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NAD C 316BEE V2 Integrated Amplifier Review [Updated]

Depending on your budget, the $499 NAD C 316BEE V2 might be the ideal stereo integrated amplifier to build a hi-fi system around.

NAD C 316BEE V2 Stereo Integrated Amplifier

Our traffic over the past three years has told a very interesting story. A lot of new people are looking at high-end audio for the first time. We think that’s great and we plan on sticking to our focus for 2024 because a lot of people are interested in affordable products like the NAD C 316BEE V2 Integrated Amplifier.

First impressions are never wrong. Always go with your gut. More than 24 months later, I could not be more impressed with the NAD C 316BEE V2 Integrated Amplifier. I own 6 different integrated amplifiers (from $350 to $6,000) and this is the one I listen to on a daily basis. Every loudspeaker below $2,000 that comes through this house has to spend time with it.

Even the award-winning Q Acoustics 5040 rather liked this inexpensive integrated amplifier for the simple reason that the tonal balance generally worked — although I would be remiss if I did not mention that the treble of the 5040 is livelier than the 3050i and that may not work for some of you depending on the source components in your system.

Q Acoustics 5040 vs. 3050i Floorstanding Loudspeakers Front
Q Acoustics 5040 (left) vs. 3050i (right)

Over the past 40 years, I have been fortunate to listen to a lot of audio equipment manufactured by NAD; the Lenbrook Group which also manufactures Bluesound and PSB loudspeakers is a hometown brand that I have supported as both a customer and member of the audio/video press for almost two decades. My audio journey started at Bay Bloor Radio; founded by the late-Sol Mandlsohn who influenced more Canadian audiophiles than any publication and who introduced me to high-end audio when I was only 10. 

NAD was a fixture at Bay Bloor Radio, and it was one of the first products that I ever experienced, along with Yamaha, Marantz, Carver, Celestion, and Bang & Olufsen. It is very possible that the NAD C 316BEE V2 integrated amplifier is one of the finest components they offer – as important as the M10 V2 streaming amplifier or Masters M33 streaming DAC amplifier that are perched at the top of the NAD pyramid and represent the future of this hobby. 

NAD C 316BEE V2 Front View

The C 316BEE V2 ($479) is just a simple integrated amplifier without a streaming module, internal DAC, or wireless capabilities. Nada. Before you get too excited about its tone controls on the front panel, headphone jack, or credit card-sized remote control, the most important feature of the C 316BEE V2 is its phono pre-amplifier which sealed the deal for me; and I suspect a lot of vinyl newbies who may want to really hear what their turntable might be capable of. 

Why is that so important? 

Based on my experience with some of the turntables currently offering internal phono pre-amplifiers, they are being shortchanged. In a big way. 

During my recent phono pre-amplifier survey, I had the opportunity to compare the C 316BEE’s internal phono pre-amp against some very strong contenders from Schiit Audio, Cambridge Audio, U-Turn, Pro-Ject, Croft, and Moon by SimAudio. Unless you can afford one of the pricier options on the list – you will be just fine with the NAD.

The other reason to select the C 316BEE V2 is that its Class AB design sounds more robust and certainly warmer than any of the current network amplifiers from WiiM Audio, Arylic, or even Bluesound.

NAD C 316BEE V2 Rear View

The Guts

NAD’s power ratings have always been a tad wonky. The C 316BEE V2 is rated at 40 watts per channel into 8 ohms (60 watts per channel into 4 ohms) and my listening experience suggests that the amplifier is capable of far more output. The Toroidal power transformer is well isolated and there is clearly something always in reserve because the performance of the amplifier with every loudspeaker I have at home; with the exception of the Magnepan LRS, and brand new Sonus faber Lumina I was effortless for the most part. 

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The C 316BEE V2 drove the Q Acoustics 3030i & 3050i, PSB Alpha P5, Wharfedale Diamond 12.1, and Focal CHORA 806 without breaking a sweat.

The synergy with the Q Acoustics 3050i was the most intriguing and where most of my listening impressions will be focused. 

Aside from the internal MM phono stage, the C 316BEE V2 also includes 4 additional inputs which is more than enough for most systems. A pair of binding posts on the real panel facilitates connection with either banana pins or bare wire and the unit comes equipped with a fixed power cord. The front panel also features an input for smart phones and tablets. 

As I mentioned in my opening, unlike a lot of the new offerings from NAD, the C 316BEE V2 is a class AB amplifier and does not utilize NAD’s next generation HybridDigital Purifi Eigentact technology. The C 316BEE V2 can be left in standby mode (it draws less than 1 watt of power in this mode) and it rarely got warm to the touch even during long listening sessions.

It is never going to take up a lot of space in your equipment rack or even placed on a credenza, but the C 316BEE V2 (17”W x 4”H x 11.25”D) does benefit from keeping its top panel vents unobstructed. 

NAC C 588 Turntable Front No Cover
NAC C 588 Turntable

Set-up

For a majority of the review process, the NAD C 316BEE V2 split its time in my dining room system and home office which are relatively large rooms (19’ x 13’ x 9’ and 33’ x 13’ x 8’); the basement home office also features an acoustically treated home theater space and Berber carpeting making it less reverberant/bright sounding. The dining room set-up allowed me to place the C 318BEE V2 on a solid wood credenza flanked by the NAD C 588 turntable, and Pro-Ject Tube Box DS2 phono pre-amplifier. All cabling was from Audio Art, Analysis Plus, and AudioQuest. 

In the basement system, I streamed TIDAL and Qobuz via Roon from an iMac and utilized my Thorens TD-160 Super/Ortofon 2M Black set-up to challenge the internal phono stage. Loudspeakers included the aforementioned PSB Alpha P5, Wharfedale Diamond 10.1 & 12.1, and Q Acoustics 3050i in both rooms.

I Will Not Feel Shame About the Mall Pretzels…

And nor should anyone feel shame about making the NAD C 316BEE V2 the heart of their stereo system. 

When NAD shipped me their C 588 turntable for a different review, I grimaced somewhat when I saw that the table came equipped with the Ortofon 2M Red MM cartridge. I’ve been a proud owner of the 2M Black for almost 3 years, but the 2M Red has always left me rather cold with its tipped up tonal balance. I wasn’t overly optimistic that the NAD’s phono section would work very well with the cart, and nor would the Q Acoustics 3050i love it either. 

About 3 tracks into Freddie Hubbard’s Hub-Tones (Blue Note 80 Vinyl Reissues, ST-84115), I realized that while not the last word in detail or top end extension, the trio of components were working incredibly well together. 

The Q Acoustics 3050i are the antithesis of bright sounding, and the midrange could use some sparkle. Hubbard’s trumpet playing is vibrant, powerful, and the recording is anything but laid-back sounding. 

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The NAD amplifier most certainly has a bump in the midrange; even into the upper midrange which worked wonders with both horns and vocals on a loudspeaker with a such a restrained presentation. 

I still find the 2M Red to be far too lit up in the treble, but the C 316BEE’s tonal balance took some of the edge off and let the smooth sounding tweeter on the 3050i do its thing.

A high-output Grado Timbre Series cartridge would probably sound amazing through the NAD’s phono section. So would the Goldring E4 MM Phono Cartridge.

Goldring E4 Phono Cartridge Front Underside
Goldring E4 MM Phono Cartridge

Synergy is a thing. Not to be underestimated when assembling a system regardless of price. 

Nobody is ever going to confuse the C 316BEE V2 with a tube amplifier, but its midrange is most certainly warm sounding – albeit with more sharply drawn lines when it comes to the body of instruments and vocalists. There is nothing diffuse about its sound or the depth of the soundstage which is above average for an amplifier at its price point. 

The 3050i has relatively low-end bass response, but it is not the last word when it comes to definition. I’ve had the chance to audition it with the Edge A integrated amplifier from Cambridge Audio ($6,500) and while the much more powerful amplifier did a lot to tighten up the bass response, and thrust its presentation forward of the cabinet into my listening space – the average 3050i buyer is not using it with a $6,000 amplifier. 

The C 316BEE V2 is most likely not on the radar of the same buyer, but it should be because the NAD took charge of this loudspeaker and made it sound exceptional. $1,300 for this combination is quite reasonable. 

The top end of the C 316BEE V2 lacks some sweetness, but it’s never going to come across as bright sounding. 

When I switched over to TIDAL and streamed Daft Punk’s soundtrack to Tron: Legacy, the NAD proved that it can handle electronica and unravel the layers of instrumentation and never sound out of breath. 

Vocals are sufficiently fleshed out by the C 316BEE V2; there isn’t that tactile feeling I get from my Croft Phono integrated or the Wavelength Audio Duetto 300B SET amplifier that I owned for almost 8 years, but if the recording quality is there – the NAD can do it justice. 

Pro-Ject Tube Box DS2
Pro-Ject Tube Box DS2

For my own edification, I connected the Pro-Ject Tube Box DS2 to one of the unused inputs and listened to the same Blue Note releases just to see what adding a $700 phono stage to the C 316BEE V2 would yield. 

Depression. 

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Much depression as I realized that the combination was rapidly approaching the quality of my $1,800 Croft integrated for less money. The Croft still has that “thing” that makes music come alive differently; more of the passion and inner connection, but the NAD/Pro-Ject combo was nothing to stick in the corner.

The only issue with the Croft is that its brilliant and wonderfully kind designer passed away making it hard in North America to get it serviced. There are likely some dealers in the UK who can assist those who might have any service issues.

Network Streamer or DAC?

The one thing missing from the NAD C 316BEE V2 is a streamer or internal DAC. For people considering an integrated amplifier for the first time, that will likely be a deal breaker when one considers that the market is heavily focused on digital music streaming platforms such as Spotify, Qobuz, and TIDAL.

A recent letter from a reader asked for a suggestion in regard to using their laptop with the C 316BEE V2 as a streaming source.

There are a few paths one could take in that regard.

The recently reviewed iFi GO Bar Dongle DAC sounded excellent using its single-ended output with a 3.5mm to RCA cable connected directly to one of the NAD’s inputs.

iFi Go Bar Dongle DAC Bottom View
iFi GO Bar

Another option would be to use one of the USB Type-C outputs on the laptop with something like the Schiit Audio Modi Multibit 2 DAC.

The third option would be to use the WiiM Pro Plus Network Streamer and run a pair of interconnects into one of the NAD’s inputs. WiiM’s control app is superb and gives one access to almost all of the major streaming platforms and music you might have saved on your home network.

WiiM Pro Plus Digital Music Streamer With Remote Lifestyle
WiiM Pro Plus

I’ll take the #3 combo…

Depending on your budget, the $499 NAD C 316BEE V2 might be the ideal integrated amplifier to build a system around. It most certainly works better with loudspeakers that could use some added color and midrange drive like the Q Acoustics 3050i, Wharfedale EVO series, and PSB Alpha P5. Stick with neutral cables and sources that don’t fall into the overly warm category and you might find as I did, that there is nothing entry-level about this integrated amplifier. It is very much a big league player with a cap-friendly price. 

NAD may also be replacing it soon so you are likely to find any remaining stock on sale. Priced below $400, this is one incredible bargain if you can find one.

For more information: NAD C 316BEE V2 Integrated Amplifier 

Where to buy: $499 at Amazon | Crutchfield

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39 Comments

39 Comments

  1. Craig Stenstrom

    June 27, 2021 at 1:49 am

    Ian, enjoyed the review of the NAD C316BEE V2 but several html glitches under windows10/chrome.

    • Ian White

      June 27, 2021 at 10:54 am

      Craig,

      Appreciate the heads up on that and glad you enjoyed the review.

      Ian

    • Brian Mitchell

      June 28, 2021 at 5:34 am

      We’ve fixed the page so it should load correctly.

      • sam

        December 6, 2021 at 11:58 pm

        You should definitely try out the nad 326bee it is discontinued. Fifty watts per channel does run warm but I am so amazed at the spacialness and dedicated headlamp.

  2. Mike Cornell

    October 6, 2021 at 11:55 am

    Just wondering about the V2 designation, Ian. Has NAD updated this amp, and if so, how? Nice to see they’re sticking with class AB for at least some of their lineup.

    • Ian White

      October 6, 2021 at 1:37 pm

      Hi Mike,

      This is the latest version of the C 316BEE which includes an updated phono stage, better headphone amplifier, and the same power rating.

      It’s one of my favorite integrated amplifiers. Period. I use it almost daily when reviewing affordable loudspeakers.

      The phono stage is the biggest surprise. It works very well with the Ortofon 2M Series, Nagaoka carts, and the entry-level Grado Timbre cartridges.

      I probably listen to the NAD C 316BEE V2 and my Croft Phono Integrated the most of my 6 amplifiers. I really find them to be quite fulfilling with every genre of music.

      Ian White

      • Mike Cornell

        October 6, 2021 at 3:38 pm

        Ian, I still have my 3020e from the 80’s (bought at Bay Bloor I might add!) that I keep in reserve in case my main system goes down.
        (sorry about the double post below….internet went down so wasn’t sure the original had gone through)

        • Ian White

          October 6, 2021 at 3:54 pm

          Mike,

          I miss Sol. He got me into this crazy hobby at age 8.

          BBR was my Disneyland growing up.

          Ian

      • Pier

        February 17, 2023 at 7:13 pm

        I use on daily basis the same amp with q 3050i.
        Have you ever tried them with something like marantz pm 600x ?

        Love your honest reviews.
        Thanks

        • Ian White

          February 17, 2023 at 7:25 pm

          Pier,

          I have not tried any Marantz yet on them, but have used Croft, Rotel, NAD, Vincent Audio, Cambridge Audio, and Yamaha.

          I love the NAD with these speakers. It’s my favorite combination.

          Best,

          Ian White

          • Pier

            February 17, 2023 at 8:07 pm

            Depending hoe the ac polarity is,this amp sounds quite different.
            The one position gives a wider, maybe smoother and for sure a rather dark sound with lower lows is my favorite.

            Thanks Ian

  3. Miha Stanislav Podlogar

    October 6, 2021 at 12:57 pm

    No output/save connection ?

    Mike

    • Cecil Watts

      November 6, 2022 at 4:04 pm

      Hello Ian….would you recommend this amp for use with a pair of Thiel CS1.2 speaks @4ohm? I also have a pair of JBL L100t3 and ADS L570/2. Thoughts on matching with any of these?
      TIA

      • Ian White

        November 6, 2022 at 7:49 pm

        Cecil,

        The Thiel (assuming these are from the original Jim Thiel lineup) will not match up well. The ADS might be the best option.

        Ian White

    • Magnus Hägermyr

      December 2, 2022 at 1:12 pm

      Yes the absence of outputs is the big and strange shortcoming of this amp.

      Magnus.

  4. Mike Cornell

    October 6, 2021 at 1:14 pm

    Hi Ian. Just wondering about the V2 designation. Did NAD recently update it? And if so, what changed? Nice to see that they are sticking with class AB for at least some of their products.

    • Ahmet Kemal

      September 23, 2022 at 6:40 pm

      What cables would you recommend with the nad amp and nad turn table and acoustic speakers ?

      • Ian White

        September 23, 2022 at 6:42 pm

        QED or Analysis Plus

        Ian White

  5. Onard

    December 11, 2022 at 4:01 pm

    Great Review Ian!

    Glad to have found your site. I was looking at this NAD and almost sold on it because of this review ( also liked what I heard when I auditioned it)
    I’ve listened to Rega’s Elex-R which was amazing. ( new MK4 looks awesome)
    Also considering the Rega Io (I enjoyed your review on that one too) but am not sure if it has enough power.

    What amp would be your recommendation?

    I primarily listen to vinyl but recently purchased a NODE which Is great. Looking to upgrade a 20-year-old 50 watt Yamaha stereo receiver. My speakers are B&W 686 s2 alternating with Dali Spector 2’s, Project essential TT with project phono box S

    Room is 24′ x 14′ x 10′ listening volume is usually 65 dB

    Any input would be greatly appreciated

    Cheers,
    Oni

    • Ian White

      December 11, 2022 at 10:30 pm

      Oni,

      The NAD may not have enough power for the 686 S2. How would you describe the tonal balance of the speakers? Have you seen the new Rega that just came out? The io might be a good tonal match but it’s definitely underpowered considering the size of your room.

      Best,
      Ian White

  6. Oni

    December 12, 2022 at 2:40 am

    Hey Ian,

    Thank you for your valuable input. The NAD C316 is off the list as is the iO.

    With my current setup, the 686 speakers are a bit bland in the midrange with decent bass and fatiguing highs, and the reason I tried the DALI Spektor 2’s which are my current go-to speakers.

    I have seen the new Rega MK4 on this site — and do love the new look, extra digital connections, and 72 watts. Have I found the answer?

    BTW; at this price range of $2500 CDN, is there something else I should maybe consider auditioning? (I have already auditioned; Audiolab 6000A, Cambridge Audio CXA61, CXA81, Arcam SA10 or 20?, Yamaha A-S801, but found the Rega ELEX-R sound most exciting in comparison)

    Cheers,
    Oni

    • Ian White

      December 12, 2022 at 2:32 pm

      Oni,

      I really like the Rega amplifiers. Excellent value for the money. I would certainly listen first at a dealer to make sure it is not too lean for the Dali or B&W.

      Best,

      Ian White

      • Onard

        January 18, 2023 at 3:13 pm

        Hey Ian,

        Quick update, I auditioned the Rotel A14MkII and new Rega Elex MK 4 at home. I went with the Rega and am very happy;) (thank you BBR)

        I may be in the market for speakers in the future but the sound improvement over my old system makes both sets of current speakers perform better than ever.

        Thank you again for all your work on these reviews!

        Cheers,
        Oni

        • Onard

          March 7, 2023 at 3:43 pm

          Hey Ian,

          Time for a speaker upgrade for my Rega Elex mk4, any suggestions?

          I remembering hearing and being impressed by Sonus-faber Lumina II a while back. They are 4 ohm speakers? would the rega have enough power to drive these efficiently? Finding that the Rega is very precise in mids and highs so probably looking for something warmer and with a bit larger woofer than current Dali Spektor 2?

          My budget is $2000 Canadian. Any input would be truly appreciated.

          Cheer’s
          Oni

          • Ian White

            March 7, 2023 at 5:07 pm

            Oni,

            Wharfedale or DALI would get my vote over the Sonus faber.

            Q Acoustics 3050i is also a sleeper product that really benefits from a more precise and incisive amplifier.

            I have used a pair for over 3 years with the NAD and you wouldn’t think that it would work — but it’s quite special.

            Ian White

          • Onard

            March 7, 2023 at 10:00 pm

            Hello Ian,

            Thank you for reminding me about Q acoustics, I did hear the 3020i bookshelf speakers through an NAD316 a while back and remember being impressed;)

            Will give them a try, and will look for a Wharfedale supplier in Toronto area.

            As always thanks again to you and all at ecoustics.
            Cheers,
            O

  7. Jojo Dela Cruz

    January 10, 2023 at 2:04 am

    Is NAD C316BEE V2 better amp than REGA IO?

    • Ian White

      January 10, 2023 at 12:05 pm

      Jojo,

      Completely different sounding amplifiers. The NAD has more power and a brighter sounding presentation.

      It really depends on the speakers on the other end.

      Ian White

  8. Domingo Dela Cruzj

    January 17, 2023 at 12:00 am

    Sir Ian follow up question, Is the NAD C316BEE V2 a good match for ELAC DEBUT 2.0 b6.2? Thanks.

  9. Scott Frank

    June 9, 2023 at 8:32 pm

    I had a NAD 1020 pre-amp and 2140 power amp back in the eighties and absolutely loved the combination. Even added a second 2140 and ran them bi-amped for a while until the electronics in the amps started to break down and I switched to a Rotel pre-amp/power amp setup which I’ve enjoyed for 20+ years. I also restored a NAD 3140 that I’ve been listening to quite a bit. But the Rotel pre-amp just failed, and when I took it in for servicing I saw the NAD C 316BEE V2 and simply had to buy it. I really love the simplistic design approach (I have a component level DAC, Sonos, phono pre-amp, tuner, etc.) and love having a new piece of gear in the mix.

  10. JP

    August 3, 2023 at 6:19 pm

    Hi Ian – great info and thanks for the review. Would the NAD pair well with a pair of the KLH Model 5 in your opinion? Using a Pro-Ject Carbon EVO turntable. Thanks in advance! JP

    • Ian White

      August 4, 2023 at 4:03 pm

      JP,

      It really depends on the tonal balance of the Model 5. The C 316BEE V2 has a slight bump in the midrange that adds some warmth to every speaker. It also some decent energy in the treble that will awaken otherwise reticent loudspeakers in the top end.

      Best,

      Ian White

  11. John Ulreich

    August 24, 2023 at 2:12 pm

    Hi Ian,Good stuff above. Would this C 316BEE amplifier work well in a small room with B&W CDM1 special edition speakers? I am currently listening to a marantz 1060 at 30w.

    • Ian White

      August 25, 2023 at 12:32 am

      John,

      Really depends on the tonal balance of the speakers. I need more info. It definitely has the power.

      Best,

      Ian White

  12. Mark Spencer

    February 26, 2024 at 2:10 pm

    Hi,

    Would you recommend a DAC for the NAD C316 BEE? I have this amp, and I am currently playing through my laptop’s 3.5mm jack connected to RCA inputs. Will a DAC improve FLAC or 320mp3 audio?

    • Ian White

      February 26, 2024 at 4:42 pm

      Mark,

      Yes. A Dongle DAC between your laptop and the C316 BEE would certainly make a difference. I would suggest a Dongle DAC over a desktop DAC because of its use as a portable headphone amplifier as well if you ever consider going down that path.

      Which loudspeakers are you using?

      Best,

      Ian White

  13. Mike C.

    March 3, 2024 at 1:17 pm

    Hi Ian,
    Always thought the 316BEE was THE go-to choice in that category. However I have heard that some people who compared it to the Class D Cambridge AXA35 preferred the latter. I have always steered clear of anything Class D but was recently surprised by the cheap Chi-fi Fosi ZA3. Any thoughts?
    Thanks

    • Ian White

      March 3, 2024 at 2:01 pm

      Mike,

      As I own both the NAD 316BEE V2 and the Cambridge AXA35, I’m slightly confused. Both are Class AB amplifiers. The Cambridge has a softer edge but an equal amount of drive. The MM phono stage inside the AXA35 is very capable with a good MM cartridge. The AXA35 would be better with more neutral sounding loudspeakers.

      Best,

      Ian White

      • Mike C.

        March 3, 2024 at 5:18 pm

        My bad, for some reason my garbled brain was under the impression the AXA35 was a Class D. That being said I own a 10 year old $2800 CDN integrated (that now sells for $5000) and am more and more confronted with the reality of modern budget amps delivering a good percentage of the musical enjoyment provided by it.

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