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  NAD 304 - Best SS amp ever?
I'm being silly, of course, but my experience with this integrated amp has been really baffling. I'll give a brief historical outline

I. Bought one in 1994 on the strength of Corey Greenberg's utterly excited "this is real high end audio for $300!" review in Stereophile (btw, this review isn't anywhere online that I can find). After owing it for a few days, the skeptical retailer asked me if it sounded as "glorious" touted? Well, powering my lil' Dahlquist DQ-16s, the answer was YES!

II. In 1995, something went wrong and I needed a repair. That was the old "green circuit board" version. Borrowed a Quad Amp and Preamp...maybe a 405 with matching preamp? Sounded big and warm.

III. Got the NAD 304 back with new Blue circuit board. Sounded way bigger, more dynamic, and clearer than the Quad set-up. Loved it! had to sell it off later that year to help with some debt.

IV. Bought one in 2008 for $175. I'm using it to power Triangle Zerius 202s. I know, not the first combo you'd imagine, right? Sounds very clean and not lacking tonally, but now I'm looking for more dimensionality and palpable presence. I have tried using more powerful NAD amps, a high-powered Adcom, and I'm currently trying a Parasound HCA-750A. Everything sounds...ordinary. To be fair, the Parasound has warmed up and is starting to sound pretty good, but it doesn't exactly blow the 304 away.

Am I going to going to have to look at much more expensive gear? Tubes, maybe? Some of the amps I've tried have been very affordable, but the Quad and the Adcom were kind of ridiculously high-priced IMO, and the 304 was hands-down the winner in those shootouts.

Has anyone else had a similar experience - and if so, what did you finally choose upgrade with?
Joelv  (System | Threads | Answers | This Thread)

08-28-08
  Responses (1-18 of 18)
Click title to read one, or click date to read all below it.

08-31-08   To rephrase the question, have you ever upgraded from an n ...   Joelv

09-03-08   I am using one with a video system in the living room-tryed ...   Dred

09-03-08   Right on, dred, thanks for sharing your experience! the 304 ...   Joelv

10-10-08   Nad amps are pretty good deal for the money and i agree with ...   Hieule5

10-10-08   I owned a 304 for quite a few years, then passed it down to ...   Kbarkamian

10-13-08: Joelv
You know, I'm using the 304 as a pre-amp now. After a few months with my Triangles, I am hearing the 304's limitations... namely rolled off extreme highs and lows. Shortly after writing this, I spent some serious listening time with the Parasound amp and realized that it was pretty great, if a little "hard" sounding in my system.

I'm curious about the 315Bee and the 325Bee as well. I assumed they would be only marginal improvements, but a remote control would be awesome.

I'm curious about the B&K ST-140 (the older, 70WPC one), the ST-120, and the newest Parasound Zamp. I've also heard some great things about the Onkyo A9555 Class D integrated.

Finally, I take no offense at anyone's opinions about the 304 (or any of my gear) for that matter. Taste is taste, and good is good. Cheers!

Joelv  (System | Threads | Answers | This Thread)


10-13-08: Kijanki
Joelv - my brother has NAD (I don't remember model #) and he replaced stock jumpers (thick U shaped bars) between pre and power amp with Audioquest Python jumpers (6" $25). It opened rolled off top end.
Kijanki  (System | Threads | Answers | This Thread)


10-13-08: Mapman
What do you use for source units? Cd/digital or phono or both?
Mapman  (System | Reviews | Threads | Answers | This Thread)


10-13-08: Kbarkamian
I'm not sure if the source question was directed to me, but I'll chime in...

Original source I used was a Playstation1 while I saved money. Upgraded that to an NAD 523 changer. Huge improvement. From the 523 to a Rega Apollo. Even bigger improvement. The 304 was good enough to show definite differences each time. Even non-hifi guys heard big differences.

Original turntable was a Technics SL-BD2 with Grado Blue. Upgraded that to a Pro-Ject 1Xpression. Added a Dynavector 10x5 and Speed Box. The only piece I didn't hear through the 304 at one point or another was the 10x5.

Regarding the 304 to 320BEE...

Everything is improved. Lows, mids, highs, noise. etc. Not a night and day difference IMO, but an overall improvement. You lose a phono stage. Gain a remote and 15 solid watts. Those 15 watts may seem insignificant on paper, but they become very obvious when driving speakers louder, in a larger room, more difficult speakers, etc.

I thought the price was well worth it for the 320BEE. I haven't heard the 315BEE. I heard very little difference between the 320BEE and 325BEE. Personally, I'd save a few bucks and get the right 320BEE over a 325BEE. If no good ones were available for the right price, then get a 325BEE.

JR

Kbarkamian  (Answers | This Thread)


10-18-08: Joelv
My sources are: SONY DVP-NS715P as a CD / DVD player, Technics SL1200 with KAB Fluid damper and Cardas arm rewire w/several cartridges :)

I replaced the jumpers with 20" of Kimber PBJ which is different, though not an obvious improvement.

I can also say that the phono stage on the 304 is not quite as robust sounding as the one on the 7100 (at twice the retail cost)... which, while I'm at it, has anyone here used the Bellari phono stage? $250 and Stereophile Class B rating from Michael Fremer... is it really that good? I'm skeptical.

I miss Lonnie Brownell's reviews. I found that his and, previously, Corey Greenberg's reviews were aligned with my own tastes more than anyone. I also have a soft spot for Sam Tellig.. but I'm way off topic here. :)

I'm unemployed, so no new gear for me for awhile. Anyone need a recording engineer?

-Joel

Joelv  (System | Threads | Answers | This Thread)


10-19-08: Phasecorrect
The Nad 3155 intergrated is very highly regarded...and more difficult to find(maybe ebay but thats a whole other post)...at any rate...NAD amps are phenominal value for the money...they sound big, bold, and very in control...much more like a high powered hi-end amp...I also have heard nightmere stories regarding QC issues concerning their CDPs...just my .o2....
Phasecorrect  (Reviews | Threads | Answers | This Thread)


04-06-09: Joelv
An update: My stalwart 304 has developed some problems - flakiness/fuzzyness/intermittent cutting out in the right channel. I understand capacitors and solder joints are usually to blame, so I'm going to have it repaired.

In its stead, I'm using my new Trends TA-10.1, touted as 6 Watts of giant-killing, audiophile magic.

So far, I'm disappointed, but I am waiting for the batteries to discharge and recharge so I can try that option.

Joelv  (System | Threads | Answers | This Thread)


04-13-09: Joelv
OK I just have to update this.

I now feel that the Trends TA10.1 is the best amplifier that I've ever owned. It's in another league, completely, from the NAD. Big sound stage, stable, big images, gobs of detail.

I'm out of town but will likely post a review of this when I'm back. If anyone wants to discuss how awesome the Trends TA 10.1 is, feel free to e-mail. I'm thrilled!

Joelv  (System | Threads | Answers | This Thread)


02-08-12: Hemihead05
Hello, Iv had the B&K st120, 140, and the 202. There ok , warm , then can tend to be a tad dark,grainy. I had a b&K st120 and Jolida JD-t5 tube pre and it sounded smeared , dark I just did not like it! I sold them both. Iv bin out of work , so I wanted something cheep, and I had some Nad in the past when I was much younger. SO I pick up a 304 and Ill tell yea hand down, blows them out of the water!! Smooth, musical , with nice light sound with nice punch for it size!
I hate plastic, but it sounds very,very nice! the other system was with MHTZ 33e tube cd player and it did not not sound as good as the NAD 304 with a vintage Sony cd player! The phono stage sounds nice with a Lafayette T-6000 TT. with a vintage ADC cartridge from the same year. 1975.
I also have a Tangent 100 I amp and Myryad Z140, the Z140 is a 1,100.00 amp and the Nad still sounds nicer. The Z140 is very nice build and sounds very good,but a tad sterile and hard. Speakers used Snell K3s and BA cr8s. both sound very nice! Its bin fun!!

Hemihead05  (Answers | This Thread)


01-01-13: Meadowlarkpaul3
Mike
How does the Acurus compare with the Nad? This was written only 10 months ago. I must assume that you purchased the Acurus sometime this year and didn't like it. Very disappointing if someone wants to buy the Acurus.
Un fuerte abrazo,
Paul

Meadowlarkpaul3  (Answers | This Thread)


01-03-13: Zavato
No experience with a 304 but I do have experience with another NAD amp. Years back I owned a very costly 2oo+ wpc amp which developed a fault. I sent it to madrigal for repair and while it was being repaired I put in an NAD amp into the system with barely 1/10th the power. I was shocked at how close the NAD was to the broken amp at less than high volume levels. This showed me how good NAD could be within its design limits. The build quality did not seem nearly as robust on the NAD but sonically, it proved to be the real deal.
Zavato  (System | Reviews | Threads | Answers | This Thread)


07-26-13: Mcgarick
A good Tripath amp will ruin a lot of NAD owners...fantastic sound for peanuts.
Mcgarick  (System | Threads | Answers | This Thread)


12-18-13: Mcgarick
I bought a Trends TA-10.1 used on eBay, and it's easily the best amp I've owned. But there is power limitations, I got some ADS L-780's and this pairing is stuff dreams are made of. I'm a HUGE Trends Audio fan now...WOW!
Mcgarick  (System | Threads | Answers | This Thread)



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