NAD or Anthem/Arcam Combo?

To Colin Smith,

I really enjoyed your review of the NAD C 390DD. It sounds like an amazing amp and you've got me seriously considering purchasing one. Here's my dilemma: I have the opportunity to purchase an Anthem i225 (used) and Arcam D33 DAC (new) for about the same price as a new NAD C 390DD with HDMI module (about $2900). In addition to your very positive review on the NAD's sound quality (along with several others out there), its simplicity (no external DAC or wires needed), feature set, and forward-looking approach to digital amplification really appeals to me (I listen to digital files exclusively). However, Hans Wetzel’s review of the Arcam D33 was extremely positive as well, and the Anthem i225 won GoodSound!’s Product of the Year award (albeit in 2009).

So which direction would you go? I'll be powering a pair of KEF R700s in a fairly large room (19' x 20'). I originally felt I needed the power of the Anthem (225Wpc), but your review and others suggest that the NAD's power rating is very conservative, so I'm thinking its 150Wpc should be ample. Lastly, I will have a chance to hear the NAD and Anthem, but not the Arcam, as there is no retail dealer in my area. Which direction would you go?


You do indeed face a dilemma, but it's one many audiophiles will envy! That said, to me the NAD is a no-brainer. It is a much more sophisticated piece of technology than the Anthem. In fact, it's about as cutting edge an amplifier as you will find. Its internal DAC might not be as sophisticated as the Arcam’s, but the amp itself is so good that you might not notice, or care. The NAD will also come with a warranty (unlike the used Anthem), and, moving forward, it appears that the manufacturer will be supporting it with software updates and maybe even higher-spec add-on cards. The C 390DD is one of the best amps I've heard and it's definitely worth your time to have a listen. . . . Colin Smith