NAD C165BEE/C275BEE review

NAD's budget combi looks very promising, but while looks can be deceiving the listening test reveals all

This pairing offers a great dynamic flow although detail can be a little muddled

TechRadar Verdict

An impressive pair of units. Only the most demanding detail freak may find the sound a little rough-edged


  • +

    Powerful, energetic, exciting and well detailed


  • -

    Slight lack of control, though it doesn't detract much

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From the original kings of budget audiophilia, comes a particularly well-equipped preamp and a strikingly powerful power amp, all tastefully presented in traditional NAD charcoal black.

NAD is one of only very few brands to include tone controls, although they might be making a comeback!

There's also a subwoofer output which we don't imagine too many stereo folks using, but the rest of the facilities are very useful.

We're particularly impressed with the flexible phono stage, which caters for both MM and MC cartridge and even has adjustable loading.

The C275 BEE power amp is a chunky beast with the option to be used in bridged mode if its normal 150 watts isn't enough for you. It also offers NAD's 'soft clipping' and has a switchable input level control for use with preamps with excessive gain – it would also ease bi-amping with other models of power amp.

Like the C165 BEE preamp, this is a well built unit, though there's no denying that component quality is less fancy than in many of the other amps in this group.

A notable feature of both units is their use of NAD's own 'Class A gain module', a small circuit board in a metal enclosure which replaces the more common op-amp chip. There are no less than six of these in the '165.

The module is made up from surface-mounted components but all the parts on the amps' main boards are through-hole.