NAD Electronics has just unveiled the new C 399 HybridDigital DAC Amplifier, and with it the firm promises it is taking value and performance to a whole new level.
You see, although the C 399 is pitched as the new flagship integrated amplifier within NAD's Classic Series, it utilises the company's HybridDigital nCore amplification, which until now has been available only on Masters Series amplifiers. That means the NAD C 399 boasts 180W per channel of continuous power, and 250W per channel instantaneous power.
Also trickled down from the Masters Series is the Ess Sabre 32-bit/384kHz ES9028 high-resolution DAC, the same chip used in NAD’s Masters M10 and Masters M33 amplifiers.
And the C 399 is also the first amplifier to incorporate the latest generation of NAD’s Modular Design Construction (MDC) technology: MDC2. Back in 2006, NAD introduced Modular Design Construction (MDC), its architecture for adding new functions to existing components. Several NAD products have rear-panel slots for MDC modules that perform UHD (4K) support, HDMI switching, BluOS multi-room music streaming, Dolby Atmos surround processing and the like, but the C 399 is the first product to feature NAD’s new MDC2 architecture.
Equipped with wi-fi and Ethernet, the optional MDC2 BluOS-D module (as seen below) lets listeners play music from their favourite streaming services through the C 399, using the BluOS Controller app for Android, iOS, macOS, and Windows. Like all BluOS enabled products, the MDC2 BluOS-D has integrated support for dozens of streaming services; and supports Apple AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, and Tidal Connect. Its two-way communication also enables the MDC2 BluOS-D to stream music from local sources connected to the C 399 to BluOS Enabled components in other rooms.
In addition to two sets of speaker outputs, the C 399 has preamp output jacks and dual subwoofer outputs. Two-way aptX HD Bluetooth allows 24-bit streaming from mobile devices, and high-quality output to Bluetooth headphones. Also built-in is a dedicated headphone amplifier with low output impedance and high output voltage capability, so the C 399 should be able to drive even demanding, high-impedance studio monitor headphones.
The C 399 has two optical and two coaxial digital inputs, plus an HDMI-eARC port for playing audio from a connected TV, while controlling the amplifier output with the TV’s remote control. Analogue fans are well served too, with two pairs of RCA line-level inputs, plus a MM phono stage with RIAA equalization boasting extremely low noise and high overload margins. The phono preamp also features an innovative circuit that promises to suppresses the infrasonic noise present on all LPs, without compromising bass response. The line inputs also have low-noise buffer amplifiers to prevent sonic degradation.
In the UK, the NAD C 399 is available to pre-order now at Sevenoaks, priced £1799 ($1999, which is around AU$3380) with availability starting in November.
See all our NAD reviews
Go back to 1979 with our That Was Then... NAD 3020 feature
See our pick of the best hi-fi systems 2021: micro, hi-fi, vinyl