We tested the NAD C368 amplifier!

We have already tested quite a few amps and were keen to know more about the product from the NAD audio company. The NAD C368 is a hybrid stereo integrated amplifier that is an excellent combination of traditional and modern NAD technologies.

NAD C368 amplifier

What do we know about the manufacturer?

New Acoustic Dimension (NAD) was founded by some audio fans, manufacturers, and sound engineers in 1972, and the reason for this alliance was that they were not overly satisfied with the audio products available on the market at the time. Their main goal was to produce audio devices that did not focus primarily on exterior design rather on excellent sound and high quality, along with considerations regarding durability and ease of use. The founders credo was  that overly complicated devices with plenty of extra features would not benefit the sound. As a matter of fact, high-quality components shall be used for production of audio devices in order to achieve that the quality of the input and output signals are not altered or distorted. Distortion is most effectively minimised when the signal path is short.

Forget about design that comes at the expense of sound!

NAD C368 amplifier front

When looking at NAD’s hybrid, mid-range amp, we really don’t think of an aesthetic audio device. The design, for lack of words, is stripped-down and overly simple, nonetheless the housing looks clean, stable and solid. It has clearly been designed with practicality and durability in mind. To the right of the colour LCD display are 2 source selection buttons, to the left you will find a headphone jack. On the right side of the front panel a large volume control dial prances about, while on the left side you will find the control panel’s discrete buttons to select the high and low balance, the speaker points…, etc. The NAD C3682 amplifier also has analog, USB and 3 HDMI inputs, 2 coaxial and 2 optical inputs. 2 pairs of speakers and 1 subwoofer can be connected to the device.

NAD C368 back panel

A Bluetooth connection is also available for this model. The MM Phono input also allows you to play old vinyl records. The frequency transmission is 10 Hz-65 kHz. The output power is 2x 80 Watts (impedance: 4 and 8 Ohms). The device received a PowerDrive circuit and an 8-channel DAC chip. The infrared remote control is fortunately not overcrowded with buttons, it is limpid and easy to use.

Simple but great

It is true that the latest amplifiers have many more functions than the NAD C368, but at least the designers did not want to create an amplifier that is overcrowded with unnecessary connectors and inputs. On the other hand, the idea behind the design is that if anyone wanted more functionality later could further expand the device abilities with MDC cards thanks to the MDC module system. And that is the reason for the two covers on the back of the device with the MDC inscription on them. The MDC cards can be inserted by removing the covers. This way you can even stream your favourite music with an MDC BluOS card.

Class “D” amplifier characteristics
NAD C368 stereo amplifier inside

Class “D” amplifiers operate in pulse-width modulated signal switching mode. They can be as efficient as 90% while keeping losses and heat production low. Because its output is completely off or on, quality losses are not significant. This technology was mostly used in the past only for subwoofers due to high distortion and limited bandwidth. Thanks to the improvements, Class “D” amplifiers are now able to cover the entire bandwidth, with the same distortion and signal-to-noise ratio as conventional amplifiers. As the heat production of this amplifier class is extremely low, either the heat sinks or the fans can be left out from the device, thus reducing the size and weight of the appliance. The NAD C368 weighs only 10.1 kg.

The NAD audio test

We tested the NAD amplifier at the home of one of our well estimated customers. The cinema room where we took the tests has optimal acoustics, only a few new sound absorbing panels printed with family photos have been ordered from us by the owner. We were first screening the 2014 sci-fi film Divergent. The movie created a special atmosphere in a not-too-distant future, featuring a particular social order created by those in power. The performance of the NAD C368 absolutely met our expectations. Associated with Yamaha speakers, we experienced a differentiated, vibrant sound. Our second test, the historical drama The Darkest Hour depicts the difficult political situation of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in the shadow of World War II. The NAD device confirmed what it was made for: the perfect sound. It provided a rich, impulsive and immersive experience this time as well. The voices were clear, and the sound effects and music were both beautiful and limpid. We witnessed lifelike effects. For our third test we chose the romantic musical movie from 2012, Pitch Perfect. The story focuses on members of the school Acapella choir. The super music and vocals sounded flawless. The basses were deep enough, percussive, and the mid-range was also impressive with adequate volume and strength. We found the high notes a little too restrained, in fact cautious sometimes. We then decided to conquer Paradise, and listened to Vangelis music of the movie 1492, the Conquest of Paradise. We can only praise the amplifier, the NAD engineering team really did their best to make the movies and music sound perfect, able to reproduce the original performance.

Design doesn’t matter?

For those who don’t care about the design of the audio device, the NAD C368’s amplifier may be the best choice. The sound is almost flawless, the price is affordable. It is a high quality, durable and affordable amplifier. Maybe only the higher frequency ranges are a little weaker than expected, but apart from that, we didn’t find serious flaws. Because the amplifier is not really eye-catching, customers who care about design are not going to like the modest, understated exterior.


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