Weird question...current NAD amplifiers vs upgraded vintage

Disregarding current NAD Class D technology, I’m specifically discussing Class A/B style NAD amplifiers within their Classic Series.

Technology wise and ultimately sound quality; take an older NAD 208THX or 218THX, perhaps even the 2200/2400/2600/2700 series Monitor amplifiers, upgrade all capacitors with Elna/Nichion, basically high audio quality parts. Clean up the internal wiring, replace out of spec components, perhaps install a “hi-fi” grade IEC connector.

Is there any solid benefit to swapping out this gear with something more current, specifically from within the Bee lineup? Say, fully upgraded 2700 vs 275Bee?

Just studying the boards themselves, the Toroidal Transformers used in the Bee series standout. But is it enough to warrant the price?

I have both Monitor Series NAD amps and Bee Series amps. Unfortunately none of my Bee Series amps have the power output of my Monitor Amps, not even close. So I can’t directly compare them.

I’ve come across two amps, both requiring repair, which I can do. One is a 208THX, which spec wise could power a small house. The other is a 275Bee, which is comparable power wise to my current, fully upgraded 2700.

Just exploring things here.

Opinions?
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Comments

  • Moss_ManMoss_Man Posts: 28
    I don't feel the newer designs are better than the old (90's), but different (IMHO).
    I would pick the 208 or 218 over any of the current Classic line.
  • Alan_rAlan_r Posts: 164
    edited April 18
    Moss_Man wrote: »
    I don't feel the newer designs are better than the old (90's), but different (IMHO).
    I would pick the 208 or 218 over any of the current Classic line.

    Cool I just happened to be on another thread when you posted this.

    That’s exactly where my mind was at. Those older amps, while built fairly cheaply, did sound good to many. By upgrading some of the components to modern, quality parts, I just can’t see how they couldn’t compare.

    Let me add to this, as I said, disregarding NAD newish Class D amplifiers, has amp tech REALLY improved that much when comparing a 208 to a 275? Based on specs and visual inspections I’m inclined to suggest not that much. The power supply is arguably better though in the 275. However the dynamic power output of the 208/218 is staggering. Therefore the power supply of the 208/218 has to be pretty solid at the least.

    I sometimes wonder if manufacturers change things at times simply for the sake of change. On any given day I can find a chorus of people who will say a vintage tube amp is better sounding than anything made today. Being subjective, who can argue? How about vinyl? Lol.

    The upgraded 2700 I’m sitting here listening to, has “revealed” mistakes in recordings that I didn’t know were there. So it’s obviously simply “amplifying” what’s already there. It’s not adding or taking away.

    Is transparency the final word?
  • Moss_ManMoss_Man Posts: 28
    Alan_r wrote: »
    Moss_Man wrote: »
    I don't feel the newer designs are better than the old (90's), but different (IMHO).
    I would pick the 208 or 218 over any of the current Classic line.

    Cool I just happened to be on another thread when you posted this.

    That’s exactly where my mind was at. Those older amps, while build fairly cheaply, did sound good to many. By upgrading some of the components to modern, quality parts, I just can’t see how they couldn’t compare.

    True. The amount of power on the old THX amps is quite scary. Here's a quote from a 1996 review: "The rail switches to 120 volts peak-to-peak during these periods, and the amp can deliver 600 watts rms/ch into 8 Ohms, 750 w rms/ch into 4 Ohms, and 900 w rms/ch into 2 Ohms. The 208 is one of very few MOSFET power amps rated into 2 Ohms." Yikes!
    Full review: https://hometheaterhifi.com/volume_3_2/v3n2h.html
  • Alan_rAlan_r Posts: 164
    Moss_Man wrote: »
    Alan_r wrote: »
    Moss_Man wrote: »
    I don't feel the newer designs are better than the old (90's), but different (IMHO).
    I would pick the 208 or 218 over any of the current Classic line.

    Cool I just happened to be on another thread when you posted this.

    That’s exactly where my mind was at. Those older amps, while build fairly cheaply, did sound good to many. By upgrading some of the components to modern, quality parts, I just can’t see how they couldn’t compare.

    True. The amount of power on the old THX amps is quite scary. Here's a quote from a 1996 review: "The rail switches to 120 volts peak-to-peak during these periods, and the amp can deliver 600 watts rms/ch into 8 Ohms, 750 w rms/ch into 4 Ohms, and 900 w rms/ch into 2 Ohms. The 208 is one of very few MOSFET power amps rated into 2 Ohms." Yikes!
    Full review: https://hometheaterhifi.com/volume_3_2/v3n2h.html

    I’ve read that. That’s some serious power. And I dare to say it’s fairly high quality power too. I have no speakers in my house even rated to handle that kind of power. Those power figures are now found only in their Masters Series. And the dynamic power of those THX amps....well current wise I don’t think the Masters can touch.
  • Moss_ManMoss_Man Posts: 28
    Alan_r wrote: »
    Moss_Man wrote: »
    Alan_r wrote: »
    Moss_Man wrote: »
    I don't feel the newer designs are better than the old (90's), but different (IMHO).
    I would pick the 208 or 218 over any of the current Classic line.

    Cool I just happened to be on another thread when you posted this.

    That’s exactly where my mind was at. Those older amps, while build fairly cheaply, did sound good to many. By upgrading some of the components to modern, quality parts, I just can’t see how they couldn’t compare.

    True. The amount of power on the old THX amps is quite scary. Here's a quote from a 1996 review: "The rail switches to 120 volts peak-to-peak during these periods, and the amp can deliver 600 watts rms/ch into 8 Ohms, 750 w rms/ch into 4 Ohms, and 900 w rms/ch into 2 Ohms. The 208 is one of very few MOSFET power amps rated into 2 Ohms." Yikes!
    Full review: https://hometheaterhifi.com/volume_3_2/v3n2h.html

    I’ve read that. That’s some serious power. And I dare to say it’s fairly high quality power too. I have no speakers in my house even rated to handle that kind of power. Those power figures are now found only in their Masters Series. And the dynamic power of those THX amps....well current wise I don’t think the Masters can touch.

    Yes! I wonder if there are any home speakers out there that they can't power LOL. Looking forward to hearing your impressions!
  • FestYboyFestYboy Posts: 2,988
    I offer, for your perusal:


    And this is the baby of the bunch...
  • Alan_rAlan_r Posts: 164
    Moss_Man wrote: »
    Alan_r wrote: »
    Moss_Man wrote: »
    Alan_r wrote: »
    Moss_Man wrote: »
    I don't feel the newer designs are better than the old (90's), but different (IMHO).
    I would pick the 208 or 218 over any of the current Classic line.

    Cool I just happened to be on another thread when you posted this.

    That’s exactly where my mind was at. Those older amps, while build fairly cheaply, did sound good to many. By upgrading some of the components to modern, quality parts, I just can’t see how they couldn’t compare.

    True. The amount of power on the old THX amps is quite scary. Here's a quote from a 1996 review: "The rail switches to 120 volts peak-to-peak during these periods, and the amp can deliver 600 watts rms/ch into 8 Ohms, 750 w rms/ch into 4 Ohms, and 900 w rms/ch into 2 Ohms. The 208 is one of very few MOSFET power amps rated into 2 Ohms." Yikes!
    Full review: https://hometheaterhifi.com/volume_3_2/v3n2h.html

    I’ve read that. That’s some serious power. And I dare to say it’s fairly high quality power too. I have no speakers in my house even rated to handle that kind of power. Those power figures are now found only in their Masters Series. And the dynamic power of those THX amps....well current wise I don’t think the Masters can touch.

    Yes! I wonder if there are any home speakers out there that they can't power LOL. Looking forward to hearing your impressions!

    Dammit man! Lol Now I’ve got to buy one.
  • Alan_rAlan_r Posts: 164
    FestYboy wrote: »
    I offer, for your perusal:


    And this is the baby of the bunch...

    Exactly. They were definitely on to something with that series.
  • 11tsteve11tsteve Posts: 1,173
    I went older.... both my 1020 pre and my 2150 went to a guy in New Jersey. Completely torn down, boards cleaned and checked for breaks, RCA jacks cleaned and re-soldered... all signal path components replaced. And in the pre, the head phone amp was rebuilt, sounds terrific. The 1020 has paired well with both my old McCormack and my current class A.
    The amp I had the old zip cord removed and an IEC installed, plus added five way jack, in addition to the work on to the signal path. That old dual mono design sounds pretty damn good.
    If you are looking to repair, leesonic over at Audiokarma is the guy I had do the work. Possible he might be able to work on the two you are looking at. Not sure if he just does the super old vintage stuff, but it doesn't hurt to ask.
    Polk Lsi9
    N.E.W. A-20 class A 20W
    NAD 1020 completely refurbished
    Keces DA-131 mk.II
    Analysis Plus Copper Oval, Douglass, Morrow SUB3, Huffman Digital
    Paradigm DSP-3100 v.2
  • Alan_rAlan_r Posts: 164
    edited April 19
    11tsteve wrote: »
    I went older.... both my 1020 pre and my 2150 went to a guy in New Jersey. Completely torn down, boards cleaned and checked for breaks, RCA jacks cleaned and re-soldered... all signal path components replaced. And in the pre, the head phone amp was rebuilt, sounds terrific. The 1020 has paired well with both my old McCormack and my current class A.
    The amp I had the old zip cord removed and an IEC installed, plus added five way jack, in addition to the work on to the signal path. That old dual mono design sounds pretty damn good.
    If you are looking to repair, leesonic over at Audiokarma is the guy I had do the work. Possible he might be able to work on the two you are looking at. Not sure if he just does the super old vintage stuff, but it doesn't hurt to ask.

    I have heard many great things regarding those older 2150 and similar amps. Separate power supply for each amp board etc. Looking through the hood of one is impressive. I’ve never heard one personally but I will for sure one day. As far as the repairs, I do my own work, which makes picking up cheap broken equipment sort of a part time hobby.

    The broken amps I’m referencing here were I believe NADs TOTL amplifiers at the time. The MSRP of the 208THX was quite high considering the date.

    Something else I hadn’t considered, the newer amplifiers all have gold plated inputs and outputs. From visual inspection I’d say a better quality wire was used internally as well. Obviously this can all be upgraded on the older amps. However I do question the cost-time-benefit of this.
  • Tony MTony M Posts: 6,529
    edited April 19
    I Love my Nad amps and receivers. Interesting thread for sure!

    I just bought a 2155 amp and accompanying components at a yard sale a month or so ago. Pretty dirty but cleaned up very nicely. The cassette deck didn't work and the tuner has its common problems with the display. The 1130 pre works perfect like the amp. The NAD-5330 CD player still plays fine and bright display too. I was happy paying 100 for it all.

    :o As to the above amp dyno test video, does having the Right Channel input wires being BACKWARDS, affect the test in any way? :# His red pos. wire is in the black neg. bannana plug and vice-versa. :)
    A common mistake for us older guys for sure.
    Most people just listen to music and watch movies. I EXPERIENCE them.
  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 4,971
    Good catch Tony.
  • Alan_rAlan_r Posts: 164
    Clipdat wrote: »
    Good catch Tony.

    No kidding. Wouldn’t that simply run a speaker out of phase? If both are out of phase....are they? Brain twister but think about it.

    Further research of the original question has led to this:

    The Bee series not only had the Toridal transformers, but started out with higher quality components than the older THX amps. So by upgrading the THX and Monitor amps, that should balance out. The biggest difference between them all is power supply and power management. That seems to be where NAD made the most changes. My take on it is the powers either clean, or it’s not. There’s either enough power, or there isn’t. Maybe that’s too simple? Given the dynamic power available on all those amps (2200-2400-2600-2700 & 208/218), the old supply’s obviously have the horsepower. So let’s talk about how clean it is.

    Toroidal vs transformer?

    I get that a Toroidal supply should run quieter in the 55-65hz range but I’m sure a resistance was designed into the older amps taking that into account. Properly serviced I hear no hum from any of my older amps at any volume.


  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 4,971
    I found this article interesting: https://www.soundstage.com/maxdb/maxdb071998.htm
  • Tony MTony M Posts: 6,529
    edited April 19
    And I thought Toroidal was better.. :s
    Most people just listen to music and watch movies. I EXPERIENCE them.
  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 4,971
    Well, it's just one person's take on it. I think we need a definitive answer.

    @F1nut - which is better, toroidal or EI?
    Tony M wrote: »
    And I thought Toroidal was better.. :s

  • Tony MTony M Posts: 6,529
    edited April 19
    I know. I'm a guy who has a wide vision for life. :p

    Heck, he had a hard time deciding if I read his article right. So I give him props for saying it was almost a toss-up. :)

    I also liked how he said there are cheap transformers of both kinds being made so be careful about any hype.
    Most people just listen to music and watch movies. I EXPERIENCE them.
  • Alan_rAlan_r Posts: 164
    That’s exactly why I started a thread about it.

    In 1995, a particular amp was praised very highly with the added, infinite, “for the money” thrown in for good measure. So does that make the amp released in 1996 (made up dates- just making a point) by the same manufacturer so much “better” that the 1995 is trash...”didn’t know what we were missing..”

    I’m not so sure. Is class A amplifier design so much “improved” between 1990 and 2005? I don’t know. In many fields, RC race cars, automobiles, cell phones.....night and day in those 15 years.

    Being that I can’t compare directly any high power amps because all my high power amps are old, all I can do is compare the C326Bee to one of my C740’s. 50w vs 35w. The difference is NOT night and day. More like 0600 vs 0610. Yeah the suns a little higher but the light is about the same.
  • Tony MTony M Posts: 6,529
    edited April 19
    I'm really happy with my c370. Plenty of power for my SDA-SRS2's too.

    By the looks of this ad which only lasted 10 days to sell 2 of them, they must be good. I know you like NAD as much as I do and you probably know all about these c370's by now. My matching tuner has that rolling display that shows artist, song and station repeatedly. I love it.

    I would like to try 2 of them in mono mode too. Maybe one day...

    http://www.usaudiomart.com/details/649318126-nad-c370-integrated-amplifier/
    Most people just listen to music and watch movies. I EXPERIENCE them.
  • audioluvraudioluvr Posts: 497
    Clipdat wrote: »
    I found this article interesting: https://www.soundstage.com/maxdb/maxdb071998.htm

    Opinions are like... Well everyone has one. (Thanks Dave for the proverb).
    Home System:
    SDA 1C's - Full mod with the help by Dave...
    B&K Reference 50 Pre
    B&K M200 Sonata Monoblocks
    Cambridge Audio DVD 99
    Sangean HD FM Tuner

    Barn system:
    SDA SRS 2.3's Full mod done by myself
    Carver C-1 pre
    Carver M1.5t
  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 19,590
    audioluvr wrote: »
    Clipdat wrote: »
    I found this article interesting: https://www.soundstage.com/maxdb/maxdb071998.htm

    Opinions are like... Well everyone has one. (Thanks Dave for the proverb).

    Livers?
    Pancreases?
    Anterior Pituitary Glands?
    Hypothalamuses?

    ;)


  • Alan_rAlan_r Posts: 164
    mhardy6647 wrote: »
    audioluvr wrote: »
    Clipdat wrote: »
    I found this article interesting: https://www.soundstage.com/maxdb/maxdb071998.htm

    Opinions are like... Well everyone has one. (Thanks Dave for the proverb).

    Livers?
    Pancreases?
    Anterior Pituitary Glands?
    Hypothalamuses?

    ;)


    Breaking points.
  • Alan_rAlan_r Posts: 164
    Tony M wrote: »
    I'm really happy with my c370. Plenty of power for my SDA-SRS2's too.

    By the looks of this ad which only lasted 10 days to sell 2 of them, they must be good. I know you like NAD as much as I do and you probably know all about these c370's by now. My matching tuner has that rolling display that shows artist, song and station repeatedly. I love it.

    I would like to try 2 of them in mono mode too. Maybe one day...

    http://www.usaudiomart.com/details/649318126-nad-c370-integrated-amplifier/

    I do like the post Monitor, Pre Bee era. There does seem to be a disconnect between the Monitor and Bee for some reason. Review wise, which I think we all agree are like fingers and stuff, the love drops a little during those years but comes back in the Bee era. I don’t know why at all. I spent some time with a C372 and I think....don’t quote me here.....a set of older JBL’s. I wasn’t there for the stereo system but trying to pry the memory vault open doesn’t reveal anything particularly bad. Used pricing on that initial “C” gear is pretty outstanding.
  • LoStringsLoStrings Posts: 13
    I have been using NAD for years. I purchased a NAD 1155 preamp, and two NAD 2200's brand new, and have never looked back. I have never had any issues, and their performance is clearly amazing. I never have used them with my SRS SDA's, because I use the 2200's bridged, and I don't want to take a chance of any common ground problems. Lately, i've gotten the tube bug, and have moved away from my solid state gear, but like anything audio, i'll be switching back and forth as time goes on. The NAD's will always be with me.
  • Tony MTony M Posts: 6,529
    ^^^^^^WOW.

    ONE and DONE... B)

    2- 2200's bridged with a matching NAD Pre. :p

    That's quite the POWER system isn't it?

    And no issues either. Quality builds.

    NICE!

    Most people just listen to music and watch movies. I EXPERIENCE them.
  • Tony MTony M Posts: 6,529
    edited April 20
    Alan_r wrote: »
    Tony M wrote: »
    I'm really happy with my c370. Plenty of power for my SDA-SRS2's too.

    By the looks of this ad which only lasted 10 days to sell 2 of them, they must be good. I know you like NAD as much as I do and you probably know all about these c370's by now. My matching tuner has that rolling display that shows artist, song and station repeatedly. I love it.

    I would like to try 2 of them in mono mode too. Maybe one day...

    http://www.usaudiomart.com/details/649318126-nad-c370-integrated-amplifier/

    I do like the post Monitor, Pre Bee era. There does seem to be a disconnect between the Monitor and Bee for some reason. Review wise, which I think we all agree are like fingers and stuff, the love drops a little during those years but comes back in the Bee era. I don’t know why at all. I spent some time with a C372 and I think....don’t quote me here.....a set of older JBL’s. I wasn’t there for the stereo system but trying to pry the memory vault open doesn’t reveal anything particularly bad. Used pricing on that initial “C” gear is pretty outstanding.

    I think people are finding out that these older amps are still going strong like the older silver face pioneers and such.

    Since NAD stepped up their advertising with that BEE line and their new 2030D little amp, they have probably started a movement to get older cheaper models. But now since their design change a few years ago, prices have gone up a lot it seems.

    To get my NAD Integrated now would cost around 1k in their new line-up. Then there is their new Master Series, which has to be OUTSTANDING build and sound wise, is quite expensive to my wallet.

    I believe a member here just bought a new Master Series NAD component. :p

    Yamaha, NAD and Luxman have brought out some FINE models lately for sure.

    This reminds me of those late 80's years when Companies got down to designing better and better models to compete against one another.

    I say, "Let the competition begin again". B)
    Most people just listen to music and watch movies. I EXPERIENCE them.
  • Alan_rAlan_r Posts: 164
    Running a current currency calculator to compare what things cost back in the 90’s, in today’s money a NAD 2700 THX would cost $1608.93. I’d say that’s comparable to a new C375Bee...which isn’t THX Cert. if that even matters.

    The issue I have with the Masters line is they are “too” integrated for what I’m looking for. I don’t yet want an all digital, integrated DAC?, preamp. If I’m going to run separates, I want a Pre that only controls things and passes the signal on, as unadulterated as possible.

    I’ve read some other forums where there are people claiming that the Bee Series is and I quote “vastly improved”. Still trying to understand how.
  • Moss_ManMoss_Man Posts: 28
    edited April 25
    Great vids on NAD amps.
    The BEE from what I remember use a slightly different design compared to the previous similar models. One thing I noticed is that when the BEE stuff came out, prices went way up. In early 2000's, you would pay $1400 CDN for a C160/C270 combo. Now with the new series, it's double the price for a similar pre and amp. I highly doubt anybody would say the performance increased by 2x if they were to compare them head on. To my ears, different generation NADs just sound more different than better.
  • Alan_rAlan_r Posts: 164
    Moss_Man wrote: »
    Great vids on NAD amps.
    The BEE from what I remember use a slightly different design compared to the previous similar models. One thing I noticed is that when the BEE stuff came out, prices went way up. In early 2000's, you would pay $1400 CDN for a C160/C270 combo. Now with the new series, it's double the price for a similar pre and amp. I highly doubt anybody would say the performance increased by 2x if they were to compare them head on. To my ears, different generation NADs just sound more different than better.

    This is exactly the point of this thread. I haven’t been able to justify the cost difference sound quality wise. But I have no experience with the TOTL Bee amps, only the mid power and low power amps. There are times that my C326Bee presents an ever so slight perception of “3D” sound, but that could simply be a result of:

    A- The PSB speakers it’s powering.
    B- The room acoustics of that system.
    C- Those PSB’s are mounted to very secure wall brackets bolted through the drywall into studs.

    My primary system, which is NAD 2700THX powered, in my opinion is being limited by the speakers at this point. By circumstance alone, that system is running Polk RTiA3’s on weighted stands with PSW505’s positioned just outside of them on both sides. It took me some time to get the crossovers set just right but the soundstage is very, very good to my ears. I’ve had people tell me that my Polk HTS5000 soundbar is the best soundbar they’ve ever heard; not realizing that it’s turned off and what they’re hearing is the bookshelves and subs. The stage exists within the roughly 2 meter space between the speakers. The speakers are almost entirely transparent and with your eyes closed, it’s very difficult to pinpoint where they even are. It’s my personal opinion that this is the best these RTiA3’s can sound in this room. All cabling was chosen to reduce brightness, which is apparently a trait within the RTIA series.

    The next logical step with this system is the LSiM line. However I’m currently torn between LSiM703’s and a pair of smaller SVS sealed subs covering about 80HZ and down or LSiM705’s and larger SVS Sealed subs covering only about 25Hz and down. Not sure which way I’m going to go. Subs and bookshelves are very versatile and given my uncertain future, may be a better choice; able to adopt to various locations/rooms better.
  • Alan_rAlan_r Posts: 164
    Can’t believe I missed this somehow, but the C370 and similar line have Toroidal power supplies just like the Bee series. So what did they improve?
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