NAD celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2012 and from the looks of it, the vaunted audio manufacturer that was created by a group of distributors in 1972 has no plans to simply sit back and bask in the glory of that impressive milestone. NAD has never been a showy manufacturer; its press events and product demonstrations have always been low key and focused on the product with an emphasis on providing strong support for its dealers.
NAD has always trumpeted the importance of performance, simplicity, and value – a mantra that applies to its sibling, PSB loudspeakers, as well. It’s actually difficult to find a single stinker in their product line-up, but even the folks at NAD will admit that the market has changed and the time had come to rethink their approach to attracting the next generation of customers.
Greg Stidsen, Lenbrook’s Director of Technology and Product Planning, acknowledged that reality during a private product briefing with Digital Trends in New York.
“We’re dealing with a different type of customer in 2013,” remarked Stidsen.
“We still have the audiophile customer who is obsessed over every last detail of sound reproduction and they like what we’re doing with our Master Series components, but even that market isn’t what it used to be,” Stidsen explained.
“The industry is now dealing with something called the ‘digital native’. An individual that has grown up in the era of digital downloads and music streaming services and it’s even possible that they have never even purchased a compact disc. This type of customer has possibly never even used a turntable, and we came to the realization that in order to attract these individuals who rely on a pair of headphones and a smart device for their music, we had to build something completely different. We had to build on our expertise and look at the technology that we already had and see if it could trickle down into forward-thinking products at price points that would have mass appeal.”
With that new-found focus on the “digital native,” NAD invited us to take a first look at its new Digital Classic series of components which includes the D 3020 Hybrid Digital Amplifier ($500), D 1050 24/192 USB DAC/Headphone Amplifier ($500), and flagship D 7050 Network Receiver ($1,000).
We’ve taken a separate look at the D 3020 and think it offers a lot of performance for $500. It doesn’t come with every feature that we think it needs to be a giant killer in the category, but the sound quality might convince consumers that it’s well worth the leap of faith.
Where things get really interesting is with the D 7050 Network Receiver. The D 7050 combines NAD’s most advanced digital platform, the Direct Digital technology first introduced in the company’s $6,000 award-winning Masters Series M2 amplifier with Apple’s AirPlay streaming technology to create the ultimate plug ’n play solution for wireless music in the home.
In addition to AirPlay, the D 7050 can also stream any UPnP audio content on a home network. If no network is available, it can also stream directly from a smartphone or laptop using the latest Bluetooth high fidelity codec, aptX. Users can also play via a wired connection from a computer or USB Drive.
The D 7050 also includes a dedicated headphone amplifier, 24/192 asynchronous USB DAC, and support for Internet Radio, and Wi-Fi. While it is only rated at 50 watts per channel into 8 ohms, our listening session confirmed that it has far more power under the hood than the numbers would suggest. NAD confirmed that the D 7050 doubles its output into 4 ohms and has the ability to drive far more demanding loads if required. The D 7050 even remained cool after being driven hard for a few minutes.
Aside from its USB input, the D 7050 includes four additional digital inputs (2 optical, 2 coaxial), and a dedicated subwoofer output.
A remote control is included with the D 7050 and D 3020, and NAD is currently putting the finishing touches on a remote app for both iOS and Android-based devices that will be available when the products go on sale in early July.