Integrated Amplifiers

NAD D 3020 Hybrid Digital Stereo Amplifier


Setup of the NAD D 3020 Hybrid Digital Amplifier

You will undoubtedly read other reviews of the D 3020; and the majority of them will highlight its abilities as a desktop amp. It has after all, the perfect form factor for that purpose and its styling is right at home in the modern workspace. Well, as it turns out, I don't have a decent pair of desktop speakers in my office. As much as I enjoy the convenience of storing music on my computer, I do that solely as a service to my iPod. When I listen to music, it's in a dedicated room with the best equipment I can afford. And it comes from a good 'ole CD.

So I decided to do something different with the D 3020. My reference room is equipped with a pair of Axiom's LFR1100 towers driven by an Emotiva XPA-5 and an Integra DHC-80.1 processor. After confirming with NAD that this little amp would drive four-ohm speakers without issue, I decided to make it the anchor for my otherwise gargantuan system. Normally the LFRs require four channels of amplification but they can be driven by two if you give up the rear-firing driver array. That makes them more or less equivalent to a pair of Axiom's M100 towers.

I also decided to evaluate its abilities as a headphone amp. I used a pair of Etymotics ER-4P in-ear monitors for this. They are pretty easy to drive and they usually sound great plugged straight into my iPod. I used this opportunity to try out the USB input of the D 3020. To make this work, I had to download drivers from NAD's website and install them. After connecting to a USB 3.0 port on my Windows 7 PC, I was up and running.

For sources, I connected an Oppo BDP-93 via coax to the D 3020's digital input. I also streamed music from my iPhone using the Bluetooth function. That was a piece of cake to enable. All I had to do was turn Bluetooth on in the phone. The D 3020 appeared in the list within a few seconds and I was done. Thank you NAD for not requiring me to dive into the manual for a four-digit code! All cables were from Bluejeans.