NAD C 399: Flagship Classic Series integrated amplifier featuring Masters Series grade HybridDigital nCore amplification, ESS Sabre DAC and MDC2 Modular Design Construction Architecture.
NAD Electronics, manufacturer of high-performance audio/video components, says it is taking value and performance to a whole new level. The maker says that the C 399 Hybrid Digital DAC Amplifier is the clearest expression yet of NAD’s commitment to sonic excellence and lasting value. Employing NAD’s HybridDigital nCore amplification, which until now has been available only on Masters Series amplifiers, the C 399 is the new flagship integrated amplifier in NAD’s Classic Series. The C 399’s digital section is built around a 32-bit/384kHz ESS Sabre DAC, the same chip used in NAD’s acclaimed M10 and M33 Masters Series amplifiers. The suggested retail price of the C 399 is US$1999 (£1799 / €1999 / CDN$2599) with retail availability in time for the Christmas season.
The C 399 also the first amplifier to incorporate the latest generation of NAD’s Modular Design Construction (MDC) technology: MDC2. MDC2 lets users add optional modules that provide functions such as BluOS Hi-Res multi-room music streaming, Dirac Live room correction and more. The unit is also compatible with Control4, Crestron, RTI, URC, Lutron, iPort, Elan, PUSH and KNX smart home control systems
NAD Electronics C 399 HybridDigital DAC Amplifier
“As with every NAD amplifier, the C 399 gets the basics right: a precise volume control with accurate channel balance, low-noise circuits, and correct input and output impedances. The C 399 with its HybridDigital nCore output stage and high-resolution ESS Sabre DAC can reproduce all your digital and analogue sources to a level of excitement and refinement that is unprecedented in its class”, says Cas Oostvogel, NAD Electronics’ Product Manager.
“Ever since the launch of the legendary 3020 integrated amplifier in 1978, the NAD brand has been synonymous with value and performance. The C 399 takes that reputation to a whole new level. Thanks to NAD’s innovative new MDC2 architecture, the C 399 can serve as the hub of a world-class music system today, and for many years to come.”
Trickled down from NAD’s Masters Series, the C 399’s HybridDigital nCore amplifier is billed as highly efficient and remarkably powerful. It can deliver 180W per channel continuous power, and 250W per channel instantaneous power, allowing the C 399 to produce musical transients effortlessly. The HybridDigital nCore design is known for its wide bandwidth, flat frequency response, clean clipping behaviour with instant recovery, high current capability and stability into demanding low-impedance speaker loads. NAD says noise and distortion are vanishingly low under all operating conditions. The minute levels of harmonic distortion are dominated by sonically benign second and third harmonics. These refinements enable the C 399 to produce neutral, distortion-free sound even at very high listening levels, with strong dynamics, detail and portrayal of space.
Also trickled down from the Masters Series is the ESS Sabre ES9028 high-resolution DAC, a design noted for its wide dynamic range, low noise and distortion and near-zero levels of clock jitter. This premium DAC enables the C 399 to reproduce all of one’s digital sources with amazing musicality, a precise soundstage and clarity.
In 2006, NAD introduced Modular Design Construction (MDC), an innovative architecture for adding new functions to existing components. Many NAD products have rear-panel slots for MDC modules that perform UHD (4K) support, HDMI switching, BluOS multi-room music streaming, Dolby Atmos surround processing, and other functions.
The C 399 is the first product to feature NAD’s new MDC2 architecture. By enabling two-way communications between the module and host component, MDC2 allows for adding desirable features.
Equipped with Wi-Fi and Ethernet, the optional MDC2 BluOS-D module lets listeners play music from their favorite streaming services through the C 399, using the BluOS Controller app for Android, iOS, macOS, and Windows. Like all BluOS Enabled products, the MDC2 BluOS-D has integrated support for dozens of streaming services and supports Apple AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, and Tidal Connect. Two-way communications also enable the MDC2 BluOS-D to stream music from local sources connected to the C 399 to BluOS Enabled components in other rooms.
The Dirac Live function lets users to measure their room’s acoustics using a supplied microphone and intuitive app, and then upload correction curves to the MDC2 BluOS-D. By compensating for acoustic anomalies in listening environments, Dirac Live dramatically improves bass clarity, imaging, and timbral accuracy. Thanks to its two-way architecture, C 399.
The C 399 has two optical and two coaxial digital inputs, plus an HDMI-eARC port for playing audio from a connected TV, while controlling amplifier output with the TV’s remote control. Analogue fans are well served with two pairs of RCA line-level inputs, plus a MM phono stage with ultra-precise RIAA equalization, extremely low noise, and high overload margins. The phono preamp also features an innovative circuit that suppresses the infrasonic noise present on all LPs, without compromising bass response. The line inputs have low-noise buffer amplifiers to prevent sonic degradation.
NAD C 399 HybridDigital DAC Amplifier Rear Panel
In addition to two sets of speaker outputs, the C 399 has preamp output jacks and dual subwoofer outputs. Two-way aptX HD Bluetooth allows 24-bit streaming from mobile devices, and high-quality output to Bluetooth headphones. Also built-in is a dedicated headphone amplifier with low output impedance and high output voltage capability, enabling the C 399 to drive demanding high-impedance studio monitor headphones.