The 1970s were infamous for many things, but an achievement somewhat forgotten by history was the good-sounding – and cool-looking – hi-fi equipment produced at the time.
Audio companies like JBL, Yamaha and Marantz are looking back at their classic speaker and amplifier designs from the 1970s to create new versions with the same look but with updated internals. And now NAD has joined the same retro-themed party with its limited edition C 3050 LE Stereophonic Amplifier.
With its walnut veneer wood cabinet and golden LED light meters, one each for the left and right channels, the C 3050 LE has the warm, welcoming look of the best integrated amplifiers of the era, and would be ideal for many of better stereo speakers. The amplifier was produced in honor of the 50th anniversary of the brand, which was launched back in 1972, and will be produced in a limited series of 1972 numbered units.
While NAD integrated amplifiers in the 1970s were typically rated at 20W per channel (specified across the entire frequency band, which was an exceptionally consumer-friendly approach at the time), the C 3050 LE is rated at 100W per channel using the the very “Power of Full Disclosure” approach the company has been using for decades.
Features include Wi-Fi streaming via the company’s BluOS multi-room platform, AirPlay 2 and two-way Bluetooth aptX HD support, the latter for connecting to best wireless headphonesand HDMI eARC input. Retro, yet completely modern, the C 3050 LE is also equipped with a speakerphone for connecting one of the the best spinners and a headphone amplifier to connect best over-ear headphones.
The C 3050 LE is, you guessed it, priced at $1,972 / £1,756 / around AU$3,530. The limited edition integrated amplifier will be available at select NAD retailers from mid-November.
Analysis: For hi-fi, what’s old becomes new
The 50th anniversary offers a fantastic opportunity to look back on its past, and NAD, an innovative brand that consistently produces affordable components backed by solid Full Disclosure Power ratings, has a lot to brag about.
For most of their history, NAD integrated amplifiers had a simple, conservative look – they were there to make music, not to be looked at and drooled over. The limited edition C 3050 LE, on the other hand, achieves all the high points of 70s hi-fi design – big knobs and buttons, warm-looking VU meters, sleek wooden exterior – and absolutely to drool.
This new nostalgic trend in the hi-fi world – along with the previously mentioned brands such as Mission, Wharfedale, KLH and NAD’s sister brand PSB, have all produced speakers with a vintage look – is a very positive development. That’s because it allows designers to tap into the elegance of the golden age of hi-fi, producing speakers and amplifiers that take advantage of the huge technical advances that have occurred since the originals were manufactured and sold.
For anyone who missed out on NAD’s limited edition integrated amplifier, the good news is that the standard version of the C 3050, with similar specifications and many of the same features, will also be available and sold through NAD’s full global retail network. At $1,299 / £1,160 / around AU$2,075, it will be less expensive than the limited edition version, but you can be sure it won’t have the same great vintage vibe.