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Saturday, March 19, 2016

NAD refurbished at Spearit Sound

I had a really great experience this past week buying a refurbished NAD C326BEE integrated amplifier online from Spearit Sound.  I took the opportunity to ask some questions about NAD refurb in general, and Mr. Dick Moulding, who is the General Manager, got back to me promptly with some answers.  My questions:

 1.) What’s with the cocoon foam packing in the box?  Is it sprayed in by NAD after the factory completes its quality testing? This may seem like a dumb question but I have a few other factory refurbished items from other companies and never saw the likes of it.

2.) Spearit has a good selection of refurbished equipment, which for the nascent or cheap buyer is something of a Godsend.  For example, in this case I was looking for a smaller, inexpensive but high quality amp to take with me to the listening rooms of friends, with the intention of writing about their rooms and setups for Bad Audio Reviews.  I wanted a piece that would be consistent in all settings, and a more expensive amp didn’t make sense.  NAD was a perfect choice.  What makes you as the retailer choose to offer a particular product or line as a refurbished product?  Must you also carry “A-stock” of the brand?

3.) I own an NAD 3125 that is probably 30 years old and it works flawlessly.  There seems to have been a period where NAD went through some difficulties with quality control.  Would you be able to comment on that?  Does the company seem to be past this problem?  I have heard similar things about Cambridge Audio (I would understand if you chose not to comment here).

4.) What generally is the availability of refurbished products, especially for NAD?  Should I be encouraging friends to order now before things run out?

And here were his answers:

1.)     The foam-in-place packing is done by NAD after they have finished refurbishing the unit.  The advantage of this type of packing is that it conforms to the unit no matter what the size or shape.  It also protects from all angles.

2.)     Our relation with NAD goes back to the very beginnings of the company.  We are honored to be NAD’s exclusive seller of refurbished products and one of their top authorized Internet sellers of A-stock as well.

3.)     Parts quality and build quality of current NAD’s is highest it has ever been.  If you take the cover off your 3125 and compare it side-by-side to the C 326BEE you just purchased I think you will be very impressed.  In the past, people loved NAD’s because the design and the performance was so insanely ahead of the pack for a given price that it didn’t matter if it wasn’t all that extravagantly built.  Now that performance comes with a rather nice build.

4.)     Availability depends on the time of year and the model.  It’s always worth a look at the Spearit Sound website to see what we have.

Thank you Mr. Moulding, for taking the time to respond.  As I said in an earlier post, I got the C326BEE for $379 shipped, and I had it in two days.  I haven't had the time to do a full listen and write up, but we plan to use it as the travelling amplifier, so we will get to know it well.  Definitely check out Spearit of you're looking for NAD gear.  

here are some quick pictures in the Am light of the C326BEE.  You may see that there are some very slight marks on the top apron for the front face plate, and the top edge is slightly rough in a few spots, perhaps where the tech had to wrangle it off or on during the refurbishment process.  The face plate is all plastic, as are the various control knobs, so I would imagine that it would be easy to damage them if one were not careful.  Regardless, at $379 the marks are very, very minor and I did not notice them until I got the camera close.  I think the C326BEE retails new for around $550, so I'd have to look at its competition at that level to see how it does build-quality wise.  The interior looks very well laid out and uses quality parts, and with NAD that has always been most important.  I would like to compare it to the Yamaha A-S500 integrated and see how it stands up, or the Onkyo 9010A.  I have the NAD hooked up to the Dynaudio Focus 220s today and we shall see how it does with them.


Monday, March 14, 2016

Refurbished NAD C326BEE from Spearit Sound

The weather in the NY metroish area hardly cooperated with rain and high winds today, but the good folks at Spearit Sound got my new amplifier to me in record time.  If you'll recall, I ordered it last Thursday, no shipping charge.  Total cost: $379 (!) And when I got home from work (late of course) it was on the doorstep, box just slightly damp.  And what a box (actually there were 2) it was:

This is the inside box.  There was one nearly twice this size on the outside.  Interestingly, the box is stamped factory refurbished.  Imagine my surprise when i opened it and found that the foam packing was literally encasing the amp and its accessories:

It must be something they do at the factory.  I hope to get some info from the folks at Spearit about the refurb process.  The packing certainly makes the delivery rather bullet proof.  Not too useful for re-using though.  We'll have to see about that.  The amp is spartan in that NAD way:

 . . . and overall I like the look.  Not thrilled with the plastic knobs and front plate but what do I want for the money?  It is much prettier on the inside, and that is what counts.  Remember, no phono preamp and only one set of speaker binding posts.  It does have an MP3 input on the front (although I would probably want to run that through a decent DAC first) and a nice tape loop.  It also has preamp outs which is very useful.  So, I pulled the Sony STR-GX90ES out of its spot, and here is a terrible picture (I promise better over the weekend):

I had an extra Pangea power cord out so i used that, although I think I have an Audio Quest around to try as well.  very little listening was done tonight, just a couple of soundtracks through the Dynaudio Excite 14s.  I will also try the NAD with the Focus 220s, but I believe that will be pushing things a bit.  My initial impressions are good, more to come.  Bottom line, take a look at Spearit, they have some very interesting stuff and some seriously good prices.


Sunday, March 13, 2016

None of the above!

Or below, for that matter.  I ordered a refurbished NAD C326BEE and it should be here tomorrow.  Initial deciding factors; preamp outs and option to use a power cord of choice.  I'll do some unboxing photos, etc., and provide info on the place I purchased it from tomorrow also, if all goes well. I made 2 (!) tapes today, both on the Sony TC-K700 ES.  One was a TDK SA-90, and the other a Sony ES II.  I am gathering some more info regarding the TC-K700 ES for a more comprehensive post.  it makes great tapes, despite my incompetence.

Always hard to sleep the night before new stereo arrives! 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

An inexpensive integrated amp or stereo receiver for summer craziness

A question:  if you were to buy an inexpensive (under $450) integrated amplifier or stereo receiver that you planned to lug around to friends' houses to try out in their listening rooms with their speakers and their adult beverages, would any of these be on your list:

NAD C 316 Bee
Onkyo 9050
Yamaha R-S700

It's not like you can carry a Yamaha A-S2000 around.  Do any of the list above seem like good choices?  If so, why?  If not, why not?  Would you take your money and buy something used, or vintage and not care about the dangers of travel?  let's pretend that your criteria have to include a remote control and the ability to drive a pair of Dynaudio Excite 14 speakers to a reasonable level playing a variety of music.  Any suggestions?

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Sony TC-K700 ES and Denon Sport quick pic

I wanted to upload the only two pictures that are sort of view-able from last weekend's tape recording session.  A shot of the Denon Sport 100 minute tape I used to make one of what will certainly be many Yes mix tapes:

Interestingly, when I had the deck refurbished (that adventure is what I am writing about next), i learned that there is no "bulb" per se behind the light in the cassette well.  Interesting.  And, here is a shot of the copper-clad rear of the STR-GX90ES:

Which we learned has a problem with one channel of its phono output, which is a shame.  If anyone can recommend a good repair outfit in the NY, CT, NJ area please let me know.  I don't think Wayne at In House Repair is still open.  If I am wrong about that, someone please let me know, as I need to make an appointment to bring this receiver in!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016


I'll post some pictures later in the week, but while making a tape of Sibelius Symphonies and a mix of Yes songs, I discovered that the Phono section of the Sony STR-GX90ES is malfunctioning.  Only one channel is outputting a signal.  I don't listen to a ton of records, but enough that this will be a nuisance, especially since I had planned to leave an all Sony ES set up in place for a few months.  I can open the hood but given my lack of skills there is very little i can do on my own unless there is an obvious problem.  At this point I'll be it would be cheaper to take an electronics class than it would be to ship the machine and have the problem repaired . . . any suggestions?