Definitely too much! Well, more than a linear scale for certain.
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The other conclusion is that the Pass integrated is not as good as you thought
your systems resolution is in some way compromised.
I would look at your various interconnects, are they of good quality are they matched.
With an $7k integrated your interconnects should generally be around $500-$1,000.00 which is where you start getting really good cables.
I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for NAD. I owned a c317 (pretty sure that's what it was) in my late twenties. It was my first venture away from brands like Technics. I loved that integrated. I passed it on to my third in line who's in his junior year at RIT. I'm not sure how much he uses it right now as he's working a co op in IT at a hospital. The best bang for the buck out there.
Not sure how the 314 compares to other NAD models. It is forward, open and bright sounding with great bass. The preamp section I think is its highlight and is a good value relative to other preamps I have owned that retailed for under $2k. I have owned it probably fifteen years for use in my computer system. It did do temp duty in my main stereo after my last preamp kicked the bucket. But the 314 moved over for a Lamm L1, and (as should be the case) there is no comparison between them.
Yes I had the famous NAD 7240PE two channel receiver for many years and it worked flawlessly. I finally did sell here on Audiogon when I upgraded to surround sound. But that machine was so well built. Now because of the audio dealer I prefer working with nearby, I've switched to Rotel and Integra as they don't handle NAD. Very comparable though. Rotel and NAD have always been close in their lines. I do have an NAD universal player and love the audio it produces.
I put my spare NAD 7020 receiver that I keep around into service in my second system a year or so back when my other pre-amp there died, and I have been hard pressed to find a good reason to take it out again. IT does quite well in there!
I bought it for $25 used in a pawn shop in Alabama back around 1986 or so.
One of these days, I'll swap it into my main rig in palce of the ARC sp16, just for kicks to see how it might stack up.
It's not a good idea to use cost as the main metric for what to use or not use. Better to have a budget that need not be extensive, be well informed, do not overpay, maybe but used to try, choose a weapon wisely, and then use your ears to judge how many $$s are needed to get good sound that you like.
In regards to resolution/detail, the easiest way to find out what is possible is with computer or good quality portable devices and a good pair of buds or phones. It's the low cost way to hear what you might hear in a digital recording without bringing expensive home gear, room acoustics, etc. into the equation.
Digital audio has come a long way...do not discount it totally until heard done well, which is not all that difficult these days.
I was blown away by the beautiful accuracy of the NAD M51 dac. It was better than almost every dac I've heard either before or since with the exception of the remarkable Bricasti product (costing several times more). Were I to have the spare cash, I'd get the Bricasti but I liked the NAD better than the Esoteric, MF, and several smaller companies. Obviously, there is a subjective element at play, but I think it is amazing it is one of the few quality dac/dac preamps out there with HDMI inputs which I really appreciate when listening to the 24 bit stereo content on SACDs, DVDs and Blueray discs.
"The other conclusion is that the Pass integrated is not as good as you thought or your systems resolution is in some way compromised"
I'll say no to option one as years back when I had a Madrigal amp that needed service I once again temporarily use the NAD and had the same impression.
I'll agree to option two as mine is in no way an all out assault on the SOTA, but it's resolving enough. But I still,think the little NAD is the real deal on terms of sound quality.
Proof that hi-end need not mean big dollars
Hey, an honest 15-20% improvement (though it's really nebulous to assign
percentages here, since we each have our own internal scales) for a $7K MSRP
layout is actually a GREAT deal these days in
this hobby, especially in non-transducer components. All too easily, you can
spend way more for way less. There were times when I would've been thrilled to
get 15% more performance from a specific component for $7K (say 3.5K used).
So I don't consider your experience to be a knock on the Pass; really more like
validation. And NAD has always been a respectable company that gives you a lot
of engineering and sound for the money.
I recently heard some new $8K cables in my system that were very subtly
different from my current ones -- really more like a side-grade. At least they
weren't obviously worse. Definitely NOT the way for a working class audiophile