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Review and Measurements of NAD C 320BEE PWR Amplifier

digitalfrost

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#42
Very nice to see this here. While I don't use this amp any more, this was my first "audiophile" amplifier and I still own it to this day.

I don't know about NAD electronics but their HP-50 headphone is a beautiful creation
I use it at work. It's the best closed headphone I've come across. I can drown out my co-workers and office noice without ANC.
 
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Dialectic

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#43

617

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#45
I have a c325BEE, similar model. Not sure if it's more powerful or less, but I've never sent into protection, and I kept it inside a metal cabinet in a room with no A/C. I would characterize these amps as pretty bomb proof so I found that comment interesting.
 
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#46
Hi! Great to see popular and mid priced amps tested. Hope we'll see more(atoll, marantz, Sony...). About Nad, here is a French review of the c355bee from an hifi repair technician.
https://hifirep.jimdo.com/amplificateur-nad-c355bee/
To resume, great schematics but undersized and some poor components(capacitors), which caused a lot of heat.
Check the Atoll In100se review, shame on you Atoll! Lol
 

audimus

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#47
Hi! Great to see popular and mid priced amps tested. Hope we'll see more(atoll, marantz, Sony...). About Nad, here is a French review of the c355bee from an hifi repair technician.
https://hifirep.jimdo.com/amplificateur-nad-c355bee/
To resume, great schematics but undersized and some poor components(capacitors), which caused a lot of heat.
Check the Atoll In100se review, shame on you Atoll! Lol
Hopefully more currently available ones can be tested, especially the non mass-market ones. I guess it depends a lot on who makes what equipment available.

Thanks for the site link. Interesting read. Noticed the article on the Adcom GFA 535. Some of us always preferred the Adcoms over Nad during that period. Like NAD, the current barely alive Adcom does not represent what used to be.
 

invaderzim

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#48
... Noticed the article on the Adcom GFA 535. Some of us always preferred the Adcoms over Nad during that period. Like NAD, the current barely alive Adcom does not represent what used to be.
I have almost bought a GFA-535 so many times over the last few months.

I think it will really be fun as we get more speaker amps both new and old tested. It is the go-to response in many areas that when someone asks about a new amp people tell them to buy vintage because 'you get so much more for your money'. It is great to get actual tests on them so we know if the legendary components really stand up to the new ones. Or if for a hundred or two more could you get a new amp with a warranty and all new components that would perform better.
 
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audimus

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#49
I have almost bought a GFA-535 so many times over the last few months.

I think it will really be fun as we get more speaker amps both new and old tested. It is the go-to response in many areas that when someone asks about a new amp people tell them to buy vintage because 'you get so much more for your money'. It is great to get actual tests on them so we know if the legendary components really stand up to the new ones. Or if for a hundred or two more could you get a new amp with a warranty and all new components that would perform better.
I guess it depends on what it is and what you are testing.

For example, pure power amps from the past can, I suspect, hold their own against new comparable ones. Because they are discounted so much, it is often cheaper to get them upgraded (there are specialists that do this for the classic brands) with new caps, solders strengthened etc. In that niche, I do agree with “getting more for the money”. Adcom GFA 545 is still a great buy when you find one that is in a decent condition even if you were to get a overhaul. Comparable ones will cost several times more. But buying vintage equipment is not always a connect and forget affair and can be like buying a vintage car.

But it gets much more complicated when you extend beyond power amps to pre-stages, DACs and decoders.

What the new ones can give you is all the advantages of newer technology, not just new components inside. Latest HDMI versions, more decoders, cleaner DACs, connectivity, etc. So the feature set becomes a deciding factor rather than the absolute quality of the sound.

Unfortunately, mid-tier these days is either mass-market kitchen sink devices marketed for features or bare minimum stereo equipment that is difficult to integrate into modern ecosystem of a/v content consumption without spending a lot more.

A few do standout with exceptional balance of features and quality like the NAD T 758 v3 without breaking the bank. Would love to see something like that tested - of things that you can get new these days. Especially if it can be compared to things that cost twice as much or more. Are the latter really built to higher standards and meet higher bars in results if features were similar or satisfied the minimum needs?
 
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restorer-john

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#50
For example, pure power amps from the past can, I suspect, hold their own against new comparable ones.
Without a doubt there are infinitely more (in sheer numbers, brands and models) truly high performance power amplifiers from the past, than there are new on the market now. There just isn't any comparison and apart from a few standout performers, (Benchmark/Purifi etc) the situation is pretty bleak.

Consumers were spoilt for choice in a highly competitive market- now it is the opposite IMO.
 

Wombat

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#51
I have a c325BEE, similar model. Not sure if it's more powerful or less, but I've never sent into protection, and I kept it inside a metal cabinet in a room with no A/C. I would characterize these amps as pretty bomb proof so I found that comment interesting.
I use a C 326BEE. No issues. It does run warmer at idle than other amps I am familiar with. This is normal, it seems.
 

Dana reed

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#52
Yes, it is the power availability which can limit performance. Look up the reviews I have done previous to this for other options. In general, class-d amplifiers provide copious amount of power that one usually needs.
I mean some speakers will blow your doors off with 50 Watts (Klipsch, Tekton), but some seem like they need 500-1000 W to do the job (Magneplanar)
 

Psk

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#53
As mentioned, 60wpc is fine if you have the right speakers, it’s just that many new model speakers aren’t very efficient. I have the 320bee, and I have a set of Ascend Acoustics CBM 170, which have a sensitivity of 91db. In a small room, this system is plenty loud and listenable. But all my serious listening is within 15ft, usually closer. If I’m past that, my system is providing background sounds. I once auditioned a set of B&W 601 which have a sensitivity of 89db, and my 60wpc amp couldn’t make the speakers move much. The B&Ws were a little bigger than the CBM 170, though not by much. It’s hard to say what exactly will work just based on the numbers, but they can be a guide. Some speakers can get surprisingly loud with a 60 wpc amp, i.e. Klipsch and ProAc.
 
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#54
I bought this NAD amp in 2005, (replacing an older 70-w Kenwood), same model but with a frontal 3.5mm stereo input. I sold it on ebay a few years ago. I didn't like its character, it sounded too forward and 'nervous' (not the only one to say it). It didn't sound well at low volumes, and later with 89db JBL One monitors for TV I didn't have it past 9 o-clock mark. Volume wheel too hard to regulate in little steps. I bought it for 300€ and sold it for 200€ I think.
This year I bought the acclaimed Onkyo A-9010 integrated, 250€ and I am happier. I didn't have them aside to compare but I think it sounds better to me. Each amplifier has its character, no doubt.

Amir's analysis are very interesting and scientific, but I'm afraid the sonic character of a device doesn't come across in charts. It can be perfect and not sound good to you. I am glad that its power stage was better than the preamp section.
 

Julf

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#55
Amir's analysis are very interesting and scientific, but I'm afraid the sonic character of a device doesn't come across in charts. It can be perfect and not sound good to you. I am glad that its power stage was better than the preamp section.
If you prefer coloration and distortion, that can be seen in the charts...
 
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#56
I have had this amp for ages , at the moment its sitting around connected to the TV and only gets used occasionally for family movie nights. Sound from the headphone out (even on my modest sennheiser's ) is actually quite decent when I stream music to the TV even though I am just running a no name $20DAC (TV only has optical no RCA plugs) .

I am looking into using it for more serious listening and upgrading the DAC to something better - like SMSL M100 , but looking over the measurements it seems that any half decent DAC these days will outperform the capabilities of this amp.

So what do people think - can this amp keep up with modern tech - worth getting a better DAC and stepping up my headphones (some Grados maybe?) to turn this into a solid music listening platform.
 
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#57
Why the distortion vs power plot shows distortion greater than -80 dB while it the "dashboard" SINAD measurement at the same power is -90 dB? Am I missing something?
 
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#60
Considering that it is possible to get this amp just above 100$ in the second-hand market, shouldn’t this be considered a seriously good bang-for-the-buck? I have pair of speakers that are very easy to drive (plus only listening at moderate levels) so byepassing the preamp and feeding from DAC directly seems like a nice and cheap setup. I am surpriced the amp section of this cheap power amp has not gotten more love in this thread and in the review.
 
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