We first reviewed the 80 watt per channel NAD C356 BEE amplifier back in October 2010. We liked its exciting, powerful sound but felt its presentation a little muscle-bound. It now comes with a DAC for an extra £80.
That basic version continues at £615, and is capable of accepting add-on modules to augment its five line-level inputs.
There’s an option of a phono stage, but we’re quite taken with the idea of a built-in digital-to-analogue converter. The DAC module is a good one. It sounds way better than the mere £80 increase in price might suggest.
In terms of outright detail and dynamics we think it’s good enough to worry some of the better standalone offerings in the sub-£200 arena. Inputs are limited to USB and optical.
USB asynchronous connectionThe USB is an asynchronous connection, where the DAC has control over the timing of information flow, not the computer – we invariably find this to be a good thing.
More after the break
This amp remains a good rather than great performer, with a sound that charges along pleasantly but lacks the subtlety of rivals.
But the news on the new DAC facility is all good – we reckon if NAD packaged this module as a stand-alone unit at a sensible price it would be a winner.