NAD C 558 Review: Comes with all the features you need
NAD has a long history of making some of the best value for money turntables. The vinyl record remains the most musical source for music reproduction.
The NAD C558 has all the features you need to best reproduce your home vinyl collection. NAD has spent huge sums of money manufacturing the individual parts of the turntable that define the sound quality, in some way sacrificing functions that do not affect the sound. As a result, an excellent turntable was created at a price almost two times cheaper than similar ones. The secret to good sound is to create a strong mechanical bond between the platter and stylus.
To achieve this goal, special materials and technologies are used. The C558 platter is injection-molded from a special phenolic resin to achieve ideal mass and inertia properties for this turntable element. The mass creates a flywheel effect that eliminates small changes in rotational speed, called detonation. The mass also prevents unwanted vibrations and, in combination with the rigidity of phenolic materials, suppresses parasitic vibrations in the audio range. A new high-precision bearing is used for smooth and stable rotation. The platter is driven by a precision synchronous motor that maintains a rotational speed of 33 1/3 rpm. per minute through a rubber belt. The motor housing is also isolated from the turntable housing with a rubber damper. The tonearm is made of aluminum and is suspended on a precision bearing. An Ortofon OM 10 cartridge is used as a pickup.
The cover is made of glass, and the precision AC motor (capable of playing both 33 and 45 rpm) draws its electrons from an insulated universal voltage AC power supply. Conveniently, this turntable includes a low resonance hinged cover. The 9-inch tonearm on this turntable offers settings for vertical azimuth tracking.
As usual, the unpacking of the turntable begins with removing the dust cover, under which, in this case, white cotton gloves were found – well, the tone of communication has been set. The gloves came in handy very soon, when the turn came to unpacking a rather massive platter (weight 1.74 kg) made of polished glass about a centimeter thick. It sits on a low-resonance resin molded plastic sub-disc and is covered with a felt mat. On the subdisk, in turn, a flat belt is thrown, transmitting rotation to it from a chiseled aluminum bushing mounted on the engine pulley. It has two working surfaces of different diameters, and, as you might guess, speed switching is carried out by throwing a belt from one of them to another.
The appearance of the turntable evokes ambiguous emotions. The polished glass of the platter, peeking out from under the black felt, looks impressive, but the table itself with a matte finish seems rustic. Plus, the straight edges of the dust cover combined with its rounded corners can make the top feel like it was originally intended for some other model. However, for sure there will be music lovers who will find the ascetic matte finish and the combination of right angles with roundness harmonious and even stylish.
By the way, the lid is molded from Perspex transparent non-resonant acrylic and is confidently fixed in any position relative to the main body. The table itself is machined from MDF, and the final processing is done by milling with high precision. The reason for such a scrupulous approach is straightforward, because a single-layer fibreboard serves as a single frame for the entire structure. It rests on four “floating” rubber feet with felt pads. The damping they provide for their class is simply excellent, it’s a pity that the height adjustment is not provided for by the structure.
The support bearing for the C 558 is non-inverted, with a bronze shell, into which a hardened steel pulley is inserted. The whole structure is enclosed in an external metal cylinder, fixed with self-tapping screws, again on the main plate. I must say that with the overall simplicity of the design, the class of surface treatment and the quality of installation really turned out to be at their best. The pulley enters the bearing tightly, without backlash, the disk rises absolutely evenly, no beats were noticed during operation. The power switch is placed on the lower plane of the case, and therefore a person who is not familiar with the turntable will not start it with the first movement. On the other hand, the laconicism of the surface is not disturbed by the presence of a brutal tumbler.
The straight 9 ” tonearm is made of aluminum, and the shell seems to be too. I was very pleased with the set of adjustments: the setting of the downforce, VTA, azimuth and anti-skating is provided, and the latter is adjusted not by shifting the weight on the line, but by a precision screw mechanism. The kit contains all the tools necessary for setting up, including scales and hex keys, with one of which you can even adjust the height of the bushing on the engine pulley (in case it suddenly starts to touch the lower surface of the disc). Moreover, this is a standard custom installation, described in detail in the instructions.
The shell is preinstalled with an MM cartridge with an elliptical needle. Interestingly, Ortofon’s own website does not have such a model, and as replaceable cartridges specifically for NAD C 558, either simpler heads of the Optimum Match OM 1S and OM 5E series are offered, or cartridges are much more serious – the 2M and MC series.