NAD D 3020 User Review

  • ScreenX
    Little box, BIG attitude!
    Review of NAD D 3020 Stereo Amplifier by ScreenX, Nov 13, 2014.
    Short version:

    Highly recommended. NAD wasn't kidding when they said this thing's power was underrated. Immersive, punchy and detailed sound. Fairly solid build, brilliant BT streaming.

    Long version:

    First of all, I must say that I am not a professional reviewer, so please forgive my long and probably boring story.

    The reason I even considered buying this amp is coz I was gifted a pair of Jamo outdoor/all weather speakers, and my house wasn’t already wired for outdoor speakers/multiple zone audio capabilities. I have a mid-large ish outdoor entertainment/barbeque area for which I used the Jamos, paired with a spare rotel power amp (1582) and using a QED uPlay puck connected directly to the power amp as a source for streaming music via an iPod touch 5th gen. The power amp didn’t stay outside permanently for obvious reasons and therefore I found myself lugging a fairly heavy power amp in and out of the house when I needed to organise outdoor music.

    I had narrowed my possible solutions down to the NAD D3020, D7050 and the Cambridge Audio Minx Xi. Really loved the idea of the minx Xi as it was a Class a/b amp (Big fan of class A and AB gear) and it had all of the features of the NAD D7050 + analogue inputs (which the Nad 7050 doesn’t have) and it was offered to me for a much more reasonable price than the NAD D7050 (AUD$ 1100 for the NAD vs $780 for the minx Xi). Part of the problem with the Rotel amp I had was placement. As it had a large footprint, I had to organize some sort of plinth, or wooden box to put it on (I look after my gear well), and by getting a compact amp, I was hoping to place it on the wall mounted duckted vacuum unit which was in the garage.

    Using the ducted vacuum unit for placement meant I could only use the minx xi if it was placed on it’s side. When I spoke to Cambridge Audio support, they were uncertain about how the unit would handle thermal stress when placed on it’s side, so I had to forget about the Minx Xi. As the D7050 was fairly steeply priced, I chose the D3020.

    Bluetooth, airplay and a small foot print were my main requirements. Yes I know. The D3020 doesn’t support airplay or network features, but I have a small apple tv unit which has an optical out so it can be plugged into the D3020.

    I did audition both the D3020 and the CA Minx Xi just for comparisons sake at the dealer and thought that the NAD had a bit more punch than the Cambridge. No EQs were used for this comparison and they were volume/loudness matched to keep things fair.

    I bought the NAD, hooked it up to my outdoor speakers and found that it sounded just like the Rotel power amp + QED Bluetooth combo, even though the rotel was capable of 200W rms per channel (the jamos could only handle 40W each 8ohms and less than desirable 86db sensitivity). This surprised me as the sound quality was pretty darn good, even without a sub with the Bass EQ turned on.

    Curiosity drove me to connect the D3020 to my B&W CM9s in the bed room. I was astounded by the results. I did not think this 30-40W per channel, tiny box could make those towers sing. Bass, even without its bass eq enabled and without a sub was amazingly accurate and punchy. Voices sounded very smooth and realistic. After about half an hour of listening, curiosity again drove me to connect the D3020 to my main theatre’s rear surround speakers, the B&W 805Ds. My goodness! That’s all I can say. It was a match made in heaven. I used to have a Marantz 5004 a while back and I think this little NAD blows it out of the water!

    At AUD$600, it is expensive. One could argue that a fully-fledged home theatre amp with dozens of inputs and oodles more of power can be bought for a lot cheaper, and that is absolutely correct. But none of them would fit on my vacuum cleaner. And all of them would give me back ache when I have to carry it in and out of the house. This little NAD is only slightly bigger than a vertically standing external hard drive and almost the same weight as one too. I can pick it up with two fingers.

    So the moral of the story is, if you are very, very tight for space, I doubt that there is anything out there to date that can do what this little NAD can do. I read in a forum, a member comparing this unit to an audio engine N22 + Bluetooth streamer. I used to have the audio engine N22. I can tell you that the NAD is miles ahead of the N22. The price and specs doesn't tell you the whole story. Give it a listen and you will understand what all these reviewers are on about.

    For the record, I have not used it’s remote (It's still in the box, untouched) as I do my volume controlling from the iPod and I have not used it’s USB or coax input, or sub output. I have only used BlueTooth and the optical inputs. I have used the Bass EQ function, which helps the outdoor Jamos to get a bit more kick. But if you have full range speakers, you do not need any EQing. Plenty of grunt. Don’t let the sales guy sucker you into buying something else. Do give the NAD D3020 a chance and give it an audition. I’m glad I did
    This item was purchased for AUD $649 from Carlton AV in 2014. The reviewer still owns this product.


    • Sound Quality
    • Build Quality
    • Tiny footprint
    • Portability
    • Bluetooth Streaming, USB DAC, Coaxial, optical and RCA inputs
    • Subwoofer Pre out


    • For this price, i wish it had USB flash memory (MP3, flac, ape, etc) support

    Build Quality




    Ease of use




    Audio quality


    Value for money



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