10/05/2017 NAD’s ‘Sleeper’ C368 Integrated Amplifier

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NAD_C368_B1

Understated power: NAD C368 under quotes outputs by some 50watts!

We have regularly lambasted the current gibberish that passes for power rating for amplifiers. In many cases the specifications quoted are laughable, and appear to be written by the marketing department rather than by the technical staff. There is no consistency in rating procedures making any attempt of a valid comparison impossible, with Home Theatre amplifiers being the greatest culprits.

We recently saw the speciation for a 7 channel receiver where the power was rated with only one channel driven (not an uncommon but worthless procedure) at 1k frequency and 10% distortion. This is completely removed from any real life situation.

It was then refreshing to read the recent Hi-Fi News and Record Review review of the NAD C368 stereo integrated amplifier. This amp is rated at 80 watts/channel (into 8 Ohms), but under test it topped out at 130 watts (also into 8 Ohms). While it is probably not surprising that it is a NAD that was so vastly under-rated (they have a habit of doing so) it was great to see at least one company with a little integrity left.

“This amp is rated at 80 watts/channel, but under test it topped out at 130 watts…”

Incidentally – they were also impressed with the performance, concluding:
‘While at the upper limit of what’s usually considered for these ‘Budget Esoterica’ pages the C368 more than justifies the title by offering a remarkable level of performance for the money, combining serious punch with fine detail and control, while able to drive even ambitious speakers with excellent grip’.

NAD_C368_B2

Source options: no shortage of connection capabilities here

More on the range from NAD
A model change from NAD is a relatively rare event, the current series was introduced in 2010. You know when they do upgrade the range it is for a good reason. This time around it could be good reasons plural Firstly the range was getting a little old with little acknowledgement of the current digital trend. Secondly a sister company to NAD is the premium wireless streaming product Bluesound, and this range heralds the mating of the two brands.

NAD forged their reputation by manufacturing quality but well priced amplifiers, and this range is no exception. All three amplifiers have been replaced, with the main differences being the re-introduction of a phono stage, and the inclusion of a high quality DAC. They are also Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabled, plus are network connected.

The larger of the two amplifiers utilises Modular Design Construction (MDC) allowing for the addition of upgrade modules, including 4K video HDMI switching, additional digital inputs, or of particular interest, the addition of a BluOS module. The BluOS module introduces their sister company Bluesound, enabling hi-res streaming. It will also allow you to add additional Bluesound devices to additional rooms in your home for whole of house streaming.

NAD_C368_B3

Next Gen Flexibility: BluOs module offers wireless hi-res streaming

The three models are:

  • C388: 2 x 150Watts/RMS – $2,299
  • C368: 2 x 80Watts/RMS – $1,499
  • C338: 2 x 50Watts/RMS – $999.

Another addition is the C568 CD player, which is selling for $1,098.

Of particular interest to us is the CI-720. While it is branded NAD, it is not far removed from Bluesounds Power Node2. This is a 60 watt/channel stereo amplifier and streamer in a very compact chassis – measuring only 70mm wide. NAD have also released a larger chassis which will accommodate 6 x CI-720’s, enough to access and stream 24bit hi-resolution music in stereo to six zones of your home – all controlled from your smart device.

Streaming services like TIDAL make this product a no-brainer. Now you have access to almost every piece of music ever recorded, all at CD quality, independently streamed throughout your home.

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