It was our cover star earlier in the year, and held its own against all comers to take our award for Amplifier under $1000 (even though the RRP recently moved up to $1099). NAD, of course, is no stranger to high-value mid-level separates, though in recent years it has delivered some odd-shaped offerings at this level while also consolidating a new reputation for a higher-level of amplifier based on its ‘Direct Digital’ Masters series and more recently combining Direct Digital concepts with the innovative Hypex UcD ‘analogue Class-D’ technology. The result is NAD’s ‘HybridDigital’ amplification, as used in this C 338.
In connectivity terms, too, the C 338 offers something special in having Chromecast inside — not full networking abilities, but Chromecast (and Bluetooth as well) give it a thoroughly modern twist in being addressable from any Cast-enabled app or browser tab, and from Google Voice Assistant-equipped devices — ‘Hey Google, shuffle Pink Floyd to the NAD’ you can say, and out comes your music from the C 338, with a sharp-edged punch of sound that speaks to tight timing and an ability to deliver dynamic changes rapidly, indicating power reserves able to react without delay. The clarity was equally evident, the amp simply getting out of the way of whatever source material was played. It richly portrayed recordings that were made that way, but it didn’t fill out lighter mixes. Which is exactly what a good amp should do.
There’s plenty of conventional amplifier connectivity (below) — two each of optical and coaxial digital inputs, three analogue inputs including phono for your turntable, while the headphone output proved clean and powerful, with its output impedance good for a range of home and mobile-optimised headgear.
Seamlessly combining traditional and modern, NAD’s C 338 is the true successor to the 3020 heritage, brought firmly up to date with a Chromecast twist.
Read our full review here: NAD C 338 review
Full Awards micro-site: www.avhub.com.au/awards