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NAD C 356DAC

Stereo integrated amplifier with add-on DAC module

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  • NAD C 356DAC

    Front

  • NAD C 356DAC

    Back

  • NAD C 356DAC

    DAC module

  • NAD C 356DAC

    DAC module on top of integrated amp for scale

  • NAD C 356DAC

    DAC module, straight on

  • NAD C 356DAC

    Front, higher, from left

  • NAD C 356DAC

    Interior view, DAC module in place

  • NAD C 356DAC

  • NAD C 356DAC

    Wide interior view, DAC module in placeInterior view, DAC module in place

 

Our take on the NAD C 356DAC

by Woody Sherman
NAD

Everything you always wanted in a stereo receiver, except the radio

An integrated amplifier is essentially a receiver without a built-in AM/FM tuner. You get power to drive your speakers, audio controls, and inputs for music source components. Connect an iPod, a computer, a network music player, or any other device that can play Internet radio, and you may find you have no need for an AM/FM radio.

An integrated amp for your whole music library

Adding a DAC to an acclaimed integrated amp is like taking a slice of warm pie and adding a scoop of vanilla.

The point is, it's rare that something couldn't be bettered by adding a complementary item. And NAD has pushed this time-honored philosophy forward into the digital age with the new C 356DAC integrated amplifier. They've taken one of their popular mainstays, the C 356BEE integrated amp, and added a world-class DAC so that you can treat all your digital sources to the power and control that has made NAD legendary among audio enthusiasts.

The MDC (Modular Design Construction) DAC module

The MDC (Modular Design Construction) DAC module, which comes installed

Digital sources welcome

This amp features NAD's innovative modular design construction,which allows you to customize your input configuration by adding or swapping modules on the back of the unit. The 356DAC's included DAC module features an asynchronous USB connection that controls the data flow of your computer audio files, reclocking the data stream to minimize jitter. Your music will come to life in three dimensions as the soundstage expands and reveals detail. This module also features an optical input, for use with your CD, DVD, or Blu-ray player, and it supports sample rates of up to 192kHz.

Power to spare

NAD's PowerDrive™ technology allows the C 356DAC to sound even more potent than you would expect from its rating of 80 watts x 2 channels. Like a turbo-charger, the PowerDrive circuitry senses the demands placed on the amp and pours on higher current when it's needed to reproduce peaks of musical energy.

The C356DAC with a phono module (not included) swapped in for the DAC module

The C356DAC with a phono module (not included) swapped in for the DAC module

The ins and outs

With enough connections to hook up seven audio components and two pairs of speakers, the C 356DAC can handle your arsenal of audio gear. Should you wish to swap out the DAC module to accommodate a turntable, owners can install an optional NAD PP375 phono input module for listening to vinyl. The included remote gives you easy control of the amplifier and the other NAD audio components in your system.

Separate preamp input/line-level output jacks let you use the C 355DAC as an independent power amplifier (or as a preamp, in the unlikely event that the built-in wattage doesn't produce enough volume for you). If your main stereo speakers don't supply enough bass to disturb the peace, you can easily add a powered subwoofer.

And it's green too

NAD designed the C 356DAC to reduce energy consumption without sacrificing performance. It consumes just 0.5 watts in standby mode and includes a convenient all-off "vacation" switch.

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Highlights:

  • 80 watts x 2 channels into 8 ohms (20-20,000 Hz) at 0.007% THD
  • 80 watts x 2 channels into 4 ohms (20-20,000 Hz) at 0.007% THD
  • 4-ohm stable for use with a wide range of speakers
  • signal-to-noise ratio: 101 dB
  • asynchronous DAC module features Burr-Brown TI PCM 1796 technology
  • sample rates: 32kHz-96kHz (USB), 32kHz-192kHz (optical)
  • PowerDrive™ circuit with automatic speaker impedance sensing delivers maximum dynamic power output regardless of speaker load
  • Soft Clipping™ circuit gently limits amplifier power output to reduce risk of speaker damage due to prolonged high volume operation
  • 1 Modular Design Construction (MDC) bay allows you to swap in the PP375 phono stage or other MDC Modules in the Dac module's place
  • toroidal power transformer
  • rotary bass and treble controls with defeat switch for tone control bypass
  • 7 RCA audio inputs including 2 tape in/outs
  • tape monitor loop for adding an equalizer or signal processor
  • front-panel minijack input for connecting a portable music player
  • main-amp input and 2 preamp outputs for connecting a powered subwoofer or separate amplifier for bi-amping
  • full-size headphone jack
  • front-panel switching for 2 pairs of speakers
  • two pairs of speaker binding posts
  • RS-232 port for operation with third-party controllers
  • 12-volt trigger output
  • IR input/output
  • one switched AC convenience outlet
  • detachable AC power cord
  • remote control
  • 17-1/8"W x 5-3/16"H x 13-13/16"D
  • weight: 19.6 lbs.
  • warranty: 2 years
  • Our 60-day money-back guarantee

Hands-on research from the Crutchfield Labs (what are the Labs?)

Features and Specs
General
Watts RMS per Channel (8-ohms)
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80
Watts RMS per Channel (6-ohms)
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80
Watts RMS per Channel (4-ohms)
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80
Frequency Bandwidth
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20-20k
THD
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0.007%
Minimum Impedance
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4 ohms
Signal to Noise Ratio
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101
Number of Inputs
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9
Phono Inputs
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No
Preamp Outputs
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4
Width (inches)
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17-1/8
Height (inches)
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5-3/16
Depth (inches)
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13-13/16
Weight (pounds)
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19.6
Parts Warranty
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2 Years
Labor Warranty
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2 Years
Product Research
What's in the box?

Download owner's manual

  • Stereo integrated amplifier w/ DAC
  • 68" AC Power cord
  • Wireless remote control (SR 8)
  • 2 "AA" batteries
  • 2 Pre-out/Main-in jumpers (installed)
  • Owner's Manual
  • Warranty Card
  • MDC DAC instruction sheet

Our Product Research Team

At Crutchfield, you'll get detailed, accurate information that's hard to find elsewhere. That's because we have our own in-house Product Research team — they open the box, verify contents, check the owner's manual, and record dimensions, features and specs. We stay on top of new products and technologies to help people make informed choices.

Features
Controls
Connections

Features

NAD PowerDrive Circuit: The C 356DAC use NAD's proprietary PowerDrive amplifier technology that provides high dynamic power and low impedance drive capability. By adding a second high-voltage rail to the amp's well regulated high-current power supply, the amplifier can nearly double its continuous power on a short term dynamic power basis. This uniquely efficient power supply topology provides the real world benefits of high dynamic power that remains uncompromised by low impedance speakers.

FDP Specifications: NAD uses Full Disclosure Power (FDP), the most demanding criterion for performance measurement. FDP specifies distortion under the most extreme conditions of low impedance loads and frequency extremes, rather than the simple and easy 1kHz @ 8 ohms test quoted by many of other manufactures. NAD uses this stricter performance criterion because it more closely matches the demands of real music and real loudspeakers. Maintaining specified distortion at 4 ohms and at 20Hz to 20kHz is a much more difficult achievement. The NAD C 356DAC is rated at 80 watts x 2 channel (@ 20-20kHz, in 4/8-ohm, with 0.007% THD).

Soft Clipping: NAD's Soft Clipping circuit gently limits the output of the C 356DAC to minimize audible distortion when the amplifier is over-driven. While Soft Clipping can be left on at all times to reduce the likelihood of audible distortion from excessive volume settings, you can also turn the circuit off for critical listening if you prefer.

Digital-to-Analog Converter (DAC): The C 356DAC stereo integrated amplifier is fitted with NAD's MDC DAC USB Digital-to-Analog Converter which lets you listen to music stored on or streamed to your computer through your hifi-system without noise or distortion. The C 356DAC uses an 'asynchronous USB' technique and a high precision clock, so your 24-bit/96kHz quality computer music flows smoothly without 'jitter' or harsh distortion.

Modular Design Construction (MDC): Modular Design Construction (MDC) makes future upgrades possible with interchangeable, upgradeable modules.

Controls

Remote Control: The included IR remote control handles the key functions of the C 356DAC. The IR remote can also be used to directly command other NAD products that respond to applicable common remote control codes. This includes other NAD Stereo Receiver, Integrated Amplifier, and Preamplifier models. It has additional controls to remotely operate NAD CD Players, AM/FM Tuners, and dedicated AM/FM/DB Tuners. It will operate up to a distance of 23'. The remote requires two "AA" alkaline batteries (included).

Volume: The Volume control adjust the overall loudness of the signals being fed to t he loudspeakers or headphones. The Volume control does not affect recordings made using the Tape output terminals, but will affect the signal going to the Pre-amp output terminals (Pre Out 1 and Pre Out 2).

Balance: The Balance control adjusts the relative levels of the left and right speakers. The Balance control does not affect recordings made using the Tape output terminals, but will affect the signal going to the Pre-amp output terminals (Pre Out 1 and Pre Out 2).

Tone Controls: The C 356DAC stereo integrated amplifier features independent Bass (100Hz) & Treble (10kHz) controls to adjust the tonal balanced of your system. The Tone control does not affect recordings made using the Tape output terminals, but will affect the signal going to the Pre-amp output terminals (Pre Out 1 and Pre Out 2).

Note: The Tone control circuits can be bypassed.

Connections

USB (Type-B) Port: The C 356DAC stereo integrated amplifier features a rear-panel USB (type-B) port to connect to your computer, so you can listen to music stored on or streamed to your computer (Windows or Mac). The USB input supports audio sampling rates of 32kHz to 96kHz.

Note: The rear-panel DAC Module switch must be set to USB.

Optical Digital Input: The stereo integrated amplifier also features a rear-panel optical (toslink) digital input for connecting of your CD, SACD, DVD, or Blu-ray player. The optical digital input supports audio sampling rates of 32kHz to 192kHz.

Note: The rear-panel DAC Module switch must be set to Optical.

Front-Panel Stereo Minijack: The NAD C 356DAC is equipped with a front-panel stereo minijack (3.5mm) to temporarily connect your portable digital audio player.

Analog Inputs: The NAD C 356DAC stereo integrated amplifier is fitted with 5 rear-panel analog stereo audio inputs (RCA). These inputs are labeled 'MP', 'CD', 'Tuner', 'Disc', and 'AUX'.

Tape Monitor Inputs/Outputs:  The NAD C 356DAC is equipped with two stereo Tape Monitor outputs (labeled 'Tape Monitor' and 'Tape 2') for recording purposes.

A-B Speaker Terminals: The NAD C 356DAC is fitted with A & B speaker outputs. You can choose to play back only the A speakers, only the B speakers, or both A-B speakers. The speaker terminals are binding-posts and will accept single banana plugs, pin connectors, or bare wire (16-12 AWG).

Note: The stereo integrated amp will support one pair of 4 to 8-ohm speakers or two pair of 8-ohm speakers.

Preamp Outputs: The C 356DAC features dual stereo pre-amp outputs (labeled 'Pre Out1' and 'Pre-Out 2') to connect the unit to an external power amplifier or power subwoofer.

Main Input: This is a stereo RCA connection which allows the connection of an external preamplifier or processor.

Headphone Output: The C 356DAC is fitted with a front-panel 1/4" headphone jack for connecting a set of headphones (sold separately). The headphone jack will work in parallel with the selected speakers (A and/or B). To listen to only your headphones, de-select Speakers A-B. The volume, tone, and balance controls are operative for headphone listening.

IR Input/Output: There is an IR input (3.5mm), used to control this unit using an optional infrared repeater or the IR output of another component. There is also an IR output (3.5mm) used to control another compatible component.

+12V Trigger Output: The +12V trigger output (3.5mm) lets you turn on/off another device along with the C 356DAC.

RS-232 Port: The rear-panel RS-232 port allows connection to a compatible PC or external whole-house control system from companies such as AMX or Crestron. NAD is a certified partner of AMX and Crestron and fully supports these external devices.

Switched AC Outlet: This convenient outlet can supply switched AC power to another component or accessory. The total draw off all devices connected to this outlet must not exceed 120 watts.

AC Power Cord: The C 356DAC comes supplied with a detachable 68" AC power cord.

 
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NAD C 356DAC Reviews

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5 out of 5

Hear each instrument clearly

Written By EB, Northeast US on Saturday, September 13, 2014
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
Although I am not a technical expert in the science and specifications of sound, I like to hear all of the instruments clearly. When I switched to this amp (from an old Aiwa), I started hearing all of the music for the first time. I hear sounds in songs that I had not known, or barely known, were there. Before, for so many years, music was just one sound made up of some of the parts all mixed up together. Now, that mixture has become whole and complete and rich. At the same time, I can hear each part, each separate part, of that complete whole. I can hear what the music really sounds like. I can hear the music for the first time.

Good speakers are necessary too. I'm using either old Bose 301 Series III speakers, or Grado Lab SR 225 headphones. The amp is plugged into my lower-end desktop PC, where the music comes from CD's, Windows Media Player Library, or from YouTube. The only change to my system is the amp. If I had to choose between upgrading my amp or speakers first, I would talk to a Crutchfield advisor, and then think before deciding.
Pros:
My favorite music is even better with this amp. I probably won't ever buy another amp for my home system (less spending in the long run).
Cons:
None
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5 out of 5

best sound I've ever heard

Written By lucas, Groves, Tx on Sunday, August 03, 2014
 
I am new to high end home audio equipment in general. Having said that, this amp and DAC provide an amazing listening experience for all kinds of music. I'm listening to it right now like I have been most of my free time since I got it and I still can't believe the detail and warmth coming from my speakers "PSB image B4" the lowest model of PSB book shelf speakers, I don't know how much the speakers are contributing to the sound being so great but regardless it is amazing. I am streaming from a sonos to the built in DAC via optical cable and it sounds like I'm listening to a CD from a quality CD player. I am streaming 24/48 from the sonos to the DAC so that helps. In my opinion you can not possible go wrong with this unit for under $1000. I got it for just over 700 as an open box item, "thanks Crutchfield".
Pros:
Very detailed, warm at all volumes amazing sound from DAC with sonos and I'm sure with any component.
Cons:
Yet to find any
1 out of 1 people found this helpful
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3 out of 5

Very flat sound... defective perhaps?

Written By RJ, Michigan on Monday, July 14, 2014
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
I've had Harmon Kardon, Yamaha, Nackamichi, Kenwood, and Sansui.. old and new. I thought I would go bigger dollars to get better sound so I bought the NAD 356 DAC. Terrible! Very flat. Very little bass. Speakers used while testing were Wharfedale Diamond 10.2's, Paradigm V3's, and Bowers & Wilkins 500 series. My teenage son put it best "It sounds like an ipad speaker". I think I may have gotten a defective unit? I'm giving 3 stars since I'm hoping it was defective, and from what I read, NAD's shouldn't be defective. Otherwise I would have given 1 star if this truly is how this unit sounds. I sent the NAD back (Crutchfield is AWESOME) and went very basic and bought a Yamaha R-S200. It blows the NAD away and was less money.
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5 out of 5

Buy this amp

Written By Michael R, Metter, GA on Friday, July 11, 2014
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
Absolutely fantastic amp
Pros:
The DAC is a wonderful addition. This amp has plenty of power for just about any speakers - the sound is clear - typical NAD quality.
Cons:
None
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5 out of 5

exceptional sound, NAD quality

Written By MarkB, Colorado on Tuesday, January 07, 2014
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
Ample power to drive Bowers and Wilkins CM8 stereo speakers (A ) and Bose outdoor stereo speakers(B). Clean, musical, dynamic amp for a variety of music styles: Miles, Metheny, Bill Evans, Perahia's Mozart Piano Concertos, chamber music, Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin, Peter Gabriel, ECM artists, blues, world...

DAC has exceptional performance with HD music files, SACD, and standard 16 bit CDs Connections: 24/96 music.

Connections: files from Western Digital Passport portable USB hard drive > USB port of Samsung BD-F7500 Blu-Ray > unprocessed PCM through optical cable> modular DAC in the NAD C 356DAC.
Pros:
Refined performance, rugged construction, pre-installed DAC module gives immaculate detail to HD audio tracks and standard CDs, drives demanding speakers with ease.
Cons:
Considering all of the pros, there really are no cons to speak of. I wish the remote's volume control was a bit more refined (a tap "up" raises the volume substantially, so you end up turning using the physical volume knob when you want slight changes in volume), but that is hardly a big problem.
3 out of 3 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

Clear Power

Written By Monkman, Middletown, CT on Sunday, December 01, 2013
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
The young Johann S. Bach was often hired to test pipe organs to see if they did what their builders advertised. He would pull out all the stops and go to it; organ makers often turned pale watching him. So it was a pleasure to listen to the recording of a Bach organ recital on a system driven by the NAD C 356DAC, using a Marantz CD5004 CD player and Monitor Audio Silver 6 (the new series). After turning up the volume to about 10 o'clock, the sound was both immense and amazingly clear. The myriad tones of the organ were distinctly audible, and although I rarely listen to organ music (with the occasional exception of Joey DeFrancesco, Herbie Hancock, Dr. Lonny Smith, etc.) this was enough to make me want to hear more. The bass was astoundingly limpid and full, the mid and high ranges round and detailed.

I know little about music systems, but wanted one that would run simply and reproduce the music as clearly as possible. Having listened so far to a range of orchestral and chamber music reaching from Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Crumb, and Ligeti to jazz by Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, Paul Chambers, and Bill Frissell, I am completely pleased with the ability of this system to allow me to hear music as though for the first time.

CDs are distinctly clearer than the digital reproduction (although I've not downloaded hi-definition audio files), but the digital system makes a receiver superfluous.

Service, moreover, was excellent. Bravo, Crutchfield!
Pros:
Great clarity, sufficient power to drive quality tower speakers, ease of operation.
Cons:
None that I've discovered so far.
1 out of 2 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

Solid

Written By mdog, Kansas City on Saturday, November 09, 2013
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
Awesome amp! I trust NAD. I've had them before and they are real work-horses. I feel that they deliver the real power that they advertise vs. some of the other brands. The other NAD amp is flawless and working after 7 years but I have it in a different location. I wanted the cleaness and power of the 356 and I feel like that is what I got. For the money, I don't think you can buy a better amplifier.
Pros:
Power, Reliability
Cons:
None
1 out of 1 people found this helpful
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4 out of 5

Wanted to upgrade my Sony

Written By Mike, Yuma, AZ on Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
I ordered this amp after a lot of research to replace my older Sony amp and power my Polk RTI A7 speakers. It was extremely well made and powerful and had no distortion when cranked up. Unfortunately, I just didn't care for the sound of it compared to my Sony. It put out way more mid range than I was used to and the bass/treble controls didn't allow for much adjustment of the sound. I listened to it for several days and ultimately decided to send it back and keep my Sony. Crutchfield's return policy is awesome. Absolutely no issues with returning it.
Pros:
Powerful, no distortion, well made
Cons:
Not much ability to adjust the sound to your preference, too much mid range with my speaker set up
7 out of 8 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

Nice upgrade from NAD C740 Receiver

Written By DavidT, Philadelphia, PA on Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
Have been listening to this for the last few weeks, and have to say, it sounds lovely. I'm not too good with reviews, but seeing as there is not much out there on this particular unit, I thought I would share some impressions. My setup is:

Vortexbox [FLAC] -> Ethernet -> Squeezebox Touch -> Monster MC400DFO -> NAD C356DAC -> 14G Copper Wire -> PSB Image 2B

Previously, I was running the SB Touch with an NAD C740 receiver. I started experiencing intermittent distortion in one of the channels and was able to identify the receiver as the culprit. The C356DAC appeared to be a worthy replacement/upgrade. In addition, I had been curious about stand-alone DACs, as I had heard conflicting reports regarding the quality of SB Touch DAC. With that in mind the C356DAC was a logical choice for my budget.

The C356 drives the PSB speakers effortlessly - no surprises there. I am able to connect the SB Touch via both analog (RCA) and digital (SPDIF) simultaneously. This may not be technically correct, but it allows me to compare the SB Touch DAC to the NAD modular DAC by switching the inputs. Granted, the signal from the modular DAC sounds a little louder to my ears, but at the same time, it also sounds richer and fuller. The SB Touch DAC, by comparison, sounds rather flat and lifeless.

One quirk I have noticed is that it takes a minute or two for the NAD to "find" the digital signal from the SB Touch. This is manifest as having a signal in only one channel.
Pros:
Simple, solid, and so far reliable. Typically NAD. Modular DAC - potential for upgrades? Stereo minijack input on front panel for connecting MP3 player or similar.
Cons:
Not sure if it is NAD or the Squeezebox Touch, but it takes a minute or two to get a signal in both channels. After the connection if "made", it is smooth sailing.
6 out of 7 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

NAD C 356BEE DAC Review

Written By Dom, Los Angeles, CA on Wednesday, December 12, 2012
 
So I have had this amplifier for about 3 weeks now and WOW, I really didnt think that just changing an amp would make such a HUGE difference in my system! I use the AudioQuest cinnamon USB cable to connect my Mac to the built in DAC, this has given me such amazing improvements in clarity and imagingIt sounds ALOT more powerful than i would imagine from an 80 watt, My other amp was 120 watt, but this is way louder and effortless, like i barely have to turn the power up 1/4 of the way and its LOUD. Its VERY clear and precise and has a very quiet/black background. no hissing or humming even if u crank it up!... I cannot believe what a good deal this amp is, I got it as an open box item, so it was a great price! and it literally sounds like i have gotten a new pair of speakers! I'm floored.
Pros:
Very powerful, much more than would seem from the 80 wtts/channel, EASILY beats out my old 150 watt sony! Such clear music Very dynamic, i can hear very fine details in songs that i never had before, AND very good imaging, i can almost see where each instrument is playing and feel as through thwy are there. I like them with Jazz and instrumental but even Trance/ progressive and HT sound good! They are very versatile! Very sturdy remote
Cons:
kind of annoying the USB input is on the back, kind of wish there was one in the front, but that's just me. and it could be a little more attractive or have a screen, but its still has a very nice polished and classic look.
11 out of 11 people found this helpful
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      • 7 RCA audio inputs
      • 4-ohm stable for use with a wide range of speakers
  • Add To Cart
    $549.99
  • NAD C 356DAC
  • Digital compatibility for your computer audio files
  • 4.5 out of 5: In Stock
  • The NAD C 356DAC offers:
    • asynchronous DAC module for jitter-free digital file playback
    • USB and optical inputs
  • Add To Cart
    $899.99
  • NAD C 356BEE
  • 5 out of 5: In Stock
    • The NAD C 356BEE offers:
      • 80 watts x 2
      • 7 RCA audio inputs
      • 4-ohm stable for use with a wide range of speakers
  • Add To Cart
    $799.99
  • NAD C 375BEE
  • Add dynamic range to your system
  • 5 out of 5: In Stock
  • The NAD C 375BEE gives you:
    • 150 x 2 full-bandwidth-rated watts for powerful, undistorted sound
    • does not include DAC module
    • an additional MDC (Modular Design Construction) bay perfect for an available DAC or phono preamp module
  • Add To Cart
    $1,499.99
  • NAD C 356DAC
  • integrated amp w/built-in DAC
  • 4.5 out of 5: In Stock
    • The NAD C 356DAC offers:
      • 80 watts x 2
      • MDC DAC module features ansynchronous USB input and optical input for jitter-free performance
      • 4-ohm stable for use with a wide range of speakers
  • Add To Cart
    $899.99
  • NAD C 375DAC
  • Digital compatibility for your computer audio files
  • 4.5 out of 5: In Stock
  • The NAD C 375DAC adds:
    • asynchronous DAC module for jitter-free digital file playback
    • USB and optical inputs
  • Add To Cart
    $1,599.99
  • NAD C 375BEE
  • Stereo Integrated Amplifier
  • 5 out of 5: In Stock
    • The NAD C 375BEE offers:
      • 150 watts x 2
      • 7 RCA audio inputs
      • sophisticated amplifier design reduces distortion and noise
  • Add To Cart
    $1,499.99
  • NAD C 375DAC
  • Integrated amp with onboard DAC
  • 4.5 out of 5: In Stock
    • The NAD C 375DAC offers:
      • 150 watts x 2
      • MDC DAC module features an asynchronous USB input and optical input for jitter-free performance
      • 7 RCA audio inputs
  • Add To Cart
    $1,599.99
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