Since vinyl continues to make a comeback in the United States I decided to present another budget turntable for your consideration. I recently reviewed the Czech made Pro-ject 1.2 budget turntable and for comparison I decided to double the budget so to speak and ordered a NAD C555 Turntable for review. The NAD has a clean, pleasing utilitarian design that is heavily based on the Rega P2 turntable it is manufactured with a solid MDF plinth and comes with a nice smoke colored dust cover that is easily removable for listening sessions. This little table has a machined MDF platter, a very quiet asynchronous motor and a RB250 tonearm with a pre-mounted Goldring Elektra MM phono cartridge. The Rega RB250 tonearm on this turntable can be highly modified with the addition of upgraded tonearm wire and a dropped counter weight to provide an even better performance than in stock configuration. Speed selection is made by removing the platter and moving the belt from the larger 45RPM pulley to the smaller 331/3 RPM pulley or vise versa. The power switch is on the left top hand side of the two tone gray plinth.
- Drive system: Belt drive
- Motor: High torque
- Speeds: 33.3 and 45.1 rpm
- Suspension system: 3 energy absorbent synthetic rubber feet Tonearm
- Operation: Manual
- Length: 244mm total length Effective mass: 9 grams Overhang: 19.1mm cartridge weight: 4.2 grams
- Vertical tracking force: 1.7 grams nominal
- Cable capacitance: 150pF
- Cartridge Specification: Transducer Characteristics
- Frequency response: 20Hz – 20kHz ±3dB
- Channel balance: 2dB at 1kHz
- Channel separation: 20dB at 1kHz
- Output level: 5mV ±2dB at 1kHz at 5cm/s
- Static compliance: 16mm/N Equivalent tip mass: 0.7g
- Vertical tracking angle: 26 degrees
- Stylus radius: Elliptical 0.00072 in x 0.0003 in (18µ x 7µ)
- Cartridge Specification: Electrical Characteristics
- Load resistance: 47k ohms
- Load capacitance: 150-400pF
- Internal inductance: 560mH
- Internal resistance: 700 ohms
NAD C555 review
Once the NAD arrived I decided to play it through my bedroom system to allow it a chance to breakin before evaluating it in my reference system. The first thing I wanted to see was how this more expensive Rega derivative would sound when compared side by side with my son’s fairly new Czech made Music Hall MMF-2.1. For this portion of the review I mounted my Usher S520 speakers on a pair of 24” high Plateau speaker stands securing them with DAP “Fun Tak” which is similar to, but much less expensive than “Blue Tak”. The stands are filled with lead shot and sand for mass loading and were placed 2 feet from the back wall and 6 feet apart. I toed the speakers in slightly towards the listening position, which placed my ears 6 feet back from the front plane of the speakers. For the speaker connections I used a 10 foot pair of Zebra ZC SP14 DBI speaker cables to connect to my Rega Brio 2000 integrated amplifier.
Listening NAD C555
I warmed up the system by listening to my usual vinyl jazz standards used for review purposes, first up was Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers Blue Note 4003. The first cut on the second side is actually 3 jazz tunes called “The Drum Thunder Suite”, which is a dynamic recording when played through my reference system, however it was not nearly as detailed or energetic when played through the MMF 2.1. Switching to the NAD C555 increased the palpability and realism of the recording. Benny Golson’s sax sounded much smoother and the drums were conveyed in a much more powerful manner. The depth and width of the soundstage were also much greater than when I listened to the MMF 2.1. I switched recordings again, this time cueing up Meet Betty Carter and Ray Bryant Epic Reissue LN3202. My favorite track is “Moonlight in Vermont”, Betty Carter’s excellent performance of this jazz standard was more thoroughly conveyed by the NAD C555, I was treated to a much better sonic picture of her rich and smooth voice. Ray Bryant’s performance on the piano was top notch as well, sounding round, full and dynamic. The NAD was truly in a different league than the Music Hall.
One of my favorite Tom Petty albums is Southern Accents. I especially enjoy track one on the album, “Rebels”, which is very well recorded when compared to most of the rock music produced in the eighties. When assessing the performance of both turntables that I have on hand you become much more engaged when listening to the NAD C555. It produces a sound like rock should sound, more dynamic, powerful and musical. Tom Petty’s vocals were clear and concise and centrally placed in the soundstage.
On all recordings the Music Hall MMF 2.1 was thinner sounding and had less air around the vocalist than the NAD C555. When comparing the NAD C555 to the Music Hall MMF-2.1 and extrapolating these results to assess how it would compare to the Pro-ject 2.1, it became readily apparent that the NAD is so much better than the MMF 2.1 that there is no question that the NAD C555 is head and shoulders above the Music Hall MMF 2.1 and the Proj-ect 1.2.
Next I set up the NAD C555 through my Audio Research SP16 reference system phono stage. My reference system consists of a VPI HW-19 MKIV turntable, Audio Research SP16 vacuum tube preamplifier, Conrad Johnson MV60SE vacuum tube amplifier, Paradigm Signature S2 monitors mounted on Target, lead and sand filled stands. The Speaker Cables of choice are a 10 foot pair of Discovery Cables Essential speaker cables and I also use Discovery Essence interconnects throughout the system. I have my reference turntable set up using a Rega RB600 tone arm and a Clearaudio Beta S MM Cartridge. Presently my listening room is located in our basement it is 13’ X 18’ with 7’8” ceilings. I have positioned the speakers out from the rear wall 32” and away from the side walls about a foot, toed in sharply, on axis to the listening position.
The NAD C555 performed very well when played through my reference system. It didn’t have the air and sparkle of the VPI HW-19 but it did have a wide and deep soundstage with good bass response. I played a copy of the Blue Note 1590 reissue of Candy by Lee Morgan on both tables. The VPI HW-19 had a blacker background, which allowed the finer details of the music to come through as when compared to the NAD. While listening to the VPI, Lee Morgan’s Trumpet had a more detailed presence and Doug Watkin’s bass was more solid and rhythmic; additionally you could hear that Sonny Clark’s piano had more clarity and Art Taylor’s drums were presented more precision and accuracy. The NAD still did a fine job, allowing the listener to be drawn into the music.
I always like to play Sunday at the Village Vanguard by the Bill Evans Trio when evaluating turntables, there is a magic in this recording that can only be conveyed properly on an accurate sonic transducer. The NAD C555 with the RB250 tonearm did an exceptional job of presenting the performance in a lively, enjoyable manner. Bill Evan’s piano and Paul Motian’s drums filled the soundstage while Scott LaFaro’s bass lines quickly and cleanly kept pace. The background noise from the nightclub patrons in this live performance sounded like they were almost in the room with you. This recording is truly an exceptional performance that is beautifully rendered by the NAD C555.
Yes, the VPI yields better detail, weight, presence and musicality across the listening spectrum than the NAD C555 but the NAD is a fine table overall, especially when taking the cost into account. When you can purchase this complete package at a price that is less than my Clearaudio Beta S phono cartridge, you come to realize it is a really nice piece of work. Based on my experience listening to the NAD C555 along with the Music Hall MMF 2.1 as a benchmark, it is clearly superior to either the Music Hall MMF 2.1 or the Proj-ect 2.1. And even though it costs twice the price of either of the above mentioned turntables, I think that the performance is well worth the price of admission. If you are in the market for a good turntable at reasonable price the NAD C555 deserves your consideration.
- Audio Research SP16 Preamplifier
- Conrad Johnson MV60SE
- Rega Brio 2000 Intgrated Amplifier
- Primare D30.2 CD Player
- Oppo DV970HD Universal Player Music Hall MMF 2.1 Turntable Shure M97XE MM Cartridge Sumiko Oyster MM Cartridge
- VPI HW19 MKIV Turntable Rega RB 600 Tonearm Clearaudio Beta S MM Cartridge Paradigm S2 Signiture Monitors Usher S520 Monitors
- Discovery Essence Interconnects
- Discovery Essential Speaker Cables
- Eichmann Express Six Interconnects
- Zebra ZC SP12SD Speaker Cables
- Zebra ZC SP14DBI Speaker Cables
from aﬀordableaudio, By Todd Arthur