N NAD C325BEE “BEE here now” - Hi
“BEE here now”
August 2006 By Richard Black
NAD is proud of its designer, Bjorn
Erik Edvardsen. So proud, his initials
adorn the ampliﬁers he designs. Justiﬁably proud? He certainly did the business
on the C320BEE, one of the best-loved
budget ampliﬁers ever. But how will his
input on its replacement – the C325BEE
– stack up?
At the very least, heʼs packed a lot of components into a neat and attractively priced
box. The majority of the ampliﬁcation is
carried out by discrete components and
NAD has incorporated a couple of little
modules into each channel. These are
matchbox size boards, densely populated
with components and just one of the many
clues to cost-conscious thinking under
the lid. Others include the use of cheaper
passive components. The savings allowing for the use of a decent toroidal transformer with metal screen, unusually large
reservoir capacitors and an above average
motorized potentiometer for the volume
The basic speciﬁcation is pretty typical,
with screen line-level inputs including two
ʻtapeʼ loops, external linking of preamp
and power sections and defeatable tone
controls. Thereʼs also a thoughtful extra
socket mounted on the front panel, for
portable music devices. NADʼs everypresent “Soft clippingʼ is included, too.
NAD quotes a continuous output power
of 50 watts, which is really conservative:
we obtained a value of nearly 80 watts
with short-term peaks in excess of 100
watts, so itʼs hardly gutless. Within that
nominal 50 watt envelope, distortion is
held very low, barely exceeding 0.01 per
cent at high frequencies, less than half
that in the midband and vanishing altogether below a couple of watts output.
Weʼve found some evidence of a “house
sound” among recent NAD amps, with a
lively but not always amazingly sophisticated presentation. On the whole, this
model ﬁts that bill, but there are some
notable speciﬁcs. First of all, we must
congratulate NAD on a remarkably ﬁne
bass performance, well beyond normal
expectations of a £250 ampliﬁer. Not
only does the bass extend convincingly
into the seismic reaches, it has a combination of tunefulness and attack that is seriously reminiscent of high-end ampliﬁcation. The only budget giveaway is a slight
lack of control at times. But even here
the C325BEE gives little or no leeway to
any other competing amp we can think of.
Classy bass like this is of obvious beneﬁt
to bass-rich music, but in many ways is
even more useful with classical, jazz and
generally mellower tones. Such music often relies in less overt ways on the bass,
but really appreciates conﬁdent underpinning.
The midrange and treble are not quite so
starry. Thereʼs a little midrange coloration, a slight ʻquackʼ that occasionally
becomes audible on instruments like sax
or trumpet, which the treble is not as open
and clear as its best rivals can manage.
All the same, it is well extended, has good
detail to it, and stereo imaging is quite impressively precise laterally, if sometimes
rather vague in terms of depth.
Although intensive listening can become
wearing, itsʼ impressive with high-octane music. Horses for courses, then, but
thereʼs plenty in the C325BEEʼs favour
and we do advise giving it a listen if you
Sound is lively and immediate and bass
is impressively out-of-class, with the best
combination of pitch and rhythm weʼve
heard at – or even near – the price.
Upper frequencies lack a little precision
and sophistication, with a little coloration
and as a result sound can become wearing
Clearly this is the ampliﬁer to go for if
you adore high-grade bass in your system.
The compromises up top are not for everyone, but are also not at all beyond the pale.
For many listeners this will prove a most