NAD C355BEE review

It's full of punchiness and power, but this more than capable NAD is let down by its lack of subtleties. Tested at £400.00

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

A solid-sounding, gutsy performer, but the NAD doesn't quite manage the intricacy on offer elsewhere in this price class


  • +

    Functional design and intuitive remote

  • +

    plenty of inputs

  • +

    solid, punchy sound

  • +

    plenty of bottom end

  • +

    decent midrange


  • -

    Bass can be too prominent

  • -

    lacks a little subtlety

  • -

    not as open and clean as the best

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If, as Harold Wilson famously claimed, 'a week is a long time in politics', then what does that make four years in the hi-fi world? It was 2004 when this amp's predecessor scooped an Award, and when NAD generally took all-comers in the budget amplifier market, but times have changed...

The design remains pure NAD, and while it won't have any children in tears, it won't win any style awards either. Inside there are upgrades to the power supply and circuitry in particular, while outside there are some seven analogue inputs, two sets of speaker inputs, two pre-outs, a main power switch and a soft-clipping button.

This last feature trims the sound at excessively loud volumes in order to avoid damaging your speakers. There's also a large, functional remote, plus a headphone out.

How's it perform?
Listening to Mariah Carey's 'Off The Record' - someone has to - the C355BEE certainly never lacks bottom end weight and punch, delivering a solid sound, though we do find the bass a little too prominent at times. Switching styles to The Raconteurs 'Hold Up', and the NAD demonstrates fine timing, ensuring the tune trips along at a healthy pace.

Listening to Holst's 'The Planets Suite', while detail levels are good, they can be bettered by the very best price rivals. The impressive punch and attack remains but this isn't matched by the same aptitude when more subtlety is required; this is a Nemanja Vidic, not a Rio Ferdinand.

Forthright presentation
Classical pieces always demonstrate the openness and clarity on display, and this NAD isn't quite as airy and clear as the very best. Albeit all relatively minor issues, these are faults nonetheless.

If you like it bassy, almost bolshy, and with power and punch in droves, then this NAD has plenty to offer - even more so if you like your sounds at wildlife-bothering volumes. So, while it's far from hero-to-zero, this latest NAD hasn't quite followed in its predecessor's award-winning steps.

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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