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NAD C399 Streaming Integrated Amplifier - Unassumingly Unbeatable

NAD C399 Streaming Integrated Amplifier - Unassumingly Unbeatable

The NAD C399 is an effortless powerhouse with every feature one could possibly need in a modern amplifier.

It has unbeatable control, impeccable power management, the best integrated streaming system out there and every input you could need with a future-proof upgradable modular design. Hands down the best value for money amp in its price range.

Pros: Unreal power control and performance.
The best streaming system in the market. 
Smooth and quiet phono stage.
DIRAC Live room correction built in (BluOS variant).

Cons: Not winning any beauty pageants.
Lots of competition.
Remote control is nothing special.


NAD have long been renowned for providing a whole lot of bang for buck and the C399 is no different. At 180 watts per channel into both 4/8ohm (250W instant power)  it can comfortably drive just about anything short of a fully loaded school bus and with its custom made HybridDigital nCore amplifier modules that are trickled down from their flagship Masters Series. Along with an inhouse built switch mode PSU that has many benefits over the standard Hypex matching power supply that most of the Class-D competitors utilise.

On the back is a full suite of analogue and digital inputs, 2x Line In, Phono In, 2x Coax, 2x Optical/Toslink and HDMI Arc which is very welcome to see. Outputs are a pre-out and 2 dedicated subwoofer outs.
You’ll also find 1 or 2 (depending on variant) empty slots for NAD’s MDC2 modules that allow the amplifier to be upgraded and expanded in the future as technology continues to evolve. 

Real world testing:

We can talk about the spec sheet until the old lady sings but how does it actually sound and perform?

I did a bulk of my listening with the JBL L100 MkII Classic speakers and the KEF R3 Meta’s, both very different speakers and excellent in their own right.

I’ve listened to the R3’s on A LOT of amps and the NAD was the most ‘uncoloured’ sound to date. The KEF’s can sound a bit complicated or just ‘off’ with the wrong amp pairing so it was a breath of fresh air to hear them so accurately and exactly how KEF designed them to sound. Rock solid bass, beautiful smooth midrange and well balanced highs.

To keep it in the family, NAD’s C588 Turntable accompanied the C399 in my listening, utilising the C399’s inbuilt phono stage. This has to be one of the quietest phono stages I have ever heard in an integrated amplifier and only once pushing the volume to its limits in my room did I get the slightest of ‘hiss’ through the phono input, when I mean it’s quiet, I'm deadly serious.

SADE’s ‘Why Can't We Live Together’ percussion intro was flawless and the amp was dead silent in between drum hits. The staging was wide and open, I haven’t heard an Ortofon 2M Red sound that sweet on any other inbuilt phono stage. The C588 turntable was doing a little of the heavy lifting, sturdily built with a heavy glass platter, solid aluminium sub platter and well isolated feet to keep it away from any resonance, some big improvements from some of the more popular competitors like the Pro-Ject Debut series.

None the less the KEF’s were rich and romantic sounding, as they should be but maybe that’s just the power of SADE.

Over to the JBL L100’s (what a speaker!) It was time to bring a bit more vinyl energy with Black Sabbath’s DEHUMANIZER. The heavy distorted guitars and metal cymbals can get real crunchy on some systems but again the 399’s phono stage kept it natural and open, never abrasive or sharp.

Our demo C399 has the NAD BluOS streaming module installed, tested in store with Tidal Connect, AirPlay along with local files stored on a server through the BluOS app.

I was blown away by the seamless DAC conversion and how clean and smooth it was. It was almost creepy how accurate and transparent it was in the best way with none of the ‘boringness’ that can come from an all digital source. ‘Tears Run Dry’ by MALIA & Boris Blank was hauntingly present and immersive, the entire album is beautifully recorded and has nuances that only very well implemented DAC’s can show, everything was on full display here.

A bit more stripped back was Mark Knopfler and Ruth Moody’s duet ‘Wherever I Go’ which had weight and dynamics separating both voices beautifully.

Lastly was Trentemøller’s ‘VAMP’, nothing like a bit of techno and EDM to test the 399’s timing and control. Just for fun, I threw on the $12,999.00 Yamaha NS-3000 Bookshelf Speakers, my favourite bookshelf speaker we have in store and one of the most revealing speakers I’ve heard at any price point. If there is a weakness, the Yamaha’s are going to find it. Not a speaker renowned for its bottom end prowess however I got absolutely thumped in the chest when the kick drum dropped and it was clear just how much headroom the NAD has. The volume kept creeping higher and higher and not once did I ever feel close to the amps ceiling.

NAD doing what NAD do best with the C399. Cramming as many features and as much power and control as possible into an otherwise unassuming design. I have a soft spot for the simple industrial design but it’s not winning any aesthetic awards…but honestly…who cares when an amp at this price ticks so many boxes and sounds this good.

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