Is it possible for an audio component to support every single digital format and streaming platform? The new NAD C 399 Hybrid Digital DAC Amplifier comes very close to achieving that goal.
The $1,995 price tag almost seems reasonable if you’re looking to build a high-end digital system that also includes an internal phono preamp.
NAD has pushed modular design for the past years and the C 399 offers that in a rather significant way.
The C 399 Hybrid Digital DAC Amplifier is the clearest expression yet of NAD’s 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, the same chip used in NAD’s acclaimed M10 and M33 Masters Series amplifiers.
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.
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 is renowned for its 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 vanishingly low under all operating conditions.
The minute levels of harmonic distortion are dominated by sonically benign second and third harmonics. 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.
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.
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.
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. Analogue 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.
- HybridDigital 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
Price & Availability
The NAD C 399 will be available this holiday season 2021 for purchase for $1,995 USD.