Behind the Design of the C 3050 LE

NAD C 3050 next to a turntable

Image showing C 3050 LE in a lifestyle setting

Since 1972, NAD Electronics has satisfied the curiosity of music connoisseurs and audiophiles alike with innovative amplifiers that break tradition and carry a secret sauce to producing exceptional sound.

To cut the ribbon on a 50-year milestone, the NAD design team created the C 3050 LE Stereophonic Amplifier, an anniversary-edition piece that pays homage to NAD’s classic 3030 amplifier, refashioned with leading edge hifi componentry for modern day music enjoyment.

NAD’s Product Manager, Cas Oostvogel, joins us to discuss the process in designing this ‘futurefied,’ retro-inspired amplifier.

NAD C 3050 Rear

Image showing 50th anniversary details on back of C 3050 LE


NAD: Why was the NAD 3030 from the 1970’s chosen as the design reference for the C 3050 LE?

Cas Oostvogel: The 3030 in itself was a precursor to the famous 3020 amplifier. The 3030 leveraged the same design principles that made the 3020 so popular. In fact, the groundwork of design was done first with the 3030 before it evolved into the 3020. So considering its historical significance as the precursor to the world’s most sold amplifier, and its pleasant aesthetics, we decided it would make for a great ‘heritage’ reference design. This range the 3030 was part of was also the first to use the NAD-grey colour scheme (before that, all NAD was silver only) and the square NAD logo. It was the last range of amps to use the curlywhirly “New Acoustic Dimension” lettering. Since then, only the logo remains.

NAD: Why did you choose to make this a Class D amplifier instead of Class A/B?

Cas Oostvogel: Class D gives you better performance and better sound. It’s more power for the same money and so it would defeat the whole point of bringing back Class A/B. It would be like bringing back the old Volkswagen Beetle instead of the new Volkswagen Beetle, which mimics the old Volkswagen Beetle. The old Beetle is a car that goes back to the late 1940s, and the new Beetle is like a modern Volkswagen Golf. Nobody would want to drive an old Volkswagen Beetle with its original technology. It guzzles gas, it’s not reliable, it’s noisy, it’s not fast. There’s 60 years of advancement between the old and new cars, and similar can be said about the C 3050 LE – there stands at least 45 years between the original 3030 and the C 3050 LE.

Image showing 3030 model from the 1970’s


NAD: How do the VU meters work?

Cas Oostvogel: There’s two ways that you can make the meters move. One is based on the volume level coming out of the speaker terminals. So if you were playing your music very softly, that means it would stay in the low range. If you play louder, they stay at the medium range. And if you played really loud, they’d stay at the maximum range. But we realized that most of the time, people play music in the background and they just love to see the VU meters move. So, we’ve put in a switch that will look at the input signal coming in and respond to that. This means that even if you have the volume turned down all the way, you will still see the needles move as long as there is music playing.

NAD C 3050 Animation

Image showing C 3050 LE VU meters


NAD: Can you speak about the design of the volume dial?

Cas Oostvogel: If you have an old-fashioned radio, you’ll notice that on the volume knob there is usually an end stop for minimum volume and there’s an end stop at maximum volume. The nice thing with the old amplifiers is the big white stripes on the knob’s fascia which give you the indication as to where you are with volume. You can’t have the same kinds of end stops with an electronic volume control, since the volume is controlled not only by the front panel, but also through a remote control, an app, or even through the volume buttons on your phone. So that means that you need some sort of feedback system as to where you are with regards to volume. You do want to know if the volume has been turned up all the way up or has been turned down all the way to nothing. That’s why we’ve introduced these nine LEDs below the volume button. So, at distance, you can tell where the volume level is sitting at.

NAD Logo Sketch

Image showing NAD logo sketch


NAD: Is there a story behind the NAD logo?

Cas Oostvogel: Marty Borish was together with the main NAD investors at a restaurant one evening and on a napkin, he quite literally drew a box and put the letters ‘NAD’ in it. which of course stands for ‘New Acoustic Dimension’ as the brand was called in full. As it so happens, most of the investors at the time the company was founded had suggested the German name ‘Neue Akustische Dimension’. But when suggested to Marty Borish, he resolutely said, “No. This is going to be New Acoustic Dimension.” And that’s where the name came from and later the logo on the napkin over dinner.

NAD: What can you say about how the amplifier sounds?

Cas Oostvogel: The performance for this unit is simply stunning and I’ll be getting one for myself. The C 3050 LE has the same musicality as the 3030 but with everything improved: more detailed, more dynamic, less noise and distortion. And like the 3020, it can drive about any speaker without issues but with lots more output power.

To celebrate a 50 year brand milestone, NAD launched a limited-edition run of the C 3050 LE earlier this year with only 1972 units produced and a plaque bearing each amplifier’s production number on every unit. A second version of the anniversary amplifier, the C 3050, will be made widely available for purchase online in May 2023.

Take a closer look at the C 3050 LE:

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