Question Nad 3020i with TDL Rtl3 speakers - should I upgrade

umigazumi

Standard Member
I've got more time at home and can listen to music without kids. Currently using hard drive flac files via Topping E30 DAC into NAD 3020i out of TDL RTL3 floor standing speakers. It does sound good, but I've got an itch. I've have "permission" for £400 to improve my sound. Happy with new or used kit. My thoughts have gone full circle. Can anyone with more modern awareness share thoughts, even if that's too suggest sticking with what I've already got?
 

muljao

Well-known Member
400 pounds probably isn't a lot to improve what you have. Unless there is something specific, I have the rtl 2s, I'd guess that the 3s are better, you'd probably need 400 just to improve them. Maybe somebody else will disagree
 

umigazumi

Standard Member
Thanks muljao. Nothing specific of concern, the NAD is 30 years old and the TDL3's are 20 years old. I'm wondering if the technology has made meaningful (not marketing) improvements. Perhaps modern speakers or amp might give something more, or not?
 

Ruffuz

Well-known Member
Thanks muljao. Nothing specific of concern, the NAD is 30 years old and the TDL3's are 20 years old. I'm wondering if the technology has made meaningful (not marketing) improvements. Perhaps modern speakers or amp might give something more, or not?

Look into second hand speakers, otherwise I wouldn't bother with that budget.
 

muljao

Well-known Member
I'm sure you can improve, my thinking is you'd buy an amp for 400 and you need to improve the speakers to get the benefits, and vice versa.

If your room is big enough I'd imagine the q acoustics 3050i or the standmounters 3030i on stands may be worth a look as they are ready to drive and known to give a full room sound
 

umigazumi

Standard Member
I'm sure you can improve, my thinking is you'd buy an amp for 400 and you need to improve the speakers to get the benefits, and vice versa.

If your room is big enough I'd imagine the q acoustics 3050i or the standmounters 3030i on stands may be worth a look as they are ready to drive and known to give a full room sound
Thank you muljao, eBay has been useful here. My room is about 5m by 8m, so these may be used at lower levels
 

Ruffuz

Well-known Member
Thank you muljao, eBay has been useful here. My room is about 5m by 8m, so these may be used at lower levels
you have very big room, and music that you're listen too also plays a vital part in choosing right speakers.

QA 3050i could be a good starting point.
 

umigazumi

Standard Member
you have very big room, and music that you're listen too also plays a vital part in choosing right speakers.

QA 3050i could be a good starting point.
Thank you Ruffuz, I'm on the hunt for a pair of QA 3050i's in the right colour. Very much appreciate the advice from yourself and muljao.
 

dbeevers

Well-known Member
Hi
If you're looking at changing speakers then I'd get a switch as well to compare.
I've got some RTL3s and been trying different speakers, I've had maybe a dozen pairs over the years thinking newer would be better and none have come close, my last try is gonna be some PMCs (FB1+) if they turn up.
 

umigazumi

Standard Member
Hi
If you're looking at changing speakers then I'd get a switch as well to compare.
I've got some RTL3s and been trying different speakers, I've had maybe a dozen pairs over the years thinking newer would be better and none have come close, my last try is gonna be some PMCs (FB1+) if they turn up.
dbeevers - Now I'm even more intrigued! Please can i ask which speakers you tried as alternatives? Also, which amp are you running?
 
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dbeevers

Well-known Member
I would say over the space of 10 years I've tried Missions, B&W, Monitor Audio etc
I picked up some MA Bronze 6s last year and a Beresford TC7220 MK2 switcher. I lived with the MA for a few weeks but felt there was something missing, so I got the RTLs out and placed them side by side with the MAs, switching between them was astonishing even my GF couldn't believe the difference so the MAs went.
Amp wise I've had a few but my constant for listening is a pair of Quad II valves and an Onkyo Z900 for surround and general listening.
 

[email protected]

Active Member
Generally people recommend updating speakers before electronics. but the 3020 is old enough that you might hear a difference. The D3020 is a completely redesigned modern equivalent. It looks like it’s in you budget. You wouldn’t need the separate DAC. I use The D3020. While it has digital input, if you’re replacing the consider whether you want a full streamer. I don’t have anything specific to suggest. What I use is more expensive, but I think there are things within your budget.
 

umigazumi

Standard Member
I would say over the space of 10 years I've tried Missions, B&W, Monitor Audio etc
I picked up some MA Bronze 6s last year and a Beresford TC7220 MK2 switcher. I lived with the MA for a few weeks but felt there was something missing, so I got the RTLs out and placed them side by side with the MAs, switching between them was astonishing even my GF couldn't believe the difference so the MAs went.
Amp wise I've had a few but my constant for listening is a pair of Quad II valves and an Onkyo Z900 for surround and general listening.
dbeevers, you've just convinced me to keep my speakers and to save up for worthy amplification. If I hadn't had your feedback, I'd have swapped out the TDLs. I've been listening again and they do sound good. My 30 year old amp has been great, but now wondering what I can unlock with a couple of steps up.
 

muljao

Well-known Member
dbeevers, you've just convinced me to keep my speakers and to save up for worthy amplification. If I hadn't had your feedback, I'd have swapped out the TDLs. I've been listening again and they do sound good. My 30 year old amp has been great, but now wondering what I can unlock with a couple of steps up.
And maybe not 😜😃
 

umigazumi

Standard Member
Generally people recommend updating speakers before electronics. but the 3020 is old enough that you might hear a difference. The D3020 is a completely redesigned modern equivalent. It looks like it’s in you budget. You wouldn’t need the separate DAC. I use The D3020. While it has digital input, if you’re replacing the consider whether you want a full streamer. I don’t have anything specific to suggest. What I use is more expensive, but I think there are things within your budget.
hedrick, thanks for the tip towards the D3020. Its good looking and gets great reviews. Somewhat tempted also by a second hand Rega Brio. But then, can't help thinking that NADs are just extra special as is.
 

[email protected]

Active Member
I'm using a D3020 from Mac iTunes, with a pair of ADS L500 speakers. These are from the 1970s, but still have as flat response as I can reasonably expect in a real room, to below 40 Hz. It's a really nice combination.

But there are lots of other fairly inexpensive class D amplifiers out there, so I have no way of knowing whether this is the best possible alternative. There's also a big brother, the D3045, with a bit more power and I think additional inputs.

One problem is that people can only recommend what they know. So you're at the mercy of what we happen to have.
 

umigazumi

Standard Member
I'm using a D3020 from Mac iTunes, with a pair of ADS L500 speakers. These are from the 1970s, but still have as flat response as I can reasonably expect in a real room, to below 40 Hz. It's a really nice combination.

But there are lots of other fairly inexpensive class D amplifiers out there, so I have no way of knowing whether this is the best possible alternative. There's also a big brother, the D3045, with a bit more power and I think additional inputs.

One problem is that people can only recommend what they know. So you're at the mercy of what we happen to have.
hedrick, when it comes to today's hifi gear, I have no idea. I have friendly feedback for perspective though which is invaluable. Also, kudos on still running speakers from the 70s. I've got my beloved Celestion Ditton 44s in the garage as the other half thinks that they look like coffins.
 

[email protected]

Active Member
hedrick, when it comes to today's hifi gear, I have no idea.
I understand. These days there are ICs for pretty much everything other than the power output section. Most AV receivers are a single standard IC doing most of the work, with some external support chips. The amplifiers used in the D3020, etc, are from Hypex. Hypex also sells modules for do it yourselfers and many other vendors. So unless you're streaming, where software is the big issue, there's off the shelf technology for everything. There's just no reason to pay a lot for electronics these days, particularly for 2-channel. That's not to say that all cheap equipment is acceptable. Probably it isn't.

But things are very different from the 1970s. The L500's were originally driven by Dynaco tube equipment. The amplifier circuit was modified by the dealer. No one would ever use electronics like that now. Your 3020i is a somewhat improved version of a design from 1978. It was originally intended as a budget product, from a period when there weren't mass-produced modules that let you do really good stuff with off the shelf parts.

But the speakers are still good.

Of course speakers are different too. You'd never design a bookshelf speaker using an 8 in woofer and acoustic suspension. In my living room I have a more modern equivalent: Paradigm Studio 20's. They use 6.5 in woofers and a port. There's no much difference in sound once I adjust bass and treble to get reasonable flat response. (The L500's are in a room that's close to an anechoic chamber. The living room is more complex, so adjustments are needed.)

But I have no experience with the original 3020, so I don't know for sure that modern equipment is better. I just have a fairly strong suspicion.
 

[email protected]

Active Member
My current generation of electronics seems much superior to the previous. That's a surprise, since generally my feeling is that amps, DACs, etc, are a mature technology, and you shouldn't be able to tell them apart.

The current generation a NAD D3020 and a Bluesound Powernode 2i. The Bluesound uses similar electronics, plus streaming. The previous generation was a NAD 372 for the room with the Bluesound now, and an Arcam 250 receiver for the other room. I suspect the superiority is actually on the digital end. I was never happy with the Arcam on choral music. It just somehow sounded muddy. There's no reason to think the Arcam actually had such a problem. Perhaps Apple's audio processing has gotten better. Perhaps there's a better connection. I just don't know.

The living room had a similar problem. I tried to use an Apple TV to access the music from iTunes. It went through an Arcam DAC to the NAD amp. Again, it sounded muddy. The Bluesound has a much better way of accessing iTunes. I've also just gotten software for my iPad that does a frequency response curve. That's let me set up bass and treble to get a reasonably flat response. That's much of the difference. (It also let me judge which of 3 different sets of speakers was the best.)
 

umigazumi

Standard Member
Hedrick, thank you. Your assessments are very very thought provoking and quite possibly beyond my full appreciation at this time. I don't know what I don't know. As I'm not very skilled, building from off the shelf parts is an unlikely path, unless the modules are sufficiently easy to build.

I have all my music on a hard drive connected to a Raspberry Pi, which in turn feeds a budget Topping E30 DAC by usb and then from the DAC out to the 3020i. No streaming at all. I've read the reviews of the Rega IO which appears to modernise and pick up where NAD left off. I'm not thinking about buying an amp with a built in DAC, Bluetooth etc.as I probably don't request that. The Rega also appears favourable for performance and value. Until I looked at its bigger sibling. I'll make sure that any purchase follows a calm down and rethink period.
 

Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
As you have the splendid E30 already then I’d super strongly advise these.


White or black priced singly. So you’ll need two.

The Topping is a very good dac and preamp so it will need excellent active speaker to get the best from it.

The Dynaudios will sound superb.

I see no point in messing about with sideways movement within inexpensive passive speakers and amps. That way lies frustration.

The E30, your Flac files and the Dynaudios will be a mega upgrade on what you have.

No matter how many superlatives I use it won’t really get across the massive improvement you’ll get from top to bottom.
 

umigazumi

Standard Member
As you have the splendid E30 already then I’d super strongly advise these.


White or black priced singly. So you’ll need two.

The Topping is a very good dac and preamp so it will need excellent active speaker to get the best from it.

The Dynaudios will sound superb.

I see no point in messing about with sideways movement within inexpensive passive speakers and amps. That way lies frustration.

The E30, your Flac files and the Dynaudios will be a mega upgrade on what you have.

No matter how many superlatives I use it won’t really get across the massive improvement you’ll get from top to bottom.

Thank you Paul for the heads up. The price looks appealing, but I can't find the hi-fi reviews so slightly nervous. However, the idea of active speakers is interesting!
 

Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
Thank you Paul for the heads up. The price looks appealing, but I can't find the hi-fi reviews so slightly nervous. However, the idea of active speakers is interesting!

The general idea is conveyed quite well here sir.

 

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