I well remember the day I got my first NAD product back in the 70’s. I have long since forgotten the model number, but it was a stereo receiver. I remember listening to it and thinking how great it sounded compare to the old Marantz it was replacing. I knew back then that moving up to the NAD meant that I was no longer just listening to tunes. I had moved up into the realm of being a lover of music, an audiophile. Today, NAD is still producing some fine products that are well designed, solidly built and great sounding. The C565BEE is one such exciting product. What sets this CD player apart from the crowd are some innovative features, which to my knowledge are not found on any other consumer player. Oh yes, did I mention the knob on the front panel?
- Design: Single Disc CD Player
- Codecs: CD, CD-R/RW, MP3, WMA
- Connections: USB, Coax, Toslink
- Upconversion: 96 kHz, 192 kHz
- Dimensions: 3.5″ H x 16.75″ W x 14″ D
- Weight: 14 Pounds
- MSRP: $799 USA
- NAD Electronics
Design and Build Quality
The C565BEE is at the top of the line in the Classic Series, which places it just below their Masters Series M5 player. Dollar wise, it costs about half as much as the M5 but sacrifices little in performance (sort of like champagne at chardonnay prices). It has clean, refined cosmetics and a solid, well-constructed feel. It is lead free and “green” by design. The most noticeable feature on the front panel is a control knob that allows you to skip forward or backward to tracks on a disc.
When you load a disc, pushing the knob closes the disc tray and starts disc playback. Also on the front is a USB port that allows you to play a MP3 device through the player and take advantage of the C565BEE DACs and SRC (sample rate converter). The SRC can upsample any source, like a CD at 44.1 kHz, and convert it to a 96 kHz or 192 kHz sample rate.
The back of the player has a optical input which allows you to take any device with an optical out (minidisc or perhaps another CD player with lesser quality DACs) and have the C565BEE upsample them, too. If you chose to use the analog outs on this player, the C565BEE gives you five different analog filters to select, each with a different characteristic.
I will not elucidate on the filters, but the description for Filter 1 is as follows: slow rolloff with group delay, low ripple and wide stopband characteristics. Each filter can be selected on the fly with the remote or by a button on the front panel. The SRC can also be done the same way with “off”, 96 kHz, and 192 kHz done by the remote or front panel. There is an approximately two second delay as the new sample rate kicks in. When playing a USB device, the music files can be shown on the display by track number, time, artist name, track title and any information in the file.
The same applies to CDs. I had one CD that gave the title, composer, orchestra performing, conductor and soloist. This info continues to scroll on the screen until you change it back to time or track number. The knob allows for some quick moving through the MP3 files, which can be accessed by the remote as well.
The remote is nicely designed and allows you to select from three different sources (CD, Optical and USB) The tray had a nice solid feel to it and opens about ¾ of the way, so placing a disc on it requires you to slip it in under the front edge of the player.
Out puts are lineout (RCA), one coaxial and one optical (toslink). A RS232 input and 12v trigger are also located on the back. Under the player’s hood are the Wolfson Microelectronics 24/192 DACs in dual differential configuration, combined with a toroidal power transformer and high quality op amps. This player is designed to perform!
There were several ways I could test the performance of this player. I could use the analog outs to my pre/pro, which allows the players DACs do the conversion and apply the analog filters. Another way is to send the digital signal to my processor. When using the analog out, the sound was sweet with detail and a wide soundstage. When I toggled between the analog and the digital outs, I felt the analog signal to have a slight edge in detail…but very slight. When I selected different filters, I could not distinguish much difference between them. That is not say they did nothing, but any changes were subtle at best.
The digital signal going through my pre/pro said it was faithfully getting a 96 kHz signal (or 44.1 or 192). Speaking of the upconversion, I could hear a little better definition from 44.1 kHz (off) to 96 kHz, but from 96 kHz to 192 kHz, I felt the overall sonics were indistinguishable. I think there comes a point where the human ear simply cannot hear the benefits of the high sample rates. The human ear is the ultimate “brick wall filter”. Why does the 96 kHz sound better than 44.1 kHz? Aren’t 16 bit CDs still 16 bit even if the frequency is pumped up to 96 kHz? Can you turn the proverbial pig’s ear into a silk purse? Well, sort of. What happens when you go from 44.1 kHz to 96 kHz is that it allows the player to spread out the frequency and uses a less steep filter at the DAC end stage. This gentler sloping filter allows for smoother sound to be output, which sounds better to the ears. I know that this is a point of contention between audio buffs and some may argue that upsampling is better than upconversion, but in the end, they both achieve a smoother, less digital sound.
Frankly, even if the C565BEE didn’t have SCR, the sound was pretty darn good. The fact that it allows you to experiment with the analog filters and the upsampling sets this player apart from most other players on the market. Add to it the optical input and that your MP3 collection can now be linked into you home system to take advantage of all of this is truly remarkable. There is no need for a docking station. My son plugged in his IPod (yeah, like I would listen to MP3s?) and gave the C565BEE a mini workout.
From the remote, he hit the USB button, the player displayed READING and track one began to play. From the remote, he hit 8-9, and the player immediately began playing track 89. When he hit the display button, the title and artist were displayed. Very cool! How did the MP3s sound when upconverted? I could not tell you for sure because it sounded like the lead singer was very angry and his screaming left him hoarse. My son said it sounded “wicked awesome” to him. Go figure. I must be getting old!
When you turn the player on/off, it emits a subtle “click” sound, which reminded me of an amplifier when it powers up. From power on to tray opening was a zippy four seconds. The display can be dimmed or turned off from the remote. The knob was nice, but as like most of us, I operated the unit almost exclusively by remote from my comfortable chair. Hey, that’s why they make remotes, right? The remote was well laid out and felt comfortable in my hand. It was a real boon to be able to toggle through the SRC and filters without having to get up all of the time. This allowed for some practical listening comparisons. I listened to soft, delicate choral music (Anonymous 4) to “old school” rock-n-roll (The Who) and everything I played sound very good on the C565BEE.
I knew when I bought my first NAD product that I was moving a step up from the mundane stuff to high end. NAD is still the “real deal” and the C565BEE is a CD player that anyone who loves music should be proud to own. The innovative features are useful and practical while providing some excellent sonic benefits to your music collection (whether physical CDs or the more incorporeal MP3s). With the SRC feature, you know that you are squeezing the best possible sound quality from your music. This player provides solid build, versatility and excellent sound. It is like having a CD player and an outboard DAC all in one. Well done, NAD!