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I have just purchased vintage NAD gear and I am happy


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Hello lads, its your slightly askew uncle Butcher here to talk about wonderful audio bits once more. This is a lengthy post, so perhaps pop the corn and draw a tankard of ale.

 

Today we gather to discuss the new gear that has shown up at Schloss Butcher. Yes, I hear some of you saying "but you just said mere days ago that you were on hiatus until other things stopped costing you money". This is true, yet when one crosses paths with a proper deal, one must make the most of the opportunity. 

 

It was with this tenet in mind that I approached a wonderful stack of equipment and made a deal. The items in question are:

 

NAD 1240 preamplifier

NAD 4225 tuner

NAD 3155 integrated amplifier

 

All of these were late Taiwan-era (1986-1987) components, built when Fulet Electronics were still the contractors building wonderful things for NAD. Not too long after this was when NAD changed the exterior design from the classic matte gray/green (yes, there is green in there) to what I consider a definite downgrade, a grayish-black color over some odd, angular-faced nonsense that puts me right off my pasty. Shortly thereafter they moved production to Japan, then Singapore, Malaysia, and finally China. And Fulet, who happened to own Proton, nicked all their wonderful circuits and produced their own line of excellent audio gear under the  Dynamic Power on Demand (DPD) brand. 

 

So, Taiwan-era it is, and we'll leave that right there for posterity. 

 

Now, whilst I've always appreciated NAD, and we were a licensed dealer, I've never owned any of their wonderful goods myself. When I had the opportunity to decide between Hafler and NAD, I should have listened to the one guy on our team who suggested NAD, instead I listened to the other guy who insisted Hafler was the way to go. Of course, I regretted that decision, but it ended up for the best as I was never satisfied and I eventually bought, well... everything else. But thats another topic. 

 

So I've assembled an interesting system out of the preamplifier and tuner, and I've gotten it hooked up to move a lot of interesting bits from my Marantz SACD to my Andromeda amplifier, and to a range of different speakers from Polk RT5 to B&W DM602 (my go-to workhorses) to KEFs and Cantons galore. Yes I probably have too much audio, but my extra rooms are almost finished so its all fine, don't worry about me. Its all brilliant, and I really don't have to go on about how wonderful the preamp and tuner are because most of you know this already. They work well with anything, perfect for any transfer function amp here, incredible soundstage, bippity boppity boo. Suffice it to say, that is currently the system in my lab, please accept it and lets move to the next story. 

 

Now, what I'm here to shine a light on is what has turned out to be the second greatest purchase of my lengthy and storied experience in hifi: that NAD 3155 integrated. 

 

As I was passing through the warehouse I happened upon the vendor's shelves full of customer trade-ins. Racks over 10 feet high, containing shelves with enough space betwixt to have perhaps 3 or four components stacked upon each other on every shelf. Hundreds of components. 

 

The first two or three aisles were really not interesting. The usual kit from Onkyo, Nikko, Pioneer - basically all the black plastic you could want, filled with false promises and marketing hyperbole. 

 

Then I reached the first vein of the motherlode. I saw up on the shelf that was head-high, this NAD 3155 sitting on top of a TFM-15CB, with a red sticker on it that I couldn't quite read. I had been looking for precisely that model, strangely enough. "Oi, Dougie, whats the story on that old integrated up there?" And the owner rolled over one of those gantries that allowed people to board airplanes to escape Batista's Cuba in 1965. He ascends, studies the tag, and says, "It reads 'no sound - $25', so I guess it doesn't work. Do you want it?"

 

Now first let me say, if you're not familiar with vintage NAD integrated amplifiers, please get yourself up to speed and then go shopping. From their original 3020 that put the spotlight on them in the late 1970s to this very unit sitting on that shelf, they made an excellent bit of kit for a competent hifi shopper. Perfect for a shop, a garage, a dormitory or office. Paired with a good source and quality bookshelves or even mini-towers, they represent one of the best values on the market - new or used.

 

After just a bit of thought where the exhausted and impoverished side of my brain tried to remind me of all the costly work I'd just done at home, and the other much larger and meaner part of my brain said "Lad, all that work was done so I'd have room for my gear. And yes of course so the wife could have a proper laundry and we could both have offices and closets and all that - but that also means more places to put audio. So why don't you just close your drooling gob and grab a few quid out of your wallet and we'll be on your way?" 'Tis truly amazing how fast those internal conversations go and how easily I persuade myself once the right argument arrives.

 

Before I know it that money changes hands, the product is in my vehicle, and I'm home - so fast that if it wasn't for the actual piece sitting on my bench I'd feel the whole thing was an hallucination. (That happens to all of us, I'm sure. Or is it just me? Oh dear.) And there I was, sitting in the jungle that is my lab at the moment, looking at that humble yet elegant piece sitting there, beseeching me to repair it and have a go. I spun it this way and that, and debated taking the cover off to check fuses and begin tracing the power and signal paths. And thats when I noticed that a certain pair of signal jumpers were not installed on this particular amplifier. You know the ones of which I speak - they are metal clips that are U-shaped, and serve to complete the loop between pre and main on the back. Its done that way so the manufacturer can eliminate the expense of having an external loop circuit control and the sound coloration that can result from it. Many manufacturers use them, from NAD to McIntosh and a host of others. People used to plug equalizers and sound expanders in there (remember dbx?), and of late they are using those loops for subwoofer crossovers. 

 

I grabbed a vine and swung over to a nearby shelf where a considerable amount of components are awaiting further instructions, and a Proton receiver sitting there helpfully provided the exact jumpers I would need - remember, same manufacturer? Little question that there'd be an issue with spacing then. Thinking "could it possibly be this easy?" I placed the jumpers into the pre/main connections on the backplane. Perfect fit, and now time to bring it up on the mains and have a go at some music.

 

Laughing maniacally, I ran to the next room, to one of the few empty shelf locations I had left to set this beauty up. I've attached my trusty DX-5 player to it, and ran proper cables to a pair of Canton bookshelf speakers. These aren't even the bloody brilliant Canton Plus S or anything like that, just some excellent LE boxes I picked up for about $80 last year. (On occasion I really am good at this audio purchasing thing, honest.)

 

First though I took off the top cover, and after a bit of spritzing of fader lube into the controls, and a good vacuuming to get the detritus off the circuits, I sewed up the 3155 and set it in motion. Sound! Wonderful sound! Quite a bit of crackling though, as I wiped the controls back and forth, but it settled down and I got to some serious research. My usual test bits came out, as I joyously swapped in Chicago, Herbie Hancock, Peter Gabriel, and a few others. The bass was surprising, though I noted a small bit of what I'm sure is IMD, as I detected a bit of warbliness to some passages, but I couldn't pick it out directly. 

 

Obviously this understated little gem is going to be a nice project, as I work up a list of proper caps to put in there. Right now I'm going to source some new feet for the bottom, and try to find a proper dual-wiper potentiometer to replace the nested volume and balance control. They've cleaned up enough to work without constant attention, but I think new would be better. On occasion I find that I have to apply a bit of pressure to the knob to get both channels to work with each other. 

 

So lads, $25, mere minutes worth of work, and I have a fine addition to the collection. What say you all?

 

 

 

 

Edited by Butcher
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I have owned quite a bit of that era NAD myself. In fact my favorite surround system had no less than five 2200PE amps and seven Polk speakers. The biggest fault was the Outlaw Audio preamp processor, it's volume encoder was damaged and would only turn the volume UP, regardless of the direction you turned it. I told my then roommate to ONLY use the remote, well he had a momentary lapse of reason and turned the knob. Thankfully the only casualty was a Polk center channel mid woofer that now sported a birds nest made from thin copper wire. That must have been loud. Later that year he fell into a campfire in the back yard. Not the brightest bulb. 

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36 minutes ago, kve777 said:

I have owned quite a bit of that era NAD myself. In fact my favorite surround system had no less than five 2200PE amps and seven Polk speakers. The biggest fault was the Outlaw Audio preamp processor, it's volume encoder was damaged and would only turn the volume UP, regardless of the direction you turned it. I told my then roommate to ONLY use the remote, well he had a momentary lapse of reason and turned the knob. Thankfully the only casualty was a Polk center channel mid woofer that now sported a birds nest made from thin copper wire. That must have been loud. Later that year he fell into a campfire in the back yard. Not the brightest bulb. 

 

"It was the oddest thing, your Honor - we didn't even have a campfire that evening..."

 

 

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1 hour ago, B-Man said:

All of that prose and no pictures?

 

😲  🙄

 

Well I took the other end of the equation and provided you with the proverbial one thousand words..

 

4 minutes ago, Charlie said:

Wonderful story, Butcher but as B-Man pointed out, some pics sure would be nice...

 

Well, its plain there's no satisfying you lot, so let me go clean up a bit and see what my camera obscura can capture. I believe I still have a photographic debt in regards to a few other components. 

 

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I am a poor photographer, apparently. I used to do remarkably well with a simple peasant 2MP camera, but it seems that with every increase in technology my ability suffers an inverse effect. This equipment does not look this bad in person. My Adcom preamplifier is nearly perfect, as is the DX5. The NAD does not look mottled in person - this one looks as if it has the pox. I'd blame the light, thats it. 

 

stack1.thumb.jpg.ccbb82419fc6a9448e6e7aa547ed8708.jpg

 

Note the required Pier1 "etagere". Possibly the most effective piece of audio furniture I've seen in 20 years. Stable yet easily movable, compact enough to go anywhere in a room yet deep enough to place some components back-to-back on the same shelf - a boon for those of us who have, shall we say, much work pending? 

This is the one that will be getting the refinish service, as its quite blemished. 

 

On the downside, plugging the integrated in to the mains and turning it on, I noticed a transformer hum which wasn't present a few days ago. This would be the filter and/or bypass caps for said transformer, yes?

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Congrats Sir!  A true steal.  Half of my system (most of my source equipment) is NAD from around that same era, and I'm more than happy with it.

 

I can imagine you laughing maniacally when you found the missing Pre/Power amp jumper.  I think I would be doing the same in your shoes.

 

I do love your description:

18 hours ago, Butcher said:

all the black plastic you could want, filled with false promises and marketing hyperbole. 

So very appropos!

 

I can't help guide you on the transformer hum, I'm afraid - your skills in that realm far exceed mine, but I'm sure there are plenty of good folks here, who can.  Given it's age, it's all too possible it may be in need some some capactor resurections, or perhaps exorcisms.

 

Congrats again, and thanks for the pictures.  Your camera is actually well suited to something like this, so have at it, my good sir!

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7 hours ago, itchitch said:

Nice grouping !

 

Summer Job college money was used to buy a NAD 1240 and a Hafler DH-200 (kit form) 40 years ago.

It was a solid system!

 

The 1240 Preamplifier is indeed a wonderful preamp, very desirable as I have it arranged right now. I'll have some snaps of that before too long. I think I'll wait on my new lab table to arrive before I do that, as the current one is a bit on the tentative side.At present I've actually repurposed a built-in corner desktop that was pulled from a model home as it underwent preparations for its new owner. The thing is 6 foot along one side, 5 foot on the other, and I have it sitting on top of very high quality file cabinets which in turn sit upon furniture skates. Its layered in a very nice gray veneer that looks similar to engine-turned metal, if a bit muted. Overall the effect is nice and its very functional, but the new lab table will be epic. At 96 inches x 48, I should have enough room for my complete lab equipment along with at least two audio systems and two computers, and still have some area for actual labor and of course a cornish pasty and perhaps a tankard of Newcastle.

 

The DH200 is a decent amp. My first Hafler was a DH220, which had slightly higher output and the ability to bridge mono via an add-on kit, along with a DH-100A preamplifier. Although David Hafler had already long made his bones at Dynaco, the DH-200 proved that it was possible to make a high-current amp with decent performance and an impossibly low noise floor. He continually improved on it, to the point where the amps became unremarkable. My 220 was slightly boring, and I currently have an SE240, both of which were direct descendants to your DH200. Either one was very dependent upon which preamplifier chaperoned it. I would think that a quality tube preamp would be an excellent pairing. 

 

1 hour ago, Brian_at_HHH said:

Congrats Sir!  A true steal.  Half of my system (most of my source equipment) is NAD from around that same era, and I'm more than happy with it.

 

NAD is the oddest stuff. I get a charge out of the looks of all of my gear, but NAD I find has a soothing effect. Its almost as if a glance at it calms my eyes, and a good stare at it while I have a listen is tranquilizing.

 

Quote

I can imagine you laughing maniacally when you found the missing Pre/Power amp jumper.  I think I would be doing the same in your shoes.

 

I'm fairly sure my laughter was picked up on seismograph in some far away Uni. 

 

Quote

 

I do love your description:

So very appropos!

 

I find that the more shiny buttons and lights and stickers that lay across a given component, and the longer the equipment model number, the poorer it performs. Nakamichi and Hafler put out black plastic in the 80s and 90s, but there was an aesthetic there that didn't brag, it simply hinted at treasure within. The bag should be unremarkable; its the gems within that should beguile. 

 

Quote

I can't help guide you on the transformer hum, I'm afraid - your skills in that realm far exceed mine, but I'm sure there are plenty of good folks here, who can.  Given it's age, it's all too possible it may be in need some some capactor resurections, or perhaps exorcisms.

 

Congrats again, and thanks for the pictures.  Your camera is actually well suited to something like this, so have at it, my good sir!

 

I have to control myself where the capacitors happen, because I've already got several projects here that require completion. And today my wife's new desk appeared at our door, and of course I was put on clock to conduct it up two flights of stairs and assemble it in her office. Several steps closer to getting her moved out of our dining room, but now she states she wants the paint touched up in her office, window trim finished, etc. It appears I may be on the clock tomorrow and unable to do anything but switch CDs for my amusement. 

 

31 minutes ago, kve777 said:

My first Carver pieces included a Receiver 150 that was missing jumpers, thus the low price. I got that and an M-500t for $125. Both worked fine. 

 

I've always longed for one of those "it was just a switch that needed to be flipped" kind of things. This was my moment and I will cherish it always. 

Edited by Butcher
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16 hours ago, kve777 said:

The biggest fault was the Outlaw Audio preamp processor, it's volume encoder was damaged and would only turn the volume UP, regardless of the direction you turned it. 

 

In my haste for jollity I completed missed this sentence at the beginning of your story, Kev. Outlaw Audio arrived on the scene during the few years when I was completely and utterly away from it. Apparently they were all the rage at one point, with a mission statement that seemed to be the basis for Emotiva and Schiit today.

I cannot find much info on them, other than it was the old story of "former engineer(s) for (that company that used to be the dog's bollocks but now you'd only stop by to chat someone up while your missus dumps your household waste in the skip outside their office), now off on his/their own to do things unencumbered by accountants, marketing, and apparently the laws of physics."

 

Would you happen to know anything about them? Aside from having possibly the most hideous company trademark ever seen in the audio world.

 

76394188.jpg&f=1&nofb=1

 

 

The first letter could be 'O' or a diplochloric pupil. I'd say whomever arrived at this concept most likely inhaled an entire shoe full of cocaine whilst staring at Marilyn Manson's debut album cover, and screaming "I must exceed this!" and cutting random letters out of old copies of Tiger Beat magazine. Upon completion and shortly before cardiac arrest, they realized that overall it looked like a tot's unmade crib, but by then it was too late as the stencil had already been sent to the screeners. Still in ICU, they were fired by the head of marketing. 

 

Bloody hell. 

Edited by Butcher
grammar, always bloody grammar
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No he's completely right. I've re-read that, adjusted the grammar and sentence structure thusly, and still I am not satisfied. My work is falling off, perhaps because my psyche is still focused on my latest acquisitions. Did I mention that I've enlarged my Nakamichi supply just a few hours ago? I gather not. Its a bit difficult for me to focus today. Audio nirvana, and all that. 

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Or it could be the shiny things accumulated at Schloss Butcher. Four more bits yesterday - article to proceed forth once my creative side is replenished - and I've begun negotiations on yet another bit I've been searching for, lo these many years. That one component will complete a stack I've desired, lo these many years.

At a certain point I will leave off the acquisitions and return to the long list of things that need refurbishment, returning all the bits to their shiny glory.

 

Today is not the day for that, however, as I must patch a wall in the loo and slap a bit of prime and paint around.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Butcher said:

At a certain point I will leave off the acquisitions and return to the long list of things that need refurbishment, returning all the bits to their shiny glory.

 

Today is not the day for that, however

 

If you believe that, have I got a deal for you on some wonderful swampland - state or country of your choice!

 

The day for that, I suspect will be sometime, considerably after, you are dead and buried - perhaps for the n'th time as you will no doubt claw your way back to the surface due to some particular shiny new (to you) piece of gear that wasn't in your collection, finding it's way up for sale.  There will be reports of zombie audio equipment buyers roaming the streets, calling out "stero-gear" instead of "brains!"  **))

 

Anyone want to bet against that?   :D

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  • 5 months later...
Posted (edited)

My cherished fans, I must provide an update to the NAD saga: the stack took another step forward towards completeness this week. Yet another visit to Dougie's House of Audio Wonder led me to a smart-looking NAD 2150 amplifier. It was just sitting on a shelf, nary a scratch upon its near-40-year-old skin. All the bits were present, and no dents in the metal nor dog-chews on the cord, so it came home with me. I fully intended it to be open and refurbished by the end of next week, as I just happen to have the exact parts needed. 

 

Upon my arrival home I prepared to open the case for a bit of a looky-loo, and I noticed a pair of tamper stickers on the back corners of the chassis that said "DO NOT OPEN OR WARRANTY IS VOID YOU SILLY GOB!". Honestly it was almost as if they'd known I'd have bought the amp. I shone a light into the grille and discovered that the large power capacitors, normally grey, were black. They'd been replaced. I looked at the stickers again and found in the smaller print that they were issued by a very well-respected hifi repair and upgrade shop in the NY area. 

 

I contacted the shop and provided the serial number, and they told me the amp had already been serviced and almost fully upgraded. Its an $825 service on their website. And I paid $180 for the amplifier. Should I be jumping up and down and all around? Why yes I should, but lets discuss the sound first. 

 

I attached this amp to my aforementioned NAD 1240 preamp and 4225 tuner, which have been waiting patiently for me to provide a proper amp as a play friend for them. I then wired my B&W 602 speakers in. Source was my dbx DX5 cd player. Material: Chicago Transit Authority. 

 

I have not heard this album in its entirety since I was but a lad. I'd forgotten how successfully Chicago had mixed blues, jazz, and progressive rock. This album, remastered by Rhino, was eminently satisfying. I noticed that this NAD stack was pulling more bass out of these DM602 speakers than anything else I'd thrown at them. Intrigued, I put my Canton Karat 950DC into service, as they're deficient on bass despite having twice as many woofers arranged into an MTM baffle. 

 

I moved into Chicago and Chicago III (it should be obvious by now I have the remastered box set. I'm not completely daft, you should know). Then Chicago 17, with quick trips to Cat Stevens, the Who, Lennon, and some other stuff I can't remember now because I was busy being happy. The point is, this amp sounds good, and its the foundation of a delightful stack that I'd always wanted. The only blight is that due to the variance in age, from 1982 to 1988, there is a slight difference in the trademark NAD color. Other than that I'm very happy.

 

This isn't as wonderful a deal as the 3155 integrated amp for $20, but I'm happy with underpaying for the amplifier and getting over $800 in upgrades included. But while we're on the topic of that 3155, I should mentioned that in the next aisle over, I found a perfectly good NAD 3240PE integrated, lying on the floor, bearing a sticker that said "no sound, $40". And when I turned it around, I saw those very same pre/main jumpers missing that had been missing from the 3155...

 

So now I have yet another integrated here awaiting tests. I should also mention that Dougie the Magician also has an NAD cassette on the shelf, as well as a host of new Carvers, some Phase Linear, a Nakamichi CDP2 and SR2 Stasis receiver, more dbx than I'd ever seen in one place before, and...and... oh bloody hell I'm in the rabbit hole again. 

Edited by Butcher
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8 hours ago, kve777 said:

The NAD phase. I remember those years fondly. 

 

You'll get over it!

 

 

I'll get over that when you get over your Soundstream, mate! 😆

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16 hours ago, Butcher said:

 

 

I'll get over that when you get over your Soundstream, mate! 😆

I shall probably die with the most SoundStream. 

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