NAD C 368

FOR Solid and re­fined sound; Blue­tooth; up­grade path AGAINST Lacks a bit of get-up-and-go “The C 368 prom­ises en­hanced fea­tures and per­for­mance – and re­duced power con­sump­tion too“

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For a while it looked like NAD had swal­lowed the ‘brave pill’. The Cana­dian brand dab­bled with an ad­ven­tur­ous de­sign for its Dig­i­tal se­ries – the D 1050 and Award-win­ning D 3020 amps sig­nalled a move to more con­tem­po­rary cas­ings – but things have re­turned to the norm with the Clas­sic se­ries, of which the C 368 sits in the mid­dle. De­signed from the ‘ground up’, it prom­ises en­hanced fea­tures and per­for­mance, and re­duced power con­sump­tion.

Packed with func­tion­al­ity

NAD has con­tin­ued to im­prove its Pow­er­drive am­pli­fier cir­cuit, which is de­signed to op­ti­mise power de­liv­ery through a wide range of speak­ers. Here, the com­pany claims 80W per chan­nel into both 4 and 8 ohm loads.

Packed with func­tion­al­ity, the NAD will sit as the nu­cleus of any hi-fi set-up. Line-level in­puts are the cor­ner­stone of ev­ery stereo amp and the NAD has two, as well as a mov­ing-mag­net phono stage.

An eight-chan­nel DAC chip, which runs in Dual Dif­fer­en­tial mode with four chan­nels run­ning on each side for im­proved res­o­lu­tion, al­lows for two coax­ial and two op­ti­cal in­puts, while aptx Blue­tooth, via a screw-on an­tenna, means mu­sic can be streamed from a tablet or to wire­less head­phones.

Two slots at the rear can ac­com­mo­date up­grade mod­ules, whether it’s ad­di­tional dig­i­tal au­dio in­puts such as a type-b USB for lap­tops, HDMI sock­ets with 4K passthrough or a Blue­sound card to add hi-res multi-room net­work stream­ing.

There’s also a preamp out­put to fa­cil­i­tate bi-amp­ing, a 6.3mm head­phone out­put on the front panel, and two pairs of speaker out­puts.

The chas­sis it­self is or­di­nary even by stereo amp stan­dards, as are the few plas­tic but­tons and, while it won’t win any de­sign awards, ev­ery­thing from the screen to the re­mote car­ries an air of late 20th-cen­tury nostal­gia about it.

Top to bot­tom

The NAD sounds like it looks: big and solid from top to bot­tom. Whether we con­nect through one of its ana­logue or coax­ial in­puts, the sonic pre­sen­ta­tion’s warmth and full-bod­ied­ness emerges, laid bare by the ar­range­ment of Lay Down In The Tall Grass by Tim­ber Tim­bre. The NAD ex­am­ines each note of the schmaltzy bassline with­out slow­ing it down. The high-pitched pi­ano sounds pre­cise with­out be­ing harsh.

The NAD’S wide-open and scrupu­lous sound­stage drips with de­tail, com­mu­ni­cat­ing the band’s spooky sonic per­sona. It wades through the swampy re­verbed vo­cal, af­ford­ing it re­fine­ment with­out let­ting that mask the heart­felt sen­ti­ment be­hind it.

It’s quite con­tent with rhythms too, and has no prob­lem trav­el­ling through the ag­ile and rich melodies of Su­per­tramp’s Break­fast In Amer­ica. How­ever, erring on the side of cau­tion, the C 638 can sound a lit­tle re­strained with up­beat songs. We’d like it to take some cues from the Rega Elex-r when it comes to live­li­ness.

As ex­pected, the Blue­tooth pre­sen­ta­tion sac­ri­fices a lit­tle re­fine­ment and clar­ity, and dy­nam­ics take a hit too, but Hyde & Beast’s Open Your Heart is still an en­gag­ing lis­ten thanks to plenty of in­sight into the pi­ano notes.

The NAD C 368 ticks a lot of boxes as a suc­cess­ful stereo amp. It’s not only well con­nected but has a pleas­antly smooth, re­fined and mus­cle-bound sound that’s very agree­able in­deed – even if, by be­ing a touch safe-sound­ing, it’s leapfrogged by more com­plete ri­vals be­fore it’s even had the chance to touch its toes.

The or­di­nary­look­ing chas­sis does have a retro air about it KEY FEA­TURES 80W per chan­nel Blue­tooth MM Phono stage

The C 368 can stream mu­sic to head­phones via Blue­tooth

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