New Acoustic Dimension, as the company used to call itself, has made quite a splash with a wide selection of affordable electronic equipment set right into a new form factor by industrial designer David Farrage, who has also done NAD's VISO I loudspeaker dock, among other things. Like its partnering D3020 amplifier, the D1050 DAC sports an extreme casework that may be used either horizontally or vertically. It's a very swish front display that backlights the input selected and the sampling frequency - the large knob selects the electronic source and there's a 3.5mm headphone socket.

This new NAD carton feels nice to work with - although the activity of the source selector switch is not the sleekest - and you can not help liking the rubberised case with its bright metal grille set behind it. This provides a welcome component of visual flair to an otherwise rather functional device. The rear panel is quite active indeed - it offers RCAs that are regular, too as balanced XLR output signals. One pair of optical and one pair of coaxial digital input signals, along with just one asynchronous USB. Signal paths are said to be 'ultra brief' on multi-layer circuit boards and surface mount parts. Power is provided by an incredibly modest-looking wall-wart type changed mode unit.

Sound quality

This shows something of an enigma as in many ways it is rated by the listening panel as an exceptional performer, however on other music sound nowhere near as convincing and it seems to fall off the scale.

It also breaks up opinion, as one of the three marks it down a bit, while the other two rave about it.

The D1050 features a NAD sound, which is to say it has a velvety and seemingly rather dark type of tonality with a little bit of top middle edge for good measure. One listener notes a dearth of top end sparkle to the high treble, making synthetic sounding and Beth Rowley's vocals on Little Dreamer sound a bit unatmospheric, while the piano is slightly processed. But still one panellist declares: "This is one of the finest, I can hear her singing with the musicians, it's great with leading edges and incredibly expressive". Another agrees that it's fantastic for attack transients, seeming expressive and extremely fast, including that it makes a convincing case for itself musically.

The third panellist is not so impressed, saying that it only does not have the definition of competing offerings, and is somewhat lacking in tonal balance. He remarks that it does really rather poorly on Kraftwerk's Man Machine, which can be really not what you'd expect from a DAC you'd previously thought "times well". Even the largest fan of the DAC around the panel agrees that: "It makes a complete horlicks of Kraftwerk"!


This really is a very 'Marmite' merchandise and while two members of our listening panel love it, another is left out in the cold. Thus - more than any other DAC that we've reviewed in the last 12 months - this is something that to before you buy, you'll really need to give a proper audition.

NAD D1050 DAC photo