The limited-edition amp from NAD is the fetish piece of 1970s hi-fi I’ve always desired

Although the 1970s are remembered for many negative things, the era’s hi-fi equipment was also known for having excellent sound quality and stylish design.

Companies in the audio industry including JBL, Yamaha, and Marantz have been updating their iconic speaker and amplifier designs from the 1970s to produce new models with the same aesthetic but improved internals. Similarly, NAD has released a limited edition C 3050 LE Stereophonic Amplifier that shares the same classic aesthetic.

The C 3050 LE has the warm, inviting design of the greatest integrated amps of that era, and it would be a great fit for many of the best stereo speakers thanks to its walnut veneer wooden casing and golden LED-lit VU metres, one for the left and one for the right channels. In honour of the brand’s 50th anniversary (it first appeared in 1972), a limited edition of 1,972 individually numbered amplifiers were created.

Instead of the 20 watts per channel that NAD’s integrated amps of the 1970s typically had (spec’d across the full frequency band, which was a novel consumer-friendly approach for the time), the C 3050 LE is rated for 100 watts per channel using the same “Full Disclosure Power” approach the company has been using for decades.

Support for AirPlay 2 and two-way aptX HD Bluetooth (for use with the finest wireless headphones) are also included, as is an HDMI eARC connector and the ability to stream wirelessly through the company’s app-controlled BluOS multiroom platform. A phono stage and headphone amplifier let you to hook up the greatest turntable and over-ear headphones to the nostalgic yet totally contemporary C 3050 LE.

When it comes to stereo equipment, vintage is always in style

NAD, an inventive brand that has continually provided low-priced components supported by the company’s trustworthy Full Disclosure Power ratings, has plenty to celebrate on the occasion of its 50th anniversary.

NAD’s integrated amplifiers have traditionally maintained a simple, understated aesthetic, with the company’s belief being that the focus should be on the music rather than the equipment. Conversely, the limited edition C 3050 LE is certainly drool-worthy due to its faithful recreation of the best aspects of 1970s hi-fi design, including large knobs and buttons, friendly-looking VU metres, and a smooth wooden veneer.

It’s great to see businesses like NAD, KLH, and PSB, a sister company to NAD, joining the trend of releasing hi-fi speakers with retro designs. Other firms, including Mission and Wharfedale, have also joined this trend. For one, it allows manufacturers to make products that harken back to the heyday of hi-fi without abandoning the tremendous technological advances that have occurred since the originals were introduced.

Even if you don’t manage to get your hands on NAD’s limited-edition integrated amp, you can rest assured knowing that the company will also be releasing a conventional C 3050 version with nearly identical specifications and capabilities, and selling it through its whole global retailer network. It will cost less than the limited edition model at 1,299 / £1,160 / about AU2,075, but don’t expect the same cool retro atmosphere.