NAD Electronics says that its new C 399 Hybrid Digital DAC Amplifier is the “clearest expression yet” of its commitment to sonic excellence and lasting value. Employing NAD’s HybridDigital nCore amplification, which until now has been available only on Masters Series amplifiers, the C 399 is the new flagship integrated amplifier in NAD’s Classic Series.
The C 399’s digital section is built around a 32-bit/384kHz ESS Sabre DAC, which is the same chip used in NAD’s M10 and M33 Masters Series amplifiers. The suggested retail price of the C 399 is $1999 USD with retail availability in time for the holiday season.
C 399 Modular Design Construction
The C 399 also the first amplifier to incorporate the latest generation of NAD’s Modular Design Construction (MDC) technology: MDC2. MDC2 lets users add optional modules that provide functions such as BluOS Hi-Res multi-room music streaming, Dirac Live room correction and more.
“As with every NAD amplifier, the C 399 gets the basics right: a precise volume control with accurate channel balance, low-noise circuits, and correct input and output impedances,” said Cas Oostvogel, NAD Electronics’ product manager.
“The C 399 with its HybridDigital nCore output stage and high-resolution ESS Sabre DAC can reproduce all your digital and analogue sources to a level of excitement and refinement that is unprecedented in its class,” Oostvogel added. “Ever since the launch of the legendary 3020 integrated amplifier in 1978, the NAD brand has been synonymous with value and performance. The C 399 takes that reputation to a whole new level. Thanks to NAD’s innovative new MDC2 architecture, the C 399 can serve as the hub of a world-class music system today, and for many years to come.”
Delivering Pure Power
Trickled down from NAD’s Masters Series, the C 399’s HybridDigital nCore amplifier is highly efficient and remarkably powerful. It can deliver 180 Watts per channel continuous power, and 250 Watts per channel instantaneous power, allowing the C 399 to produce musical transients effortlessly.
The HybridDigital nCore design offers wide bandwidth, flat frequency response, clean clipping behavior with instant recovery, high current capability, and stability into demanding low-impedance speaker loads. Noise and distortion are low under all operating conditions. The minute levels of harmonic distortion are dominated by sonically benign second and third harmonics, according to the company. These refinements enable the C 399 to produce neutral, distortion-free sound even at very high listening levels, with thrilling dynamics, exquisite detail, and superb portrayal of space.
ESS Sabre ES9028 DAC
Also trickled down from the Masters Series is the ESS Sabre ES9028 high-resolution DAC, a design noted for its wide dynamic range, ultra-low noise and distortion, and near-zero levels of clock jitter. This premium DAC enables the C 399 to reproduce all of one’s digital sources with amazing musicality, a precise soundstage, and stunning clarity.
Future Perfect C 399
In 2006, NAD introduced Modular Design Construction (MDC), an innovative architecture for adding new functions to existing components. Many NAD products have rear-panel slots for MDC modules that perform UHD (4K) support, HDMI switching, BluOS multi-room music streaming, Dolby Atmos surround processing, and other functions.
The C 399 is the first product to feature NAD’s new MDC2 architecture. By enabling two-way communications between the module and component, MDC2 allows for adding desirable features.
Optional MDC2 BluOS-D module
Equipped with Wi-Fi and Ethernet, the optional MDC2 BluOS-D module lets listeners play music from their favorite streaming services through the C 399, using the acclaimed BluOS Controller app for Android, iOS, macOS, and Windows. Like all BluOS Enabled products, the MDC2 BluOS-D has integrated support for dozens of streaming services; and supports Apple AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, and Tidal Connect. Two-way communications also enable the MDC2 BluOS-D to stream music from local sources connected to the C 399 to BluOS Enabled components in other rooms.
The Dirac Live function lets you measure your room’s acoustics using a supplied microphone and intuitive app, and then upload correction curves to the MDC2 BluOS-D. By compensating for acoustic anomalies in your listening environment, Dirac Live dramatically improves bass clarity, imaging, and timbral accuracy. Thanks to its two-way architecture, the MDC2 BluOS-D performs Dirac Live room correction for all sources connected to your C 399.
The C 399 has two optical and two coaxial digital inputs, plus an HDMI-eARC port for playing audio from a connected TV, while controlling amplifier output with the TV’s remote control. Analog fans are well served with two pairs of RCA line-level inputs, plus a MM phono stage with ultra-precise RIAA equalization, extremely low noise, and high overload margins. The phono preamp also features an innovative circuit that suppresses the infrasonic noise present on all LPs, without compromising bass response. The line inputs have low-noise buffer amplifiers to prevent sonic degradation.
In addition to two sets of speaker outputs, the C 399 has preamp output jacks and dual subwoofer outputs. Two-way aptX HD Bluetooth allows 24-bit streaming from mobile devices, and high-quality output to Bluetooth headphones. Also built-in is a dedicated headphone amplifier with low output impedance and high output voltage capability, enabling the C 399 to drive demanding high-impedance studio monitor headphones.
Key Features of the NAD C 399 HybridDigital DAC Amplifier
- Hybrid Digital nCore Amplifier
- Continuous Power: 180 Watts per channel into 8/4 ohms
- Instantaneous Power: 250 Watts per channel
- Vanishingly low harmonic and intermodulation distortion
- Dual MDC2 Slots for expanded functionality
- Optional MDC2 BluOS-D module adds BluOS multi-room 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 low-noise buffer amplifiers
- Speaker A/Speaker B outputs
- Two-way aptX HD Bluetooth
- Dual subwoofer outputs
- Dedicated headphone amplifier
- IR remote
- 12V Trigger in/out
- IR in/out
- RS-232 Serial port for control integration with home automation systems
- Seamless integration with Control4, Crestron, RTI, URC, Lutron, iPort, Elan, PUSH, and KNX smart home control systems