At RMAF 2018, NAD teased their forthcoming C 658 network streamer where company Product Manager Greg Stidsen referred to it as a “[Bluesound] Node 2/i on steroids”. NAD’s press materials are calling it a ‘BluOS DAC’. Price = US$1499.
Like its more affordable cousin, the C 658 adopts the BluOS platform to offer support for up to 20 streaming services and Roon Readiness.
However, with a full-width chassis in play, the NAD eschews the Node 2i’s Burr-Brown DAC chip in favour of an ESS model to add balanced outputs, DSD/MQA support, an MM phono stage, a dedicated headphone amplifier outputting via a 6.4mm socket, two way aptX Bluetooth (send and receive), volume control plus two MDC expansion slots for ‘future formats’ or improved digital and analogue circuitry. Modularity means users don’t have to throw out the baby with the bathwater when updates arrive.
The C658’s biggest drawcard will likely be its internalised Dirac Live room correction capabilities. A bridge to better sound quality for those who can’t afford (or don’t want to look at) room treatments. In this digital pre-amplifier, NAD offers the Lite version with an option to upgrade to the complete Dirac package for US$99.
This black box isn’t available quite yet. Shipping begins in December 2018.
While we’re here, let’s look at the already-available NAD D 3045 integrated amplifier. Its 60wpc of ‘Hybrid amplification’, subwoofer output and internal DAC – fed by asynchronous USB, coaxial or TOSLINK inputs – point to it being a replacement for the NAD D 7050. The upright chassis and €799 price tag suggest big brother status to the €499 D 3020 v2 amplifier.
And like the afore-detailed C 658, the D 3045 offers DSD/MQA support, two-way aptX Bluetooth and an MM phono stage. The D 3045’s knockout feature, however, is likely to be its HDMI ARC input intended to play catch on TV audio.
Further information: NAD