Integrated Amps: Anthem STR vs. NAD Masters M33

To Roger Kanno,

I’m in the market to upgrade my electronics, and I believe you have reviewed both of these units. I would much appreciate your thoughts on how they compare and which might be the better choice for me.

My listening room is 14.5′ × 12.5′ and 8′ high, opening to a 9′ × 10.5′ dining area on the left. My speakers (Revel Performa3 F206 floorstanders) are along the 14.5′ wall. I currently have Adcom’s GFA-555II amp and GFP-565 preamp fed by a Marantz SA8004 SACD player. I have a Bluesound Node 2 connected via coax into the Marantz, and I’m using Kimber Kable’s 8TC speaker wire and Hero interconnects. Primarily, I listen to jazz, classical music, blues, and pop/rock on CD or via Qobuz lossless/hi-rez streams (usually at 80dB or less). I don’t have a turntable and only occasionally use headphones (HiFiMan HE4XX).

I’m more concerned about sound quality and reliability, and less about aesthetics and cosmetics. I am also considering just replacing the Adcoms with Audio by Van Alstine’s Vision SET 400 amp and Fet Valve CF RB preamp. Any comments and recommendations you could provide would be a huge help.

Michael Kowalski
United States

Yes, I reviewed the Anthem STR and the NAD Masters M33 and can recommend both as state-of-the-art integrated amps. However, the NAD utilizes Purifi’s Eigentakt amplifier technology, which I think is the real deal—and our publisher and founder, Doug Schneider, agrees. Your Revels are excellent speakers and both amps would drive them very well, but, to my ears, the powerful, neutral sound of the NAD’s Eigentakt amplification cannot be bettered for the price.

Both amps have excellent room-correction systems: ARC Genesis on the Anthem and Dirac Live on the NAD, and although I slightly prefer ARC, I could happily live with Dirac. They also have very good built-in DACs so you could just use your Marantz SACD to play optical discs with either one. The NAD M33 supports BluOS so you wouldn’t need your Bluesound Node 2. The Anthem STR doesn’t provide BluOS support or streaming, but does have a USB-B input for digital audio, while NAD only offers USB input via an optional MDC module. Only the NAD has a headphone output, and while the Anthem and NAD each have a phono stage, you said that you don’t have a turntable and only occasionally use headphones, so these features won’t really be a consideration for you.

If you desire a warmer, more tube-y sound, then the Audio by Van Alstine separates may be what you are looking for, but if you want a more neutral and linear sound, then the Anthem or, better still, the NAD would be the way to go. . . . Roger Kanno