NAD PE Amplifiers and Receivers : Product of the Day 16 , 2010



NAD 7175PE Receiver- playing music as I write this

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Today’s Product of the Day will take us down Vintage Lane to take a look at some exceptional gear you can buy easily and inexpensively!

The NAD PE series of amplifiers, integrated amplifiers and stereo receivers was produced in the late 1980s.  The series is known for its fine sound quality, fully up to audiophile standards, and some of the most powerful, most capable amplifiers you could ever buy.  The latter is something of an understatement, actually.  The PE series amps were brimming with high-quality watts and loads of current that could drive most anything you hooked them up to, and at today’s market prices they are a really exceptional buy if you are building a two-speaker stereo system.  I hope this Product of the Day feature does not raise the resale values too much because I don’t want those of you reading this to end up paying too much for one!

Music is dynamic and most of the time your system is probably cruising along at a few watts.  Sudden changes such as an explosion in a movie or an orchestral crescendo could take you from 2 watts to 50 watts very easily.  Making a big amp with lots of continuous power is expensive and most of the power is not needed except for brief moments… still, it needs to be there when called for.  NAD’s solution was the Power Envelope design that allowed the amplifier to produce much more than its rated continuous power for a few moments when the signal demanded it.

As you may have guessed, PE stands for “Power Envelope” and refers to NAD’s circuitry which gave the amps 6 decibels (dB) of dynamic headroom.  To make a 3 dB difference in volume you must double the power, for example from 2 watts to 4 watts.  The receiver pictured above, the 7175PE, has 75 continuous watts per channel and with the 6 dB of headroom, it can produce up to 300 watts for a few seconds.  That’s more than enough to handle most any demands placed by any speaker, even exotics ones.  I’ve used my 7175PE to drive both my Ohm Fs and my Ohm As, and that is saying a lot!  Believe me, if it can drive Ohm As it can drive most anything.  They require over 25 times the amplifier power of a typical bookshelf speaker.

I remember reading back issues of Stereo Review and seeing reviews of the PE series amplifiers.  According to the tests they were actually underrated from their advertised specifications.   Julian Hirsch, editor and product tester for the magazine, found the 2200PE amplifier, rated at 100 continuous watts per channel and 400 watts per channel peak, could produce over 500 watts per channel into 8 ohms, and around a kilowatt (1,000 watts)  into 4 ohms!

The reason I am bringing this up as Product of the Day is these receivers and amplifiers are tremendous values on the market.  I just checked eBay and there is a 7240PE for sale for only $150 Buy it Now price.  The 7240PE is rated at 40 watts continuous, 160 watts peak into 8 ohms, and double that into 4 ohms.  Only $150 for a high-end audiophile receiver with an excellent tuner and phono section, paired with and a killer amplifier that can deliver over 300 watts per channel into 4-ohm speakers.  It makes today’s offerings look positively pathetic (which they usually are, actually.)

Before you jump in you should know the PE series does have a problem area, the relays used in the amplifier section.  It is a common but easily fixable problem.  In fact, the only reason my 7175 PE was ever hooked up to my Ohm As is because I had to send my 2200PE in to have the relays replaced.  It seems they go once every twenty years or so, so if you get one and need to get it fixed (it’s around $100-$150 at a good shop like Atlas Audio Repair) you will end up with an amazing receiver that will provide wonderful sound for many years.  Even taking a $150 used receiver and adding a possible $150 repair down the road you will still be in great shape.  There is nothing you can buy today for $300 that can come close to matching these products.

Questions? Email Don

See you tomorrow for the Product of the Day!

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