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NAD PP 2e Phono Stage Review

Rate this phono stage:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 39 28.7%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 70 51.5%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 23 16.9%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 4 2.9%

  • Total voters
    136

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the NAD PP2e phono stage/preamplifier. It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $219 (on sale for $197).
NAD PP 2e Phono Stage Preamplifier Moving Magnet Moving Coil Review.jpg

As you see, there is not much to the box or the front panel. It only has a power button. The back side exposes the control for moving magnet vs moving coil cartridge input:
NAD PP 2e Phono Stage Preamplifier Moving Magnet Moving Coil power supply PP2e Review.jpg

The externa dc power supply is rated at 24 volts @100 ma.

NAD PP 2e Measurements
Let's start with moving magnet input:
NAD PP2e Phono Stage Preamplifier Moving Magnet Measurement.png

The major contributor to low SINAD is 120 Hz and harmonics which is from the power supply. I wanted to test with my lab supply but it uses a very uncommon connector so could not. Going with what we have, ranking is well below average:
BEST PHONO stage preamplifier review 2024.png


Taking out noise, we see that distortion by itself is respectable:

NAD PP2e Phono Stage Preamplifier Moving Magnet THD Measurement.png


Moving coil naturally lowers SINAD score due to higher gain/noise:
NAD PP2e Phono Stage Preamplifier Moving Coil Measurement.png

Here we have some ground loop noise but I could not reduce it beyond what you see.

I was very pleased with the very accurate RIAA equalization:
NAD PP2e Phono Stage Preamplifier Moving Magnet frequency response Measurement.png


Another positive is same clipping point regardless of frequency:
NAD PP2e Phono Stage Preamplifier Moving Magnet THD vs Level vs Frequency Measurement.png

I do like to see 100mv before clipping though.

Once again taking out noise and just looking at distortion, is quite good:
NAD PP2e Phono Stage Preamplifier Moving Magnet THD sweep Measurement.png


Conclusions
We have a simple device that seems to do the job with one glaring issue: power supply noise. Why or why that was not taken care of? Overall performance would have improved a good bit.

I am left not being able to recommend the NAD PP 2e even though I wanted to.
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As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

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fordiebianco

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Thanks for another great test, @amirm . You would expect a little more attention to detail from such a revered brand.
 

restorer-john

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Here we have some ground loop noise but I could not reduce it beyond what you see.

Did you try rotating the actual plug pack into the power point/strip? (ie changing the active/neutral).

Is it a T/X former or an SMPS? (looks like a transformer)
 

renaudrenaud

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Thanks for the review. I was so in love with the phono section form the NAD 3020 one thousand years ago. Was expecting a nice review.

Thanks for the review... Could we have a nice review in January 2024 with excellent measurements? Not sure :(
 
OP
amirm

amirm

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Did you try rotating the actual plug pack into the power point/strip? (ie changing the active/neutral).

Is it a T/X former or an SMPS? (looks like a transformer)
I did move it and rotated it and made no difference. Once I was writing the review I realized it is not 60 Hz hum anyway but the rectifier noise.

Here are the Manufacturers Specifications:

MC​

  • Input Impedance (R and C) - 100 Ohm + 180pF
  • Gain at 1kHz - 60dB
  • Input Sensitivity (ref. 200mV output) - 0.3mV
  • Signal to Noise Ratio - 78dB (A weighted, with cartridge connected)
  • Input Overload (20Hz/1kHz/20kHz) - 0.8/9/84mV
  • Rated Distortion (THD 20Hz – 20kHz) - <0.03%
  • RIAA Response Accuracy - ±0.3dB

MM​

  • Input Impedance (R and C) - 47 kilohm + 200pF
  • Gain at 1kHz - 35dB
  • Input sensitivity (ref. 200mV output) - 2.5mV
  • Signal to Noise Ratio - 80dB (A weighted, with cartridge connected)
  • Input overload (20Hz/1kHz/20kHz) - 10/102/950mV
  • Rated Distortion (THD 20Hz – 20kHz) - <0.03%
  • RIAA response accuracy - ±0.3dB

Line Out​

  • Output Impedance - 100 Ohm
  • Maximum Output Level - 5.3V

General Specifications​

  • AC Supply - External 23.5V DC
  • Dimensions excl. Power supply (W x H x D) - 135 x 49 x 72mm
    5 5/16 x 1 15/16 x 2 7/8″
 
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DSJR

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Thanks for the review. I was so in love with the phono section form the NAD 3020 one thousand years ago. Was expecting a nice review.

Thanks for the review... Could we have a nice review in January 2024 with excellent measurements? Not sure :(
3020 had a bump-up in the lf RIAA response though (a dB or so between 29 and 40Hz) but the 3120 minus tone controls didn't according to 'Choice tests done at the time.

I remember the original PP2 and it was a totally 'safe' and very cheap phono stage back in the day. I'm surprised how the mains isn't isolated better though and that surely can be fixed for not much money?
 

TheWalkman

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It seems that every time I read a NAD review, the results are never flattering.

When I was in my late teens and twenties, NAD had the reputation for being a premium manufacturer with state of the art products.

Was I (we) snookered all along or have they completely lost their way?
 
Last edited:

Dimitri

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power supply noise. Why or why that was not taken care of?
Someone probably wanted to but the cost acountant didn't approve it.
They probably figured "Perfect for the budget-conscious audiophile" and their budget too.
On the NAD website the power input drawing shows 15V 50mA, the reviewed unit shows 23.5V @ 60mA.
So there has been some sort of revision along the way.
 

mglobe

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Emotiva XPS-1 is a superior device for the same money.
 

Joachim Herbert

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What a pity.
 

renaudrenaud

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3020 had a bump-up in the lf RIAA response though (a dB or so between 29 and 40Hz) but the 3120 minus tone controls didn't according to 'Choice tests done at the time.

I remember the original PP2 and it was a totally 'safe' and very cheap phono stage back in the day. I'm surprised how the mains isn't isolated better though and that surely can be fixed for not much money?
It was a very modest system but my first one with "good" quality. I saved a lot of money to be able to buy the amp and loved it very much.
 

DrCWO

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@amirm, thanks' for testing.
I read you tested a used unit sent in by a member.
Maybe the capacitors are a bit old or the rectifier is defective. I think it would be fair to test a brand new device and see if this changes anything.
 

zoink

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Thanks for the review!

Interestingly, this phono stage always sounded “thin” to me, with less low end than others I A/Bed with. So I expected to see a bit worse EQ on it than the tests reveal. Seems I have golden ears that can hear a less than 0.25db dip (unlikely), the other stages had a bit boosted low end (more likely), and/or I was doing a flawed and unblind A/B (certain). :)
 
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