We take a look back at the budget amplifier that defined a brand, first reviewed in What Hi-Fi? back in 1983...

It's fair to say the NAD brand was established on the success of the original 3020 amplifier. Introduced in the late ’70s, this unassuming budget amplifier set the standard for sound quality in a category where most still put specification and features first. 

And it did sound good, as our 1983 review of the upgraded 3020A showed.

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The major news with this model was the addition of a moving-coil phono stage, turntables being the main quality source. Back then, it wasn’t unusual for high-end decks to be partnered with budget amps and speakers – the idea being that whatever the source missed couldn’t be added later – so the 3020A’s moving-coil upgrade made sense.

There were doubts about the awkward speaker connections and the loss of a mute button, but these weren’t enough to overshadow the NAD’s sound-quality advantage over rivals or dent its success.

More after the break

The market is very different now, however. Our source components are overwhelmingly digital, so it comes as no surprise to find the latest 3020 loaded with digital inputs, including Bluetooth.

The D3020 is also smaller, to slot into places more conventional amplifiers wouldn’t, and is styled to look good when laid flat or standing upright. It still has some of the pared-down functional charm of the original, though. 

And it may be different from the original in many ways, but NAD hasn’t forgotten the reason its ancestor was so successful – sound quality. The latest amplifier is engaging and entertaining, and yes, still a class leader.

MORE: NAD D 3020 review