NAD C 700

Hardware Review

NAD C 700
Friday, March 18, 2022
amplifier/DAC/streamer
Chris Kelly

Back in September 2020 we published a shootout review between three one-box amplifier/streamers: the Naim Uniti Atom, Lyngdorf TDAI3400 and the NAD M10 Master. More than a year later the opportunity arose for me to spend some time with the M10’s more affordable sibling, the NAD C 700, which I was very pleased to do.

All I had to do was slip the half-width unit onto a shelf on the system rack, attach RCA connections to my own Gold Note PH10 phono stage and my Yamaha CD-S300, insert the optical cable from the television, plug in my Network Acoustics ENO ethernet connection, insert the banana plugs on my speaker cables and an IEC mains cable and then reload the BluOS app onto my iPad and Android mobile phone and I was ready to go.

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Before we get to the listening experience, what exactly is a C 700? It is a diminutive box less than 10cm high into which the NAD designers have managed to fit a truly impressive array of technology. There is an 80 Watt per channel amplifier, a streamer, DAC and inputs for both digital and analogue sources. It takes a wireless or wired network connection and offers two pairs of RCA analogue inputs, a pair of RCA pre-out sockets, a single RCA subwoofer socket, an optical digital input and an HDMI ARC input. In addition there is a12v trigger connection and another below that marked IR In. That is a lot of connectivity on such a small rear panel but in practice it was easy to work with and there was adequate space for all the cables that I need to attach. There is also aptX Bluetooth available as well as a USB-A port an external storage device like a hard drive.

For custom installers, there are drivers available for Control4, Crestron, Elan and RTI. Unlike the M10 Master, the C 700 foregoes the DIRAC room correction software, but in truth it performed perfectly well without it so I did not feel that was in anyway a drawback. The C 700 can handle digital files up to 24-bit/192kHz resolution, which should be more than enough for a typical C 700 user. It will also decode and render MQA files.

 

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Build quality is very good, the only evidence that this is not a premium price device is in the adequate but not flashy sockets on the rear panel. The front panel is dominated by a full colour screen to the right of which is the rotary control for volume. There is no remote control, so everything relies on the BluOS app, but luckily this is very easy to use. Its only limitation for the committed enthusiast is that you can’t access UPnP servers, the only way to play your own files through it is from a USB drive.

A word or two about BluOS would be appropriate here. It is an infrastructure used by several different manufacturers: NAD, of course, Bluesound, Roksan, Dali and Monitor Audio are already on board and Peachtree, Cyrus and PSB are also committed to it for future products. It gives easy access to almost every streaming service out there, and also allows easy set up of multiple streamers if required. During my time with the C 700 it worked flawlessly and made using the unit an absolute pleasure.

During the review period I used a pair of ‘guest’ loudspeakers, Ophidian Mambo2 floor standers , and my own Harbeth C7ES3XD stand mounts. The C 700 had no problem driving either pair, despite the Ophidian’s nominal 4 Ohm impedance.

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Living with and listening to the C 700
The C 700 is the ultimate fit and forget device. Once I had set it up I spent just a few minutes logging onto my Tidal and Qobuz accounts through BluOS and was immediately able to start streaming music. The sound that emerged from the Mambo2s was very impressive – music flowed easily with a more than acceptable performance across the whole frequency spectrum. A good soundstage was created, with fast and tuneful bass, a meaty mid band and a pleasantly airy high end. I was able to increase the volume enough that had I had anyone with me conversation would have been challenging and the C 700 just kept on giving, without any hint of strain. Dialled back a little it made for a most pleasant companion, whether listening to physical media through either of the two analogue inputs, to television sound or, as I did for a good portion of each listening day, to music streamed from one of the services mentioned above.

Via the app there is easy access to what we old-fashioned people call ‘tone controls’, with adjustments to increase or decrease both bass and treble. I tried them but the NAD designers have judged the neutral settings to perfection, so other than that brief experiment I left them well alone.

I played a real potpourri of music through the C 700, from hard rock through to classical choral, and at no time did it get flustered. The new album by Big Thief, Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You (catchy title), is an aural delight, with Adrianne Lenker’s slightly other-worldly vocals floating in front of her band-mates luscious soundscapes. Beth Hart’s tribute album of Led Zeppelin songs had the big-lunged chanteuse really powering in to the room, in a most engaging way.

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On vinyl I played a variety of albums and despite the source coming in at many times the price of the C 700, the little NAD gave a very decent account of everything I asked of it. Similarly, silver disc replay via the Yamaha was delivered very well. My often-played SACD of Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here came across with detail and good rhythm and timing too. In fact there was nothing I asked of the C 700 that it did not accomplish with a performance that I felt belied its relatively modest price.

Final Thoughts
As I write this, the C 700 is being advertised by several UK retailers at about £1300, and I can only say that it is a bona fide bargain. Aimed at a customer who wants to keep their audio life simple, this is a great entry into the world of high fidelity music replay. Add a suitable pair of loudspeakers and some speaker cable and you will have a very decent system for under £2,000. Given that I paired it with loudspeakers which cost a lot more than it does, the C 700 more than held its own.

Add to that its tremendous versatility and the ease of use that comes with the BluOS app, and you are looking at a very attractive proposition. NAD has a reputation garnered over many decades for delivering great sounding hi-fi at affordable prices. The C 700 carries on that proud tradition.

Specifications: 

Type: integrated digital amplifier with streamer and DAC
Power rating: 80W RMS/8 Ohms, 80W RMS/4 Ohms
Analogue Inputs: 2x single ended RCA
Analogue outputs: pre out, subwoofer out
Digital Inputs: coax, optical, HDMI ARC, USB for memory stick
Supported Digital Formats: MP3, AAC, WMA, OGG, WMA-L, ALAC, OPUS, MQA, FLAC, WAV, AIFF
Max sample rate: 192kHz/24 bit
Music services: Amazon Alexa, Amazon Music, Spotify, Tidal, Deezer, Qobuz, HDTracks, HighResAudio, Murfie, Juke, Napster, Slacker Radio, KKBox, Bugs
Wi-fi inputs: Bluetooth aptX HD, Apple Airplay 
Control App: BluOS for iOS, Android, Roon 
User Interface: 5inch LCD display
Dimensions (HxWxD): 96 x 218 x 266mm (includes feet, extended front and rear panel terminals)
Weight: 4.8kg
Warranty: 2 years

Price: 
£1,299 at time of publication
Manufacturer Details: 

NAD Electronics
www.nadelectronics.com

Distributor Details: 

Sevenoaks Sound & Vision
T 01732 740 944
www.sevenoakssoundandvision.co.uk