NAD C355BEE

TR10.08.2009

Integrated amplifiers

Meet the new integrated amplifier from NAD. It is the very same NAD brand that has been with us for several decades already. Except their Masters series the devices of the British manufacturer continue wearing coats in shades of grey. Their sound is not grey at all, however.

Function and form

97%
Ease of use
27%
Sound
80%
Appearance

The B.E.E. means Bjorn Eric Edvardsen, the chief designer of NAD. The C355BEE continues using the NAD's proprietary solutions like PowerDrive - the circuit that automatically detects the impedance of the connected speakers and adjusts the amplifier parameters to drive this load optimally. Thus the amplifier is safe to use with the speakers which have lumpy impedance curve. Bjorn Eric Edvardsen explains that „unlike competitors NAD always specifies the continuous power in the whole audible range" na rozdíl od konkurence NAD uvádí ve specifikacích minimální trvalý výkon v celém slyšitelném pásmu.“ which means 2x80 watts. However, this NAD can deliver more than 140W of peak power - enough to drive any speaker. Other typical NAD's solution is the "soft clipping" that can be switched off by a button on its front panel. In the BEE line Evardsen also used a distortion correction circuit that drives the device's distortion below 0,005% for most of its power output.

The C355BEE offers tone controls that work very decently and can be defeated by the push of a TONE DEFEAT button.

Bass management

Weight
70
Slam
43
Articulation
30

If you have ever run out of inputs it will never happen with the NAD. It offers seven line inputs (single ended RCA), RS-232 connector for multiroom installations, IR connector, 12V bus, binding posts for two pairs of speakers, possibility to make the preamplfier and the power amplfiers separates, and an integrated phono preamplfier. When I tested the preamp stage separately driving two BEE's and the sound had even better control. The connectivity also supports easy integration of a subwoofer. If you are still not convinced then maybe look at the front panel to see a USB inpuut to connect any digital device including your favourite smart phone.

Clarity & delicacy

Detail
39
Air
30
Transparency
36

The NAD's solid and firm bass grabbed my attention from the very start. The NAD reaches very low and this gives the music dense and strong foundation. I listened to Royksopp (The Understanding) and through the NAD the sound was saturated, comfortably full and round. My ears loved it. The midrange followedd the bass with an informative, detailed and well balanced presentation. There was nothing to complain about considering the NAD's low asking price.

Tonal accuracy

Timbre
25
Dynamics
27
Temporal resolution
27

The vocals are very alive through the NAD and so are strings or brass. The amplifier is not able to convey textural resolution (it does not have to for its price) so a listener can really enjoy the music instead dissecting the sound into tiny elements. The soundstage of the C355BEE is wide and deep and very liquid, and it does not disintegrated even at low (or high) volume levels. As outlined I highly recommend auditioning two power amps driven by the NAD's preamplifier section as it catapults the sound into the next level.

Spatial resolution

Holography
62
Soundstage width
64
Soundstage depth
62

I only wished the NAD to have a bit more spark as it was very understated and sometimes too dark, lacking more air. Cymbals, for example, trail off too early and a triangle's ambient envelope is not fully developed. However, it is fair to say that at least those sounds are tonally correct, unlike with many competitors where the sound is more synthetic than natural.

Price as reviewed:19 000,- Kč

Recommended resellers

Gaia Connections, Praha, tel. +420 286 885 599

Associated components

  • Sources: Yamaha CD-S2000
  • Interconnects and speaker cables: Cardas Cross, Nordost Flatline, Nordost SPM Reference, Dynaudio OCOS
  • Loudspeakers: B&W 703DM, Dynaudio Contour C1.1

Gallery

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