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NAD L53 - the worst sounding NAD receiver ever

 

Gvenk
Unregistered guest
This is not for unreliabilty reasons as NADs have been plagued with but rather sound quality. This is undoubtably the worst sounding NAD component I have ever heard. Some of the negative reviews of the Panny XR-55 seem to suggest that one should do an A-B of these two units and see which one is worse. On the other hand, this receiver might actually sound good to those that like the Panny since it has a very annoyingly bright mid and treble that teenagers seem to love in very loud dives.

I have to confess that I gave this unit a lot more time than justified because of the name and part denial and even posted a few good reviews after a first quick look. Now that I have had this for over 6 months, I have eliminated all reasons other than the fact that this receiver sucks in sound quality for music or H/T use (this is a 2-ch with simulated surround that can be turned off, I bought this because it was taking so long for them to release the multi-channel L72 and I liked the integrated DVD/receiver concept for space reasons).

Mating this with Maggie MMGs (an ideal pairing from a space/aesthetics point of view for small spaces) is a complete and utter disaster with the mids and treble being so bright and annoying as to induce listener fatigue to anyone before a movie ends. I have indeed currently turned down the treble on this unit to make it even bearable. Please do not put this system in a bedroom (a common application of this unit) to use before sleeping because it is not inducive to good sleep.

This unit has bare minimum features and that could have been justified by a good sound quality. But since that is not the case, the wheezing and coughing DVD drive, the quirky controls and the bare minimum power makes it a disgrace and a sure turn-off for anyone trying this as their first NAD equipment.

NAD should be ashamed of themselves for putting out this unit.

I did send out a well-meaning feedback to NAD after two weeks of purchase on how the unit can be made more usable with a list of annoying usability quirks only to receive an arrogant reply back that dismissed the feedback off as irrelevant to the intended use of this component.

I can safely say now that the intended use of this component is to fill the garbage can and so those usability quirks are indeed irrelvant.

Let this be an example to people here that bad equipment is bad equipment and no amount of hiding it behind labels and brands is going to make it sound otherwise at least over the long term.
 

Gold Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 2361
Registered: Feb-05
I've not heard many good things about that product. What a shame.

Do be careful of what gear you drive those Maggies with. I found that nearly everything I paired my Maggies with sounded bright. If one can tolerate moderate volume I think that tubes are the best route for Maggies.

Good info Gvenk, thanks.
 

Gold Member
Username: Edster922

Abubala, Ababala The Occupation

Post Number: 3186
Registered: Mar-05
LOL I've read of people using the Panny to run Maggies with great success...

Gvenk it's time for you to AB the Panny, what's $15 in return shipping?
 

Silver Member
Username: Rysa4

Post Number: 177
Registered: Jul-05
Gvank- Thanks for your post. I like your audio evaluation dissection. Its nice to hear from someone who actually knows how to listen... keep us up to date on your evaluations.
 

Gvenk
Unregistered guest
> If one can tolerate moderate volume I think that
> tubes are the best route for Maggies.

I should have said MMG-W in my original post which are very different from the MMGs.

About the brightness of Maggies...

The NAD had replaced a 20 year old Nakamichi receiver (back when they made some really good stuff). The Stasis amp design in that receiver licensed from Threshold really worked well with the demand of the Maggies (both MMG-Ws and SMGs) with a very nice musical sound and no hint of irritating sound anywhere and not really holding back anywhere other than where the Maggies rolled off. But they just didn't have the authority for HT use.

The MMG-Ws are certainly very bright compared to the rest of the Maggie line and definitely require careful amp selection.

I am getting tempted to try out the Jolida hybrids as a compromise between sound and power although it is probably an overkill for this secondary set up but then you only live once.

If only I could hear them with the MMG-Ws or could see some reliable reviews somewhere....
 

Gold Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 2367
Registered: Feb-05
Let us know how it goes if you decide to do that.
 

Unregistered guest
Gvenk, please don't mince words; could you be a little more candid in your comments?

Nice review/opinion, especially from an unregistered guest.
 

Gold Member
Username: Frank_abela

Berkshire UK

Post Number: 1070
Registered: Sep-04
Gvenk

The L53 sounds great when paired with suitable speakers. MMGs or MMG-Ws are not suitable. It's got limited power and the Maggies need quite a lot of power. Not surprised at all by your experience.

When partnered with more typical speakers which are reasonably easy to drive, it's a great little unit.

Regards,
Frank.
 

New member
Username: Nadz

Califonia

Post Number: 4
Registered: Aug-05
I agree with Frank. Using Maggies was not a fair comparison. If im not mistaken Maggies are roughly 86db at 4 ohms. Thats a pretty tough load for an all in one system to drive. Especially when the amp is only rated to drive 8 ohm loads.

The two times I have heard this system I was completely blown away.(PSB Image and Energy C series speakers) The system had a very full and natural presentation to the music. The system did not sound thin or harsh to my ears. Just a very engaging sound.



 

Gvenk
Unregistered guest
First of all, I am not sure if you guys have had a long-term use experience with this unit on any speaker or have listened to it for an hour or two. Let me know if you have. The first couple of weeks I thought it was great even with the MMG-Ws. But as I continued to listen over months and whole movies, it became more and more annoying and I couldn't figure it out at first and so did a lot of things with speaker placement, sound-baffling, cable changes, etc. Finally, switching back to the Nakamichi showed the problem was really the L53.

So if you have only heard this in an audition or at a friend's place a couple of times or for short periods, then what you have said so far is not inconsistent with my experience.

Second, I didn't say this was the worst receiver out there, but the worst NAD receiver. So there may still be some redeeming values in it for some people. But if you are expecting what one might at the minimum from a NAD unit esepcially for paying a premium over the competition for what it provides (note that it retails for $599 in the US!), it is really garbage. I don't see how it can be recommended at all over most of the mid-price-range units.

I don't think the problem is with the MMG-Ws being hard to drive at all.

In the frequency range of the MMG-W, the load is fairly constant at 4ohms unlike many box speakers even when rated at 8ohms can dip down to 4-6ohms in the range.

My anaemic 18 year old Nakamichi receiver also rated at 45W/channel was able to drive the MMG-Ws without blinking and with good sound quality at least for music. Can't say the same for the L53. I know that L53s aren't rated for 4ohms. That has never been a problem before for any NAD components. The NAD rep did confirm that the newer L72 in this series built on the same design but as a multi-channel dvd receiver can drive 4 ohms speakers. And this is a 2-channel receiver.

I am sure that there are speakers out there on which this will sound better than on the MMG-Ws but I would be extremely skeptical of it being anywhere close in sound quality to most other units in its price range let alone surpass them to justify the price.

The NAD dealers do seem to be mating this with the PSBs in their packages and demo set ups. I thought NAD had a deal with PSB.
 

Unregistered guest
Just curious if you are maybe looking to sell the L53 since it has been such a disappointment? Let me know if interested....
 

Silver Member
Username: Stu_pitt

NYC, NY

Post Number: 799
Registered: May-05
"The NAD dealers do seem to be mating this with the PSBs in their packages and demo set ups. I thought NAD had a deal with PSB."

NAD and PSB are both owned (along with a few other companies such as AudioQuest and B&O) by Lenbrook. NAD and PSB have had a very synergistic relationship for as long as I've known them, which was before they were individually bought out by Lenbrook.
 

CarlosDuarte
Unregistered guest
Hi.
I have that unit also, but only for a few weeks. I use them with those gallo micro speakers. I liked them both very much, but then, those gallos are magic anyway.

As for the unit itself, I agree with you on this one "the wheezing and coughing DVD drive". Gosh! Even a cheap desktop/laptop dvd drive is silent than that. What were they thinking???!

Others issues: SRS goes mad on two channel sources (a CD for example); there is bass level management but no crossover! I'm confused here. The L53 treats all the speakers as large (it seems so, as it hasn't large/small setting), but then again it sends stuff on the LFE channel usings CDs. So, where is it getting those information? Does it mix two channels in one and send everything to the subwoofer?
 

Bronze Member
Username: Nadz

California

Post Number: 23
Registered: Aug-05
Think of the sub out as a pre-out. They took both left and right pre-out and combined them into one. The reasoning behind this was to simplify hook ups with subs. Alot of subs only have a LFE in and this simplifies things. A crossover would be nice but it's not that big a deal to be missing on a lifestyle product such as this. For full fledged hookups with some basic bass management look at the L73 or T743/T514 combo.

This is not a perfecly designed unit as far as some of the functions go. But once set up properly sounds great in smaller rooms and offices.

You guys are to hard on this product. Especially the gentleman trying to drive Maggie MMG's with this. Very unfair. Even if NAD products have a reputation for driving tougher loads This does not mean all there products will. Look at what this product is and what market segment it's aimed at. It's a good sounding all in one lifestyle product. That looks and sounds good with most conventional speakers.
 

Silver Member
Username: Nuck

Parkhill, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 857
Registered: Dec-04
NAD'z, I figgur in this price/rep range that a mixed mono configuration you describe seems a bit low rent.
Couldn't manage discrete chanells for 6c USD?

Probably an anomoly for NAD, but with all the noise issues I've seen of late, I must wonder about the corporate whole strategy, reputations are built and burned by single models sometimes.

Peace
 

CarlosDuarte
Unregistered guest
Hi again.

Thanks for the explanation! I was talking with a buddy about that earlier and he also suggested that. So, as nuck says, for stereo sources that SW pre-out is in fact a downmix mono. In my case that's also redundant as I sent the speakers L+R to the SW. But then, with a 5.1 source, the SW pre-out will be this mixed mono mixed again with the .1 or would be the .1 alone?

As for being hard on the product, I am not. I like it. This is perfect for bedroom: it has a clock always visible, the display is very dim when standby, has a feature that turns it into a 6c wake up clock :-) and that are two adjustable hour-times to automatically turn it on and off. The sound is very good -- at least on the gallo micros ;) The radio receiver is very very nice and with a good sound quality (I've only tried FM however). And the picture is good, not so good as the sound, but nice.

The issues I reported on the previous post:

1. lack of bass management: "solved" by using the SW crossover. The SW has hilevel L+R in and out, applying crossover on out. So, the amp speaker connectors goes to the SW hi L+R, them from the SW hi L+R to the speakers. In my case this crossover issue was very important because the gallos micros might be damaged on lower freq signals.

2. SRS popping on two channel sources. I didn't get that again after the SW and speaker full wire setup, so that might be a speaker limitation in first place

3. dvd/cd drive self noise. This one is really nasty. Now, this is a system to go to bedroom, image one at night trying to ear some low volume music with a constant background noise zzzzzzzeee

I have also considered the L73, but as I just needed a 2.1 system, I saved a few bucks (actually, a few euros) with the L53.

If you guys want to take a look on my (temporary) setup: http://cgd.sdf-eu.org/ht/n1.jpg http://cgd.sdf-eu.org/ht/n2.jpg

Regards,
 

Silver Member
Username: Nuck

Parkhill, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 863
Registered: Dec-04
Carlos, I cant see you getting .1 discrete, just mixed.
I have seen this work in Car stuff, but a tad disappointing for your Nad kit.

A servo drive Paradigm or Axiom 500 have interpreting features for seperation, but your setup doesn't seem likely for one of those.

Maybe just enjoy the zzzz's?
Or disconnect the player completely, and add a new one?
 

CarlosDuarte
Unregistered guest
Yes, I was very disappointed with that also. And further more, the seller told me this unit had crossover. In fact, he must be still convinced that it has LOL

But back to the setup: I have the NAD "sw pre-out" connected to the SW "low level in"; and both NAD "L+R speakers" to the SW "L+R high level in".
For stereo, I get that mixed mono. But if I insert a 5.1 DVD on the NAD, it will send the discrete .1 on that NAD "sw pre-out" ? I hope so :-) In that case, of a 5.1 source, I will have at the SW the .1 (yet to confirm) via low level, and L+R via high level. This technique is used by REL and MJ subwoofers to deliver bass output even on pure direct modes.

About the zzz's. Enjoy them is out of question :-) A new player is also off -- that is a matter of principles: I bought this gear for having all in one (except the speakers). If I were to buy an independent player, I would rather have got a regular AVR... I was thinking on some kind of sound deadener, like a thin plate with the same area of the unit, with lots of small holes, layed above the L53 with about 3mm feet.
 

Silver Member
Username: Nuck

Parkhill, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 865
Registered: Dec-04
Carlos, what options for the dvd player? 2.0, 2.1?
Might want to check that...
Without getting the shielded cable tiff back into it, you might check your cables for shielding, it's really important, and fixed my problem.

Peace
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