7020 / NAD

NAD 7020

NAD, or New Acoustic Dimension, was formed in 1972 by Martin Borish and others. Bjorn Erik Edvardsen did most of the engineering. NAD’s initial concept was to build audio components that rivaled the performance of separates but that were affordable to younger buyers or audiophiles without large budgets. This NAD 7020 receiver fits that description perfectly. It’s basically similar to NAD’s famous 3020 amplifier but with an integrated tuner. The NAD 3020 is one of the best selling amplifiers of all time and it’s performance-to-cost ratio caused other audio manufacturers to scramble in order to compete with NAD. The 7020 came out in 1979, a little after the 3020, and packed a big performance punch that didn’t hurt the wallet.

You might think the NAD 7020 receiver (not to be confused with the later 7020e) is under powered at 20 watts per channel but the way the amp circuit is engineered gives it a huge amount of headroom. 3 dB in fact. That means it can supply up to 40 wpc transients into 8 ohms, 58 wpc into 4 ohms and 72 wpc into 2 ohms when required. Obviously the 7020 can handle very demanding speaker impedance.

The bass and treble controls on the 7020 are designed for an effective response in the low and high frequencies but not much in the mid range which results in a more musical response overall.

How does the 7020 perform? Excellently. The FM tuning section has a junction FET front end, three ceramic I.F. filters and a phase locked loop (PLL) multiplex decoder. These features give the 7020’s tuner high sensitivity, sharp selectivity and clean separation in the FM frequency range.

NAD 7020 specifications

There is a matte silver version also that you don’t see very often. Perhaps it was the European version.

The phono stage on the 7020 is very good. It has a 6 transistor pre-amp stage that is quiet and has extremely low distortion. It can handle both MM and MC cartridges and it has a 107 dB dynamic range which is beneficial if you’re listening to CD’s or digitally remastered recordings.

As I mentioned above, the 20 wpc 7020 acts more like a 40 wpc receiver due to it’s wide dynamic range. NAD also uses a proprietary Soft Clipping circuit that limits waveform voltage to make sure the output transistors are never over driven.

The NAD 7020 has a pretty large transformer with shielding and a strangely large tuning flywheel as well. The amp board is standing directly in the middle of the unit. The FM and Phono boards are on the right. There are a couple versions of the 7020. The above is the rev 2 version with multiple circuit boards. You can see rev 1 below which is a single large circuit board and power supply board.

Some have stated that the rev 1 version of the 7020 has a less than stellar build quality. The circuit boards are allegedly flimsy and the traces on the boards are thin and tend to crack. The capacitors aren’t the highest quality either. Rev 2 supposedly remedied these deficiencies. Keep in mind that NAD was trying to minimize costs to keep the equipment affordable. Unfortunately that requires some trade offs. Forty years later a lot of those trade offs come back to haunt whoever owns the unit now. The rev 2 version starts at serial number 7218469. For a great look at a 7020 refurb check out the page HERE.

One of the drawbacks of the NAD 7020 is that is does not have many inputs. This is probably due to trying to fit the 3020 amp circuitry and tuner circuits into a fairly small case. Some features needed to be sacrificed in the name of space.

You can use the preamp-out and power-amp-in jacks on the rear panel for an EQ or time delay unit, or just use the 7020 as a preamp itself.

The NAD 7020 is a good receiver and, when working properly, sounds fantastic. It does have a few build flaws but its musicality and dynamic headroom make up for those deficiencies. If you don’t want to go the route of separates and get the NAD 3020 amp and a separate tuner, then the 7020 receiver is a great no-frills choice. The later 7020e (1988), which is all digital, is also a good choice.

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6 thoughts on “NAD 7020

  1. I had a rev 2 NAD 7020 and, looking back, I believe it was overrated. The tuner wasn’t THAT great (Sherwood and Kenwood are better), the understated styling was uninspiring and looked cheap, and to me other receivers sounded as good or better (Pioneer, Sherwood, Kenwood). Your mileage may vary, of course. I believe that the appearance of a piece of audio gear affects our perception and enjoyment of it, and the 7020 just wasn’t much to look at. We bought them because they were affordable, offered good value for the money back then, and seemed to be a bargain, but usually you’re happier to buy what you really like.

  2. a first class receiver, goes as loud as my 60wpc trio ka7100,has the most wonderful, cuddly bloom in the low mid /upper bass and nice clear highs. sounds best using the lab in as this bypasses the filter system which reduces the dynamic range. go for version 2 as the right hand channel often failed on version 1. you will hear no difference with soft clipping on, so use it and the unit will last for many more years.

  3. I was recently given a NAD 7020e by my cousin who was decluttering her home. I had actually picked it out for her some 33 years ago from London Audio (God bless Steve Glickman and may he Rest In Peace).

    I asked a good friend, a hifi tech for many decades, to take a look through it and tell me what he thought. He said it was in excellent condition and the layout was beautiful with discrete wiring throughout with sizeable transformers to boot. He read up a little about it’s cult status and thought it was worth an experiment. We decided to upgrade all the rectifiers, regulators and capacitors (for the caps we used top grade nichicon), total parts was $80, but we left the tuner board alone. He ordered everything from digikey and could provide the parts list for anyone interested.

    OMG… it was unbelievable!! I never in my wildest dreams thought it would turn out so well. I have a full blow NAIM system and an AudioNote for different types of music, and I could not believe how good this little NAD performed. It’s almost embarrassing to think of the money I spent compared to how good this little gem 💎 is for virtually nothing!!

    Of course I won’t give up my monster system for it, but it was just stunning. I’ve always believed in used, but I cannot recommend rebuilding this unit enough. I never dreamed sound like that could come from it. It was just designed right from the start and modern components were able to take it to the next level; I wish the engineer who designed it could hear it like this… he would deserve to know the enduring brilliance of his work.

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