NAD v Rotel [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


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10-06-2005, 02:01 AM

I’ve priced two different set-ups. I need to go back and listen again to compare but would appreciate your thoughts on which would better. Cost is about the same for bothe set-ups (AU$2000). The set ups are:

NAD C542
Richter Harlequinn

B&W DM 309

Thanks alot

10-06-2005, 03:37 AM
Most NAD fans aren't terribly happy with the C320BEE's early quality control issues. I've heard they've long since resolved them, but who knows. Might consider another NAD amp if you go that route.

Other than that, I'd start with speakers - most important part by far. Biggest contributor to sound. 80-90%, maybe more. Demo as many as you can. Once you figure that out, the rest should fall into place.

10-06-2005, 03:56 AM
FWIW, I'm very satisfied with my NAD1600/214/523 616 and 533. Have been for many years now. ...and they do make other amps besides the 320 series.

10-06-2005, 03:33 PM
I'd definitely dump the 320bee and go with ANY other NAD amplifier

I don;t know the speakers in the NAD set-up and that would be the biggest issue between two such set-ups.

I like the Rotel integrated -- can't speak to the cd players.

10-06-2005, 05:06 PM
Other than the issues mentioned above -- NAD!

10-08-2005, 11:07 AM

I'd definitely dump the 320bee and go with ANY other NAD amplifier


Most NAD fans aren't terribly happy with the C320BEE's early quality control issues. I've heard they've long since resolved them, but who knows. Might consider another NAD amp if you go that route.
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What sort of problems did you guys hear about? I had this little amp and was very impressed with it's performance.I didn't have a single problem with it.

10-08-2005, 06:45 PM
The problem was not something you would necessarily pick up on immediately unless compairing amps in an AB session, It's not like it was screachy or hissing. The problem was that the amp was not creating a true center fill on discs that SHOULD have center fill -- so what was happening was that on say Diana Krall's "Girl in the Other Room you would hear Krall's voice coming out both speakers rather than dead center. It was kind of out of phase (note the words kind of because it's the closes thing I can think of). I also felt the amp had a deadness to it as well. Directly changing over to a Rotel RA 02 which is around the same price and the center image was back and the sound was more spritely and alive...though the Rotel is a tad lean and bright I found it to be much better.

My dealer was the guy who pointed out the NAD and we were sitting there wondering why it was so bad. He has carried NAD for years and still does but he's not afraid to call it the way he sees it and he tol;d me he had called NAD and tried to get a hold of the designer to make sure NAD was actually putting the right parts in that were called for by the designer (I forget the designer's name but NAD contracts him out). The thing is the budget market is very tight and if the Designer says use this Capacitor and this wire and that transformer -- maybe the first ones that are sent to the reviewers get this but who is to say that once it goes to production that NAD decides to cut costs and use lesser parts?

I'm not saying this is what happened and it may indeed be a bad batch -- it could be a bad design -- lots of coulds but I would just not want to chance it when Rotel and Arcam and probably several dozens of others could fit the bill for a buyer. NAD has never been exactly steller on quality control either over the years and it could just have been a bad batch rolled off the line. Reversed wire someplace. My Dealer though has trained staff and they could not see anything wrong with it so it could even have been reduced down to physical properties of the parts like caps.

Or it may have been intentionally designed to create the sound it creates -- I suppose it could make some music sound bigger than it is.

10-08-2005, 08:12 PM

he and tried to get a hold of the designer to make sure NAD was actually putting the right parts in that were called for by the designer[/I]

I often wonder about that, when it comes to the bottom line and profit as the only motive , how much can a manufacturer cut corners and stay within the law.Are you getting what your paying for? At what point does it become fraud and who polices this? How many guys can rip off the cover and a say, ahah!, these capictors/transformer are inferior.I've seen threads about other companies doing "on-the-fly" engineer, Onkyo comes to mind.I believe Onkyo was bought by somebody and the new owners just came in and changed components of production models with disastrous results.I'm no socialist , I believe in free enterprise but getting what you pay for is simple honesty.

BTW, your dealer sounds like they have the customers concerns in mind.

10-08-2005, 10:22 PM
The thing is most of these manufacturers have some sort oftag line stating that "sepcification can change without notice" or some such thing. I doubt they would use parts that would cause damage -- and i stress I'm not accusing NAD of doing this but like you who's to know.

It's not like most of us are designers and the NAD did work. Terry, the owner of Soundhounds, brought up the 320bee as part of a discussion on review magazines and to be leary on them -- and that's when he brought in the 320bee. The problem is as a dealer you buy this stuff so you're stuck with trying to sell it. And you can;t really blame the dealers because you carry a line ofr years or it gets raved about int he press.

So if you carry a company for a long time then you have a relationship which kind of requires you to carry stuff you may not love. Or you carry what customers demand from seeing reviews in the press.

If you think of how difficult is even for people with a great deal of honesty could run into when you have to buy a shipment of 5 NAD 320bee amps and you personally think it's pretty dreadful. Can you afford to eat it to be honest? besides if someone comes in and says "I saw a review of this amp I see you sell NAD can I have one" you say yes. Customer is always right or do you brow beat them and convince them to buy something else -- customers would probably see that as a bait and switch -- OR when the guy hates the NAD he blames the dealer for not warning him. Man it's not a job I'd like. That's why Terry doesn't sell anything in his store anymore -- he sets up the systems he likes and he let's people listen. I didn't even know he worked there. I sat down on a chair to listen and he asked if he could look through my cd carry case to listen to something new.

The sales staff sells that keeps food on the table. He told me that very very few people ever ask them their opinion like "I have $3k what would you buy?" He says most people come in with a pre-conceived idea of what they want based off of a review - customer is always right give them what they want and chances are most people won;t notice the difference. The people who do ask and spend time and listen to lots of gear and you may get their opinion if you ask and chances are you'll be getting something better. For instance he carries a SS line that he really likes but is far less popular than another SS line that he doesn;t at all like. The latter is heavily reviewed by Stereophile the other magazine is non-existant -- and the amps are cheaper. He says he carries them despite the fact they barely sell because he's hoping it will catch on.

There is a bunch of other stuff he sells that is very well reviewed thet he personally thinks is pretty awful.

Sorry for the length -- I once thought about running a dealership but one must really consider one's integrity and how much of a beating it could take when confronted by such issues when your family relies on the income. And thinking of most every line from every company one can find stuff they personally don't think is very good. In fact I can think of no company that I have liked every product they've made. But if you carry company X you carry their line-up

There is a big dealership in San Fran where the owner only carries tube amps. No solid state at all. Not that one has to agree with him but I tip my cap to a guy who carries what he thinks is best and it takes guts in todays age not to carry any solid state amps.

10-09-2005, 01:17 AM

Many good points RGA.In the end it's profit and loss for the dealer and manufacturer or that's what I think.I wonder too how much the magazine "reviewers" are in bed with the manufacturer's, you can't bite the hand that feeds you.Advertisers frown on you calling thier gear lousy crap.And the dealers too , as you rightly point out, have kids to feed.If you sell some guy junk, well that's what's called moving the inventory, an unfortunate reality.I ask questions everywhere I go to try and find who and what people are buying with respect to HT/Home audio. Talking with the sales guys at the various mass market chains I found out that the HTB market is far and away the biggest seller.The guys on this forum who love audio gear and seek the unattainable "perfect" system are very much the exception.Most people want a plug n' play deal that's good enough for the kids to sit around and watch movies.In short, the market for crap is vast and the high end gear is small,or this is what my personal sleuthing has found.

He told me that very very few people ever ask them their opinion like "I have $3k what would you buy?"

This is exactly what I found at a local high end shop.The salesman told me that very few people come in here and ask the kind of questions you are asking.The just want to buy high end gear and have us (the dealer) install it."We show them where the play and power buttons are ."I was shocked that people come in and plunk down 10 to 30k+ on something they really don't understand , but they do, welcome to the DC area.

Looks like Best Buy is moving into higher end too. Went into a store locally and they had Martin Logan,Def Tech, and Pioneer Elite, high end amps and high end projector systems.Look out local audio stores.Hell if it takes BB to drop prices, I say rock on!

10-09-2005, 10:44 AM
You're correct. How can we know for sure that a magazine the is only in existence because of advertising is going to be hard on something at the risk of losing the advertising. If you have brand X who spends a ton of money with your magazine and you send them some medioocre stuff you would not touch with a ten foot pole then there is almost an obligation to say good stuff -- or they will give it to a different reviewer on staff.

UHF magazine used to be more credible in my view than they are but they wrote some very negative reviews on Arcam and McIntosh (saying this amp's OTL design was poor) and even one borderline review for Bryston. UHF did not have advertising contracts so sire there are manufacturer adverts but they are purchased the same as you or I can purchase space. What was the ramification -- Arcam has never sent them a product since then and that was about 20 years ago. None of the real big major high end brands send them anything!! Why would you -- you are not going to gt the gauranteed rave you will get from many other magazines. There are also rumours that a review staff was given free Seikio watches by one major British amplifier/cdplayer maker. Rumour yes but if true would that mean something fishy is going on or was it merely a thank-you for picking our stuff to review.

Some small dealers who are dealers as a hobby not a necessity carry stuff they like and refuse to carry the entire line unless they like it (and I assume can afford it and think it could sell). Terry said he feels that people view stereo salesman as used car salesman -- but if you go to many high end dealers they ARE like used car salesman.

How many dealers truly carry what they believe in versus what will sell? If you're lucky you'll at LEAST be able to find one that does both depending on the customer. Last year Soundhounds finally caved in and now has one room for home theater(but considering how long home theater has been around this is pretty impressive to have been able to hold off for so long. And even then I had to laugh because they had Linn speakers all around and Linn isn't exactly the first name that comes to mind when H/T shopping. They have at least 5000 LP's lining the walls and their main demo room is turntable and tube based.

A Vancouver Dealer spent 15 minutes desctribing why tubes were so bad and why they didn't carry them abd blast blast blast -- I go in a year later same guy doesn;t recognise me and he is describing how great tubes are and stressing that he has one 50% off closeout and how much more musical tubes are. I mean WTF?

Most dealers rubbish stuff they don't sell and rave about everything they do sell. Soundhounds staff rubbishes stuff, if you get to know them they don't like whether they sell it or not. Indeed they recently picked up a speaker line that is hugely raved about in the press the last several years. They used to sell the line years ago and one of the guys there said it is absolutely unlistenable hard to position you never get them to sound right and people are always in buying more expensive more powerful amps to get better sound out of a stone. A few months later and I see them carrying the line. The guy simply says it sells - it's a business the demand is high for it and you have to give em what they want or they will go somewhere else to get it - even if it is in their view not at all very good.

I personally liked the particular speaker a fair bit but I only listened for a short while - and the bottom line is it is still personal preference - just because they hate something they sell doesn't mean the customer will hate it because most customers don;t have the listening experience to know any better.

Moving from a buyer who used to put a lot of stock into reviews I have since learned to trust the best judge of all my own ears. It is not about getting what is considered the best but rather what is the best for your ears and your preferneces of music reproduction. Which is why I hate reading on forums when people dump on Cerwin Vega D9's without reading what the person askled for. I have read people request a speaker to play hard rock and heavy metal at very loud levels with big bass slam for under 1k and I see posts from people parrotting whatever made the recommended componant list in a magazine (usually a gutless, bassless, standmount speaker) and poo pooing the D9. Certainly the D9 isn't going to win any of the audiophilia aspects but for what the person requested it sure as hell is one of the most fun speakers with incredible midbass slam and is a wonderful inespensive rocker). It;'s a shame that the gadgets have taken over the music and the fun of stereo replay.

The Grudge
10-09-2005, 01:43 PM
I have older NAD equipment which I think is fantastic. My CD player being the exception which is a new NAD C521BEE. I am very pleased with it's sound quality, but my gut tells me the build quality of it may not be as tough as what I am used to. I replaced a Marantz CD player with the NAD and in truth I think the Marantz was better built, but not better sounding. The Marantz was brighter and more lively, but after a short adjustment period I feel the NAD is more detailed and refined being a little less bright to do so.

I mention feelings of build quality issues as I really hear the disc spin up and down when not playing and the CD tray mechanism just sounds flimsy compared to my Marantz. This is perhaps a compromise that NAD decided to live with. The components are very good, but the price tag is lower than one would expect for the sound quality. Maybe they decided to cut corners on some other areas to save money without sacrificing sound quality. Only time will tell if me feelings about the NAD build quality is true. I know they have always outsourced production, but these units are now from China and that doesn't instill much confidence. My older NAD components were made in Japan and I feel much better about their build quality that is for sure. China is not well known for quality standards, more for their ability to churn out huge volumes cheaply. Why not, they have no environmental standards to impede them or human rights to drive up the cost so why not outsource to them. NAD is now a Canadian owned company I have just learned from my audio shop.


10-09-2005, 11:07 PM
The Grudge

China is not well known for quality standards, more for their ability to churn out huge volumes cheaply. Why not, they have no environmental standards to impede them or human rights to drive up the cost so why not outsource to them. NAD is now a Canadian owned company I have just learned from my audio shop.

Careful Grudge, that's one of America's "most favored nation" pals.Red China is a communist tyranny but as long as we get t-shirts and electronics on the cheap, we're willing to turn a blind eye to the demonic creulty posed on thier people.I guess this irony is lost on Bush when he makes his "spreading Democracy"speeches.As long as China doesn't join Al Queda, they're in the clear. :D

The Grudge
10-10-2005, 06:21 PM
I think Bush is the only one the irony is lost on ;) .