In general I was not originally pleased with the performance of the C658. But after 200+ hours of burn in, it definitely is sounding better than it started. I used to own the PS Audio DirectStream Jr (recently discontinued) and it sounded far better than the NAD. It's not a proper preamp, however, whereas the NAD is, so it's not an apples to apples comparison. It also costs a lot more. I don't have any experience with Mytek to compare them.
Dirac still hasn't been implemented in the C658 yet, so that may be the killer app that makes it sound a lot better. I wish they would hurry up with the Dirac firmware update. At this point I'm still planning to return mine but I am hoping to give it a fair shake by trying Dirac first. In my particular case, I'd rather up my budget and get more performance. The NAD has a killer feature set, but with Dirac 2 months late already and the sound quality not super impressive, it's been fairly underwhelming. Over on AVSForum there are a few people that have said they are happy with it and a few who were not and already returned it.
As far as which chip it uses, I'm not sure but I believe someone on AVS Forum posted something about that after inquiring with NAD. I don't pay too much attention to that since the chip is only one part (and not even the greatest part, IMO) in dictating the overall sound quality.
jnehma1....Thanks for your input. I could have sworn the I saw the PS Audio DirectStream JR last week on their website so that seems very recent they discontinued that model. I really don’t need a preamp as I have tube preamp I’m very happy with. It was all the functions that intrigued me as well as the BluOS service available. I’m getting into Roon and will have that on a separate Mac Mini but liked that fact that if I wanted to loose the Roon part I could run my Tidal "locally" on the C658. The Phono input is a plus for me too as I’m trying to consolidate and my vinyl setup is not my priority at the moment. The Dirac feature I will take as Christmas coming early...not getting my hopes up. Do you feel it’s the preamp that is the weak link in the unit ?
@zipiv I kind of feel like it's the DAC but it's hard to say for sure. When I had the DSJr I ran it through a Marantz receiver as a preamp and that combo sounded way better than the NAD. Obviously a Marantz receiver isn't going to be the greatest preamp either but it was still no contest.
The DSJr was just discontinued recently. You can still get to it on the PS Audio website but there is no button to buy one. There is also a forum post saying they will be redesigning it and re-releasing a new DSJr in the future, but that will be after the cost-no-object super DAC they are working on so I wouldn't hold your breath.
I use Roon but you can run Tidal to the DSJr using the free MConnect app from a phone/tablet so you don't really need BluOS for that.
If you are happy with your tube preamp and going to hold onto it, I would look at something else other than the C658. I don't know what your budget is but the PS Audio was far superior as a streamer/DAC (far more expensive too). I've seen some people post that the NAD doesn't really sound any better than a Node 2i if using both as just streamer/DACs. You can get one of those for 1/3rd the price and pair it with your nice preamp. Again, the caveat being Dirac could change everything...
Zipiv if you are looking at just a streaming dac the Lumin T2 is an excellent choice,
The T2 is pretty extraordinary sounding and it comes with an excellent streaming app that is far better than Mconnect.
The Lumin T2 is getting rave reviews and is one of the best sounding products at that price point. It is eaasy to use, Roon and MQA capable and is easy to use.
It will all come down to what you are looking for, Personally we have never been impressed with the build quality of the PS gear and having to be forced into listening to DSD is not always the best sounding solution as certain files sound better as PCM and others via DSD with the Lumin T2 you can do either one at your dicreation.
We also sell the NAD C 658 and we are very impressed by its peformance, it is way better than the Blue sound Node we have both, in fact a little setup we did of the NAD C 658 coupled with a very inexpensive Nuprime STA 9 power amp bested a $3,500.00 Hegel H190.
We would agree that a much more expensive streamer/dac would be better it just depends on what features and or inputs you need for many people the C 658 with a good amplifier will be a fantastic foray into getting good sound at a reasonable price with a very impressive feature set of a preamp, dac, streamer, with Room correction.
As per Jhenas findings not sure on that one, we easily heard the difference between cabling with this setup so perhaps he wasn’t using a great set of cords don’t really know, we just found that a Wireworld Gold was really better than a Silver the cable in question cost as much as the C658 but the differnece in sound was bonkers.
Dave and Troy Audio Doctor NJ NAD, Lumin, Nuprime dealers
The Lumin looks like a sweet unit but it's beyond my budget unfortunately. I'm glad to hear you guys like the C658. My current set up is this : Bluesound N100 -- Music Hall 25.3 DAC -- Cary SLP 98 preamp -- PS Audio M700 mono's to Vienna Acoustic Strauss'
Looking to add a Mac Mini running Roon and from what I gather it seems to be the better option to network the Mac to the DAC and rely on Roon's RAAT protocol rather than a USB cable. At this point I think I will leave it to fate and get which ever piece of gear comes up for a good deal first.
The NAD C 658 is on my radar and I'm just waiting for Dirac to be released (due June 2019) before embarking on some demos.
This post has been prompted by a couple of points touched on in earlier comments and I'd really appreciate more info if anyone can offer it.
Dave & Troy mentioned the Nuprime STA-9 as a possible amp for the NAD but Nuprime apparently doesn't have a UK dealer. Notwithstanding the observations about the build quality of PS Audio, I wondered if anyone has experience of their Stellar S300 amp with the C 658? Other power amps on my radar include the Parasound NewClassic 275 v.2 and the 2125 v.2. The Parasound A23 is just too much. Nord amps have also been noted but I don't need that much power.
The other point relates to cables and the reference to "Wireworld Gold" - was that the Eclipse 7 or the Eclipse 8 (or something else)?
If anyone can help, great. If not, thanks for reading.
@rockaddict I don't have experience with those amps but since it's clear you are considering using Class D amps, why not consider the NAD M10? It does everything the C 658 does and has built in Hypex amplification for $1k more (plus other features like a color touchscreen display, etc). Dirac is already available for the M10.
@jnehma1: thanks for the NAD M10 suggestion but, sadly, it's beyond my budget (GBP £2,500 to £3,250 to include both power & pre-amp). A lottery ticket shall be purchased later today :) .
@audiotroy: many thanks for responding. Hopefully, I will find a way of sourcing a NuPrime STA-9 in the UK to include in the demos over the coming weeks. The option of making monoblocks of 2 bridgeable stereo amps has already been noted and absolutely not discarded.
Subscribed. NAD C 658 is on my short list. I really want to try Dirac Live. But I wish the NAD had a digital out that could bypass the internal DAC so that 3 years from now if/when something better comes along I could just upgrade the DAC and not the entire component. But I guess that’s not really the point of this box. I believe future MDC modules will be for HDMI inputs or some such.
The miniDSP SHD is also on my radar screen. It’s cheaper and has digital output but uses open source streamer vs. the excellent BlueOS. Pros and cons.
I'm considering this C 658 product, I'm not exactly are die-hard audiophile but I do have NAD gear, 116 preamp and 218 THX power amp - yeah, old stuff! I'm driving Focal JM Lab tower speakers, older Cobalt model.
What are your general thoughts about adding this C 658 to my system? My main interest is the streaming aspect, perhaps giving Tidal a spin. I no longer play vinyl, my own library consists of CD's. Thanks/Bill
@rockaddict I'm not sure you have that info correct about the M10. First off, it's an integrated amp so you don't need to buy an external amp. That's why I suggested it because the C658 plus an amp could easily cost more than the M10 which has an amp built in. And from what I'm seeing online, the M10 costs GBP 2,100.
I purchased the C658 a couple of weeks ago. It sounds amazing, definitely better than the Blusound Node 2 that I was using previously. Phono stage also sounds really good. Using it to feed a Wyred For Sound ST500 amp hooked up to Kef LS50's. Crystal clear, amazing detail, full deep bass. Only issue with this setup is that any flaws in the recording are revealed. Can hear absolutely everything that's on the tape. I've had a couple of connectivity issues which (I think) related to running the BluSound app on too many devices simultaneously. Rebooting my router solved the issue. Still waiting for the Dirac software update. Safe and Sound has these open box for $1200 with warranty. (No affiliation to them, btw.)
@jnehma1 : Hmmm! I knew the NAD M10 was an integrated amp but, for some reason, had completely confused the price point. You are obviously right about the price being well within budget as a standalone unit. However, the M10 doesn't have enough digital inputs for me (I need 2x coax + 1x (pref 2x) optical). Ironically, it has an HDMI input which is extra for the C658 (at least until an ex-demo units become available with the HDMI module already installed).
Unfortunately, the search is now on pause due to an unforeseen blip in my circumstances. For now, it's idle browsing and keeping an eye on the various NAD C 658 & related threads for developments (and references to possible alternatives). Experience has taught me that fate of this nature is, sometimes at least, a blessing in disguise. Maybe a new version, or a completely new product (whether or not NAD) will appear in the next few months blowing away the C 658. Alternatively, it will just be a rather frustrating wait before I can go ahead and get something that's already out there. The joy of music / hi-fi....
@rockaddict Sorry about your blip, whatever it may be. Arcam has recently announced the SA-30 which is just like the M10 -- an integrated amp (class G amplification), DAC, preamp, with room control, MQA support, and Roon endpoint. No pricing announced yet and it doesn't come out until the fall, but I think Arcam prices are more favorable in the UK than comparative US prices. Good luck!
Follow up: apparently the latest update switched the one subwoofer setting to the opposite sub out. Apparently the prior software had the single sub going to output 2. So if anyone else has the problem, just switch the wire.
I think they're still working out software bugs, like most companies do with complex computer driven products these days (Apple for instance). I think it's a stellar unit. Really sounds amazing, and interface with the BluOS app is great. I don't regret buying it at all.
I bought an early unit several months before the Dirac update. As with some of the older OPPO players I knew the Sabre DAC would require some run in time. Before I ever listened to it I ran it 24 hours a day for 6 days. Didn't help. The digital glare was so excruciating even my wife noticed it. Out it went and taking its place is a TEAC NT-505. Worlds better. I will say the Bluesound app is superior to the one TEAC and Lumin use but the difference in sound is huge.
Despite the array of glitches involving the NAD C 658, I’m heading ever closer to bagging one. My search has resumed (it had stopped due to personal circs) and, as at now, only the C 658 remains on my list. Demo will be done within the next few weeks. If for some reason the C 658 doesn’t cut it, then it’s going to be a long wait to save up for the Anthem STR pre-amp (+ RME ADI-2 additional headphone amp).
In case it’s of interest to anyone, Parasound options had been considered but there are too many reviews and forum posts echoing a similar theme; this being along the lines of "The Parasound "X" is really good....but, IMO... other products (usually named) better it...". In addition, a rock artist I’m familiar with has a Parasound Halo HINT 6. Great, you’d think. However, in his case, ownership of a particular product shouldn’t necessarily be taken as a recommendation (long story! :) ). The Elac Alchemy DDP2 was also considered but it has pre-set filters instead of tone controls.
For all the problems identified with the C 658, the SQ is consistently well regarded. Some forum posts (not necessarily here) have referred to brightness but having spoken to dealers and taken into account overall observations by users and dealers (including @audiotroy), that doesn’t seem to be a widespread problem - more a tweaking / system / speaker matching issue.
The demos will also be for a power amp which is likely to be a Nord One MP NC252 (maybe the SE version) or a Mytek Brooklyn Amp. Just because it will be there, I’ll also give the NAD C 268 a whirl.
To @audiotroy, the Nuprime STA9 was on my list but UK distribution is very limited and getting a demo would be difficult. Luckily, there are lots of options for power amps and I think the three still in contention will all do a decent to excellent job.
Assuming the NAD C 658 parts me from a chunk of cash in the next few weeks, I’ll post again with thoughts and observations. Unless anyone would really prefer I didn’t.... ;)
I have a "classic" NAD 7025PE Receiver that is presently serving as my Pre-Amp. In the past, I was impressed with "the little receiver that COULD...." But now, I am seeking something to move the audible performance up a few notches
I am looking for a new "Pre-Amp" for around $1500 and am running a set of ELAC UB5s on stands and a Goldenear ForceField Amplified Sub. With an Emotiva XPS-2 and the Amped-Sub, I should have Power to spare. My setup is in a Living Room and has to contend with Speaker Placement limitations and furniture. It sounds like the C658 with Dirac could be a great tool for making my gear "sing in harmony".
However - one thing that seems to REALLY surprise me is the lack of good information from users (like on U-Toob). It almost makes me wonder if Web-Based information on this unit has been "Sanitized". Usually, a piece of gear like this would tend to generate more "buzz", but my impression is that the unit fell short of expectations and/or reviewers are waiting to see it implemented WITH Dirac.
I suspect that NAD got into some problems with the software and/or legal wrangling with Dirac that threw the product delivery schedule out-of-whack (Dirac was a feature that was somewhat touted from the beginning, but seems to have only recently materialized [AND at additional cost...] in any serious form). Or maybe NAD released it a bit prematurely before they had the details hashed-out with Dirac. I wonder if any semi-serious reviews will be published soon, highlighting the use of Dirac and Dirac-Live in conjunction with it.
@geeqner Just to confirm that the basic version of Dirac is free. On another forum, most posters are happy with the difference it makes but a few have shelled out for the paid-for version and are also happy. I've not checked the details but I've seen chatter about a further version of Dirac being in the works, one that deals with subwoofers.
All things being equal, my demo (C 658) is tomorrow....
@rockaddict19 - Let us know how it works out / what your initial impressions are.
The only other thing that makes me a tad leery of the C658 is that it does ALL of the pre-amp / source selection functions in the DIGITAL domain. I TRY to not be an "Analog Snob" but unless the DSP and D-to-A and A-to-D is really "cutting edge", I worry that the sound quality will suffer and whether it will really be an "upgrade" from what I am using now (or not)? It SUPPOSEDLY shares a lot of the tech used within the Masters M10/M12 products, but to WHAT degree?. It would have been "cool" to see an "Analog Bypass" mode built into the C658.
[My NAD 7225PE Receiver that is presently serving "Pre-Amp" duty was a nice, solid little unit - but it is probably past it’s prime and I believe it to be the Weak Link in my current system (but I could be wrong)...]
But then again, in my less-than-optimal listening room (Living Room) the benefits of Dirac and fresh (NEW) electronics may outweigh any penalty incurred. The other options (at least, the current Front-Runners) in my research are the Emotiva XSP-1 (fully-balanced Analog WITH built-in Sub Management) and PS Audio Stellar Gain Cell / DACT or perhaps a gently-used 2-channel HIGH-End Pre if I can get a good deal on one. If I go with the NAD, I could probably offset part of its cost by selling my Node 2i.
Also - Anybody know what the C568 is running for a PROCESSOR "under the hood". It's one thing to have good A-->D & D-->A Converters, but if the thing is going to run Dirac / apply EQ Curves and Timing Algorithms generated externally by Dirac - the thing needs some relatively high "processing horsepower" and Memory.
Another option that I had not considered before, but now also appears to be a possibly good solution would be to pick-up a used / re-furb Emotiva XMC-1 in a 2.1 setup.
Although it was designed primarily for HT (which may normally be considered a "no-no" in Audiophile circles), it probably has superior processing and A-D / D-A capabilities [It sounds lie a multi-processor BEAST] with features including:
TI AM-1808 Sitara Arm9 32 bit 375MHz -24/192k Burr Brown DSD1796 main zone DACs. -Has fully balanced circuitry for the L&R Front Channels -Can probably be had for less than a new NAD Unit
Well, I post with just a little trepidation! The demo went ahead but the outcome was close to being as unexpected as could be imagined in hi-fi terms.
In short, I didn’t get the NAD C 658. The search for a new amp setup was because I *thought* there was an issue with my current Rotel RA-1572 integrated with the bottom end disappearing when playing busy/dense music (and a couple of other more minor events). However... post follows mainly about the demo but there is a bit about comparing the SQ of the Rotel and the NAD C658.
I took the Rotel to the demo with the intention of showing the store the "problem" ((same store as original purchase). Except.... the "problem" didn’t reproduce with other speakers. I tried 3 amp setups: the Rotel on its own; the Rotel as a pre-amp with a NAD C 268 as a power amp and, finally, the full NAD combo (C 658 + C 268). With each set up, I tried different speakers. Imagine by full on surprise when each amp set up sounded broadly similar with every speaker. Of course, if the Rotel on its own had the "problem" identified, it would have sounded markedly different. That’s when the penny dropped that the problem was far more likely to be my current speakers. Slightly embarrassingly, a couple of people had asked whether that was the issue (crossover points etc). Blithely, I had cast it aside.... "No, no; it’s the amp" was my earnest and now obviously inaccurate reply. Sometimes, the Homer Simpson moment just hits home. Doh!
So, having gone in with real intent and fully expecting to walk out with a gleaming new NAD C 658, I did indeed indulge. In a pair of Monitor Audio Gold 100 G5 speakers :o) (is there a "scratch head" emoji?). In short, the "problem" with the Rotel doesn’t reproduce with either the MA Golds, nor the KEF R3s which I also demoed. I preferred the MAs because, to my ears, they were a fraction tamer than the KEFs although the latter may well work well with the NAD for the reasons below.
The NAD C 658 is obviously feature rich compared to the Rotel, so that’s a gimme. However, on the off chance it’s of interest to at least someone, here’s my take on the SQ comparison. On a same speaker basis, the audio characteristics of the amps are much more comparable than I expected. If anything, the Rotel offers marginally more detail and the lower frequencies are marginally rounder. Higher frequencies are very similar and I couldn’t detect and significant differences with mids. Drums and percussion have slightly more depth with the Rotel. In truth, if anyone had dropped in without knowing which equipment was being used, I think most would have been hard pressed to hear significant differences without an extended listen. Overall, the NAD is slightly more restrained (not to say it is restrained), hence it being arguable that the KEFs will not sound too "zingy" with the NAD.
In short, if I had specifically wanted streaming and/or room correction and didn’t already have an amp, I would *probably* have gone for the NAD. The NAD is a touch more expensive than the Rotel although, of course, the NAD will also need a power amp which will add to the overall cost. On purely SQ? I’ll sit on the fence and put it down to personal preference... :-) .
To those already with the NAD and those who eventually pull the "buy" trigger, good luck and happy listening.
In the name of helping the community to discover the “sonic nirvana” , I’d like to share my thoughts on the NAD C658.
In short, my experience - from the moment I (blindly) bought it till now, ranged from “about throw it out of the window”, to “I’m selling the damn thing and buying - Brooklyn/PS Audio/Nuprime (insert a replacement here)” to “OmG! I shit! It’s the best sound I’ve heard . not just in my system. Ever! I’m keeping it”
intrigued? Let me know and I’ll share more details. :)
Olpot....I'm curious the hear more. This unit is getting a very broad range of reviews.
To kind of circle back around I ended up getting a Raspberry Pi 3+ running Ropieee. I also added a DigiOne HAT so I can S/PDIF into the Metrum Acoustics Amethyst DAC I also bought. I'm very happy with this setup and especially the Ropieee OS which acts a Roon endpoint. Just added the MQA module and about to do some a/b with Tidal and Qobuz. Stay safe out there.....what a great time to tinker though.
To be honest, I almost passed on the NAD due to the negative review from Audio Science Review, as well as the many complaints on AVS when this unit was released. Essentially it had a bad rollout. One of the the things that caught my eye was the argument that the software updates addressed many of the initial complaints, essentially making the unit we have today, a different unit from when it was reviewed. Don’t ask me how or what, but at the time it seemed rational which convinced me to purchase a refurbished one - because I’m cheap like that, and I have student loans and a mortgage. Plus I wasn’t fully convinced.
Learning DIRAC is really key with this unit. Understanding the target curves and curtains, making sure you’re taking good measurements. Each of those points I just mentioned could be broken down into separate sections of tips and hints. Utilization of the UMIK-1 is helpful, too. I wouldn’t say this is a “complicated” unit, but it’s not a set it and forget unit - at least when starting off and planning on using DIRAC.
Education really pays off. So much so, that I would say that this unit is more than just one step-up from the Node 2i, especially if you have a difficult room.
Reviving this thread to chime in with my NAD C658 experience over the last few months. I was coming from a Denafrips Ares II R2R DAC and an Allo USBridge streamer running Volumio. My goals were to reduce box and cable count, move on from Volumio's annoying network issues and bugginess, and improve the sound of a small and challenging room with Dirac.
The C658 did all of that flawlessly. The BluOS platform has been rock solid over wifi, with not a single dropout. Dirac was an absolute game changer in terms of taming excess bass and cleaning up imaging. The built-in phono stage is a nice "extra" that seemed comparable in sound quality to my Pro-ject Phono Box DC, which I then sold. So lots of big wins in terms of usability, convenience, and network solidity.
Sound quality is very good, though my Denafrips Ares II had a more organic and dimensional presentation. The NAD countered with a bit more detail and precision, but I would definitely take the Denafrips on sound quality alone. This is a preference thing - I expect the two DACs are on similar planes of performance overall.
While I preferred the Denafrips on sound quality all else equal, the C658's Dirac function meant all else was decidedly not equal. Dirac's impact on bass performance especially was so positive that it far outweighed any sound quality differences between the DACs.
It looks like NAD's prices have increased, which pushes the C658 closer in price to something like the Lumin D2. From what I've read (not heard), the Lumin probably bests the C658 on sound quality, but the C658's Dirac and Tidal Connect functions mean I wouldn't be willing to make that switch at this point.
I've seen the reports of issues with the sub-outs. I don't use subs in this system so can't comment on that.
Overall, the simplicity, network solidity, and hugely positive impact from Dirac are going to entrench the C658 in my system for a long time, even if the sonic presentation isn't exactly to my preference.
Hope this is helpful to anyone who's considering the NAD.