Published On: August 21, 2008

NAD C325BEE Stereo Integrated Amplifier Reviewed

Published On: August 21, 2008

NAD C325BEE Stereo Integrated Amplifier Reviewed

NAD is known for making some excellent sounding, and wonderfully simple looking audio products. The new C325BEE is a stereo integrated amp with 50-watts per channel. Andrew Robinson gives it a go.

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I’ve always been a fan of integrated amplifiers and it was quite a shock when I glanced over some of my recent integrated amp reviews that I’ve failed to review or even mention one of my all time favorites; the NAD C325BEE. You could argue that the C325BEE stems from one of the original audiophile integrated amps the NAD 3020, which was largely responsible for helping put NAD on the map some 30 years ago and cementing the legacy of Bjorn Erik Edvardsen aka BEE.

Additional Resources
Read hundreds of other audiophile amp and integrate amp reviews from HomeTheaterReview.com here.

The 3020 taught NAD and audiophile’s everywhere valuable lessons in specs versus performance and ultimate affordability. Until the 3020’s arrival there were few products that possessed high-end magic at an everyman price quite the way the 3020 did. Now, 30 years later the 3020’s legacy lives on in the C325BEE. I know the C325BEE is an older product and has seen the birth of several, larger, siblings all taking a page from it’s playbook, but the fact of the matter is, the C325BEE is the original and it’s still the best. Retailing for $399 the C325BEE is a true 50-Watt per channel stereo integrated amplifier. The C325BEE’s internal PowerDrive amplifier is capable of sustaining 68-Watts per channel continuous before clipping though in short bursts (dynamic headroom) it can produce up to 110-Watts per channel into eight Ohms. However, the C325BEE wants to continue to play music day in and day out no matter how hard you abuse it which is why it employs a soft clipping circuit that protects the amp from damaging itself without distorting or destroying your enjoyment of the source material. If the C325BEE’s power just isn’t enough you can connect an outboard amplifier or two to the C325BEE’s pre-amp outputs.

Aside from its power rating the C325BEE has a wonderful pre-amplifier section that can accommodate seven analog sources not including a mini jack input on its front panel for iPods and other portable devices. The C325BEE has inputs for disc, CD, video (no actual video is accepted), Aux, tuner, tape 1, and tape 2. Throw in the front mounted mini Aux jack and you can connect eight different sources to the C325BEE, which is quite impressive for an integrated amp, let alone one that costs less than $400. The C325BEE features tone and balance controls though the tone controls can be defeated leaving only source, balance and volume adjustable on the C325BEE’s face.

Competition and Comparison
If you are interested in comparing the NAD C325BEE integrated amp against its competition, be sure to read our reviews for the Outlaw Audio 2150 and the Marantz PM5003.  You can find more information in our Amplifier section and on our NAD brand page.

High Points
• For a compact and almost militaristic looking piece of kit the C325BEE is surprisingly robust and solid in its build and feel. Everything about it screams ready to go to work yet it’s as easy to use as Kleenex.
• The C325BEE’s amplifier far more powerful than its spec sheet will have you believe, it drove my pair of Magnepan MG12’s with ease to near ear splitting levels. Frankly the speakers began to crack far before the C325BEE did. 

• The C325BEE’s sound is smooth and very composed. This is an integrated amp that doesn’t extol its own virtues; it lets the artist do the talking without imparting too much of its own bias on the performance. It’s rich, full midrange isn’t tubby or overly accentuated though it is very seductive and one of the C325BEE’s many strengths. 
• The C325BEE is quite good at the frequency extremes possessing a nimble, though not crazy airy, treble countered by a very solid, authoritative bass response. 
• Dynamically and spatially you’ll be hard pressed to beat the C325BEE this side of spending a grand.

Low Points
• The only thing keeping the C325BEE from a complete full service audiophile integrated is its lack of a built-in phono stage. You have to go up a couple of models in the NAD integrated line before you get one of those with admission. 
• The C325BEE’s remote is good; however making subtle volume changes is far easier manually.

Conclusion
I’ve owned and or played with just about every piece of gear out there, be it crazy expensive or so cheap I thought the packing material had to cost more yet I’ve always come back to my old staple, my NAD C325BEE. I’ll admit, it doesn’t get a great deal of playing time these days and but I’ve always admired it and kept it around. I don’t view it as a benchmark or statement, I rarely use it to review anything, but I keep it because I like it.

I like that it plays music and nothing else. I like that I’ve never had a bad moment with it, that even after a year of solitude on some shelf in my closet it doesn’t care and gets right back to business as if it never left. I’m not one for personification but the C325BEE isn’t so much an amp to me as it is a musical companion. A lot of products claim to have heart and soul, yet none of them have lasted half as long as my C325BEE, a testament of this little amp’s infectious charm.

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