NAD C 700 Streaming Amplifier Review
Integrated amplifiers with streaming playback and DAC functions have become increasingly popular in recent years as the trend of streaming music services has taken over. That has led many traditional audio brands to launch similar products, which allow users to connect to the Internet to listen to existing sources and speakers in their homes. These products offer convenience and take sound performance into account, satisfying the fun of playing audio.
Among the many models on the market, one of the most eye-catching is the NAD M10 (the current version is M10 V2). This product takes the concept of “simplification” to the extreme, with comprehensive functions and an excellent user experience. The only drawback is that the price is slightly higher, making it unaffordable for most people.
In response to the needs of a wider listening public, NAD has launched the C 700. This product builds on the M10, retaining most of the features, performance, and design elements of the M10 at half the price. That makes the NAD C 700 streaming amplifier an attractive option for those who want similar functionality at a more affordable price.
While the C 700 is half the price of the M 10, it understandably compromises on some functionality. For example, the C 700 does not use a touch screen like the M 10. Instead, it has a knob and two buttons on the right side of the panel to operate and set all functions. Despite having a smaller screen, the proportion of buttons on the panel is still relatively high, almost two-thirds of the screen. Additionally, the full-color IPS LCD still provides a visually pleasing experience.
Regarding output, the NAD M 10 uses a Hypex nCore power module, while the C 700 uses a slightly inferior HybridDigital UcD module. As a result, the output power is reduced from 100 watts to 80 watts. However, this still provides sufficient control for most speakers and should stay within the listening experience.
The M 10 also includes a free version of the Dirac Live spatial correction system, which can be adjusted for low frequencies below 500Hz. While the C 700 does not have Dirac Live, a small system’s low-frequency imbalance or standing wave is generally not serious. Therefore, not having Dirac Live should not affect the overall sound quality.
Regarding expansion, the M 10 provides two sets of independent subwoofer outputs. While the C 700 only has one set, the crossover point can still be set from 40Hz to 200Hz in 10Hz increments. That allows users to expand their system to 2.1 channels quickly. Overall, the C 700 retains most of the functionality and performance of the M 10, making it an excellent option for those looking for a more affordable alternative.
Like the M 10, the C 700 also boasts powerful streaming capabilities. It comes equipped with the BluOS streaming system, allowing users to not only play music files stored on a NAS or computer but also listen to dozens of streaming music services, including Tidal, Qobuz, Spotify, KKBox, Amazon Music Ultra HD, and more. In addition, the C 700 features Spotify Connect and Tidal Connect functions, enabling users to directly access these services through their respective apps for even greater convenience.
The C 700 also supports Apple AirPlay 2, allowing any Apple device to be used as a source for the amplifier. Additionally, users can order music through smart voice assistant functions such as Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, and Google Assistant without even sliding their phones. This level of convenience makes the C 700 a truly user-friendly device.
Furthermore, the BluOS app is available on multiple platforms, including Android, iOS, MacOS, and Windows, making it easy to control the C 700 with any compatible hardware remotely. This level of convenience is truly impressive and helps to ensure that the C 700 is a highly versatile and functional amplifier.
The C 700 offers two options for network connectivity: an RJ45 network cable or a Wi-Fi wireless network. If your home wireless router is capable and the transmission is unblocked, Wi-Fi is a convenient way to connect the C 700. The NAD C 700 features a two-way Bluetooth transmission function and supports aptX HD. In addition to receiving Bluetooth signals, it can also transmit signals to Bluetooth headphones, so even though it does not have a built-in headphone jack, it is still possible to listen to music through headphones.
Besides its streaming capabilities, the C 700 also has various interfaces connecting different sources at home. It includes two sets of RCA analog inputs and one set each of RCA coaxial and optical digital inputs to connect analog and digital sources easily. Moreover, the C 700 features a USB A jack, which can play music from a USB storage device. One of the standout features of the C 700 is the set of HDMI eARC jacks. These jacks can be connected to a TV with HDMI eARC, allowing the sound from the TV to be transmitted to the NAD C 700 streaming amplifier, providing a richer audio experience when watching TV.
The output section of the C 700 is quite versatile, providing users with multiple options for connecting their audio systems. For example, the set of RCA pre-outputs allows users to connect the C 700 to other amplifiers or active speakers, expanding the system’s output capabilities. The subwoofer output is also available, discussed earlier, allowing users to connect a subwoofer to their system.
Moreover, users can adjust the crossover point from the panel or use the BluOS app to set the low-pass crossover and high-pass crossover more precisely, ensuring that the main speaker and the subwoofer work seamlessly together to produce a more immersive listening experience. Users can customize their system to meet their needs and preferences with these output options.
The first thing that struck me during the audition was the clarity and detail of the sound. The C 700’s HybridDigital UcD module may not be as powerful as the nCore power module used in the M 10, it still has ample power and control for most speakers. The sound is tight and dynamic, and the low-frequency response is impressive for an streaming amplifier in this price range. The mid-range is natural and clear, and the high-frequency response is smooth and delicate. Overall, the sound performance of the C 700 is impressive, especially considering its price point.
In addition to the sound quality, the BluOS streaming system is also a major highlight of the NAD C 700. The system is easy to use and has many streaming options, including Tidal, Qobuz, Spotify, and more. The ability to control the system through voice assistants like Amazon Alexa and Apple Siri is also a nice touch.
Overall, the NAD C 700 is an excellent choice for those who want a high-quality streaming amplifier at an affordable price point. It may have some bells and whistles of its more expensive counterparts, but it delivers excellent sound quality and a user-friendly streaming system that is hard to beat at this price point.
As soon as you turn on the machine, you can intuitively feel that the sound of C 700 has a good sense of brightness, and the abundant power and smooth output bring a lively and energetic sense of hearing.
Using Mingus Dynasty’s “Chair in the Sky” album as a reference for post-boogie style, the first track, “Boogie Stop Shuffle,” showcases the famous song by Charles Mingus, characterized by a bright rhythm and a solid post-boogie style. As the music starts playing, it feels like an eruption with a warm atmosphere that’s highly enjoyable. NAD C 700 showcases a consistent and fast sense of speed in each frequency band, providing excellent cohesion, body, and strength of bass and drums, which drives the exciting music forward with precision and power.
The Mingus Dynasty’s “Chair in the Sky” album of the post-boogie style is an excellent example to showcase the impressive sound performance of the C 700. The first track, “Boogie Stop Shuffle,” is a well-known song by Charles Mingus, with a bright rhythm and a solid post-boogie style that creates a warm and lively atmosphere. The C 700 maintains a consistent and fast sense of speed across all frequency bands. The melody and drums’ cohesion, body, and strength are remarkable, leading the exciting music forward.
The melody group of the septet is entirely wind music, including alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, trumpet, telescoping horn, and more. In addition, there are pianos, drums, and bass, all under complex orchestration. Despite the intricate mix, the NAD C 700 controls everything, showcasing excellent composure without any chaos.
The instrument’s shape, positioning, and separation are commendable, and the structure of the high, medium, and low-frequency bands is well-organized. Although the music is lively and noisy, it does not sound chaotic. This piece proves that the C 700 streaming amplifier is not just a “small” amplifier but performs like a full-sized amplifier or even better.
The C 700 has an impressive ability to reproduce musical instrument timbre accurately. The brightness of the various wind instruments is rendered with a moderate sense of moisture, and the overall tone is smooth and not stiff. The trumpet’s power and penetration are exceptionally well-presented, while the saxophone’s lines are clear and appropriately thick.
The low frequencies are also excellent, fullness, impressive volume, and exact shape and outline. Despite the lively and cheerful nature of the music, the NAD C 700 streaming amplifier maintains a sense of order and clarity, avoiding any sense of noise or chaos. Overall, the performance of the C 700 is truly remarkable and worthy of praise.
Another example is the “Across the Stars” album, a collaboration between violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter and film soundtrack master John Williams. Through the C 700’s playback, the orchestra’s scale and layers are stretched out row by row, and the sound field and spatial configuration are accurately reproduced. Despite not toeing in the speakers and positioning them close together, the C 700 still produces an open, wide, deep sound field that extends naturally, vertically, and horizontally.
The sound is clear and accurate, and the low-frequency control and sense of scale are remarkable, with a tight and controlled bottom end. The C 700’s physique is impressive, demonstrating its capability as a high-performance amplifier.
In the second track of “Across the Stars”, which includes “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back” and “Yoda’s Theme”, the violin takes a prominent role. The C 700 accurately renders the violin’s bright, cohesive, and textured sound. Despite its lack of femininity and variation, the violin’s melody is prominent and impossible to ignore. The C 700 streaming amplifier also excels at dynamic contrast, effortlessly reproducing the music’s strong and weak sections.
The output is smooth, and the low frequencies are clear and full, resulting in a well-structured sound that won’t become monotonous even during softer areas. Although I didn’t watch any movies or TV shows during the audition process, based on the C 700’s performance with large-scale music, I’m confident that it would provide an enjoyable experience for watching movies and TV shows.
Next, I listened to a small arrangement of music – a live recording of tango master Piazzolla’s 1987 concert in New York’s Central Park. The arrangement is for a quintet comprising an accordion, violin, piano, electric guitar, and double bass. Tango music, known for its romantic and passionate flair, often features subtle and delicate parts with strong contrasts.
This recording demonstrated that the NAD C 700 streaming amplifier has excellent detail and solidity in low-volume passages. It delivers a relaxed yet energetic performance in louder sections, accentuating the contrast in the music. This is a crucial advantage, enabling users to enjoy the full-bodied sound and proper details at an appropriate volume level without increasing the volume. The C 700 is more suitable for daily listening and audio-visual entertainment.
However, when critically listening to the recording, I noticed a slight roughness and frizziness in the accordion and violin sound lines, which could affect the subtlety of musical expressions. This may be a downside for those who seek high sound quality and fineness in chamber music. Nonetheless, the C 700 remains a high-quality, multi-functional amplifier that delivers an impressive performance overall.
It’s great to hear that the C 700 streaming amplifier has such excellent performance across different genres of music. Its abundant energy, clear dynamics, and open sound field make it a versatile amplifier for various listening preferences. Its ability to accurately express the timbre of musical instruments is also a significant advantage, making it suitable for listening to different types of music with big compilations and scenes. It’s always impressive when an amplifier can perform satisfactorily across a wide range of genres, and it sounds like the C 700 does just that.
In conclusion, the NAD C 700 streaming amplifier is a high-quality all-in-one streaming amplifier with versatile features and excellent audio performance. It boasts an impressive physique, with abundant energy and precise dynamics. It can easily handle various music genres, including pop, rock, jazz, and even large-scale orchestral pieces. The sound field is open, with above-average separation and layering, and the timbre of instruments is accurately represented.
The NAD C 700 is also user-friendly, with a straightforward setup process and an intuitive user interface. While there may be minor flaws in sonic refinement, the overall audio quality and versatility of the C 700 make it an excellent choice for music enthusiasts who want a high-quality all-in-one streaming amplifier.
Specifications of NAD C 700 Streaming Amplifier
- Power Output: 80W/8Ω, 100W/4Ω
- Digital Inputs: HDMI eARC, Optical, Coaxial, USB
- Analog Inputs: RCA x 2
- Analog Outputs: Pre-Out, Subwoofer Out
- Wireless Connectivity: Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth aptX-HD
- Display: 5-inch full-color LCD IPS panel
- Streaming Services: BluOS, AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, Tidal Connect
- THD: <0.04%
- Signal-to-Noise Ratio: >84dB
- Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz / ±0.18dB
- Tone Controls: High ±6dB at 20kHz, Low ±6dB at 60Hz
- Supported Sampling Rates: Up to 32 bit/192kHz PCM
- Dimensions: 218 x 96 x 266mm (W x H x D)