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NAD C390DD Direct Digital DAC/Amplifier


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harmonica2, you can see my other components in my signature. Generally these represent higher price points than the 390DD by themselves, let alone in combination. But I'm not sure how relevant that is. When you get down to subtle differences in refinement and such, yes. But recessed vocals? That should not be a price issue.

 

I'm trying the NAD because the technology fascinates me and, if it really works, then it should compare favorably to separates well in excess of the NAD's <$3,000 price. We'll see. I'm really enjoying it, I will say that.

Mac Mini 5,1 [i5, 2.3 GHz, 8GB, Mavericks] w/ Roon -> Ethernet -> TP Link fiber conversion segment -> microRendu w/ LPS-1 -> Schiit Yggdrasil

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Good to hear. The vocals thing is odd and I hope to get to a better understanding of what's going on as I experiment some more.

Mac Mini 5,1 [i5, 2.3 GHz, 8GB, Mavericks] w/ Roon -> Ethernet -> TP Link fiber conversion segment -> microRendu w/ LPS-1 -> Schiit Yggdrasil

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've been reading many threads on these forums over the last couple of years, since I sold my Cyrus CDP and replaced it with a PC running JRMC 17

 

I've just got my hands on a NAD c390DD on home demo, which might potentially replace my current Caspian M2 and CA Dacmagic+ driving ProAc D18 floorstanders. I have to say I was initialy underwhelmed, but once I sorted out the NAD ASIO driver, and let it run for a couple of hours, it's starting to sound simply stunning. I know it's unfair to compare to the DM+ but then I knew I was always going to upgrade that at some point.

 

I've read with interest this thread, and am interested to hear what others have found by experimenting with the output impedance settings! I initially set mine to 8ohms per the nominal spec for the ProAcs, but find they come a little bit more alive everywhere at 5 or 6 ohms setting, by that I mean a slightly livelier top end (which might be a hardening to some, but I've got 46 year old ears) and a more dynamic bottom end with more slam. I also find I prefer the USB connection compared to optical. FWIW is you think there are audible differences in the cables, I'm using a relatively cheap Belkin gold plated USB cable and a TCI optical cable.

 

Either way, I agree this is one monster of an amp.

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Initially when I got my NAD I was underwhelmed - all right but what was the fuss. Then I changed the impedance setting from 4 to 8 and WOW - exactly as you describe. Good idea to experiment a bit.

 

Thanks

Bill

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Not sure if this is coincidence, but since I installed the NAD USB driver, my laptop has started acting up. It's had several blue screen events, and just frozen 3-4 times this afternoon and evening. I uninstalled the driver and PC has now completely packed up - it's in windows system self repair mode trying presumably to find a system restore point. It's enough for me to decide not to buy the NAD, not yet anyway, I don't want to continue experimenting to determine if it is the driver download or not.

The NAD is very good, but I'm still not convinced the improvement over the Roksan is worth the extra cost.

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NAD indeed looks interesting, and I seriously consider buying it for my second system. I'd like to check if anyone has experience with its phono module. How good/bad is it? The reason I am interested is that most of my sources are digital I still want to use my trusty vinyl player, so I am in the need for either a line level input or an onboard phono stage. If anyone can comment on it I would very much appreciate. I frankly do not expect miracles there, but you never know

Main system: Music Server (Win 7/64+Foobar+JPlay) -> Furutech GT2 USB Cable -> Audiolab M-DAC -> Plinius 9200 (Chord Anthem interconnects) -> ATC SCM 40 w/Kimber Kable 8TC speaker cables

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I'm going to one of the few to against the flow here. I returned the NAD back to the dealer yesterday, having swapped my Caspian M2 and DM+ back into service. Nowhere near as smooth or as detailed, but the music just bounced along more enthusiastically, has a bit more space around the soundstage and just a more infectious delivery.

 

Next direction is to try a better DAC in the same system, currently auditioning the Chord QuteHD on a 14 day trial, and have an M-DAC off ebay to test out too from Tuesday next week onwards, so I'll have a good idea of what to do. I have to say the M2 + Qute is pretty inspiring, has the openess and detail that the NAD has, but with a stronger bass.

 

Maybe it's just the amp / speaker interaction, some just work astoundingly well, I know a few Brits have found the Roksan and ProAc combination works very very well. It's a shame in some ways because I have a fond affection for NAD kit, having been one of the many beer addled students who had a 3020 / 3130 and loved it.

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but the music just bounced along more enthusiastically, has a bit more space around the soundstage and just a more infectious delivery.

 

I'm with you here. I had auditioned several class D amps at several dealers (not this NAD in particular), and I always felt they lacked the PRAT, so I ended up with my "traditional" Exposure, very much in line with your Roksan.

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The M2 has a particularly fast rise time due to its open bandwidth design, which in theory would result in a good transient performance critical to pace.

 

I guess I'm just not bowled over by Class D either....it might be arguably more "accurate", but to these ears it's less enjoyable.

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M2 is an excellent amplifier and it is nothing strange that NAD couldn't compete with it. Your Roksan definitely deserves a better DAC and your path of either Chord or M-DAC is a right one. When you get a chance to compare these two DACs with M2, please let us know your impressions, I'd be very interested in such a compasion.

Main system: Music Server (Win 7/64+Foobar+JPlay) -> Furutech GT2 USB Cable -> Audiolab M-DAC -> Plinius 9200 (Chord Anthem interconnects) -> ATC SCM 40 w/Kimber Kable 8TC speaker cables

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M2 is an excellent amplifier and it is nothing strange that NAD couldn't compete with it. Your Roksan definitely deserves a better DAC and your path of either Chord or M-DAC is a right one. When you get a chance to compare these two DACs with M2, please let us know your impressions, I'd be very interested in such a compasion.

 

I've posted a short review of the Qute on a separate thread previously.

 

I have an M-DAC arriving Tuesday next week, so will be able to compare the NAD to the three DACs + The Roksan. The M-DAC will have to be pretty special to equal the Qute, which is (in audiophile terms) night and day compared to the DACmagic+

 

In sensible people's terms, I'm still not sure that kind of sonic improvement is actually worth spending an additional £700 or so. That's a whole bunch of CDs, and it's not as if I detest the sound of the dacmagic, in my system the whole thing just rocks along with gusto.

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I wish we could hear the Roksan over here, it has to be one hot little integrated amp to compare with the NAD 390DD. Class A performance is indeed sweet, but class D sure ain't a slouch anymore either. ;)

 

-Paul

 

 

M2 is an excellent amplifier and it is nothing strange that NAD couldn't compete with it. Your Roksan definitely deserves a better DAC and your path of either Chord or M-DAC is a right one. When you get a chance to compare these two DACs with M2, please let us know your impressions, I'd be very interested in such a compasion.

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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I wish we could hear the Roksan over here, it has to be one hot little integrated amp to compare with the NAD 390DD. Class A performance is indeed sweet, but class D sure ain't a slouch anymore either. ;)

 

-Paul

 

In a shoot out of five integrated amplifiers last June in Britains Hifi News, the Roksan aquitted it's self well against stiff competition. Ultimately they preferred both the Primare I32 (ClassD type) and the Belles Soloist 1 (Class A/B circuit) with the Primare coming out on top in their opinion.

 

Point being that both technologies have their seat at the table now and as you say, "Class D sure ain't no slouch anymore".

 

More to the point is the fact that there are now differing ways to implement both technologies and that you can no longer have preconceived expectations of the "sound" of an amplifier based solely on it's Class of operation.

David

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In a shoot out of five integrated amplifiers last June in Britains Hifi News, the Roksan aquitted it's self well against stiff competition. Ultimately they preferred both the Primare I32 (ClassD type) and the Belles Soloist 1 (Class A/B circuit) with the Primare coming out on top in their opinion.

 

Point being that both technologies have their seat at the table now and as you say, "Class D sure ain't no slouch anymore".

 

More to the point is the fact that there are now differing ways to implement both technologies and that you can no longer have preconceived expectations of the "sound" of an amplifier based solely on it's Class of operation.

 

Agree with the last point, though I'd add having heard them all, the opinion of hi fi mags, in fact anyone else is irrelevant: I know which one I'd recommend.

 

I'm done woth the Qute for now, and am auditioning the M-DAC, what a mixed feeling I have, but that's another post.

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Hi

The nAD c390dd manual suggests that I connect a ground wire to the Amp..

Is this absolutely necessary?

 

Also there are 2 sets of speaker terminals for biwiring..has anyone tried it?

It is also suggested by the manual.

 

Cheers

Kalyan

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  • 2 months later...

Hello

I have a C390DD here now for audition to replace my Anthem Pre1/Simaudio W3 combo which I recently sold. I've been using my C326BEE and am surprised how good this little guy sounds as long as I don't push it hard. I tried the M2 and had fun with its 250+ w/ch. I was not sure if I could live with this amp but it grew on me. Thought I'd try the C390DD as it's much more agreeable to my wallet! Initial impression were that there was a very noticeable emphasis on esses. A kind of "whitish" background as well. This unit was a demo from my dealer who had it set up in one of his listening rooms for a few months. It had been sitting unplugged for a week or two before I brought it home. Much easier to lug up the stairs to my listening room than the M2. This unit does not have an analog input or HDMI module. This is the third day I have had it and have been feeding it music for the entire time from my BDP-1 via AES EBU. The emphasis I found seems to be diminishing a bit. I haven't had a chance to crank it up today (watching football etc) and it has to go back Tuesday. So tomorrow I'll give it a thorough workout and see if it is a candidate to replace my earlier gear which I really liked. I'm just downsizing some things as a move to smaller digs is a possibility as my wife and me are getting on in age and a place without stairs gets more attractive. I'm hoping that it's breaking in and my earlier reservations disappear. If not I'm considering a C275BEE or even an M3. I'll post my findings tomorrow night. Any opinions on the analog board? I was happy how the M2 dealt with the output from my phono stage. Ciao.

 

Tom

tomE[br]Bryston BDP-1, Bryston BDA-1, Oppo BDP-95, Rogue Audio Sphinx, Montor Audio Silver RX8s. [br]Analog: LP12, Alphason HR100S, Benz Micro LO04 and Rogue audio Triton phono pre

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I think you mean the C375BEE, no? The 275 is a power amp, while the 375 is an integrated. Both share the same class A gainstage that the M3 has.

 

I have a 375 which has been modded by the distributor (Rowen) in Switz to have negative output impedance and an inproved pre-amp stage. I frankly love it as it beats a stock M3 (dual mono construction) and costs less to boot.

 

The 390DD seems to be a nice PowerDac though.

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Tom, if you haven't done so already, be sure to play with the speaker impedance setting on the 390DD.

 

Dan

Mac Mini 5,1 [i5, 2.3 GHz, 8GB, Mavericks] w/ Roon -> Ethernet -> TP Link fiber conversion segment -> microRendu w/ LPS-1 -> Schiit Yggdrasil

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Hello again. After a good workout the amp impressed me in some ways. But I don't love it. It doesn't seem to be able to move me the way my old system did with some material. Maybe I'm a tube-aholic, I don't know. The sibilance is still there which makes listening to some artists kinda painful as I guess I'm fairly sensative to this. I did play with the speaker impedance adjustments and found a subtle difference in the highs and felt that a setting around 5 ohms worked best with my speakers. and maybe with different speakers I might get off on this amp better. But the WAF was the reason for these speakers and I'd rather not go through that process again! I had a heck of a time getting ones with a cabinet finish that matched our floors to her satisfaction! Anyway, I think I'm going to include some hybrid amps in future auditions and see if that gets me where I want to go. Anyone heard the Unison amps? Maybe a Magnum Dynalab would work and they're made right here in the great white north! I hope you all enjoy your C390s. Ciao.

 

Tom

tomE[br]Bryston BDP-1, Bryston BDA-1, Oppo BDP-95, Rogue Audio Sphinx, Montor Audio Silver RX8s. [br]Analog: LP12, Alphason HR100S, Benz Micro LO04 and Rogue audio Triton phono pre

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thinking of a 2.1 HT system with the 390DD as the heart (w/ HDMI).

 

Anyone with experience along these lines? I have a pair of Dynaudio X-12's and a REL T-5 subwoofer that I am going to drive off of this for movies and casual music listening. What do I need ot know or understand before taking this plunge?

--

Audio System: Mac Mini (w/Roon) -> USB -> NAD Masters M51 -> Ayre K-5xeMP -> Ayre V-5xe -> Thiel CS3.7's

 

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Thinking of a 2.1 HT system with the 390DD as the heart (w/ HDMI).

 

Anyone with experience along these lines? I have a pair of Dynaudio X-12's and a REL T-5 subwoofer that I am going to drive off of this for movies and casual music listening. What do I need ot know or understand before taking this plunge?

 

I'm not a home theater expert, but I think you won't be able to get true 2.1 with the NAD, that is, separating the .1 LFE track and feeding it separately to the subwoofer as an AV processor would. But for 2-channel with a sub, the NAD gives you the flexibility to high pass the main speakers in the digital domain and it also offers a bit of room EQ functionality. I have not yet used mine with HDMI nor with a sub, so take this with a grain of salt.

Mac Mini 5,1 [i5, 2.3 GHz, 8GB, Mavericks] w/ Roon -> Ethernet -> TP Link fiber conversion segment -> microRendu w/ LPS-1 -> Schiit Yggdrasil

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I just spent my NAD budget at the vet. Yet again.

 

 

It might also be worth finding out if the Rel can play nice with the NAD speaker-level out (or just use the pre-out since the LFE isn't an option).

 

Good catch - the high level outputs won't work well - looks like there is a Subwoofer output on the back (RCA) that might be the best option. Also appears to be a cable with all kinds of things in the path the stabilize the load as well as having a better ground reference.

--

Audio System: Mac Mini (w/Roon) -> USB -> NAD Masters M51 -> Ayre K-5xeMP -> Ayre V-5xe -> Thiel CS3.7's

 

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