NAD has never cared much for fancy boxes, instead preferring to concentrate on getting the performance right.
Take this integrated amplifier out of the box and two things surprise. First, just how small it is – just 8 x 29cm (alongside the conventional 43cm width).
It's hefty for a budget amplifier too, suggesting a beefy power supply.
The feature count is reasonable but no more; it can be boiled down to five line-level inputs, a headphone output, a single tape loop and remote control.
We like the remote: it's simple, small and sensibly designed. We wish more manufacturers did the same.
Once run-in, the C316BEE is an enthusiastic-sounding amplifier. It's upfront without being overly harsh.
Take a listen to the opening of No One Loves Me & Neither Do I from Them Crooked Vultures and the NAD has no trouble thumping out the drums with considerable force.
It keeps hold of things even when the track builds into something more complex, displaying a nicely judged tonal balance.
A power output of 40 watts per channel is about par for the course, and enough (in the NAD's case) to drive most speakers up to the likes of, say, the EB Acoustics EB1s to decent levels.
Needs more nuance
For all its talent, however, this amplifier falls short of challenging the class leaders at this price level. It needs to have more nuanced dynamics, greater rhythmic precision and a higher level of clarity across the board to be able to do that.
The C316BEE is a decent listen for the money. Its problem is that rivals from the likes of Marantz, Rotel and Cambridge offer greatness for a similar outlay.
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