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.