The 1970s were notorious for many things, but one achievement somewhat forgotten by history is the notoriously good – and cool-looking – hi-fi equipment produced during that era.
Audio companies like JBL, Yamaha and Marantz are looking back on their classic 1970s speaker and amplifier designs to create new versions that look the same but have an updated interior. And now NAD has joined the same retro-themed party with their limited-edition C 3050 LE stereo amplifier.
With its walnut wood case and gold LED-illuminated VU meters, one for the left and right channels, the C 3050 LE sports the warm and welcoming look of the best integrated amplifiers of the era and would be a perfect match for many of the best loudspeakers. stereo speakers. The amplifier was produced to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the brand, launched in 1972, and will be manufactured in a limited edition of 1,972 numbered units.
While NAD’s integrated amplifiers in the 1970s typically had a power rating of 20 watts per channel (specified across the entire frequency band, which was a uniquely consumer-friendly approach at the time), the C 3050 LE is rated for 100 watts. per channel using the same “Full Disclosure Power” approach that the company has been using for decades.
Features include Wi-Fi streaming via the company’s app-controlled BluOS multiroom platform, AirPlay 2 support, and aptX HD Bluetooth two-way, the latter for connecting to the best wireless headphones, and an eARC HDMI input. The retro but totally modern C 3050 LE also has a phono stage for connecting one of the best turntables and a headphone amplifier for connecting the best headphones.
The price of the C 3050 LE is, you guessed it, $1,972 / £1,756 / around AU$3,530. The limited-edition integrated amplifier will be sold at select NAD retailers from mid-November.
Analysis: for hi-fi, what’s old is new again
A 50th anniversary provides a fantastic opportunity to look back into its past, and NAD, an innovative brand that has consistently produced affordable components backed by the company’s trusted Full Disclosure Power ratings, has plenty to brag about.
For most of its history, the NAD’s integrated amps have had a basic, conservative look — they were there to make music, not to be admired and ruffled. The limited-edition C 3050 LE, on the other hand, hits all the high points of ’70s hi-fi design – big knobs and buttons, warm-looking VU gauges, smooth wood exterior – and it’s absolutely worthy of drooling.
This new nostalgia trend in the hi-fi world – along with the aforementioned companies, brands like Mission, Wharfedale, KLH and NAD’s sister brand PSB have all launched speakers with vintage-inspired looks – is a very positive development. That’s because it allows designers to enjoy the elegance of the golden age of hi-fi while producing speakers and amplifiers that take advantage of the huge technical advances that have occurred since the originals were produced and sold.
For anyone missing out on the NAD limited run integrated amplifier, the good news is that a standard version of the C 3050 with similar specs and many of the same features will also be available, and will be sold through NAD’s worldwide network of dealers. 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 get the same amazing vintage vibe.