A quick update on trying out the NAD C658
Thought I'd post an update to my earlier posted impressions of NAD C658.
When I bough the unit, I had really high hopes because the product feature-set checked all the boxes. The reality became clear soon enough that the product is still under development, and NAD support is not willing to share any progress or roadmap of features that are missing, that were advertised at the launch e.g. sub woofer options, Dirac etc.
Adding to that, I found the sound quality to be overly bright, edgy, clinical, and digital in my setup (YMMV). I also found that listening to Tidal MQA was more fatiguing than listening to Qobuz Hi-RES. Not sure why that is, or if I can objectively prove this, but sharing for what it's worth. Sometimes I thought that Tidal may have a higher dynamic range and cymbals / hats came out more pronounced - but who knows? All I know is that it was un-listenable for me and after 45 minutes of listening made me feel like I've just gotten off a long-haul flight. A bit disorienting, at times. Again, YMMV and I am sure there are multiple uncontrolled factors here from my equipment to even room setup. I am talking about my subjective experience only.
The logical thing for me was to reach out to NAD support to get some advice, and help. I sent them a short email asking for some guidance on taming the highs, and I got even a shorter note back to speak with my dealer ... essentially return it, if I am not happy with it. Not very helpful!
I did let them know that I was disappointed by the response, and eventually somebody did reach out to check gain setting in the BluOS app. But this is not fanatical customer support.
So, C658 is going back.
I am now considering Teac NT-505, or a Lumin D2. It's a shame that none of them have analog inputs to be a true preamp. The good news is that Teac uses AKM chipset, and Lumin uses Wolfson. My understanding is with all other things being equal, and decent output stages, both of the chipsets are more analog sounding than Saber ESS that NAD uses. I'd love to know if someone has used teac or Lumin and how they compare to C658.
I've given up on the idea of Dirac for now. I just want to be able to get back to the point where I can enjoy my music for more than 30 minutes without feeling nauseated by the sound of nails on a chalkboard.