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Review: NAD PP 2e Phono Amplifier – Affordable Simplicity

Review: The NAD PP 2e Phono Amplifier offers dual cartridge compatibility and reliable performance in a user-friendly design, making it a compelling choice for vinyl enthusiasts.

Introduction

In the world of audio equipment, finding a balance between quality and affordability is often a challenge. The NAD PP 2e Phono Amplifier is a compelling option, offering a blend of simplicity, functionality, and compatibility at an accessible price point. Designed with both moving magnet (MM) and moving coil (MC) cartridges in mind, this amplifier caters to a wide range of vinyl enthusiasts seeking to enhance their listening experience without breaking the bank.

With its understated yet sturdy metal housing, the PP 2e prioritizes practicality over flashy aesthetics, ensuring a reliable addition to any audio setup. While lacking in extensive customization options, its straightforward operation and thoughtful features, such as automatic power-off functionality, make it a user-friendly choice for both novice and seasoned audiophiles. In the following review, we delve into the key features, performance, and potential enhancements of the NAD PP 2e, exploring how it stacks up against its counterparts in budget-friendly phono amplifiers.

NAD Electronics has carved a significant niche in the audio industry since its inception in 1972. Founded on the principles of delivering high-fidelity sound at reasonable prices, NAD has become synonymous with value and performance. Throughout its history, NAD has consistently pushed boundaries, pioneering innovations such as developing the Monitor Series and introducing the iconic 3020 amplifier. Renowned for their minimalist design philosophy and emphasis on sonic purity, NAD’s products have garnered acclaim from critics and consumers alike. With a commitment to bridging the gap between audiophile-grade performance and affordability, NAD continues redefining expectations in audio equipment, making premium sound accessible to all.

Technical Specification

MC
Input Impedance (R and C)  100 Ohm + 180pF  
Gain at 1kHz  60dB  
Input Sensitivity (ref. 200mV output)  0.3mV  
Signal to Noise Ratio  78dB (A weighted, with cartridge connected)  
Input Overload (20Hz/1kHz/20kHz)  0.8/9/84mV  
Rated Distortion (THD 20Hz – 20kHz)  <0.03%  
RIAA Response Accuracy  ±0.3dB  
MM  
Input Impedance (R and C)  47 kilohm + 200pF  
Gain at 1kHz35dB  
Input sensitivity (ref. 200mV output)  2.5mV  
Signal to Noise Ratio  80dB (A weighted, with cartridge connected)  
Input overload (20Hz/1kHz/20kHz)  10/102/950mV  
Rated Distortion (THD 20Hz – 20kHz)  <0.03%  
RIAA response accuracy  ±0.3dB  
Line Out  
Output Impedance  100 Ohm  
Maximum Output Level  5.3V  
General Specifications  
AC Supply  External 23.5V DC  
Dimensions excl. Power supply (W x H x D)  135 x 49 x 72mm
5 5/16 x 1 15/16 x 2 7/8″  

Design and Build

NAD Electronics has long been recognized for its commitment to functional design and robust construction, and the NAD PP 2e Phono Amplifier exemplifies these qualities. Crafted with a focus on durability and performance, the PP 2e boasts a sturdy metal housing that exudes understated elegance. While it may not feature the ornate finishes of higher-end amplifiers, its no-nonsense design speaks volumes about its reliability and functionality.

The PP 2e’s minimalist aesthetic is not merely aesthetic but also reflects NAD’s ethos of simplicity and efficiency. The clean lines and uncluttered layout make it easy to integrate the amplifier seamlessly into any audio setup. Additionally, thoughtful details such as protective feet ensure the amplifier remains stable and secure, minimizing vibrations and optimizing sound quality.

Despite its straightforward appearance, the PP 2e’s build quality is anything but basic. NAD’s meticulous attention to detail is evident in every aspect of its construction, from the precision-engineered components to the robust connections. Whether placed prominently in a hi-fi rack or discreetly tucked away behind other audio equipment, the PP 2e is a testament to NAD’s unwavering commitment to quality craftsmanship and enduring performance.

Functionality

The NAD PP 2e Phono Amplifier is designed to provide a straightforward yet effective solution for vinyl enthusiasts seeking to enhance their listening experience. While it may not boast a plethora of bells and whistles, its functionality is precisely tuned to meet the needs of both novice and seasoned audiophiles alike.

Its compatibility with moving magnet (MM) and moving coil (MC) cartridges is at the heart of its functionality, setting it apart from many other budget-friendly phono amplifiers. Users can effortlessly toggle between MM and MC modes with a simple slide switch, ensuring seamless integration with a wide range of turntables and cartridges.

Although the PP 2e may lack extensive customization options in higher-end amplifiers, its user-friendly design makes it a breeze to operate. The inclusion of automatic power-off functionality adds a touch of convenience, ensuring energy efficiency when the amplifier is not in use.

Despite its minimalist approach, the PP 2e does not compromise on performance. With carefully selected impedance and capacitance values for MC cartridges, it delivers clean, distortion-free sound reproduction that stays true to the original recording.

Overall, the functionality of the NAD PP 2e strikes a delicate balance between simplicity and performance, making it an ideal choice for vinyl enthusiasts looking to elevate their listening experience without breaking the bank.

Practicality

The practicality of the NAD PP 2e Phono Amplifier lies in its seamless integration into various audio setups and its user-friendly features that enhance overall convenience.

One notable aspect of the PP 2e’s practicality is its ability to accommodate both moving magnet (MM) and moving coil (MC) cartridges, allowing users to connect different turntables easily. While not all users may utilize this dual-cartridge compatibility, it offers flexibility for those who may have multiple turntables or wish to upgrade their cartridge in the future.

Furthermore, the amplifier’s compact size and sturdy metal housing make it easy to place within any audio setup, prominently displayed or discreetly tucked away. Including protective feet ensures that the amplifier remains stable and secure, preventing any unwanted vibrations that could affect sound quality.

The automatic power-off feature adds to the practicality of the PP 2e, allowing users to conserve energy when the amplifier is not in use. This feature not only reduces electricity consumption but also prolongs the lifespan of the amplifier.

Overall, the NAD PP 2e’s practicality lies in its versatility, user-friendly design, and energy-efficient features, making it a convenient and reliable choice for vinyl enthusiasts. Whether used as a primary phono amplifier or as a backup option in a secondary audio setup, the PP 2e offers practical solutions to enhance the vinyl listening experience.

Performance

The NAD PP 2e Phono Amplifier delivers commendable performance that belies its affordable price tag. It showcases a balance of clarity, dynamics, and fidelity that enhances the vinyl listening experience.

One of the amplifier’s standout features is its ability to handle both magnet (MM) and moving coil (MC) cartridges with finesse. While the amplifier’s settings may be limited compared to higher-end models, its preset impedance and capacitance values for MC cartridges ensure compatibility with a wide range of setups. This versatility allows users to achieve optimal sound reproduction regardless of their cartridge choice.

In practical terms, the PP 2e excels at accurately and deeply presenting various musical genres. Whether it’s a pop album’s pulsating beats or a classical symphony’s intricate details, the amplifier delivers a balanced and engaging soundstage that immerses listeners in the music.

Moreover, the PP 2e demonstrates impressive noise control, maintaining a quiet background even during quieter passages or between tracks. This noise-free performance contributes to the overall clarity and transparency of the sound, allowing listeners to focus on the nuances and subtleties of their favorite records.

While the PP 2e may not match the performance of higher-end phono amplifiers in terms of absolute fidelity or resolution, its ability to reproduce music at an affordable price point faithfully is a testament to its value proposition. For budget-conscious audiophiles seeking an entry-level amplifier that delivers solid performance without compromise, the NAD PP 2e is a worthy contender.

Enhancement Options

While the NAD PP 2e Phono Amplifier offers impressive performance straight out of the box, enhancement options are available for users looking to elevate their listening experience further.

One avenue for improvement is through the use of alternative power supplies. While the included external 15V wall adapter is sufficient for basic operation, upgrading to a higher-quality power supply can yield noticeable improvements in sound quality and overall performance. Experimenting with options such as the Ferrum Hypsos adjustable power supply or the iFi Audio iPower2 can reduce noise, enhance dynamics, and improve clarity.

Additionally, users can explore the possibility of upgrading interconnect cables and accessories to optimize signal transmission and minimize interference. High-quality phono cables, grounding cables, and isolation devices can all contribute to a cleaner and more detailed sound reproduction, allowing users to extract the maximum potential from their vinyl playback system.

Furthermore, audiophiles may consider implementing external signal processing devices such as equalizers, tube preamplifiers, or digital converters to tailor the sound to their preferences further. While these enhancements may require additional investment, they can offer significant improvements in sound quality and allow for greater customization of the listening experience.

Overall, the NAD PP 2e Phono Amplifier provides a solid foundation for vinyl enthusiasts to build upon, with ample opportunities for enhancement and customization. By exploring various upgrade options and fine-tuning their setup, users can unlock the full potential of their vinyl playback system and enjoy a truly immersive and engaging listening experience.

Unique Features

The NAD PP 2e Phono Amplifier stands out in the market with several unique features that distinguish it from other budget-friendly phono amplifiers:

  1. Dual Cartridge Compatibility: Unlike many entry-level amplifiers that only support one cartridge type, the PP 2e offers compatibility with both moving magnet (MM) and moving coil (MC) cartridges. This versatility allows users to easily switch between different turntables or upgrade their cartridges without replacing the amplifier.
  2. Automatic Power-Off Functionality: Including an automatic power-off feature ensures energy efficiency by shutting down the amplifier when not in use. This reduces electricity consumption and helps prolong the amplifier’s lifespan, making it a more environmentally friendly option.
  3. Simple Yet Effective Design: The PP 2e boasts a minimalist design that prioritizes functionality and ease of use. While lacking in flashy aesthetics or unnecessary features, its sturdy metal housing and protective feet ensure stability and durability, making it a reliable addition to any audio setup.
  4. Noise-Free Performance: Despite its affordable price tag, the PP 2e delivers impressive noise control, maintaining a quiet background even during quieter passages or between tracks. This ensures a clean and transparent sound reproduction that fully immerses listeners in the music.
  5. Upgrade Potential: While the PP 2e provides solid performance out of the box, it also offers ample opportunities for enhancement and customization. Users can explore options such as alternative power supplies, high-quality interconnect cables, and external signal processing devices to optimize their listening experience further.

Overall, the NAD PP 2e Phono Amplifier combines versatility, simplicity, and performance in a way that sets it apart from other entry-level amplifiers. Its unique features and upgrade potential offer exceptional value for vinyl enthusiasts looking to enhance their listening experience without breaking the bank.

Usability

The NAD PP 2e Phono Amplifier excels in usability, offering a straightforward and intuitive experience for users at all levels of expertise.

  1. Simple Operation: The PP 2e is easy to operate thanks to its minimalist design and intuitive controls. A slide switch toggles between moving magnet (MM) and moving coil (MC) modes, allowing users to easily select the appropriate setting for their cartridge type. Additionally, a power button allows for straightforward on/off functionality, making it easy to power the amplifier on or off as needed.
  2. Dual Cartridge Compatibility: The amplifier’s compatibility with both MM and MC cartridges adds to its usability, allowing users to connect different turntables or upgrade their cartridges without hassle. This dual compatibility ensures that the PP 2e can accommodate a wide range of setups, catering to the diverse needs of vinyl enthusiasts.
  3. Compact and Versatile Design: The PP 2e’s compact size and sturdy metal housing make it easy to integrate into any audio setup. Whether placed prominently on a shelf or tucked away in a cabinet, the amplifier’s versatile design ensures it can adapt to various environments without sacrificing performance.
  4. Automatic Power-Off Functionality: Including automatic power-off functionality enhances the PP 2e’s usability by promoting energy efficiency. With this feature, the amplifier automatically shuts down after a period of inactivity, helping to conserve electricity and prolong the device’s lifespan.
  5. Reliable Performance: Beyond its user-friendly design, the PP 2e delivers reliable performance that enhances the overall usability of the amplifier. With clean and transparent sound reproduction, users can enjoy an immersive listening experience without distractions or interruptions.

In summary, the NAD PP 2e Phono Amplifier offers exceptional usability through its simple operation, dual cartridge compatibility, compact design, automatic power-off functionality, and reliable performance. Whether you’re a novice vinyl enthusiast or an experienced audiophile, the PP 2e provides a user-friendly solution for enhancing your vinyl listening experience.

Verdict

In conclusion, the NAD PP 2e Phono Amplifier stands as a testament to NAD’s commitment to delivering high-quality audio experiences at an accessible price point. With its dual cartridge compatibility, intuitive controls, and reliable performance, the PP 2e offers a user-friendly solution for vinyl enthusiasts seeking to elevate their listening experience. Its simple yet effective design, combined with features such as automatic power-off functionality, make it a versatile addition to any audio setup, whether as a primary amplifier or as a backup option.

Furthermore, the PP 2e’s upgrade potential allows users to explore enhancements such as alternative power supplies and high-quality interconnect cables, further optimizing their listening experience. Overall, the NAD PP 2e Phono Amplifier excels in usability, functionality, and performance, making it a standout choice in the realm of budget-friendly phono amplifiers.

Reasons to Buy:

  1. Dual Cartridge Compatibility: The NAD PP 2e offers compatibility with both moving magnet (MM) and moving coil (MC) cartridges, providing flexibility for users to use different turntables or upgrade their cartridge without needing to replace the amplifier.
  2. Reliable Performance: Despite its affordable price tag, the PP 2e delivers reliable and transparent sound reproduction, ensuring an immersive listening experience across various musical genres.
  3. User-Friendly Design: With its intuitive controls, simple operation, and automatic power-off functionality, the PP 2e is easy to use for both novice and experienced audiophiles alike.
  4. Upgrade Potential: The PP 2e offers ample opportunities for enhancement and customization, allowing users to explore options such as alternative power supplies and high-quality interconnect cables to optimize their listening experience.

Reasons Not to Buy:

  1. Limited Settings: The PP 2e may lack extensive customization options compared to higher-end amplifiers, which could be a drawback for users who require more advanced settings for fine-tuning their sound.
  2. Basic Aesthetics: While functional, the PP 2e’s minimalist design may not appeal to users seeking a more visually striking or ornate amplifier to complement their audio setup.
  3. Potential for Improvement: While the PP 2e delivers solid performance out of the box, users may find that investing in higher-end amplifiers offers even greater improvements in sound quality and overall performance.

Ultimately, whether to buy the NAD PP 2e Phono Amplifier depends on individual preferences and priorities. For those seeking a budget-friendly amplifier that offers versatility, reliability, and ease of use, the PP 2e proves to be a compelling choice. However, users with specific requirements for advanced settings or aesthetic considerations may want to explore other options in the market.

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