Class D hybrid amps deliver clean, accurate sound without a lot of waste heat. Exceptional stability allows them to drive even the most difficult loads without strain. Nearly any speaker can be used. Another area of versatility is its input panel. Not only can you hook up traditional analog sources (including a moving-magnet phono cartridge), there are coax and optical digital inputs along with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for streaming. Chromecast is built in too, so it’s feasible to simply plug the C 338 in, connect two speakers, and enjoy.
NAD C 338 Hybrid Digital Integrated Amplifier
- Compact single-ended architecture with low distortion
- Can be controlled by the supplied remote or the free app
- Frequency response is independent of variations in speaker loads
- Runs cool in a confined space
NAD has leveraged its hybrid digital amplifier technology into a wide variety of products. With efficient signal paths come low distortion and the honest, neutral sound NAD is famous for. The C 338 Hybrid Digital Integrated Amplifier takes a rugged and reliable two-channel design and adds digital inputs along with Wi-Fi streaming capabilities and built-in Chromecast. Now you can enjoy clean, pure sound from both wired and wireless sources.
2-channel integrated amplifier
50 watts-per-channel into 8 ohms
<.03% (250-50mW, 8 & 4 ohms)
>98dB (A-weighted, 500mV input ref. 1W @ 8ohms)
>60W (1kHz .1% THD)
Input Sensitivity (for 50w in 8 ohms):
Line In – 380mV, Digital In – 18% FS
Peak Output Current:
>18A (in 1 ohm, 1ms)
>300 (ref. 8 ohms, 20Hz & 6.5kHz)
1kHz >75dB, 10kHz >65dB
Up to 192kHz/24-bit
17 1/8 x 2 13/16 x 11¼
NAD Electronics, C 338 Hybrid Digital Integrated Amplifier, Integrated Amplifier, Chromecast, Integrated Amplifier Reviews 2017
There is nearly nothing the C 338 cannot do. Not only can you hook up analog source components, there’s even a moving-magnet phono stage for those participating in the resurgence of vinyl. If you’d rather keep things simple, stream your music over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth from today’s top services like Tidal and Spotify.
Speaker pairing is easy as well with 80 watts-per-channel of continuous, low-distortion power available. Peaks of up to 300 watts are also possible. At the relatively low price of $650, there isn’t much more an audiophile could ask for, unless you’re willing to spend a whole lot more money. The C 338 looks to be a fantastic component, suitable for casual and critical listeners alike.
The NAD C 338 amplifier provides a selection of three stereo analog inputs and four digital inputs (two coaxial, two Toslink). One input can handle a moving-magnet turntable cartridge. The digital inputs can accept PCM up to 24/192. A 3.5mm headphone jack and RCA sub out (mono) finish out the complement of connections. Boxed with the small but fully functional remote, are three antennae; two for Wi-Fi and one for Bluetooth. The NAD C 338 is the first integrated amplifier I’m aware of that has Chromecast built in. This allows you to stream high definition music files directly rather than simply mirroring the signal from a phone or tablet.
The front display contains a volume knob, source selectors, and a bass EQ button to assist in the integration of bookshelf speakers and a sub-woofer. The display is a VFD that turns off after a few seconds once a command is selected. The top of the amp is sealed without the ventilation holes usually found on conventional Class A/B amplifiers. Being Class D, it runs cool even after prolonged usage and can be placed into tight confines without worry of overheating. The assigned labeled inputs are streaming, BT, TV, Phono, Coax 1 & 2 and Opt 1 & 2. When the bass EQ is engaged, an indicator lights up. The volume display is a large and legible white text that turns off a few seconds after an adjustment is made. Selected inputs remain lit, but the tiny wording is virtually unreadable from across the room.
On the backside are the above-mentioned inputs, two three-way binding posts, three antennae attachment posts, and a removable power cord. The color is the ubiquitous dark grey seen on almost all NAD products (though, I seem to recall my first NAD receiver back in the 80’s as being a dark olive green). The unit is slim and light, but feels and looks quite solidly-made.
The Hypex UcD module (analog Class D type) is an NAD-tweaked design that is said to improve current delivery into speakers with low impedance. Distortion is reduced by the module’s output filtering and FETs. Frequency response is largely independent of the speaker load, whether eight, or four ohms. This makes the NAD C 338 well-suited to almost any speaker.
Setting up the NAD C 338 was straightforward. The remote and antennae are in a separate box and the only instructions consist of a double-sided page with pictures that show how to set things up, step by step. Once you download the app, you can adjust inputs and volume with your phone, as well as the remote. The handset is basic, but it fits comfortably in your hand. It is IR, so you’ll have to point it directly at the NAD C 338. Your phone however, will find the NAD C 338 on your network and control it wirelessly.
The app was easy to use and gave me no trouble. Downloading Chromecast on my iOS system was a bit of a challenge, but I connected it to Spotify without too much hassle. I also hooked up my OPPO UDP-103 so I could spin some silver discs. Two of the antennae in the back are for Wi-Fi while the third is dedicated to Bluetooth. They simply screw on and can bend into any plane you choose, but vertical is usually optimal. I had no connection issues once the unit was set up. I imagine you could walk around the house and not lose your signal, but everyone’s domicile is unique.
Listening to some music I’m intimately familiar with gave me the chance to listen for any noticeable difference between my reference system (Emotiva UPA-1 mono-blocks and UMC-200 pre/pro) and the NAD C 338. My digital interconnects are Zu Audio Firemine coaxial while analog signals flow through Kimber PBJs.
I have had this disc set for many years, back in the days when you could join a mail order service for a penny and get 10 CDs for joining. I always felt that this pressing was flat and lackluster. The sound quality was not much better than what you would hear from FM radio.
After getting my hands on the new limited MoFi upgrade on SACD, I could finally hear what I was missing. The bass line is strong and punchy, the soundstage is wide and deep, the piano sounds like a real piano, and Joel’s voice is clear and resonant. Cranking it up on the NAD C 338, it made my Revel F36s sing out, loud and proud. Small details began to emerge that I could not hear on the old mix, and I know that this is more about the recording than the actual performance of the NAD C 338, but I was impressed that the C 338 reproduced the sound so naturally and with beautiful dynamics. The front-panel display does not show the sample rate, but I know that the OPPO UDP-103 samples SACD at 88 kHz. Seeing the rate on the NAD would have been a bonus for me, but I don’t fret too much about looking at my stuff every time a song comes on. But still…
This Telarc disc from Eric Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops is an absolute must-own. I play this piece more often when demonstrating my system than any other recording I own. The sense of space when the tympani sounds was wonderfully realized with the NAD C 338.
The brass had that nice “zingy” sound that you hear when it resonates. When played at the proper volume, it almost literally plasters you to your seat (and even more so when played back in multi-channel). Here again, I could discern the naturalness of the brass tone and hear the occasional intake of breath before the player exhaled into the mouthpiece. The NAD C 338 delivered lots of clarity and strong, tight bass thwacks.
After some extended play, I placed my hand on top of the C 338 and felt virtually no heat. If you are looking for an amp with power, but have limited space to install it, the NAD C 338 may be ideal. Very little room is needed for ventilation.
Here, I was listening to the natural sound of their harmonious voices and the acoustic sound of Paul’s guitar-playing. A few selections from this disc set were recorded live in Carnegie Hall, and the ambiance of that venue was beautifully realized on the C 338.
During the quiet sections, you could hear the faint sounds of people in the audience shifting in their seats or coughing quietly. The duo’s later albums started to use more bass, drums, and electric guitars for accompaniment, and the rocking rhythms were foot-tappingly good. In between tracks, I also noticed dead silence from the NAD; no hiss or static. I am finding that that is a hallmark for good Class D design these days.
Spotify – The joy of streaming with this service is that it opens you up to many different genres that you might never listen to otherwise. I will be listening to Sinatra one minute, then Bear’s Den the next. I recently re-discovered Jean-Michel Jarre Essential Collection. It has some massive synthesizer sweeps and some catchy tunes like Oxygene, Pt. 4. The NAD C 338 made exploring new music fun and easy. This amp is just as much at home in a dorm room as a living room. With the convenient app, you could spend a Saturday afternoon just chilling with the NAD C 338 and if you have small bookshelf speakers, just engage the bass EQ to fill in the low-end without distorting the sound and over-driving the speakers.
THE NAD C 338 HYBRID DIGITAL INTEGRATED AMPLIFIER offers great sound, Chromecast, Wi-Fi, and the ability to drive any speaker for a very-reasonable $650.
- Built-in Chromecast
- Easy-to-use app
- Handles almost any speaker load
- Hybrid Class D amp provides low heat and low distortion
- Sample rate info on front display
- Ability to leave display on
- Ethernet connectivity
I still have not fully embraced streaming for music as I am usually too purposeful when I want to listen. My shiny disc collection is not going to disappear anytime soon; however, the ability to stream music over the network is a great way to explore new horizons. The NAD C 338 will provide great sound by any method you choose. Though the remote was fine, I ended up using my iPhone to control the inputs and volume. This hybrid digital amp sports both analog and digital inputs. If you have a turntable, you’re still in luck. With a decent set of bookshelf speakers, the NAD C 338 can provide you with everything you need to widen your musical horizons. And thanks to Chromecast, you’ll have many nights of “pleasant streams”.