High-End Munich 2022 is underway for the first time in three years, and it’s going to be one of the best consumer A/V shows in many years as we emerge from the pandemic and hundreds of brands pull back the curtains on thousands of new products. We expect to see a flood of affordable products this year because the market is evolving; NAD has been focused on this move to streaming for many years and we’re starting to see products that offer better sound quality, modularity, and lower prices.
NAD Electronics today announced the C 389 HybridDigital DAC amplifier, which appears to be a less powerful version of NAD’s C 399; it chops about 25% off the price and power. The C 389 clocks in at 130 watts per channel versus 180 watts for the C 399.
The key difference is in the amplification topology. The C 399 uses the superior nCore amp technology whereas the C 389 uses multiple HybridDigital UcD amplifier modules, still excellent, in a balanced bridged configuration. Lastly, there’s slight space savings with the C 389. It’s just over 3/4″ shorter at (100 mm / 3-15/16”) than the C 399 (120mm / 4-3/4”).
Priced at $1,499, the C 389 features the same 32-bit/384kHz ESS Technology Sabre DAC chip used in the brand’s up-market Masters Series amplifiers. The chipset claims to offer near-zero levels of clock jitter, exceptionally wide dynamic range, and ultra-low noise and distortion, delivering astonishing clarity and holographic imaging on all sources.
For the output stage, the C 389 uses a customized version of NAD’s HybridDigital UcD design, with multiple UcD amplifier modules in balanced bridged configuration and an innovative switch-mode power supply that can provide ample reserves of current on demand.
Delivering 130 Watts per channel of continuous power, the C 389 can produce real-life listening levels with any loudspeaker load, with virtually unmeasurable distortion and noise through the audioband, and effortless reproduction of musical transients.
With a full suite of digital and analogue inputs, including an ultra-low-noise phono stage and HDMI eARC interface, the C 389 can accommodate all your source components. In addition to two sets of speaker outputs, the C 389 has two subwoofer outputs, preamp outputs, and a dedicated headphone amp.
The C 389 incorporates the latest iteration of NAD’s Modular Design Construction technology, MDC 2, and with its two MDC2 expansion slots, the C 389 can adapt to technical advances and evolving user needs.
Introduced in 2006, NAD’s Modular Design Construction future-proofing technology lets owners of MDC-capable components add new capabilities by inserting an expansion module into an MDC slot on the rear panel.
Introduced in 2021, MDC2 is an all-new design that allows two-way communications between the expansion module and host component. NAD’s first MDC2 module is the MDC2 BluOS-D, which features BluOS high-res multi-room streaming and Dirac Live room correction.
The MDC2 BluOS-D connects to your home network via Wi-Fi or wired Ethernet. With the MDC2 BluOS-D installed, the C 389 can be part of a whole-home music system with as many as 64 zones.
Controlled via the BluOS Controller app, available for Android, iOS, macOS, and Windows, listeners can play music from over 20 streaming services including Tidal, Deezer, Qobuz, Amazon Music HD, or Spotify, or from their personal music libraries. Like all BluOS-enabled components, the MDC2 BluOS-D will bring MQA decoding and rendering capability to the C 389, as well Apple AirPlay 2 and control by popular voice assistants.
Connect the supplied microphone to the MDC BluOS-D’s USB port, and then run the free Dirac Live app on a smart device or personal computer. Dirac Live room correction compensates for acoustic problems like standing waves and room reflections. The results are transformative and offers deeper, more textured bass; more precise imaging; and improved timbral accuracy.
- Customized HybridDigital UcD amplifier in fully balanced bridged configuration
- Continuous Power: 2 x 130 Watts per channel into 8/4 ohms (preliminary)
- Instantaneous Power: 210 W into 8 ohms, 300 W into 4 ohms, 350 W into 2 ohms (preliminary)
- Vanishingly low harmonic and intermodulation distortion
- Nearly unmeasurable noise through the entire audioband
- Dual MDC2 ports for expanded functionality
- Optional MDC2 BluOS-D module adds BluOS Hi-Res multi-room music streaming and Dirac Live room correction
- Jitter-free 32-bit/384kHz ESS Sabre DAC
- Ultra-low-noise MM phono stage with infrasonic filtering circuitry
- Two optical, two coaxial digital inputs
- HDMI-eARC input
- Two pairs of line-level analogue inputs with ultra-low-noise buffer amplifiers
- Speaker A/Speaker B outputs
- Two-way Qualcomm aptX HD Bluetooth
- Dual subwoofer outputs
- Dedicated headphone amplifier
- CI-Friendly – IR remote, 12V Trigger in/out, IR in/out, RS-232 Serial port
- Seamless integrations with smart home control systems such as Control4, Crestron, RTI, URC, Lutron, and Elan
Price & Availability
The NAD C 389 HybridDigital DAC amplifier will be available for retail sale in early Summer 2022 for a suggested retail price of $1,499 USD.
Related: Best Streaming Amplifiers