I have an NAD C326BEE (in a second system) driving Sound Dynamics 300ti speakers and it sounds big and intimate with terrific soundstage width and depth. Tone and dynamics are very good. In short it reminds me of their 3020 but better in all areas.
It's shortcomings are also similar to the 3020, it can be a bit 'opaque' in the upper bass region and is not the last word in detail.
Overall I think it is very musical for the money. I get way more enjoyment than I should out of this system for the money.
Thanks Phil. I keep hearing good things about the" bang for buck" factor of the 326.
When I compared NADs and Cambridges several years ago, it was the C320BEE vs. the 540/640 series. Well Cambridge may have had better digital sources at the time but NAD had the better-sounding amp to me. The Cambridge amps' highs sounded harsh in comparison.
Nad lower end models are known for having nice SQ for the price, while cambridge gets better once you go up on their product line...they are ok, but more expensive.
As a Meadowlark Kestrel owner for years I say go NAD. a few years ago I replaced a Classe CAP-151 with a NAD C352. The Nad was only temporary as it should have been a step down, but I preferred the Nad. About a year later I found a good deal on a Cambridge 840A int amp. That amp stayed with me less than a month.
Thanks to everyone! This is what makes audiogon great! I've had a number pm's and also read the TAS and What HiFi reviews. Opinions are pretty uniform so I think I can now make a good bet. We're going with the 326BEE. I know Cambridge makes good digital gear but, at my Dad's price range and knowing his taste, the NAD appears to have the edge when it comes to amps.
one last thing...
may be a dealbreaker for some, but on occasion the remote on my 326 acts up, the other day I could not get the mute button to 'unmute'! Sometimes, if I pushed it too long sources changed! I had new batteries (AAA) as well so no problem there. The remote is kind of clunky as well, the volume is touchy and lags.
But, again, I love the way it sounds and hopefully you will not have the same issues.
best of luck
I wonder if a universal remote would work? Volume is all me Dad needs.
volume always works but a bit clumsy as mentioned
I do not know about the universal remote but it certainly should work IMO...
just thought it was worth a mention as some people care more about funtion than anything else!
and my unit may just be faulty...
Goind with Nad is a good choice, you wont regret it. I also owned a nad unit, and it was solid and the SQ fabulous. G luck!
If he can live without a remote try a $329 Parasound Zamp v.3
. It has little volume pots on the back or you can go with a $135 Luminous Audio
passive volume control.
I only suggest this as sound is silly-good for the price and a big step up in clarity and naturalness compared to NAD or Cambridge. Also with separate pre and power amp you can change things around in the future if you are so inclined.
I haven't heard this particular unit...but the 'House Sound' of the Cambridge is smoother and more musical than NAD to my ears.
That, and NAD has a bad habit, (in the past maybe not this unit), of having some thermal issues, or current greater than parts can handle issues...that, may be ancient history, as 3 months is an eon in electronics.
I can assure you that 3 months is not an eon in electronics :-)
I have had very good experience with NAD amps. Compared NAD to Cambridge in 2005 when I was deciding on an amp. Mt ears preferred the NAD. I eventually used the integrated amp as a power amp after I got a TVC (passive preamp). The NAD was a very good power amp as well.
I can tell you that the Cambridge 340A is quite good. I haven't compared to NAD. Also, I haven't heard the newer version the 350A.
I used to own both the Cambridge 540A v2 and the NAD C326BEE.
They're both very nice budget amps, and I don't think you could go wrong with either.
The packaging and chassis on the Cambridge look nicer, but the NAD has slightly higher quality parts inside (bigger power supply caps, relays instead of IC switching, etc).
I think the audible differences between the two are overstated and are mostly a result of the one real difference I did notice, namely, that the volume controls track quite differently. In other words, put them both at the 9 o'clock position, and the NAD was much louder than the Cambridge. By the 12 o'clock position, they were closer in loudness. I think this alone explains a lot of the sonic differences being attributed to them, ie, people are hearing level differences more than actual sonic differences.
Beave, my impressions, above, were not based on level differences.
Fair enough Tobias. I didn't mean to call out anybody personally; I was merely stating that the two amps seem to me more similar than different - at least with the speakers I listened to them on. Now, to a large extent, the differences may only be apparent with certain speakers that are either very revealing or difficult loads to drive. Also, I only compared at moderate levels; the differences at high levels would likely be greater than what I heard.
BTY, measurement and design-wise the Zamp/ passive pre compares very favorably to the $1,500 Sim I-1
. Maybe better as there is no added bass boost like with the Sim, YMMV. Just doesn't look as good and has no remote.
Again, I appreciate everyone's help. While I left budget gear behind long ago, I think it's critical to help anyone who's even slightly interested in SQ to find gear that meets that person's unique needs. My Dad could get better sound if he went with seperates and a tube pre w/out a remote...but he'd be frustrated by the lack of convenience and worried that a tube would " malfunction." Less fun. Instead, he's getting a darn good solid state integrated with a remote and warranty for a bargain, which allows him to buy a Shunyata Venom 3 power cord and *still* come in under budget. More fun.
I've had newer NAD, and while it's OK, it still does not compare to the natural sounding vintage 3020a I have.....
There is just some sonic magic there that fires off something in the brain.
If I had to have just three amps,it would be one of them,there's just a rightness about it.
You may want to check out Virtue amps and use a regulated supply with them, heavenly sounds...way above the price point.
OR maybe an older Arcam Delta 90 or maybe a Accuphase E-202 some of those might need TLC. The Virtue is a lot of sonics cheap...
Beave thanks for the volume control comparison, it seems right and explains the 'jumpy' volume control on the NAD, a bit of a pain on low volume stuff...
Yeah the volume is a little jumpy on the NAD. Trying to nail down a desired volume when listening at low levels can be difficult. One quick push of the volume control and you go from too quiet to too loud....
Actually I found the Cambridge had somewhat similar "jumpiness," but it wasn't quite so touchy at low volumes.
The Cambridge models like the 540A and 640A were quite "jumpy". The more recently models (.e 550A, 650A) have much better volume controls.