CNET First Look
The best AV receiver alternativeIf you're looking to ditch your giant AV receiver for a compact stereo amp, the NAD D 3020 is the one to get.
Hey. I'm Matthew Moskovciak from CNET. And today we're taking a look at the NAD D 3020. This is a compact stereo integrated amplifier that's currently selling for $500. The NAD is a sleek-looking piece of equipment. Its wonderfully compact standing just 2.3 inches tall and you have the option to use at line flat or turn up on its side. There are no buttons on the front. When you powered it on the front panel display lights up with crisp white lettering. There are 2 touch sensitive buttons on the side for power and selecting inputs and that's not an ideal location for the buttons but you're usually gonna be using the remote anyway. The coolest thing is that if you're willing to go with the stereo setup instead of surround sound, this small box can replace a full-size AV receiver and it'll end up looking a lot better in your TV cabinet. Now unlike a lot of integrated amps, the remote has a nice size to it and it's comfortable to hold. The only problem is that the button labels are the same color as the buttons, which makes them very difficult to see especially in a dim home theater. On the upside, you can't turn the amp on and off via the remote, which is actually a feature that's missing from a lot of competitors. Around back are the audio inputs including 2 digital inputs and analog input and one mixed use input that can function either as an analog input or an optical input as long as you have the right adapter cable. Now that's plenty of connectivity even for living room use, as long as you use your TV to switch between devices and connect the TV's audio output right to the amp. Even better, the NAD also has built-in Bluetooth with support for the better sounding aptX codec. So it's dead simple to wirelessly stream audio from nearly any mobile device. It's also nice that there's a dedicated subwoofer output on the back so you can use the D 3020 and the 2.1 speaker setup without too much fuss. You'll also notice there's a USB input so you can directly connect a computer and if you have the right software, this amp can also support high-resolution audio files. We also had resident audiophile Steve Guttenberg give the NAD a listen and he was seriously impressed. He compared it head to head with the TEAC AH01 and the NAD consistently came out on top with a more natural sound and a better to find sound stage. Both amp sound great and have plenty of power for most living rooms. But the NAD definitely had the edge in our subjective listening test. The only major issue with the D 3020 is the price. Five hundred dollars feels a little expensive especially when you can get the full size Sony STR DN840 for $400 and that has 6 HDMI inputs plus built-in Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and Airplay. You're ultimately you're paying for the D 3020's compact design and simplicity and we think that's a worthwhile tradeoff for many buyers that just don't wanna deal with the hassle of a full-size AV receiver and don't need surround sound. So if you're convinced that a compact integrated amplifier is the right choice for your living room, the NAD 3020 is the one to get with the sleek design, a great set of features and excellent sound quality. I'm Matthew Moskovciak and this is the NAD D 3020.