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An old school no frills "audiophile" and sentimentality

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nevets88

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This is my primary stereo receiver:

113878-nad_7020e_receiver.jpg

It's nearly 30 years old and still kicking although mine looks a little more worn. It has no remote, no surround sound, no spdif output, no hdmi inputs, no BT, the list goes on. It is the equivalent of an old car with manual steering, manual roll up windows, no antilock brakes but with a finely tuned and maintained engine that never breaks down. Its amplifier parts were taken from another NAD model, the 3020, which was known for its awesome sound and yes, musical goodness flows out of it, clean and warm.

It is very Apple, it does very few things but it has a great "interface", intuitive and simple, no manual required. It looks like it belongs in a museum, almost a work of art. Every time I consider replacing it, I'm just about to pull the trigger, but I say, never mind, it works well, seems excessive to replace it. Eventually one day, the always advancing tech out there will make it a burden. It needs a digital to analog converter to play audio output from the tv. It's a pain you can't control the volume from a remote. You can't play music wirelessly from a smartphone or computer.

The day will come when it'll be replaced by something with all the bells and whistles, but that will have a remote with as many buttons as an airplane cockpit, the back will have a million outputs and it'll be a spaghetti of wires to hide away and there won't be a piece of art on the cabinet anymore, but hey, I won't have to get up to change the volume.

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I have the very same amplifier, and I love it mostly because of it's beautiful sound (in my opinion).

I think you described it aptly when you compared it to an old-car: it's not about being cool, or having all the features under the sun. This is first and foremost a product that designed to do one thing and do it well: play music.

Oh but my modern equivalents can do that and more, you might attest. Yes of course in the strictest sense they can. But despite advances in amplifier design those modern versions are based upon the notion of being a jack of all trades, master of none. As such, when you line them up with this receiver and compare the actual sound quality, you're effectively lining up a modern car with a vintage hot rod. The car that built for a specific purpose will most likely win, every single time.

And I have also used many, many other receivers - not one even came close to the sheer prowess offered by this tried-and-tested design. Not only that, it's the only receiver I have ever used - again thanks to its design - that can handle such a large array of speakers.

What's more, I have used this unit since 1988 almost every day and I only started to experience failure around 20 years after. Not complete failure, however; I'm talking a non-functioning tuner, icky switches and pots that 'crackle'. But it still to a large extent works. I know I will have to have it service or do the servicing myself, but the notion of replacing this unit isn't on the cards. Rather, I will simply put it next to something else, not let it be replaced by something else, because that something else that can better what this old unit offers has yet to exist.

The sound I can only describe as beautiful. The receiver can handle many formats analogue or digital, including films. Don't be fooled by that lowly 20 watts output..you can drive speakers with less than 8 ohms impedance VERY easily to get more power out. It has no issues cranking your earphones at incredibly high volumes. But the sound never tires, it never falters; it's a joy to listen to tracks from the likes of Enya the one minute, and Motley Crue the next. That bass is tight, and punch; the treble rich but not fatiguing. Plug in an old NAD cassette deck and re-discover the joy of being able to push an analogue source way past the red. All this with a well-behaved frequency response that is as true now as it was back when I first heard it.

And those buttons? They can be removed and cleaned up like new. The decals will fade over time but in my experience they are still incredibly resilient compared to other hardware. Can you think of a modern receiver that would be almost as good as new in terms of looks, after 30 years of almost constant use? I can't.

The innards are also serviceable. You just have to be careful. Some users also recommend upgrades, such as replacing the capacitors and volume pots for better quality sound, but I have no experience of this and I am happy with the sound as it is.

My only criticism of this device? The receiver, which can 'drift' after a while. However that's a small gripe. This amp does what it says on the tin, where it matters. If you want trendy plastic with more ports than you can remember, do that. But I invite you to at least put it behind a screen and compare it to a model such as this. NAD was renowned for putting sound quality first , at good prices, and with the 7020e this is exactly that.

I will most likely take the 7020e with me to my grave. It's given me a lifetime of pleasure and I see no reason to stop the party now. All the best.

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