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NAD C399 vs C389 - Paired with KEF R3 Meta

OldGreg

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I’m looking to get a new system (streamer, DAC and amp) to drive my KEF R3 Metas and have narrowed it down to NAD’s all-in-one offerings in the C389 and C399 range with the BluOS-D module.

My understanding is the only significant difference between these models is the use of UcD modules in the C389 vs nCore in the C399.

Does anyone have experience with both or can comment on how meaningful (audible) of a difference the nCore modules are really likely to make with my speakers? Also would the C399 be overkill (180 WPC which is the maximum the R3 is specced for)?

I’m in Canada where the price difference is $700, which I’m inclined to put towards buying a sub sooner, but if there is meaningful audible improvement between the two amps I would put the sub purchase off by a couple of months…

Thanks!

EDIT: Should have mentioned that this system will be used 60/40 for movies/music so integration with my TV is important. I will not go above a 2.1 system so an AVR is likely unnecessary.
 
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phoenixdogfan

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I think you might want to look around to see some of the stuff Amir has reviewed before leaping on one of the NADs. I know an all in one solution looks very tempting but it's $2000 USD for basically a two channel box with only the capability of adding Dirac and streaming at a later point in time. So if you want a sub, it looks to me like even with the BluOS-D module which is an extra $600 USD, you still won't have parametric EQ, a high/low digital crossover or DACS for the sub(s). When you look at it that way, the NAD looks very pricey, and not so all-in-one after all.

OTOH, the Hypex amps are good, and probably even the UcD modules would sound good with the R3 Metas. If it were me, however, I'd be looking at something like a miniDSP Flex with Dirac Live as a $200 add on ($800 USD) , and then something like the Audiophonics MPA-S250 NC which is an NCore Hypex amp producing 117 watts in 4 ohms and costing $444 USD. Taken together they're around $1250 which would leave you room in the budget for something like an SVS SB 2000 (original) which are currently selling for $500. I have two of them, and I think they are terrific. Even one of them would give you 20 hz bass at 100 db in a medium sized room.

Hope this helps, and welcome to ASR.
 
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OldGreg

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I think you might want to look around to see some of the stuff Amir has reviewed before leaping on one of the NADs. I know an all in one solution looks very tempting but it's $2000 USD for basically a two channel box with only the capability of adding Dirac and streaming at a later point in time. So if you want a sub, it looks to me like even with the BluOS-D module which is an extra $600 USD, you still won't have parametric EQ, a high/low digital crossover or DACS for the sub(s). When you look at it that way, the NAD looks very pricey, and not so all-in-one after all.

OTOH, the Hypex amps are good, and probably even the UcD modules would sound good with the R3 Metas. If it were me, however, I'd be looking at something like a miniDSP Flex with Dirac Live as a $200 add on ($800 USD) , and then something like the Audiophonics MPA-S250 NC which is an NCore Hypex amp producing 117 watts in 4 ohms and costing $444 USD. Taken together they're around $1250 which would leave you room in the budget for something like an SVS SB 2000 (original) which are currently selling for $500. I have two of them, and I think they are terrific. Even one of them would give you 20 hz bass at 100 db in a medium sized room.

Hope this helps, and welcome to ASR.
Thanks - not sure if it impacts your answer at all but should have specified this will be 60/40 movie/music usage so integration with my TV is also important which is partly why I’m wondering if multiple boxes will just be a pain (even with the miniDSP Flex that will run HDMI eARC I assume I would still need to turn on my amp every time). Separate boxes isn’t make or break for that purpose and if there’s considerable cost savings or performance difference I’d happily take the slight inconvenience, but just a consideration.

With the miniDSP won’t I really need a separate streamer as well? I understand LDAC is good but still not up to par with streaming direct instead of via BT?

Also I believe with the BluOS module you have crossover functionality for the sub so wouldn’t I really just be missing parametric EQ (something I’m quite confident I am unlikely to take advantage of as I’m quite new to this level of technology)?

I’ll take a look at more of Amir’s reviews. It’s pretty overwhelming how much choice there is!
 
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phoenixdogfan

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Thanks - not sure if it impacts your answer at all but should have specified this will be 60/40 movie/music usage so integration with my TV is also important which is partly why I’m wondering if multiple boxes will just be a pain (even with the miniDSP Flex that will run HDMI eARC I assume I would still need to turn on my amp every time). Separate boxes isn’t make or break for that purpose and if there’s considerable cost savings or performance difference I’d happily take the slight inconvenience, but just a consideration.

With the miniDSP won’t I really need a separate streamer as well? I understand LDAC is good but still not up to par with streaming direct instead of via BT?

Also I believe with the BluOS module you have crossover functionality for the sub so wouldn’t I really just be missing parametric EQ (something I’m quite confident I am unlikely to take advantage of as I’m quite new to this level of technology)?

I’ll take a look at more of Amir’s reviews. It’s pretty overwhelming how much choice there is!
I don't know the answers to all your questions, but I'm pretty sure the miniDSP does not have an earc input. However most TV's will accept HDMI and will send a digital stream via spdif to something like the miniDSP where all the DSP, EQ and crossover kind of things can be accomplished. There are plenty more than one way to skin that cat, and it will repay your effort to explore more options than just going with the NAD straightway. At the very least if you wind up choosing the NAD, you'll be much more certain, it's because it fits your use case.

Best of luck with your system building. The R3 Metas look like a true bargain, and end game for most people with a sub or two. I personally own LS 50 Metas with dual SVS SB 2000s. I use a Purifi Amp, Octo Research DAC 8 Pro, and have Dirac DLBC on my server.
 

sonci99

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Nad is probably cheaper in Canada, but Arcam Sa30 would be another one box solution.

How do you find the R3 metas? Unfortunately the price is bit steep, unless they are clearly superior to the old R3, certainly not a bargain anymore.
 
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OldGreg

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Nad is probably cheaper in Canada, but Arcam Sa30 would be another one box solution.

How do you find the R3 metas? Unfortunately the price is bit steep, unless they are clearly superior to the old R3, certainly not a bargain anymore.

I auditioned both (albeit in different rooms with different components) and found the metas notably improved in the midrange - voices just sounded more organic and I found the music more engaging. They were generally a bit less analytical sounding to my ear.

Worth an additional $1000 (Canadian)? Probably not for some, the current pricing on the R3 is a killer deal, but as this was my first step into high end audio and I got more of a "wow" factor with the metas I decided to bite the bullet. It could have been the room and equipment but unfortunately wasn't able to A/B them.
 

phoenixdogfan

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Was wrong. MiniDSP has (or soon will have) a version of the Flex with an HDMI/EArc input.

 
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