The New NAD D 3020 Amplifier - The Best of All Worlds.
All about the new NAD D 3020 Hybrid Digital amplifier at Totally Wired. The new little NAD amplifier walked in our door a couple of months ago and we've been gradually warming to it's many talents. The 3020 wants you to like it and there is no doubt that it's quickly making friends - the reviews are uniformly positive. We think the NAD D 3020 is kind of like a cute little cat that's just turned up and decided to stay.
NAD is a brand that for one reason or another hasn't been in Totally Wired before - although many years ago I did sell a few of the original 3020s which have turned into a bit of an audio legend - it was one of the original 'giant killer/best buy' amplifiers that the british hifi industry was pretty much based on. A 3020, a pair of bookshelf speakers and an entry level turntable was where a whole bunch of baby boomers got their first taste of real hifi. And a remarkable number of the original little 3020s are still in service.
As an introduction to what makes NAD tick, their website gives a wonderfully straight forward account of why they do what they do.
"We are in business to serve intelligent people who want to spend what is needed, not what the traffic will bear. The absolute rock-bottom principle from which NAD design philosophy operates is that good design is never at the listener's expense. We throw ingenuity rather than money at design challenges. After identifying the price levels at which we can take significant steps in performance, we focus on supplying everything we ourselves would want in a given product. And our aim is to satisfy people at home rather than tempt them in the showroom. We want you to know you got it right the first time, instead of having to commit to an endless search for the satisfaction you should have had in the first place. We always hope our customers will find at least a little more than they expected."
So - does the D 3020 live up to these expectations? First up - it's sharply priced at just $799 - so is going to have broad appeal - conversely this means that a lot of different people that can afford the little NAD are probably going to have a lot of differing priorities. To this end, the NAD D 3020 is a bit of a feature fest compared with our alternatives. The D 3020 is a hybrid so unlike most NuForce models, it's got both digital and analogue inputs. Not to mention a very good sounding implementation of BlueTooth (with AptX). There is a rather generous sounding 30 watts a side, remote control and both headphone and subwoofer connections.
Let's talk a little about what the D 3020 actually is. It's primarily an amplifier, but strongly biased to digital inputs. And the digital side of it is very good - if you were thinking about adding a DAC to an existing amplifier, you should place the D 3020 in the frame as it's performance on both sides of the ledger is great - equal to any separate DAC under $1000 and likewise to any amplifier. The fact that you get both for the price AND analogue is hard to beat. Although we try not to read anything into it, the 3020 is Class D - which on a practical level means it's compact, cool running and more powerful than you'd expect given the numbers. If anything, it's a warm sounding little creature - to continue with the cat analogy, it purrs along rather nicely. No barking at all.
It would have been easy to follow a conventional template for the 3020 and make it in the normal proportions and tin case of a conventional entry level amplifier - happily NAD are a little more forward thinking and as you can see, the D 3020 stands upright and slim, and has no buttons - less moving parts makes for better long term reliability.
You might make comparisons with both the NuForce and Rotel models but to do so may well miss the point - the D 3020 is simply the only amplifier at it's price with the feature set it has and sounds directly comparable to both brands in terms of quality - sure they sound different from each other and depending on your priorities you may choose any one of the three. But in all cases they sound great and are best of class.
The trick with the D 3020 is matching it to the right speakers. What we've found is that it's happiest with the Monitor Audio BX range - the BX's are easy to drive and their lively tone balances the warmth of the 3020 perfectly. The entry level Bronze2 is a brilliant combination and for just over $1500 you get a fantastic sound - for anyone wanting a real stereo digital solution for iPhone or iPad, this is a brilliant place to start. Even the floor standing Bronze 5 brings out the best of the 3020 - the extra efficiency and extension of the bigger speaker really lets the little NAD breathe and open up - the extra definition in the midrange draws on the 3020's key strength. Given the quality of sound you'll hear from any of them, why wouldn't you want to get more connected to make the most of the 3020? A laptop via USB, iPhone via BlueTooth, your network via Apple Airport Express and even a turntable in via a nice little phono stage.
Everyone who hears the D 3020 will be impressed - there's no other amp that does so much for so little. Check out some reviews here:-
The Absolute Sound
We'd love to help you get into a great new system - Freight is free anywhere in the country if you'd like to take up our internet banking option. So drop us an e mail or give us a call now on 0800 909 101 and find out what we can do for you.
NAD D 3020 Digital Hybrid amplifier NZ$795 including GST and delivery in NZ.
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