26/03/2009 NAD – Truth in specifications

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Posted by Len | 3 Comments on NAD – Truth in specifications

NAD has recently hosted a new product release featuring a raft of new and rather exciting models. What I found interesting was that they prominently feature the THD (Total Harmonic Distortion) of their amplifiers. I am old enough to remember when this industry was all about specifications – somewhat to the industries detriment. However while reliance on specs may have been exaggerated there is no doubt that they did serve a valuable purpose. Nobody does this these days unless you are prepared to dig deep into the fine print.

NAD have even gone further and published their true power ratings – even for their range of Home Theatre receivers. This is a brave – but honest – move. Home Theatre specifications are almost totally fictitious these days. When testing the power output of their A/V receivers many (most?) A/V companies test the power output of one channel only into a stable restive load for a very short period. The resulting figure is then applied to all channels. Speakers are never a stable restive load, and nobody ever runs their Home Theatre system by listening to one channel only! I have seen reviews where receivers have been placed in real life situations and their output can be as low as 38% of the rated output. One company recently made a big feature of the fact that they would guarantee that their A/V receivers were are least 80% of the rated power under real life situations. Given the current situation this is an impressive claim – but whatever happened to 100% (or honesty in advertising)?

Why is this a brave move for NAD? Because if they are honest in their specifications then they will not (and do not) compete on paper. If you were to compare the written specifications only you would never purchase a NAD A/V receiver. However we are happy to demonstrate that there are very few A/V receivers on the market today that will outperform NAD in terms of musicality, dynamics and even output.

When purchasing any audio component be very wary of specifications. Maybe one day this industry will formulate some accurate guidelines which everyone will follow. Until this happens – trust your ears and listen.


Stephen Curran says...

I agree that this is a brave mve, however, NAD have always been brave. I have a NAD AV316 Pro Logic amp rated at 50W per channel. This is, to say the least, conservative. I always remember when my family owned a small Hi Fi store in the 80’s people asking me why would they buy a NAD amp rated at 25/30W RMS when they could have another brand rated at 50/60W for the same or even less. If I could convince them to compare the NAD’s, the answer would often be clear.

Posted on April 14, 2009 at 9:32 pm

markfiona says...

What is a Watt?
Why do they measure in RMS?
Music is transient.
End of day, if someone cannot hear clipping, then buy the cheap stuff. Musicians can tell.
Listeners cannot.

Posted on June 18, 2009 at 2:58 pm

James Dunne says...

In the late 90’s I purchased a NAD system with Richter speakers from Trevor (excellent service!) and was absolutely gobsmacked at the performance that they offered for the money. It is great to see that they have stayed true to the focus on sound and not an array of flashing lights, useless sound modes or, as your article points out, fairytale claims to power.

Posted on June 18, 2009 at 11:04 pm


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