• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). There are daily reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

Review and Measurements of NAD C 320BEE PWR Amplifier

pjug

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Feb 2, 2019
Messages
1,598
Likes
1,366
Keep in mind this one can be found used for ~150€ while the C275BEE is ~1400€ new..
Indeed. On the other hand the C275BEE has a lot more power. But I agree that the price is high. Too bad that the C275BEE is the only Class AB power amplifier in the NAD lineup now.
My opinion is that other companies offer better value than the C275BEE, e.g Outlaw M2200 and Monoprice Monolith 2-chan.
 

Eetu

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Mar 11, 2020
Messages
717
Likes
1,009
Location
Helsinki
Indeed. On the other hand the C275BEE has a lot more power. But I agree that the price is high. Too bad that the C275BEE is the only Class AB power amplifier in the NAD lineup now.
My opinion is that other companies offer better value than the C275BEE, e.g Outlaw M2200 and Monoprice Monolith 2-chan.
I would also look out for NAD's C270, C272, 214, 216 and 218 power amps on the used market. All with more power than the C320BEE but otherwise spec'd similarly.
 

Rollingsound514

Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Dec 16, 2018
Messages
87
Likes
34
Location
Montreal, Canada
I run one of these with a dx3 pro bypassing the pre amp... It's powering some kef q300s... Lacks low end arguably but holy crap the noise floor is so low. Even with dx3pro at full blast with nothing playing I have to put my ear right up to the driver to hear the faintest noise it's black for all intents and purposes... For the money it's kinda insane tbh.


LS50s wouldn't pair well with these eh? Need more juice?
 

Alec Kinnear

Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 28, 2021
Messages
63
Likes
27
NAD went through some struggles and transformations around that time as I remember. One of the business model changes was the introduction of some low end products which weren’t necessarily designed or built well. I had one of those horrors. Reading the poorer pre-amp quality of this unit above reminded me of this. I think NAD was best with its amplifier designs, not so much with the other stuff.

....

It wasn’t representative of NAD, for sure, but it was my first and last NAD.

I have both this C320 BEE and the bigger brother C372. The difference between pre-amp quality is night and day. The C372 also offers a proper thumping bass with tone controls disabled. With the C320 BEE to get a full bass sound it's necessary to dial up the bass tone control.

The difference between the two units is not just one of power/watts but of quality.

That said, the C320 BEE pre-amplifier is far more listenable than a brand new Pro-Ject Pre Box DS2. The Pre Box DS2 is sharp and sibilant, sounds very electronic. More so when volume is raised. Absolutely must add equalizer at source (no tone controls on Pre Box DS2). The Pre Box DS2 would probably test better though – sibilance unlistenable for me. The C320 BEE pre-amplifier is somewhat better than the one built into a Yamaha R-S700. Music from the R-S700 always sounds like it's coming through a pillow, due to the opamps, even in pure direct. On the other hand, the power amplifier on the R-S700 is very capable. Fed with a good pre-amp, the R-S700 power section sounds great, with no background noise (Yamaha must have some patents or special technology to create perfectly black silence when the signal only contains hiss).

The winner in my stable by ten lengths both for power and for pre-amp is the NAD 372 – unfortunately the power section gave up seven years ago and the pre-amp section started limping about six months ago, hence the experiments with other gear.

PS. If any of the technical readers are anywhere near Vienna or Bratislava, I'm looking for someone to completely and competently recondition my C372. I can ship easily and affordably (a C372 is heavy) within Austria, Slovakia or Czech Republic.
 
Last edited:

Mart68

Major Contributor
Joined
Mar 22, 2021
Messages
1,336
Likes
2,380
Location
England
Intrigued by the good performance of the power amp of this NAD I bought one from eBay to have a play around with (£113 delivered).

It's awesomely plasticky and the binding posts are nasty and won't take standard banana plugs so had to use some adaptors.

I originally intended to run it directly from a Soncoz SGD1 DAC but got some low-level hum with that. So I partnered it with a Philips 22AH380 'Black Tulip' pre-amp (sadly I have a house full of equipment accumulated over many years) and this gives very good results although the limited power output is noticeable if you crank it up, it does get a little coarse.

My speakers are quite efficient (90db), not sure I'd bother with it if you have inefficient speakers and want to play at high spl but otherwise impossible to fault for the money.

here it is in action with Audiolab cd transport and a Topping E30 DAC:



Great site btw, been reading for a few years now and learned a lot. Thanks for having me.
 

Mart68

Major Contributor
Joined
Mar 22, 2021
Messages
1,336
Likes
2,380
Location
England
Thanks, I did attempt that but when I found they were not going to give in easily I gave up. :) The adaptors work fine so it's not a major issue.

Surprising, though, that on an amp from 2003 it won't take banana plugs as standard.
 

Alec Kinnear

Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 28, 2021
Messages
63
Likes
27
Thanks, I did attempt that but when I found they were not going to give in easily I gave up. :) The adaptors work fine so it's not a major issue.

Surprising, though, that on an amp from 2003 it won't take banana plugs as standard.

When you remove the plastic covers on my NAD C320BEE, it does take banana plugs without issue. The covers are there due to EU safety regulations (banana plugs are not welcome in the EU as children can stick them into power sockets). The original concern was a legitimate one. The better solution for safety (since become the solution and one we use) is to fill all unused power sockets with manual childproof locks.
 

Dackel

Member
Joined
Jun 21, 2021
Messages
30
Likes
21
I think that these small NADs are probably one of the worst kept secret in the audio world. Not for show offs for sure. Mine has a chip out of the plastic front plate even. It isn't pretty for sure. Actually I dont have this exact model but the later one c326bee but I presume internally it is pretty much the same. Of all the amps I have and have had I come back to this all the time. Although it won't blow your socks off it presents everything in a very tight cohesive way. The amplifier runs really hot which makes me think that it isn't very efficient. I think the more technical enthusiasts can explain why it is so hot? The headphone section on mine is also very serviceable and conjures up just a little more warmth and depth in comparison with the Topping L30. If this ever died I would buy myself another. They are as cheap as chips on the used market...
 

Aleksander87

New Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2021
Messages
3
Likes
0
Since this amp (and other similar older NAD amps) have a jumper between the pre and the power stage, I guess you could throw in a Minidsp 2x4hd in there, basically making this an integrated amp with DSP
 

as labs

Member
Joined
Mar 10, 2022
Messages
33
Likes
17
Location
hudson valley, ny
very cool to see this here!

i bought this same unit as my big college hifi purchase some 18 years ago (good lord...) and have been using it since. it spent some time as a dedicated HF amplifier in an active stack and now lives happily in my living room streaming and playing records. it's always sounded fabulous to me; nice to see that it has decent objective performance within its design intent.
 

asdf

New Member
Joined
May 19, 2022
Messages
3
Likes
1
(much deleted)
I did not seek out the manual and remain unsure how this thing powers on. You hit the power button but nothing happens until you press one of the input buttons???

The unit appears to run cool but there are large holes on the bottom where the amplifier heatsink is and if you touch that heatsink, it gets quite hot.

In testing, without undue stress, the unit went into protection and would not reset until I cooled it off with a fan and left it off for a few minutes. Most amps survive my testing without going into protection mode since I only push them to max power for seconds.

Also, in the process of changing my setup for 4 to 8 ohm, the unit went into oscillation, producing 107 watts on its own with no signal. So there is some instability in the design. This happened when I changed my load impedance to 8 ohm so perhaps you won't see it if you don't mess with speaker output while the unit is on.



Personally, I think 67 watts is not enough for home listening.
I just found this review and I think that I can add some possible explanations for a few of the review findings. I own two examples of NAD C340 in different systems. This C320BEE appears to be very similar. I am pleased to see that it still tested so well.
There is only one common fault with these amplifiers.The loudspeaker protection board contains a relay which connects after quite a few seconds, avoiding any switch on thump. Unfortunately the loudspeaker protection board is in a place where it gets hot, and a capacitor on this board sometimes fails. This can result in the loudspeakers being connected very slowly, or not at all. This may account for the confusion about how to switch it on. The fix is to replace this capacitor, which is both simple and inexpensive. I have been lucky so far, as I have not had to do this with either of mine.
The amplifier has a feature where it senses the impedance of the connected loudspeakers (actually the DC resistance, I expect), and adjusts itself to provide the rated power into 4 or 8 ohms. I expect that it does this by selecting a different power transformer tap, though I haven't checked this. I am guessing that the designers did not consider the use case where the speakers were changed while it was switched on. This may account for the overheating problems and the oscillation, neither of which I have ever encountered in real world use.
In UK rooms, which tend to be smaller than USA rooms, and with 1990s loudspeakers (has it really been that long?), these amplifiers are plenty loud enough for me.
Nice review, Amir, Thank you.
 

audio_tony

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 24, 2019
Messages
312
Likes
351
Location
Leeds, UK
Their older amps were far better. look at the iconic NAD 320. the best selling amp ever!
I think you mean the 3020 or the 3020A

SdBJW6DiHWWA6x26GY4eB5-320-80.jpg


image1-1.jpg
 

frki16

Member
Joined
Nov 11, 2022
Messages
24
Likes
15
opinion about NAD C356BEE?
think to take one on used market and pair it with topping e30 ii
 

peng

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
May 12, 2019
Messages
3,556
Likes
3,146
opinion about NAD C356BEE?
think to take one on used market and pair it with topping e30 ii

I have been using my C326BEE for 5.5 years and like it a lot. It has been used daily, no issues at all. The 356 seems very similar, just more powerful.
 

asdf

New Member
Joined
May 19, 2022
Messages
3
Likes
1
Sorry, no experiece of this one. This will have been manufactured after the "capacitor plague" of 2000-2007, so there's a good chance that it won't need re-capping. It looks like a development of the excellent class AB amps of the previous 10 years, rather than the cost-reduced stuff that came afterwards. If it's not too expensive, I would be inclined to take a punt on it, on the basis that it would be easy enough to sell it on if I didn't like it.
 

digitalfrost

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jul 22, 2018
Messages
1,294
Likes
2,329
Location
Palatinate, Germany
My C320BEE has been running since I got it and for a while I had it sitting sideways between my desk and a shelf (used it as power amplifier for the subwoofers) and it gets up two 100°F in here during summer. Still works.
 

Keith_W

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 26, 2016
Messages
352
Likes
358
Does the NAD BEE buzz? Does it have a honeyed sound? Sorry this is not meant to be stinging criticism. But I found it interesting they painted it only black ... where are the yellow stripes?
 
Top Bottom