Review: NAD C558

Looks can be deceiving

NAD shows its back to the competition with a turntable that has a little extra.

Karakter
NAD C558
We think
Superb control, plenty of bass, and open and engaging sound.
Looks cheap.
Specifications

Type: Belt-driven turntables
Tonearm: Aluminium
Pickup: Ortofon OM10 MM-pickup
Platter: Glass
Outputs: Analog RCA
RIAA/USB: No/No
Other: Dust protection cover
Colour: Matte charcoal grey
Dimensions/Weight: 43.5 x 12.5 x 34 cm/5.5 kg
Website: hifiklubben.no

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Since NAD took the world by storm more than 30 years ago, they have been helping to define the term ‘a lot for the money’. In particular, this applies to the amplifiers, which turned people’s perception of affordable hi-fi upside down.

They have not received the same recognition for the turntables, as there have been fewer of them by and at long intervals between them. The first was built on a belt-driven standing chassis, packed in boring plastic and fitted with a much-too-soft tonearm, a flat one, unique for its time.

This one also looks rather sad. The matte grey surface and the pathetic attempt to make it more high-end by rounding the corners, deserves nothing more than a shrug. If you insert the supplied dust cover protection, it looks like it’s been borrowed from another turntable, because the corners of the cover are not rounded.
The NAD turntable does not win any beauty contests, but it wins this test.

It is easy to set up, but you have to adjust the pickup weight and the anti-skating yourself. It’s not hard, and NAD delivers everything you need in the box, including the same cable that comes with the Pro-Jects Recordmaster.

So now we know who builds the NAD turntable.

The turntable comes with an assembled Ortofon OM10 which is an outstanding budget pickup. Just like on the Recordmaster, but the arm and chassis of the NAD turntable does not equal the Recordmaster’s arm and chassis. But the glass platter gives a more stable momentum than the lighter steel platter of the Recordmaster.
Even with the same pickup as the Pro-Jects Recordmaster, it’s striking how different the NAD turntable sounds. There’s no drastic difference in the audio experience, but the NAD succeeds where the Pro-Jects Recordmaster stumbles across the finish line.

There is good dynamism, not unlike Rega Planar 1, with good focus and good weight in the bass. The soundscape is delivered with good channel separation, and there is deeper bass to be had here than in Rega Planar 1, and the top tones are better focused.

The Ortofon pickup must get the credit for last one.

The dynamics of the NAD turntable is outstanding, but in particular the bass dynamics is in a class of its own among more affordable players.
On Quiet Winter Night, it is especially noticeable in the tracks that have the drum tracks or the bass present in the soundscape. The NAD turntable has more control over the bass, and delivers better deep bass than the Rega turntable.

Thus, it does take more than a few bars before the music grabs and engages the listener. The midrange is open and rich in detail, and the focus is good without being razor sharp. The NAD player may not be the prettiest looking, but there are no problems with the sound.

Also in this test

Rega Planar 1

The best budget turntable

Rega shows why they are considered number one in the market on sound for money.

Ragingly festive and engaging turntable with bucket loads of dynamism and zest.
A little relaxed treble.

Pro-Ject Debut III Recordmaster

Recordmaster

Invest in your record collection with a turntable that is also a nice piece of furniture.

Well built and well playing turntable that does not require much of the user.
Unable to engage us completely, slightly tame dynamics drags it down.

Audio-Technica AT-LP60BT

Cheap in all respects

Rarely have we seen so clearly how the price mirrors what one gets for the money.

Fully automatic turntable that is easy to use at an okay price.
Colourless sound, cheap construction and sensitive to vibrations.

Teac TN-350

Usable, all round turntable

The turntable from Teac sounds much like it looks and is a good choice both aesthetically and sonically.

Well balanced sound and straightforward operation. Easy to upgrade.
Doesn’t musically grab in the same way as the best turntables.

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