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“
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