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NAD C 165BEE - great features - how is it's headphone section?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

In searching for a headphone amp/preamp to replace an E-MU 0404usb I decided that if I am going to spend lots of money then I should not settle for anything that just has great sound quality - it should also have great features.


The NAD C 165BEE ($899.00 new or $699.00 refurbished) has great features not usually found in headphone amp/pre-amp units:


1. When you plug in the headphones it turns the pre-amp outs off. (very useful when using powered studio monitors).

2. It has a remote.

3. Bass and treble controls which can also be bypassed for purer sound when not needed.


Here is all I have found of the headphone specs:

Maximum Output level: Headphones >7 V into 600 ohm, >2 V into 32 ohm

Headphone Output Impedance: 10 Ohms.


"NAD has also improved the headphone amplifying circuit to better drive studio quality high impedance headphones."



Can anybody make any educated guesses on it's headphone capabilities by those specs?

Anyone with direct experience of this unit that could comment on how it sounds with specific headphones?

Any other units out there that I should be considering?

I currently am using Fostex T50RP headphones but am planning on also getting new headphones (and DAC) at same time as amp. Currently leaning towards Senn HD650 and/or 600 Ohm Beyer or even one of the new orthos out lately...


Thanks in advance for any comments.


Edited by runswithaliens - 9/26/10 at 9:18am
post #2 of 8
Thread Starter 

From reading past threads on NAD amps it seems that they used to have a 200 Ohm headphone jack. Looking at their current line I see that their integrated amps now have 65 Ohm headphone jacks while this preamp has the 10 Ohm jack. So maybe they have made improvements on what was already apparently a fairly decent built-in headphone amp?

post #3 of 8

Actually past threads on NAD amps are not relevant here as a pre-amp is a completely different animal. NAD amps take a stepped-down line from the speaker outs for their HP jacks; a pre-amp has its own HP circuit. No way to tell what it sounds like without listening, but at that price I'd expect NAD to have taken care the sound is of high quality. Whether it synergises with whatever phones you end up with is another matter.  

post #4 of 8

Finally i get to post something after learning much on headphones from this site. I have the c165 combo with the c275 power amp running together with a pair of dynaudio and a few cans for late night sessions mainly. My setup never sounded better since i came out of the nad c370 integrated. Infact i used headphones to audition the differences over the current C375 integrated during the time of purchase. As much as they want me to believe the integrated is the addition of both the pre and power of the latter in one box, the c165 is better than the integrated c375 judging from headphones alone. Through speakers the pre/power beats the integrated flat out. The attributes in drive, separation and clarity are apparent instantly over the cost differences between them. At home, I have run the c165 with hd 650, hd25, grado 125 with good results. The hd650 demands more juice, 11+ to 12 o clock listening is not uncommon for me, the grado and hd 25 demanding less obviously. Having heard lehmann headphone amps, asgard, maverick etc. I cannot say the c165 is unbeatable let alone a replacement for the beefier headphone amps like a lehmann yet it never falls short of being totally enjoyable.  Added note, the built in phono stage is simply incredible if you are into vinyl. You will reap maximum if u get the power amp to go along, the c275 is a very refine power amp with the largest transformer within the classic series with 50000uf caps if i recall correctly. NAD has put up the most expensive classic series as yet with a built and sound fully justified for the price increase.


If i wanted a headphone rig alone, for under 1k I probably get a nuforce udac 2 + lehmann rhinelander or the nuforce UDP to replace the emu 404. I am using the udac2 rca out to the c165, it is very close to the nad c565 cd player. The 565 runs on wolfson 4871 could not drown the udac2! i had the salesman at the showroom confused when i brought in my laptop with the nuforce for audition.

Edited by rayshader - 9/30/10 at 7:55pm
post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the great info! The NAD is still at the top of the list for headphone amp/pre-amp duty although I am still considering others including tube amps like the Woo Audio 2. The reason I am not planning on getting the matching power amp with the NAD is because I use the bi-amplified JBL LSR2328p studio monitors and am very happy with the sound they produce even from the E-MU 0404usb.


The decision may very well come down to useful features being a higher priority than subtle sound quality differences and even price. Besides the remote and tone controls some other things I like about the NAD are two sets of pre-amp outs as well as another two sets of line-level outs so it would make it very easy to add a dedicated headphone amplifier to the system if I ever felt the need.


And finally there is a little shop here selling 1970's and earlier Marantz; McIntosh; and similar era receivers and I might just pick up one of them instead.


If you had to rate the headphone amp of the NAD on a scale of 1 to 10 as well as your other headphone amps how would they compare?

Edited by runswithaliens - 10/2/10 at 12:00am
post #6 of 8

Mileage may vary for some of us my comments are linked direcly to my musical liking. I am abit of a sonic junkie myself, my musical diet ranges from chet baker to DJ shadow.  Nad with dynaudio remains to be the cost effective solution for my needs. Infact Dynaudio combo with NAD exclusively at HIGH END® 2009 in Munich. They were driving the top focus series floorstanders with the C375! The floorstands are more than 5 times the price of the amp. They used that not for a show room but a highly rated hifi show?! 


Personally i admire tubes for the warmth, if thats what you are in for a tube headphone amp is perfectly fine. A few weeks ago I was tempted to buy a vintage 3020 the nad dealer has made it clear there is no support for those anymore. Vintage products for daily use may not be the best idea afterall.


I have not made side by side comparison with the c165 against the lehmann products. The sources differ to begin with on the same CD. If I have to rate, I would conservatively rate the headphone section to be 8+ if the lehmann linear is at 10. The Rhinelander is abit of a bargain, giving 80% of the bigger brother at less than half the price. Will i buy the rhinelander? No. I am perfectly happy with the c165 for what it does. The only thing within the NAD camp that beats the c165/c275 are the master series. They do not share the same traits in sound,  superbly clean overall. The class D M2 integrated is a total beast, this int amp is AMAZING with internal upsampling built in. You have to hear it to believe. They didn't drill a hole for the headphone unfortunately.

Edited by rayshader - 10/1/10 at 2:29pm
post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 

Is there an electronics guru in the house? I was curios to know what these output specs would be if converted to watts, or is there not enough information given?


Maximum Output level: Headphones >7 V into 600 ohm, >2 V into 32 ohm

Headphone Output Impedance: 10 Ohms.

post #8 of 8

The NAD isn't bad but personally my pick for similar(ish) money would be the Cambridge Audio 840E. Much better as both a preamp and headphone amp. Great build quality, too.

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