Product Review (May 2009)
NAD - C 725BEE Stereo Receiver
NAD - C 545BEE CD Player

By Kevin Nakano


NAD - C 745BEENAD is well known for high value when it comes to manufacturing components for budget-minded audiophiles. Recently, they have introduced several new products that have more in common with traditional audio components from the past than the more recent designs with a lot of bells and whistles. Many of NAD's new components include "BEE" in the model number — named after their legendary designer Bjorn Erik Edvardsen. His key circuit designs include PowerDrive, Distortion Canceling Circuit, BEE Clamp and an all new and more highly refined circuit layout. There are many consumers out there who are more interested in a good 2-channel system rather than 5 or 7 mediocre channels with a massive amount of decoding options. NAD has focused on simple and proven design topologies that preserve the audio signal and keep the sound neutral and uncolored. The new C 725BEE Stereo Receiver does just that and provides listeners with a pure two channel system. Sure, the unit has a pair of tone (Bass and Treble) controls for those looking to boost or cut the lower and upper frequencies, but in our case we didn't use them at all and engaged the Tone Defeat button instead. There was something very refreshing about not having to worry about a multitude of settings for a given input on a receiver. NAD's C 725BEE only has one input selector and each of the inputs are for a two-channel analog input.

We are not saying the C 725BEE does not support some modern features. The receiver includes a line level Zone 2 output with a fully independent source selection control that allows the user to add an amplifier in another location and listen to all the same sources connected to the C 725BEE. In addition, a separate remote commander is included to control the C 725BEE from the remote location using independent IR codes. The IR input and output sockets on the rear panel make it easy to attach any of the many IR repeaters on the market today. The C 725BEE also sports an RS-232 port and is certified compatible with Crestron, AMX and Savant system controllers. The inclusion of a 12V trigger input and output gives additional flexibility and compatibility for custom installations. A detachable AC cord also helps during custom installation process.

The front panel has a pleasant looking and informative 2 line vacuum fluorescent display. This type of display seems to be a favorite among A/V component designers as they are easy to read, regardless of the ambient lighting. The controls on the front of the C 725BEE are minimal, yet provide enough flexibility to maximize functionality. The top right knobs control the Main Volume and Zone 2 Selector. The lower knobs are for Bass, Treble and Balance control. The buttons in the middle select the input (MP, CD, Tuner, Disc, Aux, and Tape) with an additional button for Tone Defeat. Independent Speaker Select buttons activate the corresponding speaker jacks on the rear panel. The buttons on the upper left of the unit are for power and tuner controls (Blend, Info, Memory, Tuner Mode, Preset and Tuning) The C 725BEE has a sensitive FM tuner that features excellent audio performance with sound quality that rival the best tuners. RDS data is also supported giving text information about the FM station and songs being played. There is an AM tuner for legacy broadcasts.

NAD SR 8 RemoteIR Remote
The SR-8 IR remote included with the C 725BEE has all the basic functions needed to control the receiver. The keys are layed out well and are adequately spaced for those with larger fingers. Unfortunately there is no backlighting (except for the Device Selector buttons), but since this is a receiver and not an A/V unit, it might not be used in poorly lit environments. Dedicated buttons for controlling speaker outputs A & B are provided as well as Tone Defeat and Mute buttons. The IR output power of this remote is excellent and we tested it tens of feet away at angles as wide a 45 degrees with great success. The remote includes a full set for controls for a CD player as well. Our review included a NAD C 545BEE CD player to supply source material.

Unlike many cheaper receivers we have seen, the C 725BEE uses sealed reed relays to switch the audio signals instead of the cheaper CMOS type solid-state switches. Purists typically dislike the use of solid state switches in the audio signal path as they tend to degrade and color the signal. Relays and other mechanical switches have the potential to minimize resistance and keep noise at their lowest possible levels. The C 725BEE uses precision audio grade (film) capacitors in all critical circuit locations for the best performance and reliability. This receiver includes some green features that keep power consumption under 1 watt while in standby mode. In addition, the PowerDrive technology improves amplifier efficiency during playback, creating less heat.

NAD C 725BEE Stere ReceiverThe back panel of the C 725BEE resembles one of the first receivers I owned as a kid. There was something nostalgic about it and as I looked into the design of this unit, it became clear to me that I would spend more time listening to the sound of the C 725BEE and less time writing about all of the modes and features incorporated into the design. Two sets of speaker jacks are provided for set A and set B. The C 725BEE can drive speakers as low as 4 ohms, something rare on receivers in this price range. Five sets of stereo inputs are provided for the different sources. Zone 2 has a set of outputs and there is a loop around for the main pre-outs and the amplifier inputs. This allows the receiver to use a separate amplifier if so desired. There is even a line level subwoofer output for those who want to connect a separate subwoofer. All the RCA jacks are gold plated for better long term reliability. The unit is also supplied with an AM loop antenna and a dipole antenna with a 300 ohm to 75 ohm adapter for the FM antenna input. This worked great at our location in the Los Angeles area. The C 725BEE supports RDS (Radio Data System) and displays this transmitted information from the local stations.

Just below the speaker terminals is a Soft Clipping switch that can be turned on or off. NAD engineers incorporated this circuitry to help prevent the DC nature of conventional clipping from damaging speakers (especially tweeters) when users inadvertently set the volume level too high. NAD’s patented selectable Soft Clipping circuit gently transforms the music waveform as the point of distortion (clipping) approaches, resulting in much clearer reproduction all while helping to protect speakers from damage.

NAD C 725BEE Stereo ReceiverDesign Topology
The internals of the C 725BEE are uncluttered and feature a conventional linear power supply isolated on its own circuit board. Large filter capacitors help smooth out the rail voltages for the output stages and provide the needed storage capacity allowing for substantial dynamic headroom. NAD has always been known for their conservative power ratings. The C 725BEE is only rated to provide 50W x 2 of continuous power into 8 ohms, yet due to the robust power supply and output design the unit can produce 110W, 160W, and 220W, IHF Dynamic power into 8, 4 and 2 ohms, respectively. Not many receivers are capable of this.
The large toroid transformer offers better efficiency and operates more quietly than traditional transformer designs. While toroid transformers are more costly to produce, they offer significant benefits to the audiophile. The lack of digital components on the main audio board helps eliminate the common problem of digital switching noise leaking into the sensitive audio chain. The zone 2 IR remote (ZR-5) provides basic functionality including power on/off, source select, volume level (including mute), tuning preset control, and standard CD controls.

IPD 2 DockDock Your iPod
Apple iPod users will be happy to know that NAD supports their favorite portable music player with the IPD 2 Dock for the iPod. We tested this dock with our iPod Video player and the results were fantastic. Several inserts are provided to adapt different iPod players to the dock base. These adapters help align the fragile 30-pin connector to prevent damage during mating. The IPD 2 Dock is weighted and includes a rubber base to keep it from sliding around. Interfaces include two-channel audio, s-video, a data port and a power input connection for keeping the iPod charged using the supplied 5V, 1A switching power adapter. The IPD 2 Dock also has a data port that is compatible with the C 725BEE. Connecting this 3.5mm plug into the back of the receiver provides users with track number, track name and playtime information on the easy to read vacuum fluorescent display even when the iPod display turns off. The dock includes a small 10-button IR remote to control the functions of the iPod. However, the main receiver remote includes the ability to control the iPod functions as well.

NAD IPD2 Compatibility Chart

NAD C 545BEE CD PlayerNAD C 545BEE CD Player
As part of our review, we received NAD’s C 545BEE CD player with the C 725BEE receiver. The C 545BEE replaces the highly regarded C 542 unit. According to NAD, significant improvements have been made to this latest model including the circuit layout and component. The result is said to improve low frequency slam and extension, while maintaining the imaging and depth along with timbral accuracy of its predecessor. Like the C 745BEE receiver, the C 545BEE features an easy to read vacuum fluorescent display that provides important information such as current time elapsed or remaining and individual track titles. MP3 and WMA files are supported resulting is hours of music on a single CD. Audio quality will vary with the level of compression used on the original recordings, yet our library of 320 kb/s MP3 files sounded excellent on this player.

NAD C 545BEE CD PlayerThe C 545BEE comes with the new NAD CD-8 full function IR remote control that provides all of the common features one would expect including Open/Close, Play, Pause, Stop, Skip-forward, Skip-back, Scan forward and Scan back. There are dedicated buttons for Random, Repeat, A-B Loop, Display, Program, Clear, Numeric Keys (for track number), Filter (normal or slow) and Dim. The repeat mode can be used for a single track of for the entire CD. The CD-8 remote control gives users direct track access and programming capabilities. Up to 40 tracks can be programmed by the user. Basic functions of the CD player can be accomplished using the SR-8 receiver remote for those who like to use only a single handheld. Like the C 725BEE receiver, the C 545BEE CD player consumes less than 1 watt when placed in the standby mode.

The C 545BEE pays close attention to all aspects of the design that affect sound quality. Like all great audio products, the toroid-based power supply uses separate linear power regulators for the analog and digital sections of the design. High quality Burr Brown OPA2134 op-amps are used in the signal chain instead of the much cheaper ones that are available and used in so many other CD players. Aside from the single film type output capacitor, no other capacitors that can potentially degrade sound quality are used in the signal path. NAD designs the analog output impedance to be very low at approximately 300 ohms to prevent accompanying equipment and cables from loading down the signals.

NAD C 545BEE CD PlayerBack Panel
The back of the C 545BEE is simple, yet has all the important interfaces needed for high quality audio playback. The coaxial digital output has been carefully tuned to 75 ohms to properly match the receiving circuit and prevent reflections in the cable due to mismatched impedance. It is important to use a 75 ohm coaxial cable to preserve the signal integrity of this interface. In addition, NAD has this output DC isolated (transformer coupled) to prevent unwanted currents moving to or from the connected components. An optical toslink connection is also provided for convenience.

Performance
PSB - Imagine T LoudspeakersWhile our focus was on the C 725BEE receiver, we had the opportunity to also experience the new C 545BEE CD player along with a pair of PSB Imagine T Tower loudspeakers. We used a set of Ethereal EXS Silver Series speaker cables terminated with gold-plated banana jacks. We placed a set of 2-meter Ethereal EXS Silver cables with RCA connectors between the CD player and the receiver. Finally, we decided to connect a PSB SubSeries 6i subwoofer to the subwoofer output on the back of the receiver to check the bottom end of this receiver. Most of our listening was done without the subwoofer so we could better focus on the sonic character of the midrange. Although these speakers are priced slightly higher than most might spend with a receiver in this price range, it was a great experience to hear just how good this $800 unit could sound. Music was well focused with precise imaging, something we rarely experience in a receiver at this price point. NAD put the resources in sound quality and left the unnecessary processing features out of this design. The result is a simple and pure audiophile product that sounds wonderful and won't take away from your children's college fund. The simplicity of the C 725BEE receiver is something I have missed for a long time and it was nice to experience. We played all types of music through this system and it sounded great.

Billy Cobham's Slow Body Poppin' from his Best Hits CD revealed the accuracy and punch of this system. The bass guitar sounded fluid and uninhibited. We attribute much of this to the simplicity of the signal path and the design of the back-end amplifier with its large dynamic headroom. The SubSeries 6i subwoofer contributed another octave lower than what we heard from the Tower T speakers. Sarah McLachlan's song I Love You from her Surfacing CD has bass below what the main speaker can produce and it became clear that the subwoofer was reproducing these deep notes with ease. In many ways we still prefer using only the main two speakers (PSB Imagine T's) when listening to certain types of music simply because of the beautiful midrange we experienced.

Conclusion
NAD continues to produce budget audiophile products and the C 725BEE receiver is no exception. Finally there is a simple and affordable high quality two-channel receiver without too many extras that often do more damage than good. The C 725BEE has the ability to reproduce subtle nuances in the music we cherish. This receiver is recommended for those looking for a great sounding two channel budget receiver for their CD player or portable media player. NAD even supports a second zone for those who need it. Everything in the design from the power supply and preamplifier to the final power amplifier stage was carefully design to maximize audio quality. A great feat for a receiver in this price range.

- Kevin Nakano






OPPO BDP-103 Blu-ray Player




Review System

CD Player: NAD C 545BEE CD Player
Front Speakers: PSB Imagine T Tower Loudspeaker
Subwoofer: PSB SubSeries 6i Subwoofer
Room Treatments: Echo Buster panels and Bass Buster towers
Audio Cables: Ethereal EXS Silver Series Cables


Review - At a Glance


NAD - C 725BEE Stereo Receiver


Product Specifications

Power Amp
Continuous average power output into 8ohms 2x50 W (17 dBW)
Rated distortion (THD 20Hz-20kHz) 0.02 %
Clipping power (max cont. power/channel) 61 W
IHF dynamic power 8 ohms +3.1 dB
2 ohms +4.7 dB
(Max short term power/chan) 4 ohms 148 W(21.7 dBW)
2 ohms 205 W(23.1 dBW)
A-weighted; ref. rated power 102 dB
Headphones output impedance 220 Ω
Treble control ±5 dB at 10 kHz
Bass control ±8 dB at 100 Hz
Tuner
Useable input sensitivity FM Mono 12 dBu
Harmonic distortion FM Mono 0.5 %
FM Stereo 0.8 %
Channel separation @1kHz 35 dB
Frequency response ±1.5dB ±1.5 dB (20 Hz - 15 kHz, 60 dBμ)
Physical Specification
Dimensions (W×H×D) Imperial 435 x 133 x 350 mm
Metric 17 1/8”x 5 1/4” x 13 3/4”
Gross Dimensions (W×H×D) Imperial 435 x 149 x 396 mm
Metric 17 1/8”x 5 3/4” x 15 5/8”
Net Weight Imperial 20.72 lbs
Metric 9.4 kg
Shipping Weight Imperial 24.25 lbs
Metric 11 kg


NAD C 725BEE Product Manual

Company Information
NAD Electronics International
633 Granite Court
Pickering, Ontario L1W 3K1

Canada

Phone: 905-831-6555
Fax: 905-837-6357

NAD Help Center

Source: Manufacture loan
MSRP: $799


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