Kevin406

Novice Member
Hi! Looking for advice on what equipment to go for, Im leaning towards NAD as Ive heard they do better at bass/highs than cambridge, and was thinking of the NAD C 368. But my biggest issue, is unlike the cambridge amps, they dont have a built in usb input (which makes the built in dac practically useless to me)
So if I go for the NAD amp, Im thinking either get the NAD MDC USB thing which is hugely overpriced for what it is, or buy the Dac Magic 200M which is around the same price. I also don't know whether the NAD USB DAC would be a better quality unit or if the Cambridge DacMagic 200M would be better performance wise.
Im actually shocked that they want this crazy amount of money to just add a usb slot to an amp that supposedly already has a built in dac...
I previously had a Dac Magic Plus, but it died on me, and my amp is also starting to go (one of the inputs sounds staticy, so I now play my fm tuner on the CD input to get rid of the static. (one of the speakers periodically stops playing sound and then randomly starts playing again - its not the speaker)
So I was initially hoping I could just make a purchase of one peice of equipment as new amps have built in dacs but was shocked to learn that the usb output which is practically the only reason of having a DAC is not included with NAD

Any advice on what to do would be much appreciated, thank you!
 

Timmy C

Distinguished Member
I can't say I've ever had call for a USB input on an amp other than to do software updates. Would some sort of USB to spdif adapter solve the problem perhaps?
 

Kevin406

Novice Member
Hmm. Ive always just used a USB type B connection to connect my computer to my Dac magic in the past..
Would one of those adapters still give you the same performance?
 

Timmy C

Distinguished Member
Oh that makes sense. I've never connected my PC directly to a stereo before as I use streamers.

You will have to wait for the rest of the UK folks to wake up to get a detailed answers. I don't think you would lose any quality as such but it might be that optical/spdif is limited in what it can carry and I have no idea if it can handle hi res audio or not. Of course if hi res is of no interest to you then that's not going to be a problem.
 

Kapkirk

Active Member
You are correct about the NAD amps being a little more sympathetic to the highs compared with the the Cambridge amps but that might depend on what speakers you are currently using. If your speakers are a bit lively then the NAD may be a good option as they do tend to have a smooth sound. The cambridge amps are excellent but can sound bright with the wrong speakers..
Why is that USB input so important to you? you didn't say. The NAD has plenty of digital inputs plus built in streaming so everything is pretty well catered for and I assume NAD thought that a USB input for the on-board DAC would be unnecessary. Trust me once you subscribe to a good online streaming service the thought of using a computer for your music will be a distant memory.
I have not played a CD or used my immense collection of stored MP3's & FLAC's for over a year.

I have also compared the USB input on my Denon pma1600ne to the digital inputs (from my Node 3 and I could not detect any difference in quality. Some people say they need these type of inputs to allow for higher quality DSD and the like, Personally I can't tell the difference between 16bit 44.1Khz recordings to that of 24 bit 192Khz and higher DSD and I doubt that many people can.
Why not just buy the NAD you have your heart set on, stream on the internal Bluesound and enjoy?
Pretty much everything else on the web can be sent via aptX bluetooth from a phone or tablet to the amp.
 
Last edited:

gava

Well-known Member
Do you want a desktop setup or a stereo system or both combined?
 

Hoku

Active Member
What is your current amp?

What are your current speakers?

What is the size of your room?

I’ve been very happy indeed with the USB input on my Quad Vena II. It doesn’t have the outright power of the NAD, but has plenty of dynamism and current available. So if your speakers were a reasonable sensitivity, about 87db plus, and your room isn’t enormous, I could highly recommend it.

Hence the questions above really. Need to know what your current amp and speakers are and the size of your room to know what the best solution might be.

If you had to spend more than the Vena II, then look at the Quad Artera. I’d stay away from the DTS Play-Fi enabled “Play” versions. But there’s an integrated amp and a pre/power version.

I’m very pleased with the Quad sound. It’s snappy, fast and dynamic but also tonally convincing, so the treble isn’t too grating. It’s spot on for my taste. I’m driving a pair of Ruark Epilogue II stand mount speakers which are 87db sensitivity, and I’m very pleased with the result. My laptop is the primary source.
 

Kevin406

Novice Member
Hi, I've currently got Polk Audio RTi A1 speakers with a small sub, atm they're connected to a 640a V2 Cambridge amp which is starting to go, I used to use a Dac Magic Plus until it totally died, atm I've got no dac at all lol
I do like God bass
And I always thought usb was the best input for dac to pc
 

3rdignis

Active Member
What features do you want, what is the budget?

You've stated you want a usb input. Covered

A line in for fm radio. Covered

A sub out. Not covered

Do you want to pay/use for all the other features on the Nad?

This should just be enough for your current speakers


You should be able to negotiate these speakers down to $700



 

Kevin406

Novice Member
I did mention I had a sub with it, a sub out is a must, and the NAD says it can also do up to 80w which sounds good, and may upgrade speakers at a later date but for the moment I'm going to be sticking with the current set, I also have a NAD tuner that I'd be connecting to the amp
 

3rdignis

Active Member
150hz fixed hi/low pass seems a little high

Screenshot_20220309-152349_Drive.jpg


What inputs are on the sub?

You could connect the sub to mx5 headphone out

 

stevoknevo

Active Member
Topping D10s mini will convert USB to s/pdif (optical & co-ax) which would allow you to use your computer with the NAD DAC, be a lot cheaper than buying a DAC Magic 200M.

 

Kevin406

Novice Member
Question? Isn't that topping one a dac itself? How would that affect it, would it still be using the NAD dac?
 

3rdignis

Active Member

stevoknevo

Active Member
Question? Isn't that topping one a dac itself? How would that affect it, would it still be using the NAD dac?
It is if you use the analogue out, using the co-ax/optical output it'll be passing the digital signal to the NAD DAC (whether it does any processing converting from USB to co-ax/optical who knows, but there's no digital-analogue processing being done, just conversion from USB to s/pdif - it seems to get a bit of praise online)
 

Hoku

Active Member
Your Polk speakers are quite sensitive, so easy to drive.

I’d take a serious look at the Quad Vena II. Has the USB input and sub output you need, plenty of current, and could happily take a speaker upgrade or two in the future without feeling outclassed.

I’ve owned a lot of amps in my time, including the Cambridge 640A. I think the Vena II is as muscular and agile as the 640A, but without the harshness in the top end and slightly fuller rounded tonality.
 

Kevin406

Novice Member
Your Polk speakers are quite sensitive, so easy to drive.

I’d take a serious look at the Quad Vena II. Has the USB input and sub output you need, plenty of current, and could happily take a speaker upgrade or two in the future without feeling outclassed.

I’ve owned a lot of amps in my time, including the Cambridge 640A. I think the Vena II is as muscular and agile as the 640A, but without the harshness in the top end and slightly fuller rounded tonality.
Sub output as in pre out? Because I don't actually see a spot specifically for the sub on a picture of the back of that amp
 

Hoku

Active Member
Sub output as in pre out? Because I don't actually see a spot specifically for the sub on a picture of the back of that amp
That’s actually a really good question! And I’m not so sure of myself now!

I’ve just had a look at my manual, and the comments and diagrams indicate that the pre-outs are for a power amplifier, which may then defeat its internal power amp.

So if you wanted to add a sub, this may limit you to a sub that has high level connections, such as most REL subs (except the HT line) or BK. My own BK XXLS400 has connections like this that attach to the speaker outputs on the back of the amp, but I don’t use this facility as I have the sub in my AV receiver in the next room.

The only caveat is that they don’t recommend this type of connection with Class D amps, so the Class A/B Quad amp would be fine.

Sorry to mislead you in my previous post. As I only use standmount speakers sans sub with the Vena so I’ve not looked close enough at its pre-outs clearly.
 

Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
Hmm. Ive always just used a USB type B connection to connect my computer to my Dac magic in the past..
Would one of those adapters still give you the same performance?

Yes. It’s a digital conversion. Entirely lossless. Simply from usb 1’s and 0’s to optical 1’s and 0’s. Identical in every way.

I use one of these from my MacBook to my Lyngdorf 1120.

 

Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
Ps, any amp with preouts will work with a subwoofer. They simply send a full range preamp signal which is then dealt with by the subs low pass filter and gain control.

I’d also recommend the Quad Vena. It is by all accounts a legend already.

 

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