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NAD 314

Italian version

[NAD 314]

The NAD 314 is an integrated amplifier with 35 watts of output power per channel, it has several facilities including tone controls while the classic NAD grey finish is a bit on the poor side, as usual.
NAD products have always been designed having in mind clever good sounding circuits and components while aesthetics and finish quality have always been considered of secondary importance.
The static approach with this amplifier isn't very positive: switches and knobs give immediately the idea of something very, very cheap.
Taking a look at the inside one can see a good level of engineering and a clever choice of good components.
The 314 offers a lot of things to the owner: 4 line inputs plus 2 tapes and even a good phono MM. Still available is the classic pre-out main-in pair of connectors.
Two pairs of speakers are allowed and the secondary pair is curiously named extra speakers. The classic NAD circuit soft clipping is available, just to avoid the harsh and potentially dangerous clipping of the solid state amplifiers.
There's a relais that prevents the nasty bump when one turns on the amplifier: it waits till the capacitors of the power supply are charged then it connects the outputs (speakers, that is).
The speakers output sockets are very easy to use and the phono and CD RCAs are gold plated.
The power cord is on the poor side, earth grounding is not available.
Current list price, in Italy, is slightly over 500 US $.

How does it sound

The NAD 314 is a very bright amplifier with a refined high range that gives a sense of open and detailed musical reproduction.
This is particularly evident with female voices, clean, sweet and very, very well defined.
Each single word of the *cantato* is clear and well spelled.
The cymbals in general are very metallic, but still in a natural sense - never too *tizzy*. Classic guitar chords and *pizzicato* are so lively and real that you may think the guitarist has paid your listening room a visit.
The medium range is, conversely, a little bit *light* so that male voices, for example, are less *dramatic* and *warm* than usual.
Also, every instrument with its main emission in the mid range is a little bit on the *light* side and one would prefer a more *solid* reproduction in this frequency range.

This sonic behaviour is rather *smart* in the sense that it could appear intriguing and lively at a first *sight* but potentially tiring on the long run, especially if you match the NAD 314 with the wrong loudspeakers.
But, as I said, the 314 is a *smart* design and, just to counterbalance this *light* reproduction of the mid-high range, it has plenty of bass. The bass range is powerful, fast and well extended.
One could then think it has a *loudness-on* kind of sound but this is a pretty unfair condideration: the NAD 314 isn't exactly a boom-boom tizz-tizz amplifier, if you know what I mean.
It is a lively good sounding integrated, which reproduces the Music with an outstanding sense of rhythm and pace.
To fit my taste it should have a more *present* mid to mid-bass range and a sligthly more extended lower bass.
The phono input is very similar to the line ones, only a little bit sweeter.


Even if claimed continuos power output is 35 watts per channel, this amplifier can sound loud, amazingly loud.
It can drive almost any kind of loudspeaker without *fear* and if you think 35 watts aren't enough to suit your needs, well, think again and try to listen to this amplifier coupled with your speakers.
Plus, it doesn't have the classic two-speed sound, as many other high current amplifiers. It doesn't sound innaturally dynamic as it had a second *speed* to use when the musical program requires more power.
Plus this amplifier sounds fast and well-paced so that the Music it plays seems more lively than usual.
In other words this amplifier is a clever mix of synergic characteristics so that the overall balance of its sound is very good.

3D imaging

Stereo imaging is good, not for the dimensions of the virtual soundstage but thanks to the focus and the precision of the image.
Depth, height and width are average but the realism of the image is outstanding.
Then we shouldn't forget we're talking of a budget amplifier.


As usual I recommend to exclude the tone controls by means of the appropriate switch. Also you shouldn't use the *soft clipping* circuit since your ears should already have this kind of *circuit* built-in.
This classic NAD feature is quite strange: if the amplifier is aimed towards audiophiles then the soft clipping is useless. Every serious audiophile knows when enough is enough.
A non-audiophile doesn't even understand what the word clipping means so he won't understand the necessity of such a fancy switch.

The 314 for the European (Italian?) market has no ground wire in the power cable but, despite of this, you should try to find the best-sounding position of the plug into the wall AC socket. One of the two possible positions sounds better.

The 314 doesn't overheat, even under severe conditions, but it needs some burn-in before playing at its best, 15 minutes should suffice.
I've found that the inputs not connected to any source do make some noise which disappears once you plug in the signal cables.
This is quite strange but it doesn't affect in any way the performances of the 314 as its inputs are, under operative conditions, very silent, including the phono.

For a perfect match you should avoid like the plague those tiny, overbright mini-loudspeakers but choose some warm and smooth floorstanders instead.
The same arguments apply to cables (signal and speakers) and to the choice of the source.
Avoid anything which is *overbright* unless you're a fanatic of the *razor's sharp* kind of sound.


One can't say that the NAD 314 is a *good-looking* amplifier: it is ugly with a very low WAF (the usaul Wife Acceptance Factor).
But the 314 hasn't been designed to meet the eye: it has been built for the pleasure of the ear.
The 314 is a good sounding amplifier, with a very strong character, sometimes (and with some speakers) it tends to sound too bright but this is the price to pay for its razor's sharp reproduction as it can really bring new life even to the slower of the loudspeakers.
This kind of musical reproduction should have an appeal to a wider public than the *pure audiophile* bunch and even the features of the NAD 314 seem to suit the needs of someone who's looking for a good sounding amp, which doesn't cost an arm and a leg, with a reasonable number of inputs (and outputs) and with tone controls and even (!) a headphone output.
For this kind of potential owner a remote control (even the simpliest one) would have been a major plus though.
The bottom line is: this is a cheap and good sounding amp. If it had a remote control and a superior finish it would been even better.
But these things come at a price: it's business as usual.

Copyright © 1997 Lucio Cadeddu

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