My NAD C160/C270 review....

organorgan Posts: 5,022
edited March 2003 in 2 Channel Audio
I was planning on getting this combo in late spring but after doing very good in school with 100% on AC circuits, I decided to take out the credit card and get myself the new toys.

This NAD seperates is pretty much their C370 integrated amp in seperate boxes. I didn't go for the C370 because of the benefits of seperating the pre from the amp and both units contain their own transformer.

C160: This is the 2ch pre. This pre has a total of 7 inputs including MM and MC for vinyl fans. Another feature is an extra pre-out with an adjustable 0 to -12db knob which can be very useful for bi-amping with different types of amps(different amps have different gain). The adjustable pre-out is currently sending the signals to my PSW650 and the main pre-out to the C270. My second fav feature on the pre is the "tone defeat" button which bypasses the bass and treble adjustment.

C270: This is the 2ch amp optimized for the C160. The C270 is one hell of an amp. It's quite large for a 2ch amp and with it's large heat sinks aroud the sides. Ths amp runs cooler than the pre even during loud listening sessions.
It supplies 120watts per channel into 8/4 ohm loads(more on this later). Like the pre amp, this amp has 2 inputs where on is adjustable from 0 to -12db. It has soft clipping switch which prevents the amp from sending nasty distorted signals to the speakers if driven too hard. Anoter feature is brdging which sends 300watts into an 8ohm load as a mono block.
Now, about the power rating. This amp features NAD's ISC (Impedance Sensing Circuitry). The amp will sense the impedance of the speakers connected to it along the 20-20k range and adjusts it's power supply to provide optimal power output for the given speakers hooked up to it. This is why it's 8 and 4ohm rating is the same @ 120w/channel. This is a great invention because the amp will not waste any power and have plenty of reserves for loud peaks. Without the ISC, the amp would be putting out around 240 watts @ 4 ohms. I really like the ISC becuse I'm using it to feed the power hungry LSi9. Accordin to NAD and many professional reviews, this amp can power virtually any speaer, even those that have very low impedance dips.
The power rating goes all the way down to 1ohm for dynamic power where it can push a little over 1000 watts for dynamic bursts @ 1 ohm. Very impressie, but how does it sound?

I began hooking everything up as soon as I got home. The source is a NAD C541 single disc CD player. A pair of XLO/Pro100 interconnect is connected to the pre from the CD player. I also picked up a pair of Monster Cable's Interlink Reference 2 for the amp.
As soon as everything was hooked up, I inserted Kamelot's "The Fourth Legacy" into the CD player and began listening.
The first thing I noticed was it's effortless presentation and powerful bass and dynamics. I heard so much little details that I was missing from the previous Onkyo receiver powering the speakers. The soundstage increased dramatically with much better depth and front to back imaging. There are times when I hear things just a few feet in front of me in front of the soundstage and sometimes I hear things that sounds like it's 10ft behind the front wall. The sound is now liquid smooth with every little details sprinkled on top. Vocals just soar out of the LSi.
After about 15 minutes of listening, I began to notice how everything in the music just comes together so well(PRaT). With the Onkyo, the bass was lagging at times and sounded sloppy and slow in comparison. Now I was able to fully concenrate on the music without missing a beat.
Next up was Cradle of Filth's "Cruelty and the Beast" which is one of my reference CD. I couldn't believe the improvement I got. With my eyes closed, it actually felt like I was inside the studio with the band. I was able to localize the walls where some of the sond would bounce off. I was able to visualize the size of the room and pinpoint where every musician was standing.
After Cradle of Filth, I put on some Opera music and again I was blown away. The thing I relly enjoy about Opera music is it's realistic dynamics. The amp can sound very lovely and sweet during the quiet passages, but as soon as things get loud, the get LOUD, scaring the crap out of me a few times. The powerful voices of the sopranos was reproduced effortlessly from a whisper to a scream. Even during loud passages, the amp sounds like it still has a lot more to give.
This combination is excellent and I'm very happy with the purchase. I have to say that this is the best upgrade I've ever done. I am now loyal to NAD. I think they offer the best performance for the price. I will pick up another C270 this summer and bi-amp my LSi9.

If any of you are planning on going seperates, seriously consider giving NAD a listen. They go so well with the LSi. So far the amp sounds fantastic with everything from black metal to opera.

Now I'd like to thank you patient people for reading my long review. I hope it was able to help some of you who are thinking on getting into 2ch seperates.

CD Player: Original CD-A8T
Receiver: Harman/Kardon HK3390
Speakers: Polk Audio RT1000p
"I would rather have a cup of tone than an ocean of power" **Dr. Harvey Rosenberg**
Post edited by organ on


  • pjdamipjdami Posts: 1,898
    edited March 2003

    Nice review. I also own the C270 amp and absolutely love it on my Studio 40s.

    I have been experiencing "upgraditis" lately also. I ordered some LSi 9's on Monday and should have them early next week. Finally, I get to do a Studio 40 vs. LSi 9 shootout in my own living room. The winner of the contest will stay in the living room of course and be surrounding with the timbre matching associates from that particular line. The loser will go to the home office where I have been wanting to upgrade some old Infinity bookshelves that I have had for a while.

    Currently, I use my Yammer as a pre/pro for the NAD amp for two channel music. I use the Yammer for my center and surrounds and the NAD for my mains in home theater use.

    I'm interested in knowing how you are running your rig. I also have thought about getting the C160 for a true separates source for two channel to my mains but wondered how I would use my receiver to run my mains for home theater. I believe there is a "switcher" that one can purchase (Niles Audio??) that allows one to connect more than one amplifier to a single pair of mains for just this reason. Are you doing something like this??? If so what type of "switcher" do you use and does it affect sound quality any.

  • organorgan Posts: 5,022
    edited March 2003

    I don't have surround sound at the moment. My Onkyo is unplugged and I don't know when she'll be running again.
    I also have the same problem as you. Now that I've got my 2ch system completed, I'm a little unsure of how I can get 5.1 sound. The only logical thing I see is to use a Y cable(1 male and 2 female) at the amp's input. The salesman said this should be OK as long as only one source is running while the amp is on. This is what I will most likely do. Another way is to use the variable input on your NAD. The only problem I see with that set up is having to get up and flip the switch behind the amp everytime you're changing from 2ch to multi ch and vice versa.
    If you're thinking about using the Y splitter, take a look at the one made by monster(forgot the model#). It's a solid piece with two females @ 90 degree angles(no cables at all).

    I'm sure you will enjoy your LSi9. Making them go head to head with the studio's should be a lot of fun. Just remember, the LSi need a long break-in period. Mine took at least 3 weeks to really smooth out. They're still great sounding righ out of the box. Remember to play around with placement as well, they're very picky.

    Make sure to let us know what you think of the LSi9 when you get them. And I wanna know what you think of the LSi/C270 combo as well. I think it's a match made in heaven.

    CD Player: Original CD-A8T
    Receiver: Harman/Kardon HK3390
    Speakers: Polk Audio RT1000p
    "I would rather have a cup of tone than an ocean of power" **Dr. Harvey Rosenberg**
  • pjdamipjdami Posts: 1,898
    edited March 2003

    Thanks for the info. I may start another thread in "hookup and setup" for this topic of using seperates for two channel music and amps/receiver for home theater using the same main speakers. Someone has to be doing it without having to go the mulit-channel big amp with the multi-channel pre/pro.


    I have heard about the LSi's for a long time now. I have never had an opportunity to listen to them though. I live 20 minutes outside of New Orleans but the closest dealer is like 100 miles away. I have an analogy of these LSi speakers being like the fabled city of Atlantis. Word of mouth was that this was a beautiful place but no one could ever find it. I agree with you and others on that other thread about Polk having to promote the marketing of these speakers.

    With my upgraditis (coming from RT35i's as mains), I wanted to upgrade the mains, center, and surrounds. I found the Studios used in mint condition 1/2 off retail price and couldn't pass it up. I want to do a very fair comparison between the two and will allow for ample break in time. I'm glad to hear Maurice is enjoying the NAD / LSi 9 combo. I'm hoping that the Vifa tweeter is a little more laid back than the tweeter on the Studio which can get a little "hot" at higher volumes but not as "hot" as the tweets in the RT line.

    I'll keep everybody posted.

  • Tour2maTour2ma Old School Posts: 10,176
    edited March 2003

    Wonderful review with style and info. Thought I'd pulled out an old copy of Stereophile there for a bit.. :)

    NAD's a brand I longed for many years ago, but never acquired. Good to know they're still doing well these days. Don't see too much about them in the Club.
    More later,
    Vox Copuli
    Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. - Old English Proverb

    "It's easy to get lost in price vs performance vs ego vs illusion." - doro
    "There is a certain entertainment value in ripping the occaisonal (sic) buttmunch..." - TroyD
    "Death doesn't come with a Uhaul." - Dennis Gardner
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