NAD’s M56 – Beauty is not chassis-deep.

Coming on the heels of the fast-loading T557, NAD’s latest offering, the NAD Master Series M56 is the A/V nut’s box of Blu. Make that a rich A/V nut – though that sounds repetitive. Being an ‘A/V anything’ isn’t the privilege of the cash-starved. Especially if you’re a NAD fan, this Blu Ray player will set you back by around 5 times the price of a NAD T557. That’s around $3100. And it’s not even here yet.

That price tag wraps itself comfortably around the NAD M56’s tough frame – a thick steel chassis, a front panel of die-cast aluminum that helps create sound isolation, cast aluminum supports  with silicon rubber inserts that absorb and dampen vibrations for just the perfect sound clarity, and to top it off, a cooling system that keeps the advanced circuits and regulators of your M56 efficient and unbothered by most levels of heavy use.

In the style department, the NADs, generally, are nowhere in the league of their better-known competitors, and the M56 lives up to that name, although it is a tad easier on the eye than the T557. The aluminum-steel dual-tone definitely cures some of the ‘amp-hangover’ that NADs seem to suffer from, and in the company of fellow audiophiles such as yourself, this NAD is a beauty in the eyes of the beholder.

Now to have a look at what’s under that precious hood of the M56. It’s got the usual stuff (of course) – BD Live and USB 2.0, but it adds some NAD-special dollops – 1080p HDMI connectivity @ 24 frames, 1080i component video output, an in-house upscaling technique, and BD Java support. Let’s just say that this is one player that makes the 1080p Full HD Blu Ray movie look like a dream, and takes care of the common ‘3:2 Pull Down’ artifacts associated with DVD players. It also supports the “Media Home Platform” interactive video system. For those who have planned a grander destiny for their expensive M56 than making it a living room centerpiece, its IR input allows for advanced control and automation systems to be integrated externally. Quite frankly, I have no clue what that means. You do, don’t you?

On the audio front, it has an impressive lineup including Dolby Digital, DTS variants and legacy formats like Dolby Digital Plus that significantly enhance the sound on your older discs, the latest ‘lossless’ HD audio formats from Dolby and DTS (Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master Audio 7.1, which provide Studio Master Audio performance), and over HDMI, true HD 7.1 Linear PCM as well. Finally, its analog 7.1 channel audio output can reproduce perfect HD audio through any AV receiver that supports 5.1 or 7.1 channel  input. Combine that with the well-balanced build quality of the M56, and you have a stickler for audio clarity and quality.

Most importantly, like the T557, the M56 is a ‘fast-loader’ and has the ‘Instant Open’ feature, for shorter loading times and eject times – which, in addition to the audio quality, is starting to become the USP of NAD’s line – they claim ‘seconds’ of load times as opposed to the ‘minutes’ with some other players. Overall, the M56 is a solid, quick, Blu Ray player for those who value ‘pop-in, pop-out’ performance and great audio/video quality more than a sleek chassis. Around 5 times more. 😉