What is the NAD D3020 V2?
Even though the two-channel market doesn’t move at the same rate of knots as multi-channel audio and video, four years is long enough for NAD to want to tinker with the recipe and lo and behold, the D3020v2 has been released. Outwardly, the amp is very similar to the original but there are some alterations to the specification that are both slightly surprising and possibly indicative of the curious state of the market in 2018. More presciently though, we have looked at some excellent integrated amps in recent months, so is the NAD able to compete in an extremely competitive market?
This means that the D3020v2 has a solitary RCA stereo input labelled Aux. This reflects the decline in the number of devices you are likely to have that need such a connection. It is in turn partnered with a coaxial and optical input that are 24/192 capable. The DAC chip that is used is not specified in any of the literature that NAD supplies for the amp but an interesting technical note is that the DAC is an eight channel design which sums to stereo. This means that there is a likely candidate for what it is and that performance should be strong as a result.
This spread of single inputs means that the NAD is able to work with a wide selection of equipment but not necessarily handle vast amounts of it. Given that a significant majority of systems that are assembled at this price point are single or double source only, the decision that NAD has taken seems like a logical one. No less importantly, if you need a conventional amp with a more conventional input roster, NAD still makes the C316BEE which is going to fit that requirement perfectly.
The additional connectivity of the D3020v2 is also useful. Apt-X Bluetooth is fitted which means that a number of computers will talk to it perfectly happily via this medium. No less useful is the fitment of a 3.5mm headphone socket on the front panel which gives some useful extra flexibility. This is joined by some other 3.5mm sockets on the rear panel that further boost what the D3020v2 is capable of. Unlike the preceding model, the D3020v2 has separate preouts and subwoofer outs on the rear panel and NAD has had the presence of mind to supply a 3.5mm- stereo RCA adapter to make this is a useable connection. A 12v trigger connection is also fitted.
The amplifier that this is partnered with is a continuation of NAD’s enthusiastic work with Class D. It produces 30 watts into both 4 and 8 ohms and connects via a single pair of speaker terminals. An area that NAD makes great play of is the energy efficiency of the D3020v2 and if you are taking this area into account when buying an amp, it is hard to argue that it is considerably more efficient than any Class A/B rival and that this efficiency also means that the amp is smaller and cooler running. 30 watts isn’t going to worry the pyramid stage at Glastonbury but a thoughtfully chosen pair of speakers will be fine with it. One interesting fitment is an adjustable bass EQ on the rear panel that can give the NAD a little extra oomph at the bottom end.
Elsewhere, the news is pretty good though. The volume knob has a pleasant resistance and gearing to it and the chassis itself feels well made and well thought out. In some respects the NAD feels less like a piece of audio equipment and more akin to the way that games consoles and set top boxes present themselves to the user. From my perspective, I think this is a nicer device to have on display than the more conventional (and more expensive) C338 we looked at last year. Like the C338, the D3020v2 has been given the same small and easily lost remote but it feels more acceptable coming with a £400 amp than it does a £600 one.
How was the D3020v2 Tested?
The NAD is a fairly elegant demonstration that the amplifier type in use in a product doesn’t have the final say in the way it will perform. This is neither a thin nor bright sounding amplifier and instead has a pleasant sense of balance and evenness to the way it makes music. The most interesting difference that seems to be present in the v2 though is that this is a more spacious and open sounding amplifier than the older model. This is hard to prove outright – the Spendor A1 being used for testing here is a more spacious sounding speaker than the Mordaunt Short Mezzo 1 I used in 2014 – but there is still a convincing sensation that there is a better sense of soundstage than there was before.
This extends to the phono stage as well. To be clear, the phono stage itself is pretty good for one built into an already flexible £400 amplifier. It is more than up to the job of keeping most sub £100 designs honest and the results with the Goldring E3 are perfectly listenable. Some of the punch and drive that the modified LP5 is capable of though is lost and the result can sometimes sound a little safe. Interestingly, the bass tuning facility on the rear panel is able to bring a little more oomph back to the performance although you risk digital sounding a little overblown if left in this augmented setting all the time. If you are dead set on creating a vinyl fronted system for the ages, the NAD possibly wouldn’t be my first choice (really, you need to find an extra 50% of your budget and secure a Rega Brio- R) but the NAD is good enough to do justice to vinyl on a semi regular basis.
The Bluetooth input is a usefully close match to the performance of the digital inputs of the 3020v2 too. The bass extension from the Motorola G4 can seem fractionally softer than the same Qobuz files played via the Yamaha WX-AD10 but, once again, the 3020v2 has that bass tweak to help you out and, if you happen to use the NAD for the unusual combination of vinyl and Bluetooth, will offer the same lift into the Spendors worked well.
- Lively and engaging sound
- Flexible specification
- Compact and well assembled
- Limited number of each input
- Phono stage is good rather than great
- Will struggle with very insensitive speakers
NAD D3020 V2 Integrated Amplifier Review
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