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NAD C 588 Turntable Review: Always Bet on Green

At $899 the NAD C 588 is an impressive well built turntable that has the ability to hear deep into every recording.

NAC C 588 Turntable with-cover black on black

It’s hard to look at any positive developments during the pandemic and gloat over them, but the reality is that the record industry has taken advantage of the global lockdowns and run with it. American purchased over 20 million new records in H1 2021 and the H2 sales figures are likely to be even higher; supply chain issue might be the only thing that slows down that record level of growth. Turntable manufactures like NAD have not seen this level of demand for their limited range of turntables in decades. The NAD C 588 Turntable exists in a very crowded category with strong competition from Rega and Pro-Ject. But before you take a closer look at their turntables, you might want to take a closer look at the NAD because it’s performance impressed me enough that I bought one 2 months after I completed the review.

NAD has developed almost every type of high-end audio product one could think of during its 48-year run which began in the United Kingdom in 1972 before the brand made the trip across the pond to Canada where it has resided as part of the Lenbrook Group which also includes PSB and Bluesound.

NAD made its mark selling amplifiers, pre-amplifiers, CD players, and tuners and its current line-up in 2021 includes innovative streaming products, headphones, home theater systems, and more traditional products like the C 316BEE V2 integrated amplifier that we recently reviewed.

The NAD C 588 turntable is a most interesting departure for the brand which is clearly focused on the digital network streaming category and dare we say – a genuine sleeper in a category with far too many average sounding options right now. 

NAC C 588 Turntable Front Cover Down

If the Rega Planar 2 ($675 at Amazon) and Pro-Ject Debut Pro ($999) turntables are the two best sounding options right now below $1,000 – where does that leave the $899 NAD C 588?

During the unboxing process, it became rather evident that the C 588 was created in collaboration with a specific European manufacturer; there are a number of design features like the carbon fiber tonearm and some smaller items that point to that, and also explain how NAD was able to keep the price below $900. 

But before you think that NAD has just created a turntable in partnership with a rival to meet the demand of the market, there are a number of other features that make this stellar turntable worth considering over the Rega and Pro-Ject. 

NAC C 588 Turntable Front No Cover

Under the Hood

The C 588 is a very sturdy deck manufactured from very dense MDF; the entire table weighs 20 pounds and you can feel the difference in the manufacturing quality compared to a lot of the tables between $400-$800. NAD has put a lot of effort into the durability of this design and it is well worth the money based on the design features, and robustness alone. 

Glass platters have never been my favorite; ringing and a thinness to the sound that has to be fixed elsewhere in the playback chain. The C 588 does utilize a very dense glass platter with a supplied felt mat and it took a few records (and a different mat) to get over my disappointment. 

Rega has spent a lot of time and R&D money over the years perfecting their glass platters (the outside edge is thicker and heavier creating a flywheel effect) which are used on very lightweight plinths. It works for their tables and the sales figures reflect that. 

NAC C 588 Turntable Front

NAD’s 10mm glass platter is very stable (benefits of an excellent sub platter assembly and isolated DC motor) and the table has excellent speed stability.

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The C 588 also includes very thick and inert metal feet with vibration isolation built into the assembly.

The turntable utilizes a custom designed 9” carbon fiber tonearm shaft with an adjustable fixed metal head shell and features a decoupled counterweight and magnetic anti-skate compensation.

NAC C 588 Turntable Extreme Close-up Counter Weight Detail

Installation of the counterweight is not particularly difficult but setting it with the supplied stylus pressure gauge takes some patience as the settings are too broad. I switched out the NAD gauge for my Shure SFG-2 ($40 at Amazon) which has more exact settings and produced a more accurate result. 

Adjusting the azimuth of the 2M Red was facilitated by the design of the head shell and I applaud NAD for making this easy to accomplish. 

NAC C 588 Turntable Close-up of Needle on Record with Ortofon 2M Red Cartridge Top View

The C 588 will be relatively painless for users to set-up (with a few caveats) with the pre-installed Ortofon 2M Red cartridge, and I have to commend NAD for their rather generous supply of set-up tools, and accessories – not every manufacturer provides all of this with their tables. 

The dustcover works smoothly and is quite inert; at no time did I feel that it was negatively affecting the sound of the table at all. 

NAC C 588 Turntable Front Cover Raised

What’s in the box?

  • Turntable (tonearm and catridge pre-installed)
  • Sub-platter (pre-installed)
  • Platter
  • Felt mat
  • Belt
  • 45RPM adapter
  • Counterweight
  • Dust-cover
  • AC power adapter (attached 4′ DC cord)
  • 3 AC plug inserts (US/UK/EU)
  • 47″ Stereo RCA cable with ground lead
  • 4 Protective discs
  • Hex-key
  • Stylus pressure gauge
  • Plastic tonearm bearings tool
  • Paper cartridge alignment tool
  • Pair of cloth gloves
  • Quick Setup Guide

Life is all in the setup…

The NAD C 588 displaced two beautifully restored Thorens turntables from Vinyl Nirvana that have been part of my system for almost 6 years and the results were interesting to say the least; the 2M Red was no match for the Ortofon 2M Black on the Thorens TD-160 Super, or the Dynavector 10×5 on the Thorens TD-145, but the overall package for $899 defied all of my expectations.

NAC C 588 Turntable Rear

Phono pre-amps included the Pro-Ject Tube Box DS2, Croft Phono Integrated, and the internal phono section of the NAD C 316BEE integrated amplifier. 

The NAD C 588 made some beautiful music through the Q Acoustics 3050i ($839.99/pr at Amazon), Magnepan LRS ($650/pr), and PSB Alpha P5 loudspeakers ($399/pr at Amazon) – with the 3050i being my favorite of the three with the turntable connected to the NAD C 316BEE/Pro-Ject combination

Anyone who tells you that it’s impossible to build a great sounding system below $3,000 has no idea what they are talking about. 

Everybody counts, or nobody counts…

Listening to Freddie Hubbard’s Hub-Tones (Blue Note 80 Vinyl, ST-84115), the C 588 demonstrated its ability to put real weight behind a performance; something that I have not heard from a lot of the entry-level turntables that sound quite flat and colorless in my opinion. 

The NAD (even with the 2M Red which is one of my least favorite cartridges) reproduces the music in the grooves with sufficient impact in the bass, excellent midrange resolution, and more than enough detail to make relaxed sounding loudspeakers like the 3050i wake up from their nap. 

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The 3050i ($839.99/pr at Amazon) is a wonderful speaker that requires a bit of a firm hand (or whip) to really show off what it can do – the C 588 demonstrated that with something like the C 316BEE or Tube Box DS2 ($800 at Amazon), it can be a truly engaging source in a more expensive system. 

Stanley Turrentine’s Hustlin’ (Blue Note Tone Poet Series, ST-84162) shows off his rich tone on tenor sax and the C 588 delivers it up with both ample color and definition; Turrentine, Shirley Scott (organ), and guitarist Kenny Burrell are presented in their defined space with a genuine feeling of being in the room with the listener. 

The C 588 gets top marks for being very quiet and letting you hear nothing but the music; the noise floor is very low for such an inexpensive turntable and you are rewarded with the ability to hear deep into every recording – including bad ones that are not miraculously transformed into stellar audiophile pressings (sorry). 

NAC C 588 Turntable Side Profile Close-up

Regardless of the genre, the C 588 pushes the performance outward and does a wonderful job of carving out the recording space if it exists on the record; which is especially more impressive when you consider the affordable phono cartridge at the end of the head shell is only $99. 

I did try 2 other phono cartridges on the C 588 and the experience confirmed that the turntable is capable of much more performance if you can swing the cost of the upgrade.

Before putting this article to bed, I did mount a $450 MM cartridge on the C 588 and isolated it from my media credenza with the ZaZen isolation platform from IsoAcoustics to see if the turntable had a performance ceiling; and would it make more sense to tell readers to just spend $1,500 on another table/cartridge combination.

My restored Thorens TD-145 with the Dynavector 10×5 cartridge would cost around $1,800 in 2021 so that felt like a relatively fair comparison.

It wasn’t at the end of the day; the Thorens had greater presence, detail retrieval, and slightly better pacing, but some of that has to be chocked up to the $300 difference in the price of the cartridges, and the modifications implemented by Vinyl Nirvana.

Post-review (November 27, 2021 update), I added another turntable to my collection at home; a vintage Yamaha YP-701 that I purchased from our vintage contributor, Eric Pye.

I took delivery of the new Denon DL-A110 Anniversary cartridge that is going to be mounted on the Yamaha, but I did setup the YP-701 in the interim with a brand new Nagaoka MP-110 MM cartridge and I found the differences between the 40+ year old Yamaha and brand new NAD C 588 turntable rather interesting.

The motor on the Yamaha is the quietest I’ve ever heard on a turntable. Any turntable. Like I had to make sure it was working because there was zero sound on start-up and it has proven to be dead silent during playback.

It is indeed a “poor man’s” Thorens but it plays with the same degree of pace and has a warmer sounding midrange than the NAD C 588. I like the Yamaha’s tonearm a lot more.

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The NAD has more impact in the bass, but I’m super impressed with the Yamaha and just how good it sounds considering the age of the table and the price that I paid. The NAD C 588 isn’t going anywhere but I’ve realized that the 2M Red is even more average sounding than I thought.

Listening to St. Vincent, Phoebe Bridgers (who kills it on the new Metallica Blacklist tribute album), and Adia Victoria’s, A Southern Gothic (Atlantic Records), the C 588 clearly demonstrates that it is gene agnostic delivering all three albums with clarity, detail, and just enough midrange warmth to keep me from switching over to the Yamaha table with the Nagaoka cart.

The Nagaoka MP-110 is a much better cartridge long-term on this table and the vintage Yamaha.

None of that diminishes just how good this turntable does sound. I was rather taken aback by the uptick in performance when I upgraded the cartridge; it will prove to be quite significant depending on the rest of your playback chain. 

Does it make sense to buy the NAD C 588 with the stock Ortofon 2M Red and just enjoy how much music it can reproduce? 

Without question.

But you’ll like it more with a Nagaoka or 2M Blue.

Does this $900 turntable challenge most of the tables I’ve heard below $1,000 and leave many of them in the dust? 

It certainly does. 

8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Fred

    February 23, 2021 at 10:48 pm

    Thanks for the comprehensive review. If my max budget is $999 for a turntable, would you rank this 1st in your list of recommendations?

    • Ian White

      February 24, 2021 at 12:23 am

      Hi Fred,

      It would make my top 3 for sure. Pro-Ject X1, NAD C 588, and the Rega Planar 3 if you can find one on sale for $999.

      The NAD is built really well at the price point. It feels substantial. The X1 uses a acrylic platter, and the NAD/Rega use glass ones.

      The Rega has the best tonearm of the 3.

      I did end up buying the NAD because it’s just a solid table. I did switch out the Ortofon 2M Red (a cart that I hate…just too bright sounding IMHO) for a 2M Bronze which raise the performance of the table a lot. I have placed it permanently in our dining room system where it is connected to a Pro-Ject Tube Box DS2 and NAD C 316BEE V2 integrated amplifier. The trio sounds amazing. And it’s super reliable stuff.

      Thank you for reading.

      Ian

      • Fred

        February 24, 2021 at 7:10 pm

        Thanks for the reply. In brief, I started the journey into vinyl only last year (with a vintage receiver (Nikko), a mid-90s used Pro-ject TT, and Polk Audio Monitor 10a speakers). The TT def shows its age and wanted to get a TT that I can not worry about for a long period of time. This website has been quite helpful.

        • Ian White

          February 25, 2021 at 11:56 pm

          The NAD has been here for 6 months and it gets used 1-2 hours a day. There is this weird tool for changing from 33/45 rpm but otherwise no complaints.

          NAD supplied a rudimentary stylus pressure gauge with the table (the box comes with every tool you can think of and a decent phono cable – I have so many after 20+ years of reviewing that I swapped it out for a better cable) and it works. That being said – it’s not very precise and it made cart set-up a tad more complicated. I used an older Shure SPG which has a wider range of weight settings. Far more accurate.

  2. PJ Arts

    February 25, 2022 at 6:06 pm

    Ian,

    I am 6mos on the 588, and would like say goodbye to the 3M Red.

    Seeing its been a year since you bought and put on the Bronze, would you still continue with that choice in that price range? Have you had to replace? Some others in that range include Sumiko, Mofi, etc. Appreciate your updated advice.

    Thanks.

    • Ian White

      February 25, 2022 at 8:16 pm

      Hi PJ,

      Bronze has moved to another table but it’s excellent.

      I’ve decided on the Goldring E3 which I think trounces the Ortofon 2M Red in every way; more transparent, detailed, but not hard at all in the treble and it’s also very fast sounding. Very underrated cartridge.

      The Sumiko Rainier is also superior to the 2M Red.

      Best,
      Ian

  3. PJ

    February 27, 2022 at 12:22 am

    Sumiko Moonstone vs Orofon Bronze….. what do you think?

    • Ian White

      February 27, 2022 at 1:45 am

      Never heard the Moonstone. Bronze is really good.

      There is the new Sumiko Wellfleet that is $500 and it’s really, really good.

      Ian

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