Please Compare - Contrast NAD C326 & Music Hall A15.2 - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 05-15-2011, 03:22 PM - Thread Starter
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Greetings Learned Forum:

I have given up on my old integrated amp and need a replacement. The two integrated amps in the title to my thread seem to be well respected, and are priced identically, and in my price range.

How would one begin to choose between the two? Our Forum seems to have a lot more information about the MH, and quite little on the NAD

My speakers are 4 ohm Onix Ref 1's, and my primary sources of material are an Onix CD player and a Sony HD tuner.

Thanks much for your thoughts.

Just Nick
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post #2 of 15 Old 05-17-2011, 08:22 AM - Thread Starter
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post #3 of 15 Old 05-17-2011, 08:39 AM
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I like the Music Hall, it is straight forward with no frills. That is what I look for in an integrated amp for music.

"Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea." -Robert A. Heinlein

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post #4 of 15 Old 05-17-2011, 08:53 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Just Nick View Post

Greetings Learned Forum:

I have given up on my old integrated amp and need a replacement. The two integrated amps in the title to my thread seem to be well respected, and are priced identically, and in my price range.

How would one begin to choose between the two? Our Forum seems to have a lot more information about the MH, and quite little on the NAD

My speakers are 4 ohm Onix Ref 1's, and my primary sources of material are an Onix CD player and a Sony HD tuner.

Thanks much for your thoughts.

Just Nick

I wouldn't waste my money on either, but let me state up front that I am not an audiophile...so sound (waves/field) is my primary decider, not rumors, street cred and magazine subjectivist ratings.
As such, for the same money, I'd buy an HT receiver and maybe a simple 4 component universal remote.
Something like the Yamaha (or similar) RX-V671. 90W RMS full bandwidth with 2 channels driven, 130/170/200/240W dynamic power down to 2 ohms without overheating or shutdown. Basically enough grunt to drive your speakers at least as loud as the integrateds. However, that's where the similarity ends with sound quality, as the Yamaha has digital inputs, onboard DACs, network capability, bass management, etc, etc...and most importantly, 10x the soundfield adjustment capability (automatic if you wish), which translates into superior sound (waves/field) in your living room, verifiable via measurements...and not just an unverifiable figment of the imagination in the audiophile mind.
The extra remote would be for convenience, not having all the extra buttons that might be pressed accidentally.

cheers,

AJ
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post #5 of 15 Old 05-17-2011, 09:37 AM - Thread Starter
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Thank you very much for your replies. AJ, I am particularly interested in your comments regarding sound field adjustment in my listening space. My physical set up is challenging at best.

I have a 2 1/2 story space. There is an open loft that forms half of a second floor. It is open to below, with only a railing. The speakers are in the loft, pointed outward toward the railing and a wall of windows on the opposite wall. All of my listening is from down below, so I never hear sound directly from the speakers ( I have no line-of-sight to them). I only hear it after it has bounced around quite a bit. I used to have a dedicated listening room, but that was another lifetime ago...

I believed my physical space to be so challenging that I really did not even try to do anything, nor could I if I wanted to with a simple integrated amp. I always imagined keeping it simple, but perhaps some sound field adjustment will help my situation.

I am also in the Dark Ages when it comes to source material, using my CD player. I have an iPod, so I have taken the time and trouble to rip all of my CDs onto my computer (I am up to 500 or so). I used a well respected program (Exact Audio Copy), but they are compressed, nonetheless. I guess I always thought my CDs would provide better quality source material than decompressing what is on my computer, so that is why I never sought to integrate the two. But I am quickly learning that the world has changed and I am a dinosaur. It seems clear that, if I were leaning toward integrating the music library that is on my computer with my 2 channel system, it would certainly impact my choice of amp.

Thank you both for your input. I greatly appreciate your continued thoughts with this process.

Just Nick

So
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post #6 of 15 Old 05-17-2011, 11:05 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Just Nick View Post

Thank you very much for your replies. AJ, I am particularly interested in your comments regarding sound field adjustment in my listening space. My physical set up is challenging at best.

I have a 2 1/2 story space. There is an open loft that forms half of a second floor. It is open to below, with only a railing. The speakers are in the loft, pointed outward toward the railing and a wall of windows on the opposite wall. All of my listening is from down below, so I never hear sound directly from the speakers ( I have no line-of-sight to them). I only hear it after it has bounced around quite a bit. I used to have a dedicated listening room, but that was another lifetime ago...

I believed my physical space to be so challenging that I really did not even try to do anything, nor could I if I wanted to with a simple integrated amp. I always imagined keeping it simple, but perhaps some sound field adjustment will help my situation.

Yikes.
Well, Nick, unfortunately, that scenario might be beyond redemption for even the Yamahas (or other) soundfield correction capabilities. It could improve things...as well as make it worse. Very unusual setup, but it is what it is. Where are the components located?
Only reason why I ask, is that I have a slightly similar layout in my loft (currently rented out), where a mezzanine overlooked the 1st Floor. I'll let the pics explain what I did, which obviously differs from your setup.
View up from 1st


Across from screen wall


Down from mezzanine

I turned the mezzanine/equivalent of your loft area into the seating for the HT on the opposite wall.
Would it be possible for you to mount some small (but quality) speakers on the "window wall"? Which you would listen to seated in the loft (where a sub and your components would also reside)? Just a thought.
Otherwise, the situation is grim.

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I am also in the Dark Ages when it comes to source material, using my CD player. I have an iPod, so I have taken the time and trouble to rip all of my CDs onto my computer (I am up to 500 or so). I used a well respected program (Exact Audio Copy), but they are compressed, nonetheless. I guess I always thought my CDs would provide better quality source material than decompressing what is on my computer, so that is why I never sought to integrate the two. But I am quickly learning that the world has changed and I am a dinosaur. It seems clear that, if I were leaning toward integrating the music library that is on my computer with my 2 channel system, it would certainly impact my choice of amp.

Thank you both for your input. I greatly appreciate your continued thoughts with this process.

Just Nick

So

I have my collection ripped to a 1TB HD, straight WAV files using WMP. I connect it to my system via my Sony Bluray player. The Yamaha I suggested (though there are plenty similar other brand options) does appear to have both Ipod input for your Ipod and a USB port. If you transferred your CD files to an external HD, you might be able to access them directly that way (via the USB), though other options like dedicated media players, exist as well.

cheers,

AJ
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post #7 of 15 Old 05-17-2011, 11:54 AM - Thread Starter
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Dear AJ:

Thank you for at least confirming my fears. For several reasons, mounting speakers on the "window wall" will not work. Not the least of which is the fact that we spend the majority of our time on the first floor. Though it is difficult to imagine anything sounding worse down there than music coming from the loft, I would wager that music coming from up above on the "window wall", bouncing off the back wall of the loft, and then bouncing back down to the first floor might fit the bill. YIKES. As you said, it is what it is.

So I guess I am back to just needing an amp. Bad sound is better than no sound, which is what I have right now. Given my set up, should I even bother with anything quality? Is NAD, MH, etc wasted on my space? Any recommendations are appreciated. Thank you again for your thoughts.

Just Nick
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post #8 of 15 Old 05-17-2011, 12:51 PM
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So you're listening environment isn't perfect! Whose is? Still, I would expect that you can still enjoy your music in spite of the structural challenges. Over the years I have had to place my gear in a wide range of environments, and none of them were optimal. Still, I've always managed to enjoy my music. So don't convince yourself that you're not going to like how it sounds before setting it up and giving it a try. Just like live music - which is sometimes played in well-engineered music theaters, or sometime (perhaps more often) in ad-hoc setups in bars or gymnasiums - the beauty of the music well come through if you are receptive to it.

As for which amp. I'm partial to the NAD as it has a balance control and tone controls which will at least give you some degree of control. It also allows you to partner the pre-amp portion with a larger amp should your needs one day change (look at rear-panel pics of both and you'll see the NAD has jumpers going from pre-outputs, to main-inputs). Plus, it probably has a larger dealer network should service become necessary. Lastly, having just purchased a C375Bee Integrated (a few models up the product line from the C326) I can say that it's very well engineered and robustly built. To wit: it is quieter and has better signal balance consistency that either the Peachtree Nova (same price roughly), or Bryston BP-25/3bsst combo (nearly 4x more) that preceded it.
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post #9 of 15 Old 05-17-2011, 01:34 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you, Syd. Given my specifics, is the C326 a good choice, or should I look further up the NAD line?

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post #10 of 15 Old 05-17-2011, 01:56 PM
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Your speakers are a reasonably efficient two-way design; while some may disagree, I would think the c326 would be more than enough. Though I opted for the 150 watt 375, the 326 would have probably been more than enough for me as well.
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post #11 of 15 Old 05-18-2011, 05:57 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Just Nick View Post

Dear AJ:

Thank you for at least confirming my fears. For several reasons, mounting speakers on the "window wall" will not work. Not the least of which is the fact that we spend the majority of our time on the first floor.

Understood. As it stands, you are listening entirely to the reverberant field, no direct. Non fixable.

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Though it is difficult to imagine anything sounding worse down there than music coming from the loft, I would wager that music coming from up above on the "window wall", bouncing off the back wall of the loft, and then bouncing back down to the first floor might fit the bill. YIKES. As you said, it is what it is.

What I suggested was sitting in the loft (like my mezzanine) and facing the loudspeakers on the window wall (like my theater speakers), so you get the superior sound of both direct and reverberant field, when listening less casually. You could always still sit downstairs and listen to your current speakers as they are (some of those HT receivers have A/B speaker switching...and well as 2nd zones).

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Originally Posted by Just Nick View Post

So I guess I am back to just needing an amp. Bad sound is better than no sound, which is what I have right now. Given my set up, should I even bother with anything quality? Is NAD, MH, etc wasted on my space? Any recommendations are appreciated. Thank you again for your thoughts.

Just Nick

It's your money, but the HT receiver will sound at minimum, as good as the integrateds, possible better due to the far greater soundfield adjustment capabilities...and also have 10x the connectivity, future proofing, features (like bass management), etc....for the same $$.
The only downside is the more complex remote...and maybe lower audiophile "street cred"...if those things that have zero effect on soundwaves affect or matter to you.

cheers,

AJ
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post #12 of 15 Old 05-18-2011, 06:54 AM - Thread Starter
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Thank you all again for your thoughts, especially AJ. Let me refocus on the HT receiver idea. What would be some receivers that I should give consideration to? In light of my agonizing room acoustics, would a receiver with a robust room equalization feature have a leg up? I have a dedicated HT in the basement, with a Marantz HT receiver that has Audyssey, so I am familiar with the general concept.

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post #13 of 15 Old 05-18-2011, 08:50 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Just Nick View Post

Thank you all again for your thoughts, especially AJ. Let me refocus on the HT receiver idea. What would be some receivers that I should give consideration to?

The one's in the $500 range .
Perhaps you can check some out locally? That price pretty much ensures acoustic calibration on-board (Audyssey, Yamaha YPAO, Pioneer MCACC, Harman EzSet, etc, etc.). Then it comes down to the features that you desire - network, usb, ipod connectivity, remote aesthetics, etc, etc.
Many times the best bargains are (brand new) last year models being closed out at Best Buy, etc.

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In light of my agonizing room acoustics, would a receiver with a robust room equalization feature have a leg up?

Yes, at least from a spectral balance perspective. I would imagine your HF are softened by the diffuse nature of your soundfield. One worry would be the calibration software being confused by the phase readings at the mic.
But you have a way to find out....

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I have a dedicated HT in the basement, with a Marantz HT receiver that has Audyssey, so I am familiar with the general concept.

Just Nick

If it isn't a nightmare to disconnect (which it most likely is, unless you have maybe a single HDMI in and out along with all the labeled speaker plugs), you could try the Marantz upstairs to see how Audyssey fares. Or if you know someone with an HT receiver (with acoustic calibration) that you could borrow.
Hate to make things a bit harder, but if you desire possibly improved sound (and connectivity/future proofing), this is the way to go.
Otherwise, any integrated with remote (like the NAD, MH) but without acoustic calibration, ought to do the trick...though there is something called the HK 3490, which would be better...for less.

cheers,

AJ
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post #14 of 15 Old 05-18-2011, 09:28 AM - Thread Starter
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It WOULD be a nightmare, AJ. I tried to be a good boy and label, label, label, but it is a 7.1 set up, with internet connectivity and after market remote, etc., and the thought of unhooking everything and re-hooking makes me faint.

I did some quick looking at the HK you suggested. I had actually stumbled upon it before I posted. Looks good. Same price. I am just wondering if I should look for something comparable, but with on-board calibration. What would be your short list for something akin to the HK 3490, but with build in calibration?

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post #15 of 15 Old 05-18-2011, 11:15 AM
 
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I did some quick looking at the HK you suggested. I had actually stumbled upon it before I posted. Looks good. Same price.

Less if you shop around.

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I am just wondering if I should look for something comparable, but with on-board calibration. What would be your short list for something akin to the HK 3490, but with build in calibration?

Just Nick

Unfortunately I am unaware of any extant (I believe this topic has been raised before). The only stereo amplifier with calibration that I know of is the $2.4k HK990. There are even more expensive separate processors, but nothing in the $500 range stereo, hence the HT suggestion. Maybe there will be a future model HK3495...but none now.
Since you might like (from familiarity) Marantz, I see they have models like the SR5004 within your target budget, less if you shop around, that should fill the bill. Hefty enough to provide the juice, Audyssey and plenty connectivity. Remote doesn't look too obnoxious either.

cheers,

AJ

cheers,

AJ
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