NAD D3020

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NAD D3020
« on: 4 Sep 2018, 04:15 pm »
I just got me a NAD D3020 - how could I resist Jonbee’s great price here on AC? Before I get too critical, let me say it’s a small, nice, very convenient size that sounds smooth overall and very nice for the price. Compared with my electronics (see my system link) the most noticeable thing is the rolling off of the highest frequencies. As I’ve mentioned in a previous thread, at high levels, my speakers tend to be harsh especially on not-the-best recordings - which is frankly most of them as I listen to almost exclusively older recordings, pre-80‘s. I was hoping that a gentle high frequency roll-off or extension would maybe replace my more expensive electronics.
Now, to be more critical. This is at louder levels. It’s only a thirty watts, class D amp and my speakers are 84.5db efficient so it’s not too loud to just over a 70db average - if my phone app is correct. So with my RAAL’s, this is not a listen loud amp - it sounds nice at around the lower-mid-50‘s db average.
I was a bit disappointed with the high end harshness until I ran the computer output through my AVA Ultra DAC connected to the NAD via the RCA cable AUX input. Quite a bit of the harshness went away, the soundstage was better. It just sounded better. Easily, the weakest part of the NAD is its DAC. I had forgotten about my Uptone Regen and that helped a lot. I would not listen to this unit without it. It cuts out much of that harshness. I was going to say that I could detect that I wouldn’t be able to listen to this unit for long periods at volume (55db average) but the Regan changes that. I can listen even louder without cringing. I haven’t had a change to compare this DAC with my other very inexpensive USB-powered DAC’s lying around. Unfortunately, a new Regen costs $175 sort of negating the cost of the NAD.
Still compared to my AVA/Odyssey setup - (each piece is 2 or 3 times the price of the whole NAD new), it basically doesn’t do everything as well. I guess that is to be expected. The NAD has more rolled off highs and lows with that infamous veil over the music, less depth in the soundstage and a less tight bass.
Too me, it’s a pleasant, convenient unit to have for non-critical/background music listening.
One thing that I don’t like about it is that the detachable plug on the back is a third of an inch away from the standard speaker posts - which are a quarter inch away from each other. They really should (and can) put more space between them.Whether using banana plugs or just inserting the wires, speaker wires can easily touch/cross causing damage. The digital coax/RCA input is also just a quarter inch away. There is space to move these further away. What were they thinking when they tried out the prototype?
One very strange thing about it to is that RCA coax right input is on the left and the left input is its right!
I don’t mind listening to it but I want to listen to my AVA/Odyssey system even with its faults.
I’d say this is a great little computer desktop unit to hook up to some small high quality loudspeakers - much better with the Uptone Regan.


Re: NAD D3020
« Reply #1 on: 4 Sep 2018, 07:44 pm »
Glad you're enjoying it.
I'd say your reaction is about like mine. A decent amp with a lot of flexibility for small spaces, but not for critical listening or comparison to fine gear. I used it in my $15,000 office system for a few months while waiting for my amp, and it made for enjoyable listening, if not enthralling. I concur about the DAC- I liked it better using the analog inputs, too. For a few $ for a used one, it is a good value in its' niche purpose in small spaces or on a desktop. At the $500 new price, there are other options to consider, particularly used.