Review: NAD 3020 Receiver

Category: Amplifiers

I heard this receiver for a few years and it is a good economical starting point for this exciting hobby (bordering on art if you will). Hooked up to a good cd player like panasonic MASH technology employing unit, and a good pair of bookshelf like polk, niles audio, mission, tannoy, etc., midfi can be surprisingly affordable. For students and new comers of this quest for sonic heaven, it is a good starting place that will give you years of enjoyment B-4 gaining that itch to upgrade again and again as your ear develops like an artist. Forgive me if I seem condescending - I know there are many who are far further down the road in this hobby - I think the purpose of reviews are to inform and advise, so I am doing simply that.

The receiver has a full and rich sound, and a warm character. Although one can talk about many specs, the important thing for me is that you the listener has to like the "character" of the amp. I came across excellent big names in audio that didn't quite move me because I didn't like the color of the sound or the character of the amp. Upscale Yamahas have good specs, but never moves me, and they are units costing thousands of dollars. "You get what you pay for" does not apply here - one can come across even affordable Japanese units that will do it for you, and you can spend thousands without hitting that aesthetical pleasure/artistic mark that we are all seeking. So, my advice is to hear many units before deciding, and "let your ears be the judge."

I would definitely recommend this begginer's unit because of the dynamic quality - music is satisfying and punchy because of NAD's ability to momentarily deliver more power. NAD's 20 watts is differnt than shelf unit's 20 or even 50 watts.
Please invest in better cables - buying good products and not using better cables than the supplied one's is defeating the purpose of choosing good products - might as well buy exec shelf units. Teac, yamaha, denon,aiwa,and sony offers pretty good sounding systems - I wouldn't call it a musical experience though. With this receiver, and doing homework with magazines like "What-Hifi" buyer's report, www.audioreview, and auditioning many products, you can assemble a surprisingly satisfying mid-fy for less than $1000. Do look in in electronic section for bargains. Let me give you a few brand names I respect - mission speakers (dark sound), niles audio os line (beautiful tweeter if you like soprano, flute),polk rt series ( unfatiguing comfortable laid back polite sound), klipsch (neo dymium tweeter gives alive sound - once you hear neo dymium magnets, you'll never go back ) although klipschs are not recommended for classical - too soft spring in the woofer ). Cd players are vital as well. Choose one that has a rich deep musical tone. Panasonic and Technic uses MASH technology allowing for the best sounding entry level units (under $200). For cables, monsters are ok but there are better ones out there for a little more money. If I have one complaint about the NAD, it is that it's not black sounding meaning it's noisy. In amps like Adcom, sounds of gold rises from silence to please our ears and more, but NAD has background noise that is not bad for the first hour, but eventually tiring (only at loud volumes). If you do extensive loud listening, perhaps this is not for you. Again, hear it for your self, and see if you would like to live with this musical instrument ( the character I mean ) - quite rich and warm.

Associated gear
Polk r series book shelf, Nakamichi CD player and cassett player

Similar products
Sony, onkyo, sansui, marantz
Hey Creig, I have a 3020 too and it doesnt seem to sound that impresive. It produces ear fatige in just a few minutes, and doesnt give a good sound stage. Not a bad amp, but not as good as you all seem to find it.

What are you comparing this amp with? It is definately a fantastic amp when you compare it with something in the same price bracket. Besides, if you have it, is it in perfect condition? Maybe faulty?
The NAD 3020's Tone is what makes it so good.

The tone is right/pleasing.

Better than most amps... old or new,and it's dynamics are just great. It does not sound all HIFI. With good source and cables it still kicks a**

It's smooth too, unlike a lot of solid state amps.

I don't know why they wont make the same amp again.

No, the BEE model does not sound as musical,and it will bore you after awhile,as it did me,no magical tone either,(it is really punchy though)It has glare too,yuck!Music sounded like robots made it.

I didnt like the no tone controls version either,I only like the "A" version and no series twenty ones either.

Just 3020a, nothing else..

I love reading about this classic. I just received a 3020b and I look forward to replacing all of the caps, pots, and getting it up to new spec again for another 25 years. :-)

I will replace those jumpers with some good cables while I am at it. :-)
My 3 1/2 year old daughter is proud of her stereo which is a NAD 7020 with playstation 1 cd player running some speakers that came with the house in the walls. It sounds really good! The only problem is when I want to put on my Beveridge 2sw's she wants to play her stereo louder than mine! Bob