Tuner NAD C422

This NAD C422 is finished in an attractive silver. The front panel is a simple affair, discretely styled with a tuning "knob" to the right of the display and a set buttons to the left of the display for Preset/ Tune, Display, AM/ FM, FM Mute/ Mode, Memory and Blend. The Blend feature is like a noise reduction for the FM, enabling weaker received stations to function in stereo without the hiss or having to resort to mono. The Blend feature can also be stored for one of the 30 individual assignable AM/FM presets. The display is very good and can be viewed from a distance; it also has a radio signal strength meter just under the Antenna moniker.

Internally the NAD has quite a substantial tuner circuit board. There looks like an OEM encoder at the rear connecting to the AM/FM socket, while liberally supplied Elcon and Licon capacitors are spread across the circuit board. The power switch gets its own board while the power transformer is a frame type, providing separate linear power supplies to the digital and analogue sections of the C422. For the tuner section, the NAD uses an LA1837 Sanyo IF chip, a phase lock loop LC7218 chip and the RF decoder is a LCF72723 type. When I spoke to one of NAD's engineers, he said that there was some special tweaking of the C422, which resulted in a flatter than normal response. Nicely built and finished for the price, the controls work with solidity and it is functionally logical too. It was a delight to operate and use. The C422 measures 435x80x285mm and weighs 4kg.

The NAD was initially underwhelming as it sounded thin compared to the others, but through extended listening proved interesting, as I began to really appreciate its consistently neutral sound. It was controlled through all the frequency extremes where there was no sibilance in vocals or plumminess to the speech. There wasn't exaggerated bass bloom either, that could easily dislocate and ruin the musical structure. The treble didn't suffer; there was no screeching or high pitched whine that some vocals can have on both FM and DAB. On Radio Three FM, it didn't flatter the music broadcasted; rather it was disciplined and precise without being unemotional. The NAD had excellent timing too, never being out of control on dynamics - it handled the difficult orchestral crescendos really well. With Radio Two FM, the sound quality remained entirely neutral and the NAD was expressive and timed very well. The speech was nicely presented if not as well rounded or deep as others.

The NAD was deceptively good, providing a continually neutral and excellent sound quality that at first seemed underwhelming. It is nicely made and finished for the price and is only really let down by the "semi" rotary knob. It's a league above the Denon sonically, with more incision and less euphony, although obviously doesn't quite achieve the cheaper unit's stratospheric value for money rating. Strength in depth!

Frequency response of the C422 has a distinct lift at high frequencies our analysis shows, giving it a brighter sound than most rivals, which these days measure flat. The steep drop at right in this trace is the pilot tone filter, giving the C422 less pilot and intermodulation distortion around it. With reasonably low levels of harmonic distortion, most low order 2nd harmonic our analysis shows, the C422 should sound clean enough.

The C422 uses conventional chip sets, managing a reasonably "normal" level of hiss that measured -72dB (IEC A wtd.). This makes it one of the quieter tuners of the group and it needed just 750uV from the aerial to achieve this result, which is pretty good. Sadly, the little signal strength display hit maximum with just 20uV, not even enough to get -50dB noise when receiving stereo. Stereo sensitivity was a good 30uV and mono just 5uV.

The C422 was a good all-rounder under measurement, but may sound just a little bright.

NAD C422 Tuner photo