The NAD C 558 (buy at Amazon) is a well-crafted, audiophile-grade, belt-driven turntable that is priced fairly but not quite at the bargain-basement levels you’ll often see from more mainstream brands. NAD’s top turntable sets itself apart in its class by use of a glass platter and a moving magnet Ortofon OM10 phono cartridge. This of course goes along with NAD’s 45 years of experience making reputable audiophile grade products. Many audiophiles started their audiophile journey with NAD because of the company’s approachable price and IKEA-like, no-frills-but-all-performance approach. The NAD C 558 at $549 brings just that to the table.
What Makes the NAD C 558 Turntable Special?
- NAD has found a great balance of quality and pricing. It isn’t uncommon at this price point to find turntables made with cheaper materials, but NAD did a fine job of adding value where it matters. The glass platter adds a lot of weight that keeps your vinyl playing smoothly, and makes this turntable look more expensive than it is.
- The Ortofon OM10 phono cartridge works well with the nine-inch tone arm to produce the beautiful, warm, nostalgic sound for which vinyl is known.
- The C 558 was very easy to assemble. I have put several turntables together recently, and this one was by far the easiest thanks to the spot-on instructions. Step by step, you have the diagrams and the information you need to get the turntable put together and sounding great without the second-guessing that comes from configuring a lot of the NAD’s competition.
- The C 558 comes with a dust cover, which seems like a small item, but amazingly there are a number of lower-cost record players that don’t have a factory dust cover.
Why Should You Care About the NAD C 558 Turntable?
If you’re looking to replace your vintage turntable or upgrade from an entry-level option, the NAD C 588 turntable is a strong contender, especially if you have a phono stage built into your audiophile stereo preamp, or integrated amp, or if you have an external phono preamp already. Someone else who might want to take their first step into the world of audiophile vinyl without going too deep into to the pool could find utility in the NAD C 588.
Some Things You Might Not Like About the NAD C 558 Turntable
- While this turntable has the ability to play vinyl records at both 33-1/3 and 45 RPM, it isn’t easy to change the speeds. You don’t have the advantage of simply just changing the speeds with a button; you have to remove the platter and actually adjust the belt. This isn’t going to be a big deal for most people, as the majority of vinyl records are made for 33-1/3 RPM, but if you have both you might find this process to be bothersome.
- This turntable only comes in black. It is great to be able to personalize the color of your audiophile gear, as some prefer light colors or wood grains to just black. While this certainly doesn’t affect the sound, it is often part of the buying decision as the aesthetic of your room matters too. I hope NAD considers offering the product in other colors in the future.
- There isn’t a phono preamp built-in like some more affordable turntables. If you don’t have a phono stage built into your preamp, or an external phono stage already, this might not be the product for you. There are some pretty fantastic, low-cost, and small-form-factor phono stages if needed from the likes of Andover Audio and Schiit.
Listening To the NAD C 558 Turntable…
“Thunder Road” by Bruce Springsteen from his third album Born to Run (buy at Amazon) was a go-to track for me on the C 558. These early Springsteen records are fantastic, as they feature such a lush, vintage sound, but with plenty of layers of soul added to it as well as The Boss’ signature storytelling. As the track opens with the harmonica and the piano, you know you’re in for something special. The tone of the piano sounded accurate through the NAD, and you can hear every detail from the background percussion to Clarence “Big Man” Clemons saxophone and everything in between that makes the E Street Band special.
“Would You Fight for My Love?” is another track that I used to test the C 558. This song is from Jack White’s solo album Lazaretto (buy at Amazon). This is a unique release, as they incorporated some vinyl-only features with this record. On side one, the record plays from the inside to the outside, side two has two different intros to the track “Just One Drink” and the label features a hidden track on each side. The other thing that makes this album particularly relevant is that the vinyl is cut from an analog master. If you want to check out all of the features on this Ultra LP, here is a video where White helps describe the features,
As for the track itself, it opens with a heavy wave of distortion and drums before it cuts into the piano, guitar, and then finally a soprano singer. Every detail in on this track is presented beautifully, and there are plenty of details to be found in the mix between the piano, organ, the layers of vocals, drums, the bass, and of course the signature guitar playing of White himself. The NAD C 558 knocked this track out of the park with plenty of separation of the instruments as well as highlighting all of the appropriate dynamics.
“Skain’s Domain” by Wynton Marsalis is one of his earlier works. This track appears on his 1986 album J Mood (buy at Amazon), and it’s a fantastic recording by one of the most revered band leaders of his time. This track features Marsalis’ famous trumpet as well as a bass, drums, and a piano. Each of these sections come through the NAD with ease and separation. The staccato parts of the bass and the piano come through clearly, and sounded as if the band was playing right in front of me. Jazz is likely the genre of music I enjoy the most on vinyl as the added warmth really adds to the tracks, and “Skain’s Domain” really puts both that warmth and Marsalis’ creativity on full display.
Will the C 558 Turntable Have Any Resale Value?
I wasn’t able to find a single instance of this model for sale in the resale market, but it should be just fine if you wanted to sell one. I couldn’t see anything on eBay, Audiogon, or anywhere else, but my expectation is that this product should likely hold its value well. It’s well built, and if you are reading this article, you likely don’t need me to tell you about the popularity of vinyl right now. I would be surprised if you were not able to get at in the ballpark of 50 percent of your value back on the resale market, as NAD is a well-known brand globally and this product certainly does nothing to tarnish their reputation.
Who Is the Competition for the NAD C 558 Turntable?
The Denon DP-450USB (buy at Amazon $699) is another belt-driven turntable. It comes in either black or white, it has a phono stage built in, and a USB port for connecting to your computer. If you need a phono stage or you are looking to record your analog music to a digital source, this might be a better choice for you
Another option in this price range is the Pro-Ject RPM 1 Carbon (Buy at Amazon $699). This turntable comes in black, white, or red, and it features a more unique design than the standard rectangle shape you see for most turntables. This one comes with the Ortofon 2M Red cartridge, and it also features a S-shaped tone arm. The one thing this turntable doesn’t have, though, is a dust cover, which seems like an odd thing to omit, but given the shape of this turntable I can appreciate why it’s not there.
The other turntable I would consider at this price is the Music Hall Classic ($649 buy at Amazon).This one comes with a Dark Walnut veneer, has a phono stage built in, and it uses one of Music Hall’s own moving magnet cartridges. The feature that really stands out to me, though, is that it uses buttons for you to change the play speed between 33-1/3 and 45 RPM. Brian Kahn reviewed this turntable, and he had nothing but good things to say about it.
Final Thoughts on the NAD C 558 Turntable
With the current popularity of vinyl, the turntable market is not only one of the most competitive, but also one where differentiating yourself from the competition is very difficult, and I believe that NAD has done that with the NAD C 558. This product is a fine combination of build quality and performance, which allows it to stand out at its price point. From the first time I plugged this turntable into my system I was impressed. All of the quality parts were on full display and the results are a product that anyone who is the market for a turntable in this price range should not just consider, but I think test in their system. The only real downside here is that it can be difficult to change speeds if you have some 45s that you like to listen to; for some people this will make this a flat no, but for newer audiences I don’t think they will even notice. The experience of listening to this turntable was flawless and one that I enjoyed from start to finish, and I expect many of you will enjoy it as well.