Before buying a sound bar, consider the alternatives

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I wasn’t planning on reviewing the NAD C 338 stereo amplifier, however when it confirmed up at the CNET workplace I could not resist attempting it out. As I listened to music and films, the combo of this little amp paired with a first rate pair of audio system sounded higher than most sound bars

NAD C 338 amplifier


I appreciated the amp’s minimalist aesthetic that recollects NAD’s 1970s look. Of course this new one comes loaded with gotta-have options like Chromecast and Bluetooth, together with two optical and two coaxial inputs, two analog line inputs, one turntable enter, a 6.3mm headphone jack, and a subwoofer output jack. Power is rated at 50 watts per channel for Four- and Eight-ohm rated audio system.

The amp comes with a little plastic distant, however you may in all probability want utilizing the NAD distant app for smartphones and tablets. I did not like the show’s tremendous tiny readout for chosen inputs, and the plastic quantity management knob feels low-cost, however in any other case I had no complaints about the C 338. It’s not all that massive — the low-profile amp is simply 2.Eight inches (70mm) tall, and this dangerous boy weighs all of 10.7 kilos (Four.85kg). The C 338 sells for $650, £599 or AU$999, relying the place you might be.

NAD C 338’s rear panel



To get began I paired the C 338 with ELAC Debut B6 bookshelf audio system ($280, £289, AU$599 per pair) and watched a few Blu-rays. My preliminary response was that that is a lot better-sounding than a lot of sound bars we check right here at CNET. First, there’s significantly better stereo imaging, superior depth and dimensionality; dialogue sounds extra pure and the bass is strong. When it involves enjoying music, the C 338/B6 combo is massively higher than most sound bars.

While it is true sound bars have improved over the previous couple of years, all of them stumble with music recordsdata and CDs. That’s the place stereo methods with audio system unfold 5 toes or extra aside (1.5 meters or larger) have it throughout sound bars, irrespective of their value.

Streaming music from Tidal by way of Chromecast was positive, although I did the bulk of my listening with an Oppo BDP 105 Blu-ray participant hooked as much as the C 338’s optical digital audio enter.

Every time I play the B6 audio system I can not recover from how good they’re for the cash. Here, teamed with the C 338, the audio system are even higher than common. There’s a richness to the sound, and but readability may be very first rate with the CD soundtrack of Hans Zimmer’s rating for “The Thin Red Line.” This music has extremely deep drums and I used to be taken again by how this little system held its personal down there.

ELAC B6 audio system sitting atop the NAD C 338

Stevew Guttenberg/CNET

Country singer Angaleena Presley’s take-no-prisoners “Wrangled” album demonstrated the C 338/B6’s stamina. This lady has angle; she needs to tear the gloss off nation music and make it scream for mercy.

Cuing up any of “Avatar” scenes the place Jake is taking over humongous creatures in the jungle the C 338/B6 combo had spectacular influence, readability and energy. While you may simply add a subwoofer to this technique you will not must.

Buoyed by the C 338’s sound with the ELAC B6s, I subsequent reached for KEF’s new Q350 speakers ($650, £529 per pair) and the mixture clicked — the little C 338 allowed these audio system to essentially strut their stuff!

The Q350s sounded remarkably potent — bass was deep, dynamics rocked, and the total presentation did justice to every kind of music. There was actual synergy between the audio system and the amp once I performed blues harmonica wizard Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Keep It To Ourselves” album. Vocals, guitars and his harmonica sounded organically sensible, and so they thinned out a bit once I repeated the tunes once more with a Sony STR-DN1080 7.1 channel AV receiver. I like that receiver a lot, however the C 338’s sound was a step up. With Radiohead’s “Moon Shaped Pool,” the C 338 dug deep into the mixes’ palpable textures.

The C 338/Q350 system’s suitability for stereo dwelling theater exceeded the ELAC B6 audio system on each depend. The Q350 is a significantly better but additionally way more costly speaker.

I used the NAD C 338 with these two audio system as examples, however there is no motive why you could not do higher than most sound bars for a lot much less cash than the C 338, beginning with the Yamaha R-S202 stereo receiver ($130, £190, AU$479). But there’s one catch with budget-priced stereo receivers like this one: you may want so as to add an external digital converter in case your cable/satellite tv for pc field or Blu-ray participant would not have stereo RCA analog outputs.  

The R-S202 and ELAC B6 audio system could be a candy little inexpensive system for music and films. A stereo system for dwelling theater and music is a very viable various to sound bars. Listen and you may see.

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