Testing a NAD M51 versus a Chord 64 DAC - my results

Charlie Jefferson

Well-known member
Sep 2, 2007
I set up both of these DACs to see how they sounded in comparison to each other. My previous comments in the DAC thread about the NAD were based on how I thought it compared to the Chord without actually having them side by side.

In the test both were connected optically, the NAD to an Airport Express and the Chord to an Apple TV, and received lossless files streamed from my Mac. Both DACs were fed into my Caspian pre-amp.

I controlled the whole thing using my iPad's remote app, simultaneously streaming songs to both DACs, and using my Roksan remote to switch seamlessly between the two.

After two nights of music (a range from Kate Bush to Bartok via Beefheart , Martha Wainwright and The Shins), I couldn't honestly tell the difference. I tried, really tried to listen out for any differences across many types of music. But to no avail. Other ears and their owners (wife and daughter) were brought in to the room and they listened to some of their most familiar songs. Again not a preference between them, they agreed and thought the two DACs were identical.

The only scintilla of difference was when I played a CD into the NAD (coaxial) and played the same song streamed to the Chord. The NAD, possibly just edged it.

So having bought the NAD to replace the Chord, partly because it offers hi-rez via HDMI and USB inputs, I am pleased it equals the Chord when streaming Lossless files (the majority of my digital listening) but slightly bemused there aren't, to my ears, differences between the two units in how they sound.

Is that more a compliment to the decade old Chord (new £2K) or the newcomer NAD (£1.5K)?


New member
Apr 6, 2012
Kind of depresing that the M51 didn't beat such an old DAC, be it from Chord. Would be interesting a comparison with the QBD76.


New member
Mar 27, 2012
Thanks for this comparison, very interesting. In fact I do not find anything depressing that you found no differences between the two DACs. When Chrd 64 was out on the market it costed much more than M51 currently, and since we talk about regular quality files it shows M51 strength. Also, since your sources were optically connected Apple products, I would never expect much of the difference here anyway. Optical connections are not the best ones, and those aiports and aplle tvs are not hi-fi equipment by no means. It often happens that a poor digital source mitigates any benefits of a good DAC.

Good luck with your M51, I believe it is a really excellent DAC with great potential and most up to date technologies at very reasonable price.


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