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HK-3480 or NAD C352

 

New member
Username: Stinkpot

Post Number: 2
Registered: Mar-05
Hi all,

Like many people on these boards, I am trying to figure out which amp to purchase. Unfortunately, I don't think I have the time / resources to look for audio stores willing to lend me amps.

So, I've just about narrowed my choices down to the HK-3480 and the NAD C352. I can get the HK for about $200 refurb and the NAD for maybe $450 refurb. I'm a student and funds are a little tight. I have a set of Athena AS-F2's for my mains and a Velodyne VA1012XII sub.

Does anyone have experience with these two amps? Is the NAD worth the extra $200-$300?

Thanks!
 

Bronze Member
Username: Wolfson

Post Number: 16
Registered: Jan-05
Hi Lance,

I own the C352 myself and enjoy it immensely. Very open and transparent with no glare or harshness. The bass is tight and full and goes deep when asked to.

I think if you where to crack open both units you would see a much higher stand of build with higher quality parts with the NAD in comparison to the HK.

However the HK has a tuner which is a bonus and the HK is cheaper and has a capable but not great amp section.

If you dont use the tuner and want a much better amplifier that can deal with difficult speaker loads then go for the NAD. YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPOINTED. If you cant go the extra money just get the 320BEE. Dont let the 50w rating fool you. This is a very stout amp.

Wolf
 

Silver Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 118
Registered: Feb-05
No competition, the NAD outperforms the HK in every conceivable way.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Unbridled_id

ChicagoUsa

Post Number: 69
Registered: Mar-04
I had a similar comparision, a denon dra-685 stereo receiver compared to a nad c272 and a passive pre. The nad+passive offer much more bass, and clarity. The nad is warmer, where the denon was thin and bright.
 

Thasp
Unregistered guest
Driven within their limits, they'll sound the same. Don't worry about it, and the thin and bright crap you'll hear about any well designed amp from placabo based judgements.

http://anonym.to/?http://www.touristfilms.com/images/Amp_Sound.pdf
 

Silver Member
Username: Sun_king

Leeds, West Yorkshire UK

Post Number: 269
Registered: Mar-04
I disagree strongly "Thasp"! Just about every amp I hear sounds different! Maybe you just aren't discerning enough or play tuneless, tinny music that sounds **** on ANY hifi.
 

nout
Unregistered guest
I am a sceptic myself, I do not believe in cables and stuff, nor do I believe in night and day differences between amps (in the same pricerange that is)
Maybe no one will ever be able to present real scientific evidence about differences in performance between amps, but I, for sure, can hear differences between amps...and frankly I don't give a damn if it turned out to be my own imagination...it's real enough for me anyway.
 

Gold Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 1140
Registered: Feb-05
I don't believe in "night an day" differences in amps like a fairy tale. I've heard "night and day differences". The worst audiophiles are scientists and engineers who won't trust their ears. nout is right and so are countless other audio folk who are smart enough to understand that theoretically there should be no difference but empirically there is. The NAD over the HK.
 

bumblebee
Unregistered guest
"The worst audiophiles are scientists and engineers who won't trust their ears. nout is right and so are countless other audio folk who are smart enough to understand that theoretically there should be no difference but empirically there is"

You expect them to do trial and error when designing and manufacturing your favorite amp? By your logic, I gather that all c352's THEORETICALLY should sound the same but somehow they won't?
 

Gold Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 1141
Registered: Feb-05
If that's what you think I said then have at it. I won't get into these petty arguments that have plagued this forum for some time now. I used to, but life's too short.
 

bumblebee
Unregistered guest
Just clarifying, Art. It is my understanding that the goal of hifi is to play a recording as accurately as possible. 100%. What goes in, goes out. No more, no less. If Amp A reached this goal and Amp B did too, aren't they supposed to sound the same?

Pls don't get me wrong. I use my ears to pick what I like. But I also know I may be hearing something I shouldn't and also may not be hearing those things that I should.
 

Gold Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 1143
Registered: Feb-05
It is what the amp does to what goes in that is the difference in what goes out, and all amps do something to what goes in. What each amp design does to the signal is precisely what makes each amp design sound different. So what I am saying is that no amp reaches that 100% goal that you mentioned. Every amp colors the signal somewhat and it is that coloration that represents the differences in sound between amps.
 

Silver Member
Username: T_bomb25

Dayton, Ohio United States

Post Number: 344
Registered: Jun-05
You sure about this Art,me personally I have always held the preamp the main focus right there.
 

Silver Member
Username: Sun_king

Leeds, West Yorkshire UK

Post Number: 270
Registered: Mar-04
I think Art is talking about integrated amps. You're right though, power amps generally do quite well in not colouring the sound.
 

Gold Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 1185
Registered: Feb-05
All links are important. My Hafler power amp sounds completely different than my Rotel did. No other differences but the amps, big difference in sound. Each piece is important. Every piece of gear colors the original source somewhat. The question is; what color do you like?
 

Alfonso Reyes
Unregistered guest
HEY ALL DONT YOU KNOW ONLY GRAY COLORED AMPS ROCK THE BEST? THATS WHY I AM A BIG NAD MAN, THEY KNOW TO MAKE THEIR AMPS THE RIGHT COLOR WHICH DOES AMAZING THINGS TO SOUNDSTAGING AND TOTALLY EXTRUDES THE PRESCOPIC TREBLE WHILE SCINTILLATING THE DEEP BASS.

BOOM CHUCKA BOOM CHUCKA CHUCKA BOOM BOOM CHUCKA BOOM!
 

nout
Unregistered guest
WHAT??? I CAN'T HEAR YOU...WHAT ARE YOU SAYING?

BOOM CHUCKA BOOM? IS WILL SMITH WITH YOU?
 

Silver Member
Username: Unbridled_id

ChicagoUsa

Post Number: 113
Registered: Mar-04
Alfonsos brain has just left the building...
 

Thasp
Unregistered guest
I find it funny that how in spite of the fact that science and engineering is what created solid state amps that aren't horribly distorted, speakers that sounded better than transistor radios, the fundamentals of these things are what is most ignored by self proclaimed audiophiles.

Yeah, while a 40 watt amp and a 600 watt amp will sound different when driving inefficient speakers to earbleeding levels, well designed amps being driven within their limits always sound completely different until the brand names are removed and people don't know what they're listening to - in which case, the bullshit fades away.

It's hard to believe since there are so many high priced amps, so many amps advertizing better sound for better value, etc.. and the general law that goes for so many other things that when you pay more, you get more. It just doesn't work that way in audio, and science has proved this again and again. It makes perfect sense that believers in the whole "every amp sounds completely different camp so I can justify spending tons of money on many different amps to create a collection" refuse to take blind tests since it'd only prove the theory right.

People like to think that paying $500 for a 40 watt amp will, while getting them less power, will get them much better sound than a well designed $400 amp that is rated for 150 wpc. Natrually, you'd have to justify the tradeoff.. but there isn't any real justification for it.

Amps are different in their distortion specs, stereo seperation, damping factor, power, etc.. but two things you must ask yourself are

a) Can these factors all be measured? yes

b) At what point are the differences audible?

c) Does the product I want fit the minimum that B specifies where I won't hear too much of a difference in my setup, with my speaker load, at these volume levels in this room?

There are no such things as golden ears either. There is a hearing threshold: human ears aren't as godly as many stereophile reviewers would like us to believe. However, our mind's power to bias what we hear is pretty powerful, and people's power to deceive themself into thinking there is an audible difference is also very powerful, even when they don't want to hear any difference.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Fontboy

Post Number: 12
Registered: Jul-05
Thasp, I was going down the road to the NAD camp when I happened upon your post & link above to the old Stereo Review article. That article seems to be the only thing approaching something scientific regarding this topic that I have found on this forum anywhere.

Now, I haven't been weaned off the cult of NAD just completely yet -- after all hearing and the perception of "quality sound" are highly subjective, so I'm performing my own blind testing on a NAD c352 vs. a Sony STR-DE697 -- it's on another thread in the receivers section with the unfortunately incorrect title "Onkyo TX-8511 versus Harman Kardon HK 3480" -- https://www.ecoustics.com/electronics/forum/home-audio/148461.html

I chose the NAD c352 because it seems to be one of the darling children of this amp forum and the Sony STR-DE697 because I got it hella cheap as an open buy from the local Best Buy. Sound & Vision Mag reviewed the STR-DE698 recently; it's practically the same as the STR-DE697 --
http://www.soundandvisionmag.com/article.asp?&section_id=3&article_id=848&page_n umber=2
 

Thasp
Unregistered guest
Don't be weened off the cult of NAD so fast.

I got a HK3480 a few days ago refurbished. It arrived with dead remote batteries and was defective. I've read about this happening a lot with their refurbs. NAD probably has better QA/QC, which comes from.. well, paying more.

Also, the 0.2% distortion spec @ 4 ohms on the HK reveals that it might not be so great into 4 ohm loads.

There probably won't be any audible difference(be sure to match volume levels - this is imperative, even 1 dB when listening critically can make everything sound fuller, etc), but there are differences in their quality. NAD makes good stuff at decent prices. I was referring to companies like bryston, krell, etc in my post. Companies who will charge $2500 for an integrated amplifier that cost less than $500 to manufacture.
 

Silver Member
Username: Stu_pitt

NYC, NY

Post Number: 296
Registered: May-05
Thasp -


I liked the article you linked to earlier. Was I the only one who read it? I do have one or two criticisms though. The per-amp they used was a tube design. These have distortion (reverb) built into them. This could have thrown off the results somewhat. I think the study would have been a lot better if they used a passive pre-amp.

Here is a good rebuttal. It's written one of the head engineers for McIntosh. McIntosh is one of the few no no-none sense audio companies left (along with Bryston). It helps weed out the truth and BS - http://www.roger-russell.com/truth/truth.htm

I just came across it yesterday. Someone else had it posted while trying to dispell the speaker cable lies. His main page has a few more things on it.

I sit somewhere in between the sceptic and true believer, but a lot closer to the sceptic than the believer. I think a lot of the differences between comparable levels of stuff is really splitting hairs.
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