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NAD 521i vs. NAD 541i? (1 Viewer)

Ryan Muldoon

Feb 20, 2002
The NAD 521i and 541i are about $200 apart from each other. The value-add of the 541i seems to be a 24-bit Burr-Brown DAC and HDCD decoding, as opposed to just at 20-bit Burr-Brown DAC. As I own about 4 HDCDs, and it doesn't appear that HDCDs are ever going to be very popular, it isn't a major selling point for me. But, how much of a difference is the better DAC going to make? I would love to hear some opinions on this. I've heard the 521i, but not the 541i. The 521i sounds really good, but I might be willing to invest more money if there is a big difference. I am planning on combining this with either a NAD C370 Integrated amp or a c160 preamp and a c270 amp. Speakers are likely to be B&W CDM-1NTs. Does anyone have any thoughts on this?


Senior HTF Member
Mar 28, 2000
Ryan, I have not heard the two NAD CD players, but no matter what anyone might tell you, you should listen to both players. There are other single-disc CD players to consider in your price range as well, such as the Cambridge Audio D300SE and D500SE, Music Hall MMF-CD25, and Ah! Njoe Tjoeb 4000. You might want to consider your other options.

Regarding NAD amplification, you are looking at some nice equipment for the money. If the B&W speakers can be biwired/biamped, you might want to consider an NAD C 270/C 370 biamped combo as well. I added the C 270 to the C 370 in my main system a couple of months ago and am very happy with the results. Bass is better defined, and the soundstage is wider. The biamp route is just one more thing to consider, but you can't go wrong with any NAD amp set-up for the money. I also use an NAD C 350 integrated amp in my second system, and it is excellent considering the low price.


Supporting Actor
Mar 19, 2001
Excellent recommendations from KeithH as usual. I was helping a co-worker with the same choices just a couple of weeks back. The conclusion that he arrived at after much auditioning was the Cambridge D500SE with the Rotel RA1060 integrated amp. The D500SE sounded overly warm with the NAD 370, which ultimately was the deciding factor.

If you like a very warm, rounded sound, the 370 might be the way to go. I've never heard the Njoe Tjoeb 4000, but I imagine that it would produce a very warm and fluid sound due to its tubed output stage.

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