NAD C356BEE DAC review

A great DAC added to an already established stereo amplifier Tested at £695

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

A good amp with a great DAC – and NAD has priced the combination sensibly


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    Excellent DAC module

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    keen pricing for upgrade

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  • -

    Full potential limited by the accompanying amplifier

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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 connection
The 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.

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.

See all our DAC reviews

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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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