The ’70s were known for a lot of things, but an achievement somewhat forgotten by history is the notoriously good-sounding – and cool-looking – hi-fi equipment made at the time.
Audio companies such as JBL, Yamaha and Marantz looked back at their classic ’70s speaker and amplifier designs to create new versions with the same look but updated interior. And now NAD has joined the same retro party with its limited edition C 3050 LE stereo amplifier.
With a walnut wood veneer chassis and gold LED backlit VU 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 will be the perfect choice for many of the best stereo speakers. The amplifier was produced on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the brand, which was introduced to the market in 1972 and will be produced in a limited series of 1972 numbered copies.
While NAD integrated amplifiers in the 1970s were typically rated at 20 watts per channel (specification across the entire frequency range, which was an extremely consumer-friendly approach at the time), the C 3050 LE has a power rating of 100 watts per channel using the same approach “Full Disclosure Power”, which the company has been using for decades.
Features include Wi-Fi streaming via the company’s app-controlled BluOS multiroom platform, AirPlay 2 and aptX HD bi-directional Bluetooth support, the latter for connection to the best wireless headphones, and an HDMI eARC input. Retro, but thoroughly modern, the C 3050 LE also has a phono stage to connect one of the best turntables, and a headphone amplifier to connect the best headphones.
The price of the C 3050 LE is, you guessed it, $ 1,972 / £ 1,756 / around AU 3,530. A limited edition of the Integrated Amplifier will be available from select NAD retailers starting mid-November.
Analysis: With hi-fi, what’s old is new again
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 reliable Full Disclosure Power gauges, has something to boast about.
For most of their history, NAD integrated amplifiers have had a simple, conservative look – they were made to make music, not to be glared at and drooled at. The limited edition of the C 3050 LE, on the other hand, hits all the best features of a ’70s hi-fi design – large knobs and buttons, warm-looking VU meters, a smooth wooden case – and it’s absolutely worthy of saliva.
This new nostalgia trend in the hi-fi world – along with the aforementioned companies such as Mission, Wharfedale, KLH and sister brand NAD PSB, all have released speakers with a vintage-inspired look – is a very positive development. This is because it allows designers to take advantage of the elegance of hi-fi’s golden age while producing speakers and amplifiers that take advantage of the enormous technical advances that have occurred since the production and sale of the originals.
For anyone who missed the limited edition NAD 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 worldwide retailer network. At $ 1,299 / £ 1,160 / around $ 2,075, it will be less expensive than the limited edition, but rest assured it won’t have the same amazing vintage look.