I have no idea how I was able to live without a quality amplifier in my audio production business, but I have encountered many different experiences and learned a lot. I had the pleasure of experiencing the NAD D3020 V2 not long ago and I am excited to share my review on this product.
Who is NAD?
New Acoustic Electronics, better known as NAD, is a Canadian electronic manufacturer, established in 1972, that has done amazing work building a reputation for providing high-tech amplifiers at reasonable prices.
NAD made its mark within audio technology in 1978 after releasing the 3020. This was a HUGE milestone because NAD was the first company using an integrated amplifier instead of the typical amplifier. During that time, you had to purchase multiple additional components to get close to the hi-fi quality of audio output that you like.
After making that first mark with the release of the 3020 integrated amplifiers, NAD earned their place as one of the most preferred manufacturers of high-end audiophile technology.
They have consistently provided high-end products with budget-friendly components, allowing the amplifier to be more affordable. It is not just the affordable high-end technology that built their reputation; it is how they kept their design easy to use.
NAD changed the world with their 3020 integrated amplifiers; audiophiles wasted no time taking advantage of the new technology. Other manufacturers followed suit; their competition was determined to make sure that NAD was not the best.
Now, integrated amplifiers and stereo systems are everywhere but how do you determine what integrated amplifier to add to your cart?
Before buying ANYTHING, let alone a new best stereo amplifier, search for the site that provides your needs:
- What are you looking for?
- What do you expect from your amplifier?
This is important when purchasing an amplifier, or any purchase, to not accept less than what you seek.
I found that manufacturers with the most history alongside consistent feedback from previous consumers rate the most reliable. This tends to make your choice a bit less difficult.
Make sure that your final purchase is exactly what you need; the last thing that anyone needs is to make a purchase that does not provide the results we desire.
So, when would you need an amplifier?
Do You Need Better Audio Output?
Suppose you went to a birthday party; the DJ is playing his music from the speakers of his iPhone in a huge room of 50 people. Obviously, the speakers on cellphones are far from what is needed for a large birthday party. This is when you need better audio output.
Most electronics come equipped with built-in speakers. However, depending on the quality of the speakers, they usually cannot measure up to the standards of what we need.
Considering powerful speakers do not directly connect to many devices, most amplifiers are equipped with variable inputs and outputs that allow you to enjoy an upgraded quality of sound. This includes vintage audio devices, such as turntables. Typically, turntable and vinyl records do not provide the best quality in sound due to their condition after years of use. However, with the proper amplifier, you can connect your turntable to listen to your vinyl records with better quality ever before.
As mentioned before, the 3020 took the world by storm, so much so that it was the first serious audio purchase for many that were not audiophiles before the release. Audio devices continue to grow more advanced than ever. Amplifiers now come with features such as USB input, aptX Bluetooth features, optical inputs, a phono stage, and much more.
These new features sound cool, but people forget more features come at a price that increases what the consumers would pay in the end. Amplifiers can range anywhere from a couple of hundreds to thousands of dollars depending on their functionality. Stay aware of the latest audio technologies to make sure that you are able to get the best quality that you expect.
About the NAD D 3020
NAD released the original 3020 in 1978, five years after they were established, and had everyone scrambling for the new technology. Acquiring an amplifier with such high sound quality and ground-breaking features for such little cost had nearly everyone investing a 3020, but NAD did not stop there.
NAD continued to release spin-off variations of the original 3020 amp, most of which all received positive to mixed reviews for various reasons. In 2013, NAD electronics released the NAD D 3020 and, again, was able to provide their audience with a better version of their original 3020 amp; this was their first flagship version of the digital era.
The 3020 received nothing but good reviews, establishing itself as a reliable manufacturer of quality amplifiers for a reasonable price again. The NAD D 3020 follows the lead of its predecessor by maintaining the features that made it such a commodity yet, it still incorporates more modern additions, such as analog and digital sources, and aptX Bluetooth for 3rd-party device streaming capabilities, and remote control for easy control.
January 2018, at the Consumer Electronics Show, though, NAD electronics announced that they were releasing yet another upgrade to the 3020 series:
The D 3020 went to a new level with the design of the NAD D 3020 V2 and the first major change was a $100 slash off the original $499 retail price. As always, NAD did not let down when it came to adding the new modern features despite the price reduction. The NAD D 3020 V2 now possesses a full-range preamp only output and an RIAA-Equalized moving magnet phono stage, however, they removed one of the optical outputs and USB inputs; a likely reason for the reduced price since these components have been removed from this design.
The NAD D 3020 V2 has maintained most of the functions that were established by its predecessors, such as the size, energy efficiency, and 30 watts per channel, but it still inherited slight improvements such as low distortion and the moving magnet phono stage.
Configuration and Build
The NAD D 3020 V2 was delivered in a black cardboard box with additional accessories:
• A detachable IEC power cord
• An adapter for subwoofer output
• Warranty cards
It did not come with a printed hard-copy of the owner’s manual, but it can easily be downloaded from online sources, plus a quick-start for easy connection instructions.
The 3020 V2 I ordered came in an attractive package that got me excited at once. There is a line drawing of the components on the outer sheath paper. It shows the basic functions of the product.
Visually, the 3020 v2 is very compact, portable, and has minimal controls for simplistic use. It stands upright at 8 in. x 2 in. x 7 in. and weighs in at 3 lbs. There are only two buttons on top for power and source but on the front face of the amp, there is a volume knob towards the top, as well as a 1/8-in. headphone jack and volume indicators. The 3020 V2 keeps its minimalistic design to maintain its reputation for simplistic functionality mixed with cost-efficiency.
This minimalist design is what makes the update of this amp perfect for beginners. Along with the simplistic design, the 3020 V2 maintains a small design in comparison to the original NAD. As opposed to the traditional touch, the 3020 V2 has a much cooler look but note that it has vents on the side. DO NOT squeeze this amplifier between two other components.
The 3020 V2 also has a recessed Bass EQ button that provides you with a 7dB and 8 ohms of bass response. NAD explains their theory that the amp will be used primarily with smaller speakers and bass extension, thus their approach on the levels of bass. This was their approach to bring back NAD’s BASS EQ amplification and the high Q-filter centered at 80Hz with the boost. The goal is to get the right amount of boost to the bass without frying smaller speakers.
Besides the parts, a recessed Bass EQ button gets you a 7dB bass response when pressed. According to NAD, this bass approach is because they expect the 3020 V2 to be used mostly with small speakers with limited bass extension.
Fans of the NAD series have been demanding and requesting the phono input alongside the line-level analog, optical, and coaxial inputs. NAD finally answered the requests of the people by adding the MM phono input feature with the development of the 3020 V2, allowing audiophiles who appreciate the nostalgia of vinyl records.
The digital inputs support up to 24-bit/192kHz, an EXCEEDINGLY rare commodity among amplifiers within this price range. It is also equipped with Bluetooth A2DP (SBC0 and Qualcomm aptX wireless codecs support.
The 3020 V2 can be used as an integrated amplifier to drive passive speakers while feeding a powered subwoofer or a preamp through the preamplifier output. NAD went above and beyond with the 3020 series from its first induction into the world all the way to up now with each update they have released.
An interesting feature that I must make known first is that this compact 3020 V2 device is a Hybrid Digital and a Power Drive Technology carrier, culminating of years of NAD research within the digital spectrum. It led to the development of the well-received Masters Series Direct Digital, or DAC, Amplifier. Most models by NAD used this technology to apply a fully digital signal path from the input to the outputs.
The NAD D 3020 V2 has a new look but it has been proven time that their style is not just to look cool; it is more for a highly efficient user-experience for audiophiles. The design of the NAD D 3020 V2 prevents low distortions on the audio board and prevents analog and digital signals from getting their channels mixed. To optimize the dynamic power, NAD included the Asymmetrical PowerDrive to control the power output, ensuring sound comes out without adding THD to the listening experience.
Then, there is the remote to control most of the functions of the V2 amplifier. Considering the portability of the V2, the remote control is a welcome feature.
The NAD D 3020 V2 provides a great quality listening performance, even through the MM phono input and wireless streaming capabilities. It has an innovative bass EQ circuit with a bass boost that combines with the timing and dynamics. However, the V2 still maintains an excellent tonal balance which helps if you do not wish to add soft clipping or fatigue to the performance.
I put the NAD D 3020 V2 to the test with “Heaven Must Have Sent You” by Elgin and it did not disappoint; it sounded amazing. The a-weighted amplifications added a sound quality to my listening experience that I think I could feel all 4 ohms dancing along with the hairs of each of my ear canals.
As amazing as the 3020 V2 digital amplifier sounds, please, note that the dynamic sense of the is not the greatest within its price range.
• A full-bodied performance
• Fine-timing and great dynamics
• Phono stage
• Easy to use
• Bluetooth aptX
• Limited dynamic sense
NAD has made their reputation known to be reliable suppliers to the audiophile masses.
True, there are more ‘performance-for-pound’ savvy brands than the 3020 V2, such as Marantz, that are equally compelling. However, other amps at this price range cannot beat NAD in terms of features and functionality.
The NAD D 3020 V2 comes with many impressive features that are well worth the affordable price that they request. Now, you face making a choice between the right speakers to connect with your V2.