NAD C390DD review

NAD’s novel thinking delivers a decent alternative to the established favourites Tested at £2250

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

NAD’s novel thinking delivers a decent alternative to the established favourites


  • +

    Powerful and ultra-refined sound

  • +

    convincing scale


  • -

    Build lacks a luxury feel

  • -

    not the last word in dynamic expression

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NAD’s come a long way from the must-buy amplifier of the late 70s and early 80s, the 3020. That amp was about simplicity and had a 20W-per-channel output; the NAD C 390DD is a fine example of doing things the hard way, and delivers 150W a side.

The NAD is a hybrid unit: a digital-to-analogue converter and digital stereo amp. It has no analogue stages in the signal path, so keeps the music in the digital domain right up to the speaker outputs. That helps it, NAD says, avoid the phase shifts and distortion inherent in analogue designs.

It can play content from standard digital sources, from USB devices and computers, at up to 24bit/192kHz. An optional DD AP-1 analogue-to-digital stage can be fitted, complete with phono equalisation, while the DD-HDMI-1 module adds three HDMI inputs and an output.



NAD C390DD: Sound quality

But how does it sound? Well, for a smidge over £2000, pretty good. It’s precise and detailed, offering good scale and plenty of sonic authority. By the highest standards, though, it’s not as expressive or rhythmically adept as the best at this price.

Also the build quality isn’t entirely convincing – we’d expect more solidity and a nicer finish for the money.

But it can go loud, and just keeps going as you wind up the level. Plus, due to that digital amplification, the NAD remains physically cool, too. If you’re in the market for an amp at this kind of level, it’s well worth a listen.



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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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