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NAD C390DD - What HiFi Review???

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Overdose

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Feb 8, 2008
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jaxwired said:
What you are really asking is, do all amplifiers and DACs sound the same and therefore only features really matter. My answer is no, they don't. For those that believe that hifi amps do sound different, then it's just a question of which ones sound better and how much better do they sound. I have not heard that Yamaha AVR, but I have heard lots of good quality 2 channel amps and these new NAD amps rank among the best I've heard. Much of the cost of a home theater amp like that Yamaha is due to the sophisticated home theater features and the multiple channel support. A 2 channel hifi amp has much more money sunk into quality parts for just those 2 channel.

For some people, a high quality 2 channel hifi can create incredible beauty and take the listener on a moving and emotional ride. This experience is dulled substantially by even small reductions in sound quality. For these people, the NAD can provide this level of involvement and a lesser amp usually cannot.
Not really, as I'm sure there are differences, but perhaps there shouldn't be any if the design is transparent enough (and the specs do look rather good)?

I get the whole thing of beauty and emotional ride mularky, but I don't think at this price, quality should ever be an issue, merely a difference in presentation and that is not neccessarily better, but preferred by some.
 

SteveR750

Well-known member
Mar 11, 2005
508
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Overdose said:
Not really, as I'm sure there are differences, but perhaps there shouldn't be any if the design is transparent enough (and the specs do look rather good)?

I get the whole thing of beauty and emotional ride mularky, but I don't think at this price, quality should ever be an issue, merely a difference in presentation and that is not neccessarily better, but preferred by some.
Caveat Emptor and all that. Price is not necessarily a good indicator of performance, though cost would be a much better guide but we are not privy to that information. Even then, it's possible to waste your tuime designing rubbish, it's still takes time and money to accomplish.

Better to simply assess aginst the other benchmarks that you know, and decide is it worth my own £££s or not. I don't expect this amp to be as well constructed as the Caspian, simply because I know that NAD has cut costs with the quality of the casework for example, and that's fine with me, but maybe not others.
 

Overdose

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Feb 8, 2008
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SteveR750 said:
Overdose said:
Not really, as I'm sure there are differences, but perhaps there shouldn't be any if the design is transparent enough (and the specs do look rather good)?

I get the whole thing of beauty and emotional ride mularky, but I don't think at this price, quality should ever be an issue, merely a difference in presentation and that is not neccessarily better, but preferred by some.
Caveat Emptor and all that. Price is not necessarily a good indicator of performance, though cost would be a much better guide but we are not privy to that information. Even then, it's possible to waste your tuime designing rubbish, it's still takes time and money to accomplish.

Better to simply assess aginst the other benchmarks that you know, and decide is it worth my own £££s or not. I don't expect this amp to be as well constructed as the Caspian, simply because I know that NAD has cut costs with the quality of the casework for example, and that's fine with me, but maybe not others.
Hmm, that Caspian certainly does look more substantial and the NAD somewhat bland and cheap. I guess I'd find the price less difficult to swallow, if more effort had gone into making the unit look like it was worth as much as it costs.
 

SteveR750

Well-known member
Mar 11, 2005
508
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Overdose said:
SteveR750 said:
Overdose said:
Not really, as I'm sure there are differences, but perhaps there shouldn't be any if the design is transparent enough (and the specs do look rather good)?

I get the whole thing of beauty and emotional ride mularky, but I don't think at this price, quality should ever be an issue, merely a difference in presentation and that is not neccessarily better, but preferred by some.
Caveat Emptor and all that. Price is not necessarily a good indicator of performance, though cost would be a much better guide but we are not privy to that information. Even then, it's possible to waste your tuime designing rubbish, it's still takes time and money to accomplish.

Better to simply assess aginst the other benchmarks that you know, and decide is it worth my own £££s or not. I don't expect this amp to be as well constructed as the Caspian, simply because I know that NAD has cut costs with the quality of the casework for example, and that's fine with me, but maybe not others.
Hmm, that Caspian certainly does look more substantial and the NAD somewhat bland and cheap. I guess I'd find the price less difficult to swallow, if more effort had gone into making the unit look like it was worth as much as it costs.
I'd be glad to know that the cash has gone into making it sound good, not what it looks like or that it has a platinum coated case. I don't want to pay for needless frippery. As it happens, the Caspian is no beauty contest winner either.
 

Andrew Everard

New member
May 30, 2007
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And IMHO, having handled and used both and not just looked at pictures of them, there's no lack of solidity to the way the NAD is put together.
 

SteveR750

Well-known member
Mar 11, 2005
508
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There is now a large box in my living room, and I can hear it calling to me. Not sure if it's purring like a cat, whimpering of a lonely dog, or the sound of distant beating jungle drums, getting closer.

This afternoon's going to be interesting....
 

SteveR750

Well-known member
Mar 11, 2005
508
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OK, first impressions:

There is nothing worng with the build quality from the outset, so don't be fooled by any claim that it's a cheapo NAD product with a flimsy case and buttons, it's far from that and feels as solid as the Caspian M2 in that respect. Not important to me, but understandably is to many. I have read that some folks don't like the speaker terminals, but personally I do, they are easy to access when peering around the back, and the terminal holes are bigger than some amps I've owned, you could almost shove 22kv transmission line cables in there...

Setting up was pretty easy, the menu is intuitive; I haven't yet had to resort to a manual to figure out how to change input, change tone controls, alter impedance etc etc (more on that later). I connected my PC by both USB and Optical, since JRMC allowws you to switch output mode quite easily.

I started off using the same playlist I have used now for a couple of shop demos, a mix of music and resolutions - some at 16/44 and a couple of tracks at 24/92. There is no need to download a specific USB driver off the web to run in USB mode,

[EDIT Oh yes there is!!]

you simply select the NAD USB speaker output on windows set up, but it's not an ASIO connection, so I set to direct sound. This worked OK, but recall it's not a recommended JRMC setting, so switched to WASAPI-Event which worked for half a track then froze. Not sure if it was a software / PC glitch, so restarted JRMC and switched to optical as I know this should work OK. Set the NAD to the corresponding optical in, switch JRMC to Optical out using WASAPI-event and ready to go.

First impression were a much much smoother and more detailed treble, but no sirprise there as the M2/DM+ combination probably isn't the smoothest around. Secod thought was where the hell has the bass gone? That rumbling slam of the M2 was much more subdued, and less attacking perhaps? However, the level of detail was a big step up, the midtange has opened up nicely, boith in tonality and in soundstaging - instruments are easier to follow, and place them in space. The M2 was excellent in this respect, but the NAD is a significant improvement.

After a couple of hours once it had warmed up things are improving slightly, on extended listening to a whole range of tracks, I realise the bass is present, just not so in yer face, which probably is the reason for a clearer midrange, this thing really is neutral. From a musical, rhythm and timing perspective it's excellent.

I have yet to try the room compensation effects, but I'm confident my listening position is in a pretty much optimum position free from boom or bass loss. I'm going to persevere with the USB input to try to optimise that but will need some help from the JRMC forums to do that.

I have to ay though that these D18 speakers are absolutely shimmering now. The upper mid / treble is simply stunning in its cleanliness and it's clarity, I am reminded of my LP12 in that respect.

That said, I cant help wondering what a decent DAC with the M2 would achieve (and I don't mean a change to the REGA dac for example). The Caspian is clearly a fabulous amp, and can grip the D18s like a vice, and it's in no way short changed with its rated 85w compared to the NADs' 150Wpc.

More later....
 

SteveR750

Well-known member
Mar 11, 2005
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Configured the ASIO USB conection properly now....Holy s*** this thing is good! It's suddenly come alive, wow!

Now I've mopped up my spilt coffee; and its burning in a bit (assuming that is responsible for the slowly improving sound).

I've got JRMC streaming via the NAD ASIO driver, and have experimented with the impedance settings on the amp. They were at 8ohms since this is the nominal spec for the D18s. I have just tried them at 7 and 6 ohms and I am sure I have just released a monster. I was listening to The Wall (remastered CD version) and thought this is so open, detailed and huge slam. I'm playing random tracks; Polly Come Home on Raising Sand by Alison Krauss and Robert Plant has the bass drivers almost popping out acros the room. The bottom end slam is simply stupendous, and not because I've got it set to neighbour fighting talk levels either. I am sitting here with a huge grin in my face - not since the 3130 arrived in my student hovel have a laughed so much as what I was hearing.

This is a bigger improvement that installing the Chord QBD into the demo system I listened to earlier this year when I auditioned the Caspian, with the big caveat of course that I was listening to a different pair of speakers.
 

SteveR750

Well-known member
Mar 11, 2005
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DocG said:
SteveR750 said:
...Now I've mopped up my spilt coffee; and its burning in a bit ...
What brand of coffee do you have? :p
I found running the kettle in for around 200 hours made a big difference, proving as ever get the source right. I use digitally filtered mains water too, from dedictated a separate reservoir spur (outdoor spring well). My kettle is connected via a Tacima mains filter, and I only drink out of porcelain cups that have been pre-tempered in my oven at 173 deg C for 45 minutes beforehand. :)
 

DocG

New member
May 1, 2012
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SteveR750 said:
DocG said:
SteveR750 said:
...Now I've mopped up my spilt coffee; and its burning in a bit ...
What brand of coffee do you have? :p
I found running the kettle in for around 200 hours made a big difference, proving as ever get the source right. I use digitally filtered mains water too, from dedictated a separate reservoir spur (outdoor spring well). My kettle is connected via a Tacima mains filter, and I only drink out of porcelain cups that have been pre-tempered in my oven at 173 deg C for 45 minutes beforehand. :)
Oh, I misunderstood, Steve! Thought the coffee was burning into your floor!
 

SteveR750

Well-known member
Mar 11, 2005
508
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jerry klinger said:
Steve - quick comparison of 390DD with Caspian M2 - marks out of ten?
Impossible - the comparison is Caspian M2 + Dacmagic+ against the NAD. In which case 7 vs 9, but I have to say the Caspian has an immense bass that I think even the NAD doesn't quite match in terms of sheer attack and control. They are both punchy, but the Roksan edges it I think.

It's by no means a knockout contest, and I need to try the Caspian with a£1k ish DAC to give it a fair comparison. There are a few NAIM DACs on ebay at the moment that might be interesting, or maybe NADs own M51. I've also been considering the Chord Qute, since I was so impressed with its big brother the QBD76. I was hoping to really fall in love with the NAD, as I have a real fondness for their stuff over the years, but the improvements in the treble smoothness and extra detail (and there's lots of that) don't make me want to burn my credit card just yet.

Also, and maybe coincidentally, maybe not; after I installed the NAD ASIO USB driver, my PC has gone on the fritz, had multiple blue screens and total system freeze events yesterday evening. Have restored back to per driver install so we'll see now today if that cures it - if so the NAD is definitely going back until I know for sure there is no issue with the software.
 

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