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NAD C3050 LE

10 min read


Typically, older-looking tools making an attempt to embrace extra trendy applied sciences can have a touch of the pensioner on an eScooter about it. Fortunately, that’s emphatically not the case right here.


  • Previous-school appears with uber-modern specification
  • Balanced, articulate and mature sound
  • Nice management choices


  • Can sound in want of extra energy
  • Dialling in additional quantity takes some time
  • Laborious to come back by


  • UKRRP: £1799
  • EuropeTBC
  • CanadaTBC
  • AustraliaTBC

  • DACIncorporates a 24-bit/192kHz DAC

  • Energy100 Class D watts per channel

  • Retro stylingVU meters!

  • ConnectionsBluetooth 5.0 with aptX HD, HDMI eARC, phono stage


How do you have a good time an enormous birthday? By letting everybody make a fuss of you and offer you good presents? Nicely, that’s not how NAD is rolling on the event of its fiftieth birthday…

The NAD C3050 LE prices £1799, and on the time of writing would possibly probably be available for purchase. The clue’s within the mannequin identify, you see – the LE stands for restricted version. 

NAD formally constructed simply 1972 examples of the C3050 LE (as a result of the corporate was based in 1972), which suggests by the point you get to learn this they might all be gone. This overview exists, although, as a result of in addition to protecting a vastly spectacular product, it additionally issues the path by which the normal hi-fi trade could properly determine it wants to maneuver if it intends to remain related sufficient for NAD’s a centesimal birthday to be a trigger for celebration too.


  • Actual wooden casework
  • VU meters
  • Un-retro distant management

Regardless of what you might have thought (and it’s definitely opposite to what I used to suppose till very not too long ago), NAD merchandise weren’t all the time battleship gray in color. That design resolution wasn’t taken till later within the 70s and solely grew to become ubiquitous with the 1979 launch of the legendary 3020 built-in amplifier. Earlier than then, NAD did what an terrible lot of hi-fi corporations used to do: attempt to disguise its packing containers of electronics as furnishings.

So the C3050 LE options an terrible lot of precise, real wooden in its casework. And the place it’s not wooden, it’s partially VU meters – one other nod to ‘The Previous Occasions’ and precisely the kind of function I’m able to see make a correct comeback. 

NAD D C3050 LE VU meters
Picture Credit score (Trusted Critiques)

In addition to illuminated VU meters, the fascia additionally additionally options extra buttons and rotary dials than have graced the entrance of an built-in amplifier for a few years – and the phrases ‘New Acoustic Dimension’ and stereophonic additionally function. It could be loudspeakers which can be on the forefront of the present pattern for ‘trendy retro’ hi-fi, however these quite a few classic touches elevate the C3050 LE properly past mere pastiche.

NAD D C3050 LE remote control
Picture Credit score (Trusted Critiques)

It’s a disgrace the distant management that accompanies the amplifier isn’t an analogous kind of throwback – however given {that a}) this amp isn’t inbuilt any form of amount, and b) many of the handset’s capabilities will be taken care of by the BluOS management app, I assume it wouldn’t have made an entire lot of financial sense to design a ‘again within the day’ distant management too. 

So the C3050 LE appears simply the ticket if you wish to set your watch again 50 years. So long as you don’t look too carefully at a few of the capabilities of the fascia buttons, although, and also you don’t take a look at the again panel in any respect… 


  • Quite a few inputs, from phono stage to HDMI eARC
  • BluOS management app
  • 100 watts per channel

In relation to options, the NAD C3050 LE’s subterfuge doesn’t final. It would attempt its hardest to appear to be a throwback, however its specification is right for Q1 of the twenty first century.

For starters, this can be a Class D amplifier – none of your last-century Class A inefficiency. There was a time Class D was derided as a triumph of affordability and space-efficiency over audio efficiency – however that was again within the day. At this stage of the sport, Class D has nothing to show. NAD is quoting an influence output of 100 watts right here, into each 4 and 8ohm hundreds. It’s capable of drive two pairs of audio system concurrently if you happen to so want – a rotary dial on the fascia takes care of enterprise.

NAD D C3050 LE fascia
Picture Credit score (Trusted Critiques)

The suite of connectivity that’s on supply right here makes the case for the C3050 LE as a paradigm of modernity much more forcefully. Past the 2 units of loudspeaker cable binding posts, bodily connectivity consists of a moving-magnet phono stage, a line-level analogue enter, optical and coaxial digital inputs, an Ethernet enter, a USB slot and an HDMI eARC socket. There’s a pre-out for a subwoofer and one other pair to be used with an influence amplifier. 

NAD D C3050 LE inputs outputs
Picture Credit score (Trusted Critiques)

Wi-fi connectivity is feasible by way of Bluetooth (5.0 with as much as aptX HD codec compatibility) and Wi-Fi – the NAD’s rear panel is pretty bristling with wi-fi antennae. All digital inputs, whether or not wired or wi-fi, result in a 24-bit/192kHz DAC, with assist for quite a few file sorts together with FLAC and MQA. On the entrance panel, in the meantime, there’s a 6.3mm socket to be used with headphones.

NAD D C3050 LE BluOS app

The NAD is a part of the BluOS ecosystem, and so is appropriate with the just about completely admirable BluOS management app. Relatively wilful font apart, it’s a wonderful interface that covers each eventuality in some fashion, from integrating your favorite music streaming service(s) and web radio stations to setting quantity limits and different trivia. 

In fact, you could favor to make use of the properly tactile buttons on the fascia, and who may blame you? Keep in mind that the amount management takes manner too many turns to make worthwhile changes to quantity ranges, although… 

Sound High quality

  • Detailed, balanced and constant sound
  • Glorious powers of organisation and management
  • Not essentially the most powerful-sounding amp round

So far as establishing goes, there’s a bit of extra to the NAD than hook up audio system, connect supply(s) and provide with mains energy. Like a couple of current NAD amplifiers, the C3050 LE is appropriate with Dirac Stay Room Correction calibration software program – there’s a mic and a USB dongle within the field. Obtain the software program, comply with the directions and Dirac will do its utmost to calibrate the amp’s output to finest swimsuit the setting by which you’ve positioned it. This free taster works from 20Hz to 500Hz, however chucking some cash Dirac’s manner will get you the complete (20Hz – 20kHz) expertise.

On condition that issues, ought to you have got any, are more likely to be on the bass finish of the frequency vary, although, the free expertise has each likelihood of sorting you out. And after that, you’re free to benefit from the NAD C3050 LE within the information that it is aware of and understands your listening house.

Regardless of the (very helpful) HDMI eARC socket, the NAD is primarily a stereo music system – and in order that’s how most of our testing is undertaken. A turntable is hooked to the amp’s phono stage, a CD participant to the digital coaxial enter, and an Android smartphone with aptX HD codec functionality is used for wi-fi streaming.

And irrespective of which supply is in play, irrespective of the kind of music that’s deployed (I’m going from a vinyl copy of Prince’s Signal o the Occasions to a Bluetooth stream of Weyes Blood’s It’s Not Simply Me, It’s Everyone by way of a CD copy of Public Picture Restricted’s Poptones), the C3050 LE proves a constant, and unflappable, system.

NAD D C3050 LE speaker terminals
Picture Credit score (Trusted Critiques)

The positives of its efficiency far outweigh the negatives, so I’ll as properly get these out of the best way early on, to be able to have a run at what precisely is so likeable about it. So sure, it’s not essentially the most demonstrative amplifier you ever heard – there’s a neutrality about its sound that would fairly simply be confused for a scarcity of animation within the improper circumstances. 

The improper circumstances on this occasion, actually, start and finish with the loudspeakers the NAD is driving – if they’re equally neutral, the sound may conceivably appear a bit of indifferent. And regardless of the ability score, the C3050 LE simply doesn’t sound all that {powerful} – it does properly to keep up its sonic perspective irrespective of the extent at which you’re listening, however actually blasting it out simply doesn’t appear to be on the menu.

In any other case, the information is fairly good. Definitely the NAD maintains a constant tonality from the underside of the frequency vary to the highest, and manages to combine each space of the frequency vary with the kind of smoothness that makes transitions all-but imperceptible. 

Bass sounds are deep, textured and information-heavy – there’s loads of perception into the best particulars of low-frequency exercise, and the kind of rigorous consideration paid to assault and decay meaning rhythmic positivity is just about assured. There’s nothing frantic about the best way the C3050 LE presents music, however it positively doesn’t hold about – music has genuine (however well-controlled) momentum.

NAD D C3050 LE wood panelling
Picture Credit score (Trusted Critiques)

The alternative finish of the frequency vary assaults with equally well mannered dedication, and treble sounds have correct substance to enrich their chew and shine. Element ranges are equally excessive, and the NAD retains an in depth eye on the kind of transient high-frequency data that’s such an enormous a part of, say, the Prince recordings. The steadiness the C3050 LE strikes on the prime finish, making treble sounds crisp however by no means permitting them to turn out to be edgy or laborious (even at what passes for giant volumes right here) is spectacular too.

In between, the midrange is targeted and spacious sufficient to permit vocalists of all types the house to specific themselves. The NAD’s skill with soundstaging actually comes into its personal right here – with out dropping any of its profitable sensation of unity, the C3050 LE organises a stage to the purpose that each aspect of a recording is locked in place, free from interference from another aspect. 

The wide-open areas and large areas of silence which can be an enormous a part of the Prince recordings (sure, him once more) are given applicable prominence – and people silences are darkish and absolute. Element ranges are simply as excessive right here as elsewhere, and the result’s a degree of eloquence and poise that’s not at all a given even when spending this kind of cash on two-channel amplification. The NAD sounds naturalistic and convincing by way of the midrange – with just a bit extra positivity it will be completely superb. 

The low-level dynamics of a recording, the tonal variations which can be obvious particularly when listening to a solo instrument, are recognized and contextualised with actual confidence. The extra visceral dynamics of hushed center eight to last climactic refrain are made obvious too – however the C3050 LE doesn’t fairly go the entire hog. Different price-comparable designs have larger headroom and breathe extra deeply. 

Fortunately, every thing that’s pleasurable concerning the sound the NAD makes is carried over to the HDMI eARC socket. Simply as absolutely as with music, in fact, the standard of the audio sign going into the C3050 LE dictates the standard of sound that comes out – however as a chic and fuss-free manner of placing a rocket up the sound of your TV, this amplifier is profoundly helpful. 

Newest offers

Must you purchase it?

If yow will discover one: NAD is promising a vanilla C3050, however the LE has a allure that solely comes from being laborious to seek out.

In the event you’re a heartless speculator: Sure, you possibly can in all probability promote yours for greater than you paid (however you’re a soulless misery-guts if you happen to do).

Ultimate Ideas

There must be extra to a retro product than merely wanting old school – that’s one thing Volkswagen and Fiat understood when reimagining the Beetle and the five hundred, however it’s one thing that appears to have eluded entire swathes of the hi-fi trade for whom retro merely means retrograde. 

However with its ‘glad birthday to us’ restricted version C3050 stereo amplifier, NAD has demonstrated {that a} classic look doesn’t preclude some state-of-the-art performance. It gained’t please these house owners who’re having fun with the restricted nature of their good new/outdated amplifier, however NAD ought to actually contemplate making this amp, picket casework and all, a fixture in its product catalogue.

How we check

We check each amplifier we overview completely over an prolonged time frame. We use trade normal checks to check options correctly. We’ll all the time inform you what we discover. We by no means, ever, settle for cash to overview a product.

Discover out extra about how we check in our ethics coverage.

Examined with actual world use


When does the NAD C3050 launch?

The C3050 was introduced at Munich Excessive Finish in Could of 2023. This overview you’re studying is of the restricted version mannequin however availability of that mannequin is much less with just a few models nonetheless out there as of June 2023.



Dimension (Dimensions)



Built-in phono stage

Launch Date

Mannequin Quantity

Amplifier Sort




Frequency Vary


Said Energy

Distant Management



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