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NAD Wireless USB DAC 2 Review

Rate this DAC:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 3 1.6%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 3 1.6%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 56 29.0%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 131 67.9%

  • Total voters
    193

amirm

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This is the review and detailed measurements of the NAD Wireless USB 2 stereo DAC. It is on kind loan from a member and costs around $250.
NAD wireless USB DAC 2 Review Analog Coax SPDIF Out stereo.jpg


The unit is smaller than it looks in NAD pictures. The transmitter is tiny and not much bigger than a USB charger. It is self powered over USB and gets warm. The receiver looks fine and sports both RCA analog out and Coax S/PDIF digital:

NAD wireless USB DAC 2 Review Transmitter Receiver Stereo Analog Coax SPDIF Out stereo.jpg


As you see there are three independent RF channels so you can have three such devices in your household.

The longest RCA cable I had allowed me to separate the receiver by about 12 to 15 feet (3 to 4 meters) and performance remained the same. Company spec is 40 meters.

NAD Wireless DAC 2 Measurements
Let's start with digital Coax output out of the unit and see the raw performance independent of the DAC:

NAD wireless USB DAC 2 Measurements Analog Coax SPDIF Out stereo.png


Clearly the transmission line is capable of 24 bit output delivering almost that much in dynamic range. I expected RCA output to be underwhelming but this was NOT the case at all:
NAD wireless USB DAC 2 Measurements Analog RCA Out stereo.png


SINAD is limited by distortion with its highest component very close to threshold of hearing. This allows the Wireless DAC to run shoulder to shoulder with many excellent wired DACs:
Best wireless DAC review stereo.png


Dynamic range is also unexpectedly good:
NAD wireless USB DAC 2 Measurements DNR Analog RCA Out stereo.png


Native output is 2.3 volts by the way and hence the right side bar graphs.

Intermodulation noise and distortion is very competitive again with desktop products:

NAD wireless USB DAC 2 Measurements IMD Distortion Analog RCA Out stereo.png


I expected to see some clock jitter and we have it:
NAD wireless USB DAC 2 Measurements Jitter Analog RCA Out stereo.png


Fortunately it is at harmless levels as indicated. Linearity is nailed in one channel and the other is almost there as well:
NAD wireless USB DAC 2 Measurements Linearity Analog RCA Out stereo.png


I was surprised to see my Multitone test run despite its 192 kHz sampling. Spec says 96 kHz but seems like the transmitter accepts this and performs some kind of resampling internally. The conversion generates some quantization error but results are still very good:
NAD wireless USB DAC 2 Measurements Multitone Analog RCA Out stereo.png


NAD wireless USB DAC 2 Measurements Multitone Analog Coax SPDIF Out stereo.png


Finally, distortion vs frequency is very respectable as well:

NAD wireless USB DAC 2 Measurements distortion vs frequency Analog RCA Out stereo.png


Conclusions
Let's face it: this device has no business performing so well! I expected to see a SINAD of 94 dB and performance no better than 16 bits. With no expectation that someone like us would measure it to this level of a detail, an engineer made sure measured performance is this good. Oddly, the specs are very poor (SNR of > 80 dB for example). This is a first as well.

Dedicated wireless streaming is an extremely good feature allowing you to place your computer where you want and attach to your stereo without any of the hassles of Wifi and Bluetooth. Turn it and it works. I am willing to give up some performance to get there but NAD doesn't ask you to even do that. Combine that with the $249 price and you have a winner in my book. FYI there is one on sale on Amazon for just $149!

In the rare situation where you think you want even better performance, you can use the Coax to drive an external DAC.

It is my pleasure to recommend the NAD Wireless USB DAC 2. Job well done!

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

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

martijn86

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Haha this is a very pleasant surprise! A properly engineered, great value, wireless product from NAD? A useful tool that 'just works' with a proper pricetag? They promise mediocre performance and deliver an audibly flawless product? More where that came from please!
 

Koeitje

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I would say the DAC performance is fine, but the fact that it has wireless that makes it great. Pricing also is also right where I would expect it to be.
 

Tangband

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Amirm - can you regulate the volume from the digital spdif output ?

If its possible , then this unit might be very interesting for owners of monitors with digital input.
 
OP
amirm

amirm

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Amirm - can you regulate the volume from the digital spdif output ?

If its possible , then this unit might be very interesting for owners of monitors with digital input.
There is no volume control for analog or digital.
 

dougi

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Discontinued in Oz I think. Not great value with the local RRP of A$429 in any event.
 

amper42

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No standard USB Type B input connector found on most DACs and RF range will likely be inferior to wifi. Can't imagine why someone would want this? Most streaming is coming from internet anyway so it's not like wifi is uncommon? Raspberry Pi offers more ports, streaming protocols and options for the same or less money.
 

PeteL

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Good device, good price, but equipping the main unit with wired inputs (USB, coax, Toslink) would IMHO add functionality without much extra cost. Probably just a marketing decision.
Connectors are way up there in BOM cost, along with an extra usb receiver chip, some signal switching mux. Really after the chassis and Bare PCB, they are the most expensive components you'll find in a product.
 

Dennis_FL

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Also --- Burr-Brown DAC so no hump!!

I don't understand the channels (1-2-3)......Only one works at a time?

EDIT: I'm going to answer my own question. I bet there are three channels in case you get interference from other electronics (eg, telephone) you can try another.
 
Last edited:

Lambda

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You don’t have to worry about ground loops from your PC with this one.

How is it handling interference or low signal?
is it glitching and braking up or lowering Quality?

judging from the USB ports this is a very old design so i imagine it is maybe just transmitting "raw" spdif
 

MarcosCh

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Wow, 40 meter range is a very long range. Thank you for the review, it is good to know this exists and most importantly it performs well.

However, besides a garden party, a stadium size listening room or a bizarre field measurement, i struggle to think of a use case for me nowadays. If i have a system in a spot without wifi signal, i would try to fix that and plug a wiim before investing in this device, specially as with this the communication is unidirectional from wherever the source is... Don't know, i am not surprised if there are so many for sale in ebay... but well, use cases are always way more than one can imagine...
 

restorer-john

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What a cool little product. Totally unexpected performance for the price. Thanks @amirm for another great 'hidden gem' review. Prices will skyrocket on the back of the review...
 
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