Jump to content

Recommended Posts

G'day all, mostly on impulse I've decided to buy a new NAD PP2e phono stage.  It has provision for both MM and MC cartridges which may be useful in the future for me.  However I have some concerns with the present crop of NAD gear.  Researching the earlier PP1 and PP2 phono stages it is apparent that some aspects of those designs were 'quirky' and even possibly 'bad', such as the default input capacitance of the MM stage (200 picofarads and even higher for the PP1), which is impracticably high for many MM cartridges, not to mention the overall gain which is (in my opinion), a touch low at only mid 30's db or so and the use of 'single ended' power supplies with op amp circuitry (bad imo). 

 

In some respects NAD are a bit like Ortofon in that they seem to have released audio products somewhat short of the quality of their halcyon days (in my opinion anyway).  I'm truly hoping that the 'e' version of the PP2 sorts out the 'bugs' of earlier versions.  Does anyone have a PP2e and like it?  Regards, Felix. 

Edited by catman
Spelling.
Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Hensa

Hi Felix, no personal experience with the NAD phono stage but I'm looking forward to your impression. NAD seems quite mainstream compared to your other stages so it will be interesting to hear how it fares against these.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

G'day mate, in all honesty I am expecting to be disappointed with the NAD, but it would be nice to be pleasantly surprised!  It is always nice to be pleasantly surprised.  For example, the inexpensive Lucid Labs 'Catalyst' MM phono stage has become one of my favourites!  Regards, Felix. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

One I have tried is the Cambridge Audio 540P and 640P. The design seems very good, however the parts especially the chinese electrolytic capacitors are junk (as is usual with this brand). Replace the capacitors in the power section to Panasonic FM and in the audio stages Nichicon Muse or Elna Silmic then you have a very good phono stage indeed.

Link to post
Share on other sites


12 minutes ago, eman said:

Adding junk parts to decent design has let NAD down in the past too.

Also adding junk design to decent parts has let them down.

I've heard the earlier Phono stages on tables like the early Projects and some Duals.

Found them to be slightly thin and bright but with a nice open Soundstage.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Hensa
One I have tried is the Cambridge Audio 540P and 640P. The design seems very good, however the parts especially the chinese electrolytic capacitors are junk (as is usual with this brand). Replace the capacitors in the power section to Panasonic FM and in the audio stages Nichicon Muse or Elna Silmic then you have a very good phono stage indeed.


Interesting comment. I must admit to having been consistently unimpressed with the Cambridge budget phono stages but had never thought to take a look inside! Good to know they can be sonically revived by switching out a few caps.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes there's a thread on another forum referred to as the hypnotoad mod which deals with how the inferior founding Cambridge phono stage can be much bettered with improved parts inside. Also I've had similar experience with the Cambridge CDP. The 640c I thought was pretty ordinary as stock with poor quality caps. A recap with Nichicon made a high difference. 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites


G'day all, interesting comments.  I have to admit that back in the mid 1980's most of my own stereo gear was NAD, and it was great, yet I have to concede that 'maybe' some of the components used were not of the best quality. 

 

For example there was judicious use of (slightly noisy) carbon resistors in sections were metal film resistors would have clearly improved performance.  I realised this after repairing a friends NAD preamp from that general time period.  Even some of the small signal transistors used were 'barely' adequate.  Great design, but the 'build quality' was slightly suspect, and as I recall, 'dry' solder joints were also a significant and troublesome issue. 

 

However the phono stage in that preamp based on discrete circuitry, (before the common use of op amps), was exceptional and I believe that the basic circuit topology was similar to the excellent and innovative Holman designs.  Regards, Felix.       

Link to post
Share on other sites

some peeps are just too serious !

the pp2 is a budget phono stage and fills that role admirably.

 

i had nad pp2, it's a very good budget phono stage.

easily as good as the venerable 3020 phono stage, with the bonus of extra gain for mc's.

and not embarrassed by the koetsu rosewood and shelter 501/2 i was using at the time.

 

any bugs are imaginary or overstated.

 

mm specs were 35db gain/47k load/220pf capacitance

mc spec 60/100/180

- nothing out of the ordinary

 

sure it can be improved and bettered (at a cost) but straight out of the box it's a good, honest music maker at a fair price, under $200 back then, a pp2e is ???

 

 

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
some peeps are just too serious !
the pp2 is a budget phono stage and fills that role admirably.
 
i had nad pp2, it's a very good budget phono stage.
easily as good as the venerable 3020 phono stage, with the bonus of extra gain for mc's.
and not embarrassed by the koetsu rosewood and shelter 501/2 i was using at the time.
 
any bugs are imaginary or overstated.
 
mm specs were 35db gain/47k load/220pf capacitance
mc spec 60/100/180
- nothing out of the ordinary
 
sure it can be improved and bettered (at a cost) but straight out of the box it's a good, honest music maker at a fair price, under $200 back then, a pp2e is ???
 
 


I've seen them available on eBay for under $100 in the past. Very cheap.

Sent from my Redmi Pro using Tapatalk

Link to post
Share on other sites

G'day all, very interesting stuff.  One thing that worries me about the input capacitance of the MM section is '200 picofarads,' as that is just too high a value for a cartridge like the Shure M97xE once interconnect and tonearm wiring capacitance are added.  As I stated elsewhere, 100 picofarads would be a much more practical and indeed workable value.  200 picofarads is just bad design in my opinion.  Regards, Felix. 

Edited by catman
Spelling.
Link to post
Share on other sites


looking at local dealers, the pp2e is $299nzd.

so not quite the bargain now.

that brings it to within $30 of the cambridge audio 651p $329.

 

i'd take the 651p  <  had one of those too

 

:D

Edited by michaelw
Link to post
Share on other sites
looking at local dealers, the pp2e is $299nzd.
so not quite the bargain now.
that brings it to within $30 of the cambridge audio 651p $329.
 
i'd take the 651p   
[emoji3]


Plenty of documented mods for that too

Sent from my Redmi Pro using Tapatalk

Link to post
Share on other sites

G'day all, well my new NAD new PP2e phono stage arrived by courier earlier this morning and after a very quick and easy set up I'm listening to it now fed by my Shure M97xE.  Subjectively it sounds fine and despite a slightly higher load capacitance load than I'd like (around 385 picofarads overall), purely on the basis of listening there is no real evidence of upper treble roll off. 

 

The voltage gain at 1 KHz is quoted at 35.5 db, slightly low compared to my nominal 40 db 'standard' for MM cartridge phono stages, however this NAD PP2e plays essentially equally loud (with BTO's 'Not Fragile') as my other phono stages with gain in the 40 db gain range.  Sonically it seems fine with good clean, low noise and 'neutral' sound quality....overall quite pleasant and satisfying to my ears. 

 

I read that there is a non-defeatable sub bass or infra sonic filter in circuit, and I think that I can detect a very slight 'lightness' to the lower bass frequencies, however again all sounds fine.  My unit came in the 'traditional' grey NAD metal case that I personally like, and it is a small case, only slightly larger than the diminutive metal case used with the Lucid Labs 'Catalyst' phono stage.  The power supply wallwart is a 24 volt or is it 23.5 volt DC supply (switch mode based circuitry)...both values are mentioned in the NAD documentation but is subjectively free of any apparent 'switching' noise....however I have a marked personal dislike of switch mode power supplies for other reasons such as RF broadband noise, but this unit seems clean.

 

Summarising, there are no real disappointments with this new NAD PP2e phono stage.  The MC section has not been tested as yet, but hopefully soon!  This is an honest, good sounding phono stage.  Regards, Felix. 

Edited by catman
spelling.
  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

G'day all, further observations on the NAD PP2e and to be honest I'm not sure whether I should like it or hate it!  It is quite an 'ok' phono stage, but there are some things about the circuit that are clearly quirky design for no logical reason, like the (presumed) use of a single ended power supply to the op amp (an NE5532?), which necessitates the use of series (electrolytic) capacitors in the signal line from the cartridge to prevent the appreciable flow of DC into the cartridge. 

 

Why not just use a 'normal' split rail/bipolar power supply and obviate any need for series input capacitors?  Why NAD opted for this circuit approach is just plain weird and simply doesn't make any real circuit sense to me.  Bizarre!  NAD seem to have fallen for the old advertising trick of trying to make strange design sound like a design 'feature'! 

 

The use of input coupling capacitors will inevitably start to roll off the lower bass frequencies through pure and simple high pass filtering action which is what series capacitors inevitably do.  While this sort of sub bass filtering does have its practical value, NAD appear to be 'careless with the technical truth'.  Mmmm. 

 

Also why set the MM cartridge input capacitance at 200 picofarads, which is a poorly chosen load capacitance value for no apparently good reason (imho).  Maybe this is an EMC legislative requirement, but this certainly doesn't help with MM phono cartridge optimisation!  As I've previously said, the NAD PP2e does sound quite good, however with simple circuit modifications it could be so much better. 

 

My simple DIY op amp phono stages based on the Heran full feedback approach easily develop gain in the 40 db range, have no issues with input capacitors, are easily optimised for input capacitance, and the best of all, sound great!  NAD, just one question please, why has the circuit of the PP2e been designed this way?  Regards, Felix.    

Edited by catman
Spelling.
  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites


Further observations and a bit of shock!

 

G'day all, well I managed to pull the case of my new NAD PP2e apart no problem and have a look inside for preparation for possible well documented circuit modifications, and inside was a bit of a shock. 99 percent of all components are surface mount, completely different from the earlier PP2 model and there is no real way to 'work' on it.

 

There seem to be electrolytic capacitors everywhere (electrolytic type but not surface mount types), probably in the signal path. I think the op amp is probably surface mount too. All very neat and tidy assembly, but impossible to work on, perhaps deliberately.

 

'PP2i' is marked on the printed circuit board, apparently the latest 'hardware' version.  Oh well....chalk this one up to experience!  Regards, Felix.

Link to post
Share on other sites

G'day all, further adventures with my NAD PP2e.  I'm not really sure why I'm spending so much time with this phono stage, however on a whim this afternoon I decided to plug it in on my main system in another room in this residence.  The equipment is similar to what I use in here, including the phono cartridge, but the room is much larger and carpeted, and for whatever reason the PP2e sounds 'impressive' on that system. 

 

I will say that it is clearly 'voiced', but pleasant with a definite warmth and a sense of mellowness.  I was playing a Slim Dusty Australian Country album, but it's an album that I know well and the overall tonal balance sounded entirely different as rendered by the NAD PP2e compared to any of my other phono stages used on that system.  I have read an online review somewhere that suggested the PP2e was perfect for Jazz and I can understand why as this type of apparent colouration would work well for Jazz, I suspect.  I think that I'll keep the NAD PP2e on that system where it plays nicely. 

 

For this room and system in here, and maybe room acoustics are a factor, my other phono stages are a better 'fit' in here, but on my other system the NAD PP2e although clearly 'voiced' sounds endearingly pleasant.  Don't we all love the complexities of record playback?  Yes....sort of anyway!  Regards, Felix.   

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Felix. Interesting read. Most of the budget phono stages I've seen - including 2 models from Cambridge, three from Project and internal ones on integrated amps have DC blocking capacitors on the input stage. As did the NAD 3020. The one phono that didn't had considerable oscillation problems from acoustic feedback through the floor boards to the extent that the cartridge and stylus would jump up and down on resonance to low bass. Also without the blocking capacitors especially at high gain levels and spikes from static could have catastrophic effects up the chain. So I think they are needed however top quality ones like Elna Silmic or Nichicon Muse ought to be used if possible. 

 

The 200pf input capacitor also seems to be pretty standard. Remember you need to add in tonearm cable capacitance that can add another 50-100pf. Works with most carts although I agree the OM10 needs slightly higher. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

G'day mate, all noted and interesting.  I still think 100 pf would be an preferred input capacitance because as it stands the input capacitance of the PP2e is too high for my M97xE in here which sounds its best at 47 k and 250 to 300 pf (overall). 

 

Actually I am thinking about building an input 'buffer stage' for this reason.  As for input 'series' capacitors, I have mixed feelings about their use, but in any case high quality capacitors are essentially mandatory and necessary in this application.  Regards, Felix. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Further Adventures with my new NAD PP2e.

 

G'day all, this is getting a trifle confusing as I'm really getting to like the sound of my NAD PP2e on my 'main system'.  Why it sounds good on that system and only 'ordinary' on the system in here is frankly weird.  One thing I noticed on the main system this afternoon is how 'quiet' it is.  That was quite unexpected.  Maybe it is a lot better than I initially thought.  Mmmmmm.  Regards, Felix.      

Edited by catman
Spelling.
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 3 months later...

Further updates.

G'day all, in the light of my recent observations on NAD sound, maybe the PP2e phono stage is quite decent after all.  I would change a couple of things such as increase the overall gain to 40 db, and lower the input capacitance to 100 picofarads, however I used it last night in here with my M97xE and was actually quite impressed with a wide genre of recorded music and it didn't sound 'lacking' at all. 

 

If there is a word to describe it, 'gentle' comes to mind, but in the nicest possible way.  Perhaps my mood last night helped too, feeling fairly passive as I was.  One interesting thing is that I could possibly reduce the input capacitance load seen by the cartridge by using lower capacitance interconnect cable.  I normally use 'Concord' by Jaycar which is actually quite low capacitance, but I believe lower capacitance cable is available.  I only need 2 x half a metre lengths.  Does anybody know of any good sources in Australia?  Regards, Felix. 

Edited by catman
Punctuation.
Link to post
Share on other sites

I suspect it's been a popular entry level choice for a long time for good reason. Kind of like the EAR 834P in that respect.

Sent from my Redmi Pro using Tapatalk

Link to post
Share on other sites

G'day all, I've just been listening to Dave Brubeck Greatest Hits with my M97xE and PP2e and my gosh doesn't it sound so good.  I think the PP2e excels at reproducing this kind of groovy Jazz!  It just sounds great. 

 

The 'gentle' sound profile of the NAD PP2e works perfectly to enhance this genre of music!  Groovy man!  Regards, Felix.  

Edited by catman
Spelling.
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 month later...

G'day all, just reopening this thread as either this is simply my imagination or a definite long term break in.  Earlier in this thread I described the sound of the PP2e as 'I will say that it is clearly 'voiced', but pleasant with a definite warmth and a sense of mellowness'.  Well listening to it of late it has changed, in that the warmth and mellowness is no longer there.  The overall sound has 'tightened' up.

 

Increasingly I blame this on electrolytic capacitor 'behavior', and this can be quite a long term shift/change.  This isn't the first time that I've noticed such a thing.  Interesting, at the very least!  Regards, Felix. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.




×
×
  • Create New...