NAD C326BEE vs CA 650A

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Any thoughts?

I took my 650 to sevenoaks to audition some B&W 685 and CM1 speakers and while i was there i tried the NAD out with the same speakers. I've always thought my system was quite bright so the NAD sounded refreshingly neutral, i also liked the quality of the controls, the buttons can feel a bit wobbly on the 650. But then just before i left i had the 650 hooked back up for one last song and it just sounded more exciting than the NAD, almost like coming back to an old friend.

I haven't had the 650 for long so could potentially still change it, but i was just wondering what some other peoples' views were.

Thanks,

Chris
 
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Anonymous

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The NAD most definitely. CA and Marantz kit have never impressed me in any way.
 

Cypher

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I would also go for the C326BEE. Very nice amp.

Never liked the Cambridge Audio sound. It sounds a bit artificial to me.
 

matthewpiano

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Nov 23, 2007
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Its not a clear cut choice.

The 650A takes a lot of patience to match properly, and unless you get the source and the speakers right, it doesn't deliver as you would expect it to. The NAD, on the other hand, is much more gregarious and will be easier to fit into pretty much any system.

However, I believe the overall performance ceiling of the Cambridge, when properly partnered, is much higher than that of the NAD, and that is why I've continued to pursue this path.

I would strongly recommend trying your amp with some Q Acoustics floorstanders, particularly if you can get your hands on the end-of-line 1030i or 1050i. The combination is excellent - but it does need a clean sounding source. Partnering with a Cambridge CD player is ideal. I'll probably be upgrading my 340C to the 650C in a couple of weeks, but even the lowly 340C makes very enjoyable music through the 650A and 1030i combination.

However, the CA amp is never going to be warm and cosy. Its a very detailed and open amp and its very revealing of recordings. Whatever you partner it with don't expect it to flatter any recordings. The NAD would flatter poorer recordings more and would provide greater warmth. NAD's headphone outputs are significantly better than CA's as well, if that is an issue for you.

As I've said I THINK I know the path ahead of me, but I'm not rushing. It will be a week or so before I make my next move just to ensure that this is the sound for me. There is still time for me to change my mind and run the Qs with a NAD instead. One thing is for sure, these stunning speakers won't be going anywhere.

Good luck and keep us informed.
 

ear

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how do you compare the treble on the 1030 say with the diamond 9.1? is it more lively or the same?(i dont seem to get an audition with Q acoustics anywere)
 

matthewpiano

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ear:how do you compare the treble on the 1030 say with the diamond 9.1? is it more lively or the same?(i dont seem to get an audition with Q acoustics anywere)

Slightly more open and alive than the Diamond 9.1s but, even with the Cambridge amp, they never become uncomfortable. Interestingly I've just heard them powered by a friend's NAD and they sound terrific. With a NAD they seem to sound very natural and organic. They are a much better speaker than the Diamonds all round IMO, but I'd still say an audition is essential to make sure.
 

Gerrardasnails

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ValianTX:The NAD most definitely. CA and Marantz kit have never impressed me in any way.

There are plenty of high end stuff from Marantz and the 840 range of CA is as good as anything else in it's price range.

I've not heard the 650A but I found the NAD pretty poor to be honest.
 

matthewpiano

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OK, some further thoughts on this comparison, and I hope it helps the OP as much to read them as it helps me to put them down in black and white.

The Cambridge 650A is a hyper-detailed amplifier with a massive sense of the space in which the music takes place. It seperates out all the strands of the music and you hear everything on the CD. Furthermore the 650A provides a very clear window on the production values of an album and shows poor engineering and production up for what it is. The treble extends very high, whilst the bass is on the lean but tuneful side. Midrange has absolutely no extra muscle to it whatsoever.

The NAD provides plenty of detail and is quite fast and punchy. It provides less spatial information and is less critical of the production values of the recording. There is an additional element of warmth to the bass and midrange and the defining character of voices is clearly portrayed. The treble is more rolled off than the Cambridge but never in a way which impedes on musical communication. The overall sound is less analytical and more of a fully integrated picture.

Both are excellent amplifiers and, to be honest, the cheaper NAD C315BEE sounds just as pleasing as the C326BEE. In the end the CA Vs NAD decision comes down to whether you favour maximum information or a more organic musicality.
 

ear

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i really dont like the 9 diamonds.always seem a bit restrained on the treble.guess the 1030i has a more spacious treble than the 1020i?
 

matthewpiano

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ear:i really dont like the 9 diamonds.always seem a bit restrained on the treble.guess the 1030i has a more spacious treble than the 1020i?

Sorry ear, but I haven't heard the 1020i for a very long time so it would be unfair of me to answer that.
 
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Anonymous

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Would a c326BEE vs CA 640A comparison be practically the same thing?
 
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Anonymous

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matthewpiano:OK, some further thoughts on this comparison, and I hope it helps the OP as much to read them as it helps me to put them down in black and white.The Cambridge 650A is a hyper-detailed amplifier with a massive sense of the space in which the music takes place. It seperates out all the strands of the music and you hear everything on the CD. Furthermore the 650A provides a very clear window on the production values of an album and shows poor engineering and production up for what it is. The treble extends very high, whilst the bass is on the lean but tuneful side. Midrange has absolutely no extra muscle to it whatsoever. The NAD provides plenty of detail and is quite fast and punchy. It provides less spatial information and is less critical of the production values of the recording. There is an additional element of warmth to the bass and midrange and the defining character of voices is clearly portrayed. The treble is more rolled off than the Cambridge but never in a way which impedes on musical communication. The overall sound is less analytical and more of a fully integrated picture.Both are excellent amplifiers and, to be honest, the cheaper NAD C315BEE sounds just as pleasing as the C326BEE. In the end the CA Vs NAD decision comes down to whether you favour maximum information or a more organic musicality.

Spot on! Nice one :)
 
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Anonymous

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thanks for your insight mathewpiano. you're right, the 650 is incredably detailed. i've matched it to a pair of B&W CM1 speakers and am very happy with the results.

have you moved on from the Quads?

Still not sure about how the 650 handels fast paced guitar work though, sometimes it can sill sound a bit bright and muddled, some heavier oasis songs can sound a bit harsh.
 

SSM

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Sorry for coming into this thread late. I really appreciate the comments and comparisons of the two amps as I have the C326 going on in my study's system. Although the NAD has been wonderful, I feel I can increase system synergy by going for an amp with a more open top-end and a crisper presentation. I take it the 650A is ahead of the C326 here? What about its bass? If its tighter and leaner, it'll be a perfect sidegrade for me.

SS

ps: to throw a curved ball in, does Rotel's new RA-04SE tread the middle line between the NAD's warmth and the 650A's incisiveness?!!
 

d_a_n1979

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Yes; very much so!

The NAD is a solid sounding amp with a great soundstage and superb bass weight but some people find that too much

The C/A 650 is an OK? amlp IMO but sounds a little lean sometimes; clinical to a tee...

The Rotel RA04SE has a superb soundstage with good bass weight thats taught and punchy but not as in-depth as the NAD. It's got a smooth midrange with a lush treble as well.

Another amp to consider IMO would be the Audiolab 8000S
 

SSM

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Spooky. I was looking at the 8000S as well, as it's supposedly crisp and taut. Just not sure if I want to buy from the IAG umbrella though.


The RA-04SE sounds like it could do the trick. The 40W rating is just a little measly compared to its price alternatives.


SS
 
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Anonymous

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SSM:
Spooky. I was looking at the 8000S as well, as it's supposedly crisp and taut. Just not sure if I want to buy from the IAG umbrella though.


The RA-04SE sounds like it could do the trick. The 40W rating is just a little measly compared to its price alternatives.
SS Whats the difference between buying from IAG or Audio Partnership?
 
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Anonymous

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May I begin my first day at the forum with a question?


I have followed the conversation with interest and wanted to ask if the diffrences between the CA 650 and the CA 550 are as small as it was said to be between the NAD 326 and NAD 316? Or would you pic the NAD 326 compared to the CA 550?

Thanks, Michael
 

audioaffair

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We can second the C326 - a stunning amp in many respects. Now worth auditioning alongside the Yamaha A-S200 which is a similar price if you'd consider the latter as a possibility.
 
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Anonymous

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Hi,

do you mean the Yamaha A-S2000? I could not find an A-S200, but the A-S2000 is much more expensive.

Greetings, Michael
 

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