NAD has recently revealed this - the M10 Streaming Amplifier. We've tested numerous streaming amps over recent times and we have to say, it really did make a statement when it arrived in our house.
That's because the M10 has a rare capability; it can do pretty much anything you want it to and cope with most things you can throw at it. The device - powered by NAD and Bluesound's own BluOS - has also won an EISA Award for best smart amplifier - a high accolade indeed.
Design-wise, there's little clue as to its capability when switched off, even though the glass front and top panels clearly mark it out as something different.
But the $2499 or £2199 M10 is a fully-featured amplifier for connection to passive speakers that also works with all the streaming services you'd want it to.
You can also use Bluetooth (including aptX HD) or AirPlay 2 should you wish while it's also compatible with around 20 music services including Spotify, Amazon Music HD, Qobuz and Tidal. Apple Music can, of course, be used over AirPlay.
And, of course, several of those services also offer hi-res music. Or HD (16-bit/44 kHz) and Ultra HD (24-bit/192 kHz) as Amazon is calling the tracks on its new service.
In addition to 24/192 PCM, MQA is a fully supported format for high-res audio as well. Amazon Music HD uses FLAC rather than Tidal's choice of MQA.
There's also support for all of the usual standards you'd expect of any music player like WAV, MP3 and AAC. Naturally, you can also listen to high-res or "standard definition" music stored on your network or on a USB device, too.
As it's compatible with those services, you're able to hook it up to Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant (thanks to a recent software update) or use Apple's Siri to control most of the basic playback features.
As it is an amp you can, of course, wire up other separates such as a record player or CD deck (using the dual analog inputs or pre-amp input) - we had no problem using it with our turntable - while there's also support for HDMI eARC so you can use the M10 to beef up your TV's sound but also control it.
Indeed, there are stacks of inputs on the back including coaxial, the ability to connect an IR blaster, subwoofer connection and optical, too. As you'd expect there's Ethernet for wired internet plus USB for local files, too.
Interestingly, the M10 doesn't just take a Bluetooth stream from a device like your phone, but you can also stream from the M10 to wireless headphones or a Bluetooth speaker should you wish. Of course, this is useful for private listening but it could also be handy to take a speaker outside.
BluOS is extremely capable and, as we mentioned, keeps being updated. Driven by an iOS or Android app, the Linux-based software runs on an NXP ARM-designed 1GHz processor inside the M10.
The M10 is part of NAD's Master Series and shares technology with other high-end NAD gear like the M12 and M22. It is, however, functionally similar to the sister Blusound PowerNode product. You can also pair the M10 with other BluOS products to form a multiroom system (and you can multiroom any inputs connected to the M10, too).
As a Master Series product, NAD has equipped it with a top-end ESS Sabre DACm alongside the 100W Hypex nCore Class D amplifier seen in other models in the range. It boasts a self-oscillating design that eliminates noise and distortion.
The display is actually one of our favourite elements of the M10 - it's clear and crisp with large song titles and a fun mode with old-fashioned peak volume meters. The display then changes when touched to enable input or track selection control. And, naturally, you can dive deeper into the system to change settings and setup.
Like many devices - such as Amazon's Echo Studio, the Sonos Beam and Apple's HomePod - the M10 analyses the conditions in the room to correct the audio for the conditions. Only this system is a little different here - employing Dirac Live.
The M10 uses a mic to analyse the sound which is then sent to Dirac. Subsequently, the M10 receives custom audio filters to use. The key benefit is that resonance is vastly reduced, leading to a clear sound that suits your room.