NAD launch ‘next generation’ D 3020 amplifier


[EDIT Jan 2014: the NAD D 3020 has been reviewed here.]

“Thirty twenty”. A most common utterance when NAD comes up in hifi conversation; it was the integrated that brought audiophillia to thousands upon thousands of households. The NAD 3020 was – and is – a quintessential piece of everyman hi-fi.  I own one.  It’s a tidy benchmark from which to judge other amplifiers that pass through these doors. Heck, its paper-light power rating gives lie to its ability to drive more challenging loads. The NAD 3020 sounds GREAT with Magnepan’s MMG and would definitely be my integrated pick for anyone doing planar-magnetics on a tight budget.

There’s no doubting the 3020’s standing as NAD’s most successful product of all time and every now and then I think about how NAD would make a motza if they were to bring it back; it would certainly ease the frustration of chasing second hand units on eBay.


Under the Lenbrook group umbrella – which also covers the equally superb PSB loudspeakers – NAD’s 40th anniversary product announcements are well underway. After some CES soft-launch teasing, three new digital audio products were formally (but quietly) unveiled at a media event in New York last month: the D 7050 Digital Network Receiver (US$899), the D 1050 USB DAC (US$399) and – get this – the D 3020 Digital Hybrid Amplifier (US$499).

Wait, what?

Yes, a “Thirty Twenty” for the digital audio generation. The D 3020’s pricing is extremely keen given the features on offer: asynchronous USB (24/96), optical and coaxial inputs (24/96), analogue input (to keep turntable lovers on the hook) and a front-panelled headphone output. The D 3020 also supports aptX Bluetooth audio streaming (so no need for that iPhone dock).  A remote control is also included.


The D 3020’s Class D output stage was co-developed by Hypex – the guys currently at the forefront of next generation switching amplifier modules – and it’s a little spicier on paper than my age-ing Class A/B model. This new iteration runs 30wpc into 8 ohms, double that into 4 ohms. NAD are claiming its ability to play nicely with (guess what!) Magnepan MMGs.

I see a shootout coming down the line when this product hits the streets in a month or two.

Further Information: Press Release (reproduced verbatim by TAS) / Hypex

Written by John H. Darko

John lives in the NOW + HERE = NOWHERE. He derives an income from the ad revenues of DAR. John is also an occasional staff writer for Stereophile, 6moons and TONEAudio.

Twitter: DarkoAudio
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  1. Dear John,

    I am as enthusiastic as you are with this beautiful new Direct Digital Feedback Amplifier based NAD products.

    The former Zetex, now CSR owned DDFA chipset has been successfully embraced by NAD several years ago and they revolutionized the audio market with the introduction on the NAD M2 integrated high-end amplifier, followed by the C-390DD which I own now for 1,5 year.

    I am convinced that the audio industry will change even more rapid than it does already. Low cost products offering TRUE high-end performance are appearing every week. Playing high-resolution music files without any flaw is now available for the masses.

    Indeed, a NAD-3020 with for example Magnepan will sound like BLISS

    More information regarding the DDFA chipset can be found here:

    • I am convinced that the audio industry will change even more rapid than it does already. Low cost products offering TRUE high-end performance are appearing every week. Playing high-resolution music files without any flaw is now available for the masses.

      Hi there ,

      Care to give examples of such low cost music file players with coax out if possible ?


      • I think the future is looking brighter and brighter for those of us who believe in computer-based systems (that tend to be reasonably priced) – as opposed to the snobbish millionaires who invest an equivalent of a house mortgage for the kind of sound that is only marginally better.

        I can’t wait for your full review, John, especially with the focus on the D 7050 Digital Network Receiver, as this component is the most innovative and relatively less written about than amps and DACs.

      • Hi Jono,

        I am not sure if the new ‘spin-off’ product from NAD is already available in your country. But take a look at:

        The heart of this ‘Sonos’ look alike machines is the DDFA zetex / CRS chipset with 35 bit / 105MHz processor on board.. it also has a digital (optical) out and plays flawless 24/192 content..!

        • Those Bluesound products are really interesting. Especially the Powernode, which seems to be a combination of a high res Sonos style streamer with the NAD 3020 digital amp. I’m not quite sold on the styling, but the features sound great.

    • So they do – well spotted my friend. I’ll hit up NAD about that when I next get a moment.

    • I believe that reads “0.5 W”, which is the amount of power the unit draws in standby mode.

  2. Hi John

    If possible John can you include the Creek Evolution 50a in that shoot-out?

    Regards Bill

  3. John – just rechecked my notes from the NAD event and the D 3020 is 30 watts into 8 ohms. You are correct.

    One thing they did say was that the D 3020 on display was a near “final” prototype in terms of how it was going to look. It was a fully functional unit, but the back panel could have been old.

    Or I could be just pulling that assumption out of my tuchas.


  4. At $400 makes me wonder why Naim couldn’t include at least one analog input on its DAC V1. I heard the latter combined with the NAP 100 at the Montréal show and frankly it left me cold.
    That 50w package costs close to 4 grand. I wouldn’t be surprised if the D3020 could play in the same ballpark(soundwise) for 1/10th the price.
    BTW – I’m not a Naim basher as I own a Nait 5i-2

    @ Bill Wicks – I briefly demoed a pre production version of the Creek 50a. The dealer kept steering me towards similarly priced Simaudio Moon 220i and 250i integrateds which may have had the edge in oomph and scale. I’m really sold on the look of the 50a and will definitely take the time to audition it again more thoroughly.
    My hunch is that he was looking to unload the Moons to make way for the new Néo series which just launched last week.
    In case your wondering why I’m looking to trade in a Nait for any of the above mentioned…I want and integrated with a headphone jack.

    PS – sorry John if I wandered off topic

  5. John,

    You’ve answered my hopes for the current NAD equipment to be evaluated and compared. But I also hope that you will find it worthwhile to compare it not only among themselves, but also to competing brands and models.

    I love your blog!


  6. The Teac AH01-S amp with DAC is in the same category, same price range, but its DAC goes up to 192kHz and the amplification uses B&O’s ICEpower chips. I’ve been real happy with that one in my secondary system.

    So while you’re just planning, at first, to compare old NAD to new NAD, a comparison of various digital amp/DACs at that price range — NAD, Teac, and I’m sure there are others — would probably be of more benefit to your readers.

    Dave, a happy reader

  7. Just checked your article again John.

    Might I be wrong with my statement regarding the DDFA chipset in this D3020 package? In case the unit is running with Hypex class-D, then the 3020 contains a different architecture then the NAD C-390DD and M2 series..

    And what is your opinion of NAD’s other low priced ‘high-end’ spin-off product series

    Regards, Peter

  8. Hi John,

    Will you also be doing comparison between the NAD and Wadia 151 and/or Nuforce DDA-100? I suspect a number of persons would be interested to know how all 3 digital amps/powerdacs compare.

  9. One thing I’m curious/concerned about (after reading the 6moons review of the Nuforce) is what these ‘power dacs’ sound like at low volumes on high efficiency speakers given that digital attenuation can truncate bit resolution. I was hoping the NAD would run 35bit architecture for theoretically lossless volume control, but seeing not, it would be nice John if you could take not of how they sound when running at say 5% of full volume (or 1% for those of us late night listening on horns) cheers

    • I tried a DDA-100 into a set of Zu Omen Standard and did not like the result on any level. Normal Amp is a simple refurbed Sansui 101. This may or may not be the case with your horn but I would try before buy.

  10. I look forward to this write up. Not sold on the styling – maybe they could have done a little retro 3020 evolution. AJ