Newbie compares Rotel RA-02, NAD C320BEE & Arcam A80


New member
Username: N_a_c

Post Number: 1
Registered: Feb-05
I spent a couple hours today at Audio Nexus in Summit NJ. I had read good things about the store online, and Gerry was as described -- very knowledgeable, helpful and friendly. I auditioned a NAD C320BEE, Rotel RA-02, and Arcam A-80. I sampled primarily Gaia from the James Taylor Hourglass Album. The listened through the lovely Quad 11L speakers, and used a Rotel CD player for the Arcam and Rotel, and the NAD C542 for the NAD amp.

This was my first audition since becoming an audiophile internet junky... meaning that I spend a lot of time reading about equipment, and no time actually listening to it. My home system currently is a JVC receiver (not worth looking up the model number) and Wharfedale Diamond 8.1 speakers. The Wharfedale speakers opened up my ears after using a couple Cerwin Vegas for over 10 years.

I first heart the Rotel. It sounded great. I was happy with the sound, and couldn't pick out any flaws. Even after reading so much, I was skeptical that a different amp would make much of a difference. Gerry connected the NAD. WHOA! The difference was immediate and almost overwhelming to me. I was giddy to be hearing and understanding the different sound qualities that I'd only read about. Gerry helped me put the differences into words. The NAD has so much more bass, and a much warmer feel. After switching back and forth, I found that I craved the detail in the Rotel, but didn't want to give up the low end in the NAD. If I had to chose today though, I'd definitely go with the NAD.

Gerry recommended the Arcam A-65+, which retails for 600, however they didn't have one in the showroom for me to listen to. So he brought over an Arcam A-80. I was running out of time, and couldn't get a good feel for the strengths or weaknesses of the Arcam. Perhaps that is a positive in itself -- I just heard the music without as much coloration. However at $1200 it is triple the NAD and 2.5 times the Rotel, so it better sound better.

Next time, I hope to spend more time with the NAD C320BEE and compare it directly to the Arcam A65+ and perhaps the NAD C352.

Bronze Member
Username: Ca_convert


Post Number: 91
Registered: Jan-05

The NAD C352 is a more balanced sound than the 320, you will probably find it closer to the detail of the Rotel, but whilst (in fact adding) retaining that bottom end slam. You want to try auditioning the system through some better balaned spakers (the 11L's are not as goos as the press make out, the 12L are much better with a deeper bass). Try out spakers from Dynaudio 42, B&W 602, Epos M5.
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