We’ve seen the playback of music go from the time consuming (but fun) LP/cassette tape era, to the much more convenient CD, and now to simply storing our music files as data. When done right, having all your music stored on a computer is by far and away the most convenient way to enjoy your music collection.
In order to make playback of your music files through your stereo system easy, lots of new products have emerged over the past couple of years. We recently brought in some new toys from NAD that offer ease of use and probably the best value in this new category.
For some of you, all of your music sits on a computer somewhere, but that computer may not be close to your music system. The NAD DAC1 solves this one with ease! It is made up of two pieces, a little transmitter that sits at your PC and a small box that picks up the signal on the other end. Plug the little USB dongle into your computer, connect the other small box just like a CD player into your system and you’ve entered the great new world of digital music! $299 for the package.
For those of you taking computer audio more seriously by putting a laptop or Mac Mini at your system, NAD has three new integrated amps that take things to the next level. For almost 40 years, NAD has been known for their value oriented 2 channel stereo amps. Their original model 3020 set the audio world on its ear about 35 years ago when it first came out. I remember comparing mine to products costing way more and being really impressed!
The 356BEE is built along these same lines with the addition of a USB port/DAC combination. Simply connect the USB out of your computer here and you are ready to go! You’ll get 80 watts per channel of great sound at the amazing price of only $899. This little amp really sounds great for the money, we think you will be pleasantly surprised when you hear it.
Stepping up to the 375BEE at a very powerful 150 watts per channel will get you a few more cool features along with even better sound. The 375 has two card slots so you can have the USB card in one and even add a phono stage for the other. It has a second preamp out you could use to drive another zone, along with a very respectable sounding headphone amp. At $1599 with the USB card, it’s another great bargain.
Rounding out our new stack of NAD toys is the 390DD direct digital amp. This guy is loaded down with all kinds of digital inputs and some pretty cool features. In the 390, everything stays in the digital domain. You’ll find a very sophisticated bass management system for subwoofers along with a standard USB input. Where it really gets interesting is with some of the available card slots. One has 3 HDMI inputs with a pass through output for the video. This would let you make a great sounding 2.1 system to decode all of the latest audio formats through this awesome amp, while passing on the signal to your TV. There is also an analog/phono module that gives you a phono input along with an analog input. At $2799, it’s not inexpensive but it is currently being compared in the review community to amplifiers costing 4-6 times as much!
You can usually find all or most of these products set up in our stores, so please come by to discover how easy it is to get into the fun new world of digital music! If you want to learn more about computer music, check out our computer audio page.