NAD - D 3020 Hybrid Digital Integrated Amp
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- Built-in Amp, Preamp, 24/96 DAC, Bluetooth
- 2 x 30W @ 0.00% THD, >100W Dynamic Power @ 4 Ohms
- aptX Bluetooth Music Streaming
- 24bit/96k Asynchronous USB input (type B)
- Optical and Coaxial Digital Inputs, analog inputs
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|Sold By||Audio Advisor, Inc.||Geektime||Amazon.com||ListenUp||DEDICATED AUDIO||WORLD WIDE STEREO|
|Output Wattage||30 watts||80 watts||55 watts||50 watts||35||150 watts|
Save on a Critically Acclaimed Modern Marvel: 24-bit/96kHz DAC, aptX Bluetooth, Headphone Amp, and the Sound of NAD's D 3020 Hybrid Digital Integrated Amp Rival Success of the Original 3020 The original NAD 3020 amplifier changed the landscape for audiophiles on a budget. NAD's D 3020 hybrid digital integrated amplifier is doing the same. A great-sounding amplifier first, D 3020 also comes equipped with an asynchronous 24-bit/96k DAC, aptX Bluetooth music streaming, digital and analog inputs, a fantastic-sounding headphone amplifier, remote control and much more. Find out why The Absolute Sound calls it “a small miracle of packaging and portability.” You'll find inputs for your computer and for other digital and analog sources. The USB input uses asynchrounous mode to insure the lowest possible jitter (timing errors) from notoriously unstable computer audio outputs and supports 24-bit/96kHz music files. Coaxial and optical inputs allow many different digital sources to be connected, from CD and DVD disc players, to set top boxes like AppleTV or satellite and cable receivers. There are also analog inputs for iPods and older non-digital audio components like FM tuners. D 3020 , with its wireless Bluetooth capability, can stream music from smartphones, tablets, and laptops. It even supports the highest audio quality Bluetooth aptX that is becoming more popular for its excellent sound quality and low power consumption compared to Wi-Fi. Power output may sound small at 30 watts per channel, but like all NAD amplifiers, this can be very misleading as a properly designed 30W amplifier can often sound superior to a 100W amplifier from a lesser brand. More important, D 3020 can drive real loudspeakers to satisfying levels without adding noise or distortion. It's highly efficient design wastes less energy resulting in cool running and longer life.
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1. I needed an external DAC for my PC, my first venture into better-than-built-in-motherboard sound.
2. I wanted a unit that had a smaller footprint than a full-sized A/V receiver, which is about 17.25" wide on average. I need it to be placed on a narrow bookshelf that I have.
3. I wanted an amplifier that did not have any audible hiss during soft passages or silence, since this will be used on a computer and most of the time it won't be generating any sounds unless I'm gaming or playing music/movies.
4. I wanted a remote control for power and volume
5. I would love to have bluetooth streaming functionality built-in without having to add another device.
At first, I started with an AudioEngine D1 DAC paired with their N22 amplifier. This sounded great, don't get me wrong, but I quickly found that the lack of a remote control and bluetooth started to bug me. Also, it would have been nice to have everything in 1 unit instead of 2. AudioEngine makes great sounding products of very high quality, but it was missing a couple of features I really wanted.
I ended up looking at the Teac UDH01 integrated amplifier. The Teac has everything I wanted - a remote, small footprint, integrated DAC with amplifier. The only thing it didn't have was built-in bluetooth. I thought, hey bluetooth isn't such a big deal since I'll be playing music from my PC most of the time, so I almost pulled the trigger on this until I happened to find a couple of YouTube videos reviewing the TEAC.
One of the videos compared the TEAC to another product called the NAD D3020 and how the NAD sounded better in subjective testing. Intrigued but skeptical about someone else's "subjective" opinion, I looked it up and found this. After doing days of reading and watching videos on this unit, I finally ordered it from Amazon and waited anxiously for its arrival.
The unit is very much everything I have wanted on my wish list. It is a single unit with a built-in DAC, amplifier, remote and bluetooth.
On top of those, it has some features which I consider icing on the cake - multiple inputs (analog, digital, coaxial, usb) and a dedicated sub-out.
The box it came in was very nice and everything was packaged well in a clamshell type flip-up lid. When I unboxed it, the quality of the unit really surprised me. This little amp is heavy, sturdy, and feels solid. There is nothing cheap feeling about it. The terminals are gold plated. There is a high quality matte velvet finish that you would expect in a luxury vehicle interior instead of on the sides of an audio component. The gloss piano black trim is a very nice contrast to the matte sides. The volume knob has good resistance and won't spin after you let go, even if you tried hard. It takes actually a little more effort to turn than you would expect - a very solid feel.
Straightforward - I downloaded the drivers off their site for my OS and got ready to install. You don't even need the instructions, everything is like I said, straightforward. Speaker cables to red and black, hook up the USB to your PC, AC adaptor to the power strip, and you're good to go.
Look and feel - there is a display on the front which is hidden when turned off behind the black gloss plastic front. You can only see it when the unit is powered on, which is like a stealth look. I like it a lot. The display shows the current input as well as the current decibel setting (volume). A little different than most, it shows the volume in decibels (-60db, -40db, -20db, etc) rather than a range of say 1-10.
The volume knob is not notched - meaning you don't feel any clicks as you turn. It's completely smooth. There's also no limit on turning, meaning there is not start and stop points. it just spins and spins as long as you keep turning it. This is not necessarily a good or bad thing, just thought I would mention it. Most of the time I will be controlling everything by the remote control anyway.
This is not some credit card remote - it feels solid and up-scale. It has the same nice matte finish on the top with the smooth piano black on the bottom, same as the amplifier. I really like the construction of it. Buttons are responsive and I have had no range issues. It is infrared, so line of sight is required, in case you plan on putting this unit behind a closed door that isn't glass or see-through. It's slightly bigger than the AppleTV remote, which it shares some design cues with.
The unit powered on and when I booted up my PC, it was detected and installed it right away. I am using Windows 7. Even without the drivers, it started playing sounds with no problems. I installed their drivers anyway, but I didn't see or hear any differences.
The sound is on par with that of the AudioEngine setup I had. I'm not an audiophile but I can certainly hear the difference between the built-in sound of the motherboard and a dedicated external dac/amp setup. The thing I noticed the most was the spaciousness. I've always wondered what that word really refers to when audiophiles use it to describe a product and now I know.
When I was listening to music on this setup, I kept thinking that someone was either a) at my window to my right, outside hanging like Spiderman or b) down the stairway to my left, having broken into my house and is robbing my ass. I kept hearing little sounds in my songs that I had never heard before, details coming from even further away than the speakers themselves, it seems. This kept making me jerk my head to the left or right to see where that came from. I think that is what they are referring to as spaciousness. The clarity of the music has to be heard to be appreciated. The staging (pinpoining location of sounds when your eyes are closed) is pretty much locked on the dead center of my monitor on vocals - something I did not have before with the motherboard built-in sound card. The AudioEngine setup had excellent sound and imaging as well, and I would be lying if I said I could prefer one sound over the other, they sound almost the same to me, although the NAD sounded "smoother" if there was a word to describe it at all.
It does take it a bit to get up to volume though. I am pushing two PolkAudio RT25i bookshelf passive speakers with this amp. To get it to the point where it is "wow that's just about loud enough to disturb my neighbors" it takes a setting up to -20db or so. On this amp's scale that is 4 out of 5 on the volume. Which is fine, since I will almost never play my music that loud, maybe for 1 song or so but that's it. So if you're wanting to rattle everything in your home, this isn't the amp for you.
I added a PolkAudio PSW10 powered 10" sub to the system and hooked it up to the dedicated sub out on the back of the D3020. Works without any issues and sounds great.
When the volume is turned all the way up to maximum, and no music is playing, I do not hear any audible hiss coming from the speakers whatsoever, which is almost impossibly impressive to me, as a I have always had audible hiss during silence with every system I have owned, including the Grace Digital and AudioEngine setups.
Bluetooth works just as advertised. I did not notice any degraded audio quality while streaming from my iPad (no crackles, distortion or audible pops that I could tell). Syncing with the unit is as easy as you would think. The unit comes up on my iPad as NAD D3020 or something like that.
1. The sub out on the back of the D3020 is a 3.5mm out, not an RCA like most would expect a sub out to be. You will need a 3.5 to RCA adaptor to hook it up to a powered sub with a preamp in, or just get a cable that is 3.5 to RCA like I did so you don't have to deal with losing quality with any adaptors. (not that it matters much since it's a sub, but true audiophiles will disagree).
2. The unit comes with 4 rubber feet stickers you can put on the bottom. I highly suggest you use them. The unit isn't completely flat on the bottom so it tilts and rocks a tiny bit. Plus you don't want to scuff up that beautiful finish. You can use the unit vertically or horizontally, which is probably why they let you put the stickers where you would like, depending on your application.
3. The volume is very granular. It takes a full 360 degree turn of the knob to notice any change in volume. It's very precise. The remote, however, is not. If you click the volume up button it barely registers any audible increase in volume. However, holding down the volume up button for half a second will equate to a jump of about 1.5 full rotations manually on the knob. Takes a little getting used to but no big deal.
4. You will need a paper clip or small pick to remove the battery compartment of the remote to install the battery initially (it's a watch battery) which is included.
5. The power supply is in the actual unit itself, not as an AC adaptor brick or inline in the cord, which is nice and convenient, although audiophiles will argue that having a power supply so close to the DAC would increase chances of introducing interference and noise.
Wish List: Not much to want more out of this than it already gives you. If I had to nit pick I would say:
1. a way to change the bluetooth name of the unit so if you have more than 1 in the house, it can be named "Living Room" or "Bedroom" etc. (there already may be a way for me to change this since I haven't exactly opened up the manual yet)
2. I can't seem to think of anything else I'd like to add to this unit. It's darn near perfect.
I love this thing! It has everything I need and want, plus some other inputs for future expansion. The only thing I don't like is the price of the unit. $499 is pretty steep for a 30 watt/channel dac/amp but considering that the Teac is priced $100 lower, and doesn't have bluetooth, and the AudioEngine combination is $369 for the Dac and Amplifier, you have to ask yourself, is the build quality, fit, finish, bluetooth and the convenience of all this in one unit worth an extra $100 over the TEAC and $130 over the AudioEngines? I would have liked to see it priced at $399 or even $449 instead but in the end you get what you pay for.
I hope this review helps you decide either yay or nay on this unit.
All the inputs work great. The NAD even comes with a free adapter the likes of which this audio guy has never seen - somehow it mods the 1/8" stereo aux input? such that it will take an additional toslink input. Which works like a champ. : ) I was surprised how great it made my average 8 ohm bookshelf speakers sound.
I rarely use bluetooth, and while it didn't pair up right away, once it did, it worked a-ok. Similarly, the USB/DAC-from-computer driver.
About the only thing the NAD doesn't have that I'd like (even at its very reasonable ROI price) would be an onboard adjustable multiband eq. I realize that could possible increase the cost? but considering that my cheap-ass car stereo (around $150) has a multi band eq on it, I think NAD and its similar competitors using digital interfaces could afford it. (I tried the PMA-50, which had adjustable bass and treble controls, but a) I thought the PMA-50 I tested had very harsh hi-mids out of the box and b) the treble/bass-only controls could not tweak it into suitability for my particular environment).
Overall though, the NAD D 3020 is a great, great little box. I sincerely hope it does it job for years to come.
UPDATE: Still super. Just thought I'd mention that it takes about 10 seconds to power up.
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