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NAD C658 Streaming DAC Review

Alexanderc

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Personally, I wouldn't hold my breath on that M12 replacement. But that's pure guesswork. Another personal opinion: it's difficult to see what features are left to add to the C658.

It certainly would make sense from a marketing standpoint for NAD to "clone" the C658 into a product in the "Masters" (M) series. One could imagine such a thing with better SINAD, maybe a better DAC chip (although it's hard to say that there's anything particularly bad about the ESS 9028), a few other tweaks. For the truly spec-conscious, that would seem to be appealing. As it is, I would be very curious to A/B the M12 and the C658 to see if there is any audible difference.
Usb DAC input maybe and a nice touch screen like the m33. At least, if I worked for their marketing department that’s what I would suggest.
 
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Usb DAC input maybe and a nice touch screen like the m33. At least, if I worked for their marketing department that’s what I would suggest.
Oh yeah, I should have thought of the USB input! I guess that I'm not worried about the touch screen, though, as it seems more intuitive to use a tablet or smartphone running the BluOS app to control the unit, select music, etc....I can't see why anyone would prefer to walk over to the preamp and use the touch screen. But that's just me!

For those unfamiliar with the C658, it does have a USB input -- sort of: it accepts a flash drive and can play music files from that. But that's not what most people have in mind with a USB input.

But if you are wondering how you might connect a music library, note that you *can* connect a USB device, e.g., a hard drive or similar, to most routers and then stream the music from there to the C658. In fact, the BluOS software will index the music on such a drive. That's what I've done; I find this method particularly handy because I can add music to the library from my desktop computer. Those who think that you need a fancy music server with gobs of memory and a super processor to improve the sound will be horrified with this solution....

But as to the original question (what could be added), AlexanderC has nailed it.
 

Alexanderc

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Oh yeah, I should have thought of the USB input! I guess that I'm not worried about the touch screen, though, as it seems more intuitive to use a tablet or smartphone running the BluOS app to control the unit, select music, etc....I can't see why anyone would prefer to walk over to the preamp and use the touch screen. But that's just me!

For those unfamiliar with the C658, it does have a USB input -- sort of: it accepts a flash drive and can play music files from that. But that's not what most people have in mind with a USB input.

But if you are wondering how you might connect a music library, note that you *can* connect a USB device, e.g., a hard drive or similar, to most routers and then stream the music from there to the C658. In fact, the BluOS software will index the music on such a drive. That's what I've done; I find this method particularly handy because I can add music to the library from my desktop computer (because it, too, can see the router), so I never need to mess with the hard drive itself. Those who think that you need a fancy music server with gobs of memory and a super processor to improve the sound will be horrified with this solution....

But as to the original question (what could be added), AlexanderC has nailed it.
Oh, I agree about the touch screen, but from a sales point of view it LOOKS so cool. Add the nice aluminum chassis of the M line and it practically sells itself. And a screaming deal for $4k ;)
 
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I think this confirms what I already suspected - the M12 replacement would likely be a much more expensive package for mostly inaudible and cosmetic improvements (I don't think a touchscreen adds much from a functional perspective when there is an app).

The only other thing I'd like is an adaptive/automatic Fletcher Munson DSP solution for low volume listening, but that doesn't seem to be a popular idea in the 2 channel world.
 

Alexanderc

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I hope nothing I said made you come to that conclusion. Mine is the most inventive sort of speculation. I have no inside information at all.
 
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I’ll chime in. I bought my C658 in January and I’m very happy. Thought about the SHD but was worried it might be tweaky. When BlueOS added Tidal Direct and Spotify Direct support that sealed it. I also use Roon but it’s hard to justify with Tidal Direct. I use all of the streaming services and move songs and playlists using the Soundiiz web app. TuneIn radio is also nice. I’ve encountered very faint static on two occasions. Restarted and It went away. Internet connection is critical with this unit. I had early issues that went away once I got the mesh router sorted out. I use Magnepan MMGs and Dirac made a huge difference. And I did spring for full range. No volume issues integrating my sub. It did not “take the life out” of the sound. To the contrary. I have a small room and the difference is huge. Remember you can adjust your target curve so you can add salt to taste. I have a special late night curve as well. So the combo of Dirac and BlueOS is a huge value. From the standpoint of the basic hardware I can’t fault it.
 
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I hope nothing I said made you come to that conclusion. Mine is the most inventive sort of speculation. I have no inside information at all.
Not at all. Realistically, I half expect the M12 replacement to basically be a smaller M33 without the amplifier.

I'm sure all the marketing and design people at NAD are sitting around a boardroom table trying to come up with an innovative new idea for their next "M" digital streamer/preamp, but apart from the small tweaks suggested here I can't imagine how there can be any game-changing improvement to what we already have with the C658
 

MJR

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I have also been very happy with my C658 I purchased for dedicated 2 channel listening paired with NAD C298 amp and Martin Logan 60 XTi speakers. I use it almost exclusively to play FLAC files from hardwired NAS and have no complaints in terms of sonic performance. No extraneous noise or issues at all unless you consider the BlueOS app design... which needs some work, but is entirely serviceable for my needs. I use Dirac and feel it helps substantially with soundstage timing and bass boom below 70hz. I have the full version and decided that my room & speaker combo only needs tweaking below 400hz, so that is where I put my curtain cut off. Overall no complaints :)
 

JDRCapeCod

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I have also been very happy with my C658 I purchased for dedicated 2 channel listening paired with NAD C298 amp and Martin Logan 60 XTi speakers. I use it almost exclusively to play FLAC files from hardwired NAS and have no complaints in terms of sonic performance. No extraneous noise or issues at all unless you consider the BlueOS app design... which needs some work, but is entirely serviceable for my needs. I use Dirac and feel it helps substantially with soundstage timing and bass boom below 70hz. I have the full version and decided that my room & speaker combo only needs tweaking below 400hz, so that is where I put my curtain cut off. Overall no complaints :)
Agreed. I wish that there was another option that offered a similar feature set to compare it to outside of the MiniDSP unit. I need a phono stage and better control options. The IP control of the NAD is very good!
 
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Regarding the low subwoofer output: got my subwoofer today, and yes the output from the subwoofer out is pretty low. However, I saw this in the manual for my subwoofer (JL Audio Dominion d108): "In the unlikely event that the Auto Turn-On feature is not sensitive enough for a particular system, use a Y-adaptor cable (one female to two male RCA type connectors) to split the incoming signal into both RCA inputs on the Dominion™. This will increase the input level by 6dB. " Could there be any downside to this? I have problems with the Auto Turn-On due to the low output from the C658.
 

JDRCapeCod

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Regarding the low subwoofer output: got my subwoofer today, and yes the output from the subwoofer out is pretty low. However, I saw this in the manual for my subwoofer (JL Audio Dominion d108): "In the unlikely event that the Auto Turn-On feature is not sensitive enough for a particular system, use a Y-adaptor cable (one female to two male RCA type connectors) to split the incoming signal into both RCA inputs on the Dominion™. This will increase the input level by 6dB. " Could there be any downside to this? I have problems with the Auto Turn-On due to the low output from the C658.
Wish that I could help but I do not run a subwoofer with mine. Is there a level adjustment in the BluOS app?
 
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Most important to dirac is to set it right,use a very good mic, take care for first point were you sit. Then adjust the curve to geht your drive and moving feets The C658 can be a happymaker! I think i will upgrade end of the year to the M33 . Was shockloved first seen and reading test,including everything good from the C658 with Purifi Eigentakt Sound Power
 

EB1000

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Once again, the only working solution with excellent is to invest in a MiniDSP 2X4 HD. Connect it between subwoofers outputs and the subwoofers. Then use it to boost and EQ if needed. After that, run Dirac again. This has solved the very low subwoofer output for me.
 
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I used this guide to set my levels. https://mehlau.net/audio/dirac-live-2-mic-speaker-levels/ Subwoofer level is toward the bottom of the page. I have a Rel T5i and all the levels were fine on the first try. Not sure if this guide differs from Dirac’s instructions.
I just added a subwoofer but DIRAC Live does not show it, it only shows the two main speakers. What am I missing? Do I have to change some settings for DIRAC Live to recognize there is now a subwoofer in the system? Thanks! (Using it on a NAD C 658)
 

Reed

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In the BluOS app, go under settings > player > audio > select attached speakers. That should let Dirac know that you have the sub attached. You can also control the crossover there.
 
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In the BluOS app, go under settings > player > audio > select attached speakers. That should let Dirac know that you have the sub attached. You can also control the crossover there.
BRILLIANT! Thank you SO MUCH! It did not occur to me to try BluOS. I did have to reboot the 658 but eventually DIRAC detected the change. Thanks again!
 
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