB at:
Signal/noise ratio; ref 1W
Signal/noise ratio; ref rated power
2 x 180W (22.5dBW)
220W (23.4dbW)
280W (24.5dBW)
480W (27.2dBW)
785W (28.4dBW)
20k ohm/ 680pF
>107dB (AWTD)
Physical Specifications
Dimensions (W x H x D)
Net Weight
Shipping Weight
17 1/8 x 5 1/4 x 15 3/16”
(435 x 135 x 386mm)
51.8 lbs (23.5 kg)
67.0 lbs (30.5kg)
NAD Electronics International reserves the right to change specifications or features without notice as design improvements are incorporated. NAD is a registered
trademark of NAD Electronics Internat�
written permission of NAD Electronics. International. Printed in Canada 05/05.
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