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Leonard R.
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Old technophobe needs serious help on upgrade.

Am very much befuddled by the new audio hard wear. I am considering the purchase of 1. NAD C356BEE amp., w/ or w/o modular DAC or possibly the NAD D1050 USB DAC.

Leonard R.
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Reference "Old technophobe" below.

I sincerely apologize for screwing up this comment section. I've spent three hours attempting to register and constructing a query now lost. What follows is a synopsis.
I will try one more time.
I am considering the purchase of 1. a NAD C356BEE amp. w/ or w/o the modular DAC. Should I spring for the NAD D1050 USB DAC, why? 2. an NAD C546 BEE CD player.
3, Dynaudio X14 spkrs. Ortofon Red 2MM to go on an old Kenwood DD TT w/ a 707 Grace arm purchased in 1980. I know I will need a phono amp as well. I have a "good" Velodyne sub and an inexpensive cassette deck
At some point a TV would be hooked up to the system.
I want to be able to stream internet radio as well as access play lists now residing on my Mac laptop HD. Don't have a smart phone or tablet.
I would like to access Spotify or similar but probably not high res downloads as I am on a budget. Sound levels would be moderate. Room size medium small.
Local dealer pushes Sonos for music "management" but I understand that the "res" is not that great.
Any info on what else I need comments/suggestions would be much appreciated. If I don't respond its because I can't figure out how. Sorry. Len

bierfeldt
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A few thoughts

Len, welcome to the forums here. I personally like NAD integrated amps very much and think they sound great. The Dynaudio X14s are amazingly good speakers and should pair well with an NAD integrated. That 356 BEE has a ton of power and unless you really need to "turn it up to 11" that should be more power than you will need in a small to medium sized room.

You could get the modular DAC that integrates into the NAD or an external DAC like a Peachtree DAC iTx and use your laptop as the controller. You would connect your Mac via a USB cable.

The value of an external DAC is dependent on your source equipment. I am not an engineer and I have had it explained to me in terms that even I can understand. It is a combination of the electronic architecture and implementation of the DAC chip(s) and the load put on those chips. An external DAC will generally have a superior architecture and a lower demand on the chip. There are several people out here who are either electrical engineers or who have worked in audio long enough that they can explain it in more detail.

The point is, if you have a CD player with an awful internal DAC like I have, bypassing it and sending a Digital signal to an external DAC for decoding makes an enormous difference in sound quality. I was shocked at how much of a different it made on my system. If you get an exceptional CD player like an Oppo BDP 105 with an amazing internal DAC, bypassing and using and external DAC will likely cause a degradation in sound or at best be a push. Most DACs also accept a USB connection and will decode digital files from a MAC or PC and again, will outperform the DACs on most soundcards.

What you might consider instead of a Sonos or the NAD DAC is a Network Player. It is basically an external DAC with network functionality incorporated in. The Pioneer Elite N-50 can be used as an external DAC, is equipped with Apple's Airplay (which enables iTunes streaming) and has internet radio. I have heard it and it sounds great. The issue is, it is quite a bit more expensive at $699 than the internal NAD DAC and using your Mac as the controller. There is another great sounding unit from Cambridge called the NP30 and it is $599.

You might consider a MusicHall A15.3 or NAD 326BEE if you don't listen to music super loud, and take the savings to invest in a nice network player.

The one other thing to consider is that Marantz has recently introduced a new unit called the M-CR510. It has 60w of power and all the features that you are looking for including the ability to stream spotify directly to the unit. Basically, it is an integrated amp with all the network features of an AV receiver. It is pretty slick at $599.

Hope this is helpful.

fourpobs
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Digital can be easy

Hello and welcome. Thought I would share what has worked for me when it comes to managing digital files/streaming. I bought the Halide DAC HD which is a simple and slick device. It is a little box with RCAs coming out one side and a USB plug on the other. Basically, you just plug one of these into your amp and your laptop (I ordered one with the 6 foot usb cable) and that is it - the laptop provides the power. I have windows but should work the same with a mac - the laptop just recognizes it and your music just plays through it. Use your laptop like normal to play/stream whatever. It is slick.

I have not tried much else in the way of DACs. I know there are many confusing terms and factors (bits, khz, DSD) and I will not go there, but, there are many like mine that are dead simple to use and in my case the difference was phenomenal vs my old FiiO Alpen DAC. I have since reripped all my CDs to FLAC and just dont even run a CD player. DAC and Turntable that is it.

I agree that the NAD 326 would have plenty of power. I dont think it has the modular DAC option though. You could always get something like the Dragonfly DAC which seems to get great reviews unless you really want to run your CD player through the DAC in which case there are tons of them out there and I dont have any recommendations.

Leonard R.
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NAD 326 v. 356

Thanks for your helpful response. I will go w/ the NAD C 326 for sure.
Len

Leonard R.
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Technophobe Angst.

Thank you for your considered response. I'm glad you liked the X14s. I was blown away by the"clarity and imaging". My speakers since 1976 have been Klipschorns. The NAD C 326 does not have the integrated DAC as an option - only the more expensive models. I am fearful of "making an expensive mistake" buying something that lacks connectivity or optimum connectivity. I have decided on the less powerful and less expensive NAD 326. The Peachtree DAC you referenced looks like a good choice according to reviews,etc. I was concerned that it had only one coaxial input. The Peachtree support person suggested the coax for the CD and usb for the computer and the to slink for a media player. I know little but I retain a little of what I read and I recall that the toslink was in somewhat in bad odor. Do you feel the lack of another coax is a detriment? I have been considering purchasing an IPad and its use as a controller may push me over the edge.
Again, thanks much and I'm sure I'll have further questions.
Len

bierfeldt
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I understand what you are sying about Toslink

By buying the 326 over the 356, you are limiting your ability to attach an internal DAC module, however an external DAC is a perfect (and arguably superior) substitute.

With Toslink, it is all about the quality of the termination and the lenses, etc... Can't disagree that is a risk with Toslink. This comes down to the quality of the unit you are purchasing.

Personally, I am using a Toslink cable to connect my Marantz CD player to my Marantz Network Player/DAC. However, they are both Marantz and I have faith that they are using quality parts. I have complete faith that Peachtree is using quality parts in that DAC iTx. It comes down to what Network player you choose. If you choose a good network player, it shouldn't be an issue not having that second Coax.

The Pioneer Elite N-30 or the Denon DNP720AE both have Digital outputs. They are both $499. They lack the DAC implementation of higher end N-50 or the Cambridge NP30, but if you use the Peachtree DAC, who cares. Both should have decent Toslink connector and you can save $200.

Alternatively, if you said your were going to connect an Apple TV via Toslink, I would have some reservations largely because they have to be cutting corners to be profitable at sub $100 price point.

One other note, you said you needed a phono pre-amp. Rega, Pro-Ject, Musical Fidelity, Music Hall and Thorens all make phono states for ~$200 to $229. I would call Needledoctor and ask which would pair best with your cartridge/table combination as they sell a lot of Ortofon 2M Red cartridges and should know.

commsysman
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Amplifier
Leonard R. wrote:

Thanks for your helpful response. I will go w/ the NAD C 326 for sure.
Len

You won't go wrong with the NAD 326; it is a good amp.

Oddly, I had the C356BEE and did not like it. There was some problem with the bass clarity and articulation that I could not figure out. I tested it with 3 sets of speakers and it just never sounded right.

If you haven't already purchased that amplifier, consider the Music Hall 15.3, which is $550 and has a good phono stage included. It is a VERY good amplifier; better than the NAD IMO.

For a DAC, you might want to look at the Audioengine D1.

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