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NAD 2200 Vintage Amplifier Review

amirm

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#1
This is a review and detailed measurements of a refurbished and upgraded NAD 2200 stereo amplifier. It was bought by a member, sent to QuirkAudio to be fully updated and then loaned to me. The work that Peter has done is exemplary. The inside looks brand new! I have repaired hundreds of amplifiers but never seen one this clean! So not only have the inside components been updated/replaced, but a lot of care has gone to cosmetically clean the unit. Peter sent me a long list of parts he has upgraded including reservoir capacitors and such. As a result, I don't know how representative of measurements are of stock units although probably not too far off. Used 2200 go for about US $530 on ebay.

The front panel is nice with an informative clipping indicator:
NAD 2200 stereo power amplifier audio review.jpg

NAD 2200 stereo power amplifier back panel audio review.jpg

As you see, you can put the amp in bridge mode (which I did not test) and select whether you want soft clipping on. I left it off as you see in the picture.

During use the protection circuit came on when appropriate and nicely reset as if nothing had happened.

The NAD 2200 uses a dual voltage rail to keep power consumption and heat dissipation low when producing lower power and then upping the voltage for peak power. This is a common technique but usually applied to low baseline power level. Here, 100+ watts of power is provided using the low voltage power supply rail and it is only for power above that where the higher voltage is used. Technique worked quite well as you see later and kept the amplifier cool and happy during my testing.

Amplifier Audio Measurements
As usual, we start with our dashboard view of 1 kHz tone into 4 ohm load at 5 watts:

NAD 2200 stereo power amplifier audio measurements.png


Not bad! Distortion is at or below -100 dB. With noise, SINAD degrades to about 93 dB putting the 2200 well above average of nearly 100 amplifiers tested to date:

Best vintage stereo amplifier review measurements.png


Notice that the gain is quite high at 32 dB. Common range is 25 to 29 dB with the latter being a "THX" standard. The higher gain increases noise so despite that, performance is as good as seen. High gain makes it a good fit for AVRs for example that produce distorted output well below nominal 2 volts.

Frequency response has a sharp roll off which seems to indicate the output is not direct coupled (DC) as is common today:

NAD 2200 stereo power amplifier frequency response audio measurements.png


Or maybe it is on purpose, I don't know.

Crosstalk is very good:
NAD 2200 stereo power amplifier Crosstalk audio measurements.png


As is dynamic range:
NAD 2200 stereo power amplifier SNR audio measurements.png


It is power measurements where the magic of this amplifier comes to life so let's look at that with 4 ohm load first:

NAD 2200 stereo power amplifier power into 4 ohm audio measurements.png


We can see a kink in distortion when we hit 200 watts as the unit sails past that to produce whopping 337 watts per channel, both driven! Per design characteristics, you can have much more during momentary peaks:

NAD 2200 stereo power amplifier power into 4 ohm Peak and Max audio measurements.png


Wow, we have one kilowatt of power coming out of this amp in short duration!

Switching to 8 ohm we see similar results as 4 ohm:

NAD 2200 stereo power amplifier power into 8 ohm audio measurements.png


Sweeping the power test at 4 ohm with different frequencies shows a well-behaved amplifier:

NAD 2200 stereo power amplifier THD+N vs Power vs Frequency audio measurements.png


You do loose power in higher frequencies but that is fine since music spectrum has lower energy there anyway.

Due to the long duration of this test, the protection circuit likely backed off the high voltage rail, producing lower output levels.

EDIT: adding Lab Input Measurements
Lab Input Measurements
I was surprised that the frequency response was not flat but was relieved to see later in the thread that this is due to insertion of low and high pass filters. So here is the frequency response with Lab input that doesn't have such a filter:

NAD 2200 stereo power amplifier frequency response audio measurements.png


Response now (in green) as it should be, ruler flat to below 10 Hz, and well extending past the 40 kHz limit of this measurement.

I figured the filters may be adding some noise/distortion so re-ran the dashboard again:
NAD 2200 stereo power amplifier Lab Input audio measurements.png


Distortion doesn't change but if you look at the noise floor at 20 Hz, it is down by some 10 dB. That improves SINAD a couple of dBs, making the amplifier stand out even more!
Best vintage stereo amplifier review measurements.png


Zoomed:

1591750335920.png


And signal to noise ratio:

NAD 2200 stereo power amplifier SNR Lab input audio measurements.png


Conclusions
Nice to see innovation like this from equipment that is over 30 years old! Shame on manufacturers that produce amplifiers for much less power, more distortion and higher prices these days. No, you don't get a fancy case here and sheet metal is strictly budget category. But you are not going to sit on the amp. The guts are where it matters and NAD 2200 delivers.

NOTE: the output relay on stock 2200 gets corroded and fails over time. There are videos and DIY threads on how to upgrade the relay there to fix the problem. The unit tested here has that fix. Other than that, there are not reports of many other reliability issues even though NAD products are often said to be less reliable than other brands.

Overall, I am happy to recommend the NAD 2200. I almost gave it the highest honors but given the upgraded nature of the test unit, and the fact that used amps may have issues, I avoided that. But you could have easily pushed me to give it the golfing panther.

-----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

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Archsam

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#2
Any idea how much the update costed?

Do you reckon the price of this amp + update cost would make this worthwhile compared to modern budget amps?
 
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amirm

amirm

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Thread Starter #4
Any idea how much the update costed?

Do you reckon the price of this amp + update cost would make this worthwhile compared to modern budget amps?
I don't. I will contact Peter to let him know about the review and maybe he can comment.

I would not want to go above $1000 total as then you can get hypex amps and such.
 

Matias

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#5
Now I see where boomers are correct with the whole "they don't make'em like they used to" comes from.
I wonder how it measured originally, without all the upgrades.
 

Matias

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#6
@amirm no inside pictures? We are curious! :D
 

Wes

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#7
Does anybody know what the differences are between the NAD 2200 and the 2100 amps?
 

617

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#8
Ridiculously good! Beats the C320BEE which came out years and years later.
 

McFly

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#9
Now I see where boomers are correct with the whole "they don't make'em like they used to" comes from.
Careful with that word around here. Could spark protests. And on the contrary IIRC there are vintage amps that have tested poorly here. We're still waiting for restorer john to send in one of his prized 40kg sonys from the ES line (when international freight is free :D)
 

estuardo4

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#12
Careful with that word around here. Could spark protests. And on the contrary IIRC there are vintage amps that have tested poorly here. We're still waiting for restorer john to send in one of his prized 40kg sonys from the ES line (when international freight is free :D)
Or receives an invitation to travel to Seattle all expenses paid from Amir and/or ASR members :p
 

tjf

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#14
Hi Amir...did you try testing the 2200 amp with both the "Normal" vs. "Lab" inputs? (apologies if I missed you addressing this in your write-up) as NAD was infamous for using bandwidth limiting passive filters at the "Normal" input, their famous "Infrasonic" filtering -- the "Lab" input may yield different freq. response results, especially WRT high freq response...

I also suggest all of you check out quirkaudio.com to see other pieces of 70's & 80's vintage amp & preamp rebuilds....especially my fav. cheap amp/preamp maker from the 80's -- Superphon, by Stan Warren, (one of the 2 original partners in PS Audio -- he's the "S" in PS Audio) who was the real design brains behind the early PS Audio electronics,
 
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amirm

amirm

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Thread Starter #17
I wonder how it measured originally, without all the upgrades.
There is one online review and it showed very similar power and distortion figures to mine. So I say they are probably close.
 

carlob

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#18
Hi Amir...did you try testing the 2200 amp with both the "Normal" vs. "Lab" inputs? (apologies if I missed you addressing this in your write-up) as NAD was infamous for using bandwidth limiting passive filters at the "Normal" input, their famous "Infrasonic" filtering -- the "Lab" input may yield different freq. response results, especially WRT high freq response...
see the specs above...
 
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amirm

amirm

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Thread Starter #19
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amirm

amirm

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Thread Starter #20
I'd also like to know what's been upgraded
Here is the letter:

"The upgrades are outlined below for your interest:

This unit has bee upgraded, refurbished and serviced- NAD evolved the 2200 to the 2600 and 2700-their improvements have been incorporated.
The details of the upgrades are outlined below and you may see further information at www.Quirkaudio com


Input boards: the output I C's have been replaced with modem designed for audio low noise fast slew rate units an all the electrolytic capacitors replaced with AUDIO grade Nichicon . Also additional capacitors have been installed across the IC power supply lines to provide instantaneous power availability. The ceramics have been replaced with COG types and WIMA film as appropriate , all other components have been tested.

Power amplifier boards: These have all been checked and all electrolytic capacitors replaced with either audio grade and low impedance Nichicons and WIMA film capacitors. The boards per specifications. Additionally, the VAS stage power reserve capacitors have been increased in capacity with ultra-low impedance types-following the 2600/2700 improvements.

Power supply: All the electrolytic capacitors have been replaced. The troublesome relays have also been replaced, as have any other components not in specification. The reservoirs of power in these units mean that under normal listening conditions they will not strain, giving great headroom, dynamics and detail. "
 
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