IN 1972, NAD (originally an acronym for New Acoustic Dimension) set out to create a new kind of audio company. We were a group of audio-industry veterans: manufacturers, retailers, distributors, and – above all – listeners. We were driven by passion for great sound and by the desire to cut through the marketing hype and over-elaboration that had become pervasive in the audio industry. We wanted to provide what people really wanted instead of what they were being sold.
The audio industry we entered in 1972 had been created by its own customers back in the 1950s. People who wanted something better than mass-market radios and phonographs had searched out public-address equipment and put the cumbersome pieces of it together as best they could. And some of them went into business to make what they were not finding. By the time the “Rock Revolution” of the 1960s occurred, the interest in good equipment had become so obvious that the major players in the electronics industry had moved in to harvest the business that the audio pioneers had created. They brought a lot of expense, complexity, and hyperbole with them. The marketing of audio equipment took on so much “sizzle” that the steak became increasingly hard to find and enjoy.
We wanted to get back to the point — to the reality behind the knobs and the increasingly expensive faceplates. And we are still doing that today with every piece of equipment we design. The real point of all audio equipment for the home is obviously enjoyment — of lifelike, involving sound from music and movies. Some of the fun in buying audio components is deciding (and swapping views on) just how lifelike their sound really is. We take as much pleasure in that as anybody else, but we never lose sight of the central aim of enjoyment. And the three qualities we feel are central to creating it are performance, value, and simplicity.
Here is a quick look at what those qualities mean to us, and what we think they mean to our customers:
In audio electronics, the bottom line is that the waveforms that go to a loudspeaker should be in every possible respect as identical as possible to the ones that were originally produced by the microphones used for recordings or broadcasts. They should look exactly like the original ones, and they should have the same time-relationships and dynamics they did at the outset. Keeping those factors straight – without adding any overlay of any kind – is what every NAD component is designed to do.
The process involved can get tremendously complex. And as you go up the scale from lifelike to super-lifelike to “being there,” more and more subtle and demanding things have to be done right. It takes an enormous amount of attention. And we supply that attention at every stage, from the conception of a design onward to the delivery of the finished products that arrive in customers’ living rooms – and their durability thereafter.
We want to make clear that every NAD component at every level is designed and manufactured for satisfying performance – for realistic, detailed, convincing reproduction of the original sound.
We are in business to serve intelligent people who want to spend what is needed, not what the traffic will bear. The absolute rock-bottom principle from which NAD design philosophy operates is that good design is never at the listener’s expense. We throw ingenuity rather than money at design challenges. After identifying the price levels at which we can take significant steps in performance, we focus on supplying everything we ourselves would want in a given product. And our aim is to satisfy people at home rather than tempt them in the showroom. We want you to know you got it right the first time, instead of having to commit to an endless search for the satisfaction you should have had in the first place. (“Upgrades” in our view should be about getting still more, not trying to make up for too little.) We always hope our customers will find at least a little more than they expected.
To our minds, designing for maximum value almost always means achieving maximum real-world performance as well. Here is why:
Complexity is the enemy of good performance in audio equipment. Every step up in the elaboration of an electronic circuit is another chance to get it wrong – to introduce something that degrades the final accuracy of sound by forcing the signal to go around an extra corner on the way to the listener. In our view, unnecessary elaboration and expense go hand in hand with unnecessary distortion of some aspect of performance. Going for simplicity and high value encourages the kind of thinking that produces excellence.
Without skipping any step required for uncompromised performance, we look for and find straight paths where others settle for going the long way around. And the result is sound as clean as that of a fine piano. People consistently notice it in our equipment. They also notice a level of sonic detail from NAD products that is the direct result of our not putting things in the way.
Simplicity has two other key benefits. One is that it is easier and more likely to realize optimum performance in real-world listening situations when you can get it simply and directly, without excess knobs or “features” that are confusing to master. The other is that it is more fun this way – that there is a special kind of pleasure in getting great sound from an unassuming piece of audio gear. One look at the simple charcoal gray front panel of the classic NAD component will tell you that “unassuming” is definitely NAD.
When it comes to performance, however, we are anything but unassuming. Everything that does not go into showroom appearance and needless bells and whistles in NAD equipment goes instead into internal component parts of extremely high quality. Inside our gray boxes you will find parts you otherwise would see only in very expensive equipment. We put our focus on the inside where it counts, and you can hear the results.