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Amplifier NAD 304 review

NAD: a name that has become synonymous with unadventurous, high-value hi-fi. The 304 amp does nothing to detract from this reputation. In fact, it looks identical to the fabulous NAD 302 give or take an extra line input and A/B speaker terminals.

There’s an extra LED too, provided by way of indication for its Soft Clipping option. This latter facility will enable the power amp to gently back-off near full power, preventing any bursts of distortion caused by sudden surges into clipping, More importantly, the 304 is equipped with NAD’s EDP (extended dynamic power) circuit, momentarily switching-in a high voltage supply rail to cope with abrupt dynamics within the music. As a consequence, the NAD 304 provides all the oomph of a 180W amplifier while falling back on its standard 50W stage during the bulk of the music.

Sound quality

For once we have an amp that was unanimously popular with the listening panel. Everyone warmed to it’s exuberant enthusiasm and was inspired to write a few more interesting descriptions than usual. Probably the most apt was ‘this amp really gets a move on’. It was certainly one ofthe quickest in the bunch, and another panellist remarked that this helped maintain interest in the tracks being played.

But it wasn’t all pace. There was plenty of dynamic contrast as well. It injected a greater sense of life to the test tracks, a vibrancy that made the jazz combo sound as though its members were really swinging along and enjoying themselves.

However, the NAD 304 is not entirely perfect. Some sibilance was noted on certain tracks, and some might find it a little too quick for comfort.
With vinyl, it put in an equally entertaining performance, bringing out more of the dynamics and depth that the medium excels in. One listener found it less clear than the line input, but concluded that it was still very fluid.

Conclusion

It looks like NAD has done it again. Although the 304 may not look very thrilling, it is a cracking amplifier that proved both entertaining and informative.

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