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AVREV.com T773 AV Receiver Review

October 20, 2004

Video Revolution.com (www.AVREV.com)
October 2004
Reviewer: Thomas Garcia

...When it comes to designing and manufacturing components with excellent QRP (quality to price ratio), few companies can match the track record of NAD. For the last three decades, NAD has stayed true to their founding creed, designing and manufacturing components with outstanding performance, excellent value and simplicity of operation...

... NAD ray of applications with excellent results. NAD has applied this same high-performance, cost-conscious design and manufacturing philosophy to their first seven-channel, surround sound receiver, the T 773. Positioned at the top of NAD's "Classic" line of audio / video receivers, the T 773 incorporates an extremely full-featured, flexible processor / preamplifier / tuner section with a formidable multi-channel amplifier. Offering the latest surround sound DSP algorithms, with a few proprietary modes as well, the T 773 is also capable of being upgraded via a RS232 port, insuring its ability to stay current with potential future upgrades and technological advances. In fact, just after the completion of my review, NAD offered an upgrade to their Operating System (OS), now identified as Version 2.0. This latest OS improvement includes an assortment of operational and set-up features, along with the addition of two new surround formats, Dolby Digital Pro Logic IIx and Dolby Pro Logic IIx. Quite reasonably priced, the NAD T 773 is currently shipping with the Version 2.0 OS and the cost remains unchanged at a suggested manufacturer's retail price of $1,799...

...Configuring the NAD T 773 Surround Sound Receiver was relatively easy due to its intuitive architecture. The layout of the rear panel was clean and organized in a sequential way, which made for an easy cabling installation. Total set-up time from unpacking to listening was under 30 minutes...

Audio

T773 A/V Receiver ...I used a wide variety of sources during my evaluation of this surround sound receiver. The T 773 proved to be an excellent performer on all types of DVD soundtracks, remaining poised during the most diabolical outbreaks, yet refined during the more subtle sequences. The amplifier section of the T 773 did an excellent job of recreating the action scenes in the cops and robbers thriller "Heat" (Warner Home Video). The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack was extremely enveloping through the T 773, always sounding natural with clear, intelligible dialogue. Additionally, this DVD is peppered with some extremely realistic-sounding gunfire scenes, most notably the intense bank robbery sequence. Throughout this movie, dialogue is recorded at a lower level than the action sequences, providing an excellent test of the T 773's dynamic capabilities. The raw force of pistol blasts and machine-gun bursts sounded extremely realistic through the T 773, causing an instant flood of adrenaline through my veins. The NAD easily delineated the sound of passing cars and fleeing people on the streets, distant screams and ambient city noise, all adding to the tense illusion of being at the scene. Due in part to the NAD's admirable job of steering information to the rear channels, ambient sounds such as breaking glass, ricocheting bullets and other spatial clues were created with extreme clarity, substantiating this suspenseful and immersive outburst. Low frequency extension and definition was impressive. The T 773 convincingly recreated a rumbling locomotive as it entered the rail station and the full thrust of thundering jet landings during the movie's final scenes. Overall, the NAD receiver did a convincing job of recreating the unrestrained dynamic contrast of this suspense-filled, action-packed DVD.

Winner of the 1990 Best Picture Oscar, "Dances With Wolves" (Image Entertainment/DTS) proved to be a revealing source for evaluating the NAD's DTS decoding capabilities. The T 773's rendition of this soundtrack was expansive, creating a full, credible sound environment with seamless front to back transitions. Beautifully interwoven throughout the movie, the musical score by John Barry sounded splendid, adding emotion and drama to many of the sequences. Through the T 773, dialogue was clear and focused, moving realistically from side to side as the scene dictated. More subdued relative to most action DVDs, this soundtrack focuses more on realism and finesse rather than brute power. Still, there are certain action-packed scenes that provide powerful dynamics, notably the buffalo hunt sequences, which give you the sensation of riding along with the thundering herd. Overall, the NAD T 773 remained graceful and composed, regardless of the source material...

"The NAD T 773 remained graceful and composed, regardless of the source material"

Music

NAD has always had a strong reputation for making musical-sounding components, and the T 773 was no exception. Following in the footsteps of its many predecessors, this audio / video receiver performed equally well with music. I listened to a wide variety of CDs, DVD-Audio discs and DVD concert sources, all varying in quality and content. The T 773 was very neutral and free from any discernible tonal coloration, allowing me to accurately assess each recording on its own merits. This was extremely evident while listening to the DVD video, Concert for George (WEA Corporation). Performed on the first anniversary of his death, this magnificent concert honoring the life and music of George Harrison was spine-tingling. Packed with a cosmic collage of musical superstars, this tribute kept me enthralled from beginning to end. Performances by Eric Clapton, Beatles Paul and Ringo, Tom Petty and Heartbreakers, Billy Preston and Jeff Lynne individually and collectively were mind-numbing. The speed and micro-nuances of Anoushka ShankarÅfs unique sitar were easily deciphered and rendered by the NAD T 773. Backing up Shankar was a 16-piece orchestra performing a composition especially written by her father, Ravi Shankar. The entwined combination of sitar, vocals and accompanying instruments had an enchanting symmetry, which was richly rendered by the T 773, displaying excellent high-frequency extension and midrange purity.

As a devout Beatles fan, listening to Ringo Starr perform "Photograph," a song he co-wrote with Harrison, was heartwarming and very apropos for the evenings event. The NAD T 773 presented a wide and spacious soundstage of this vast array of performers, yet kept Starrs voice centered and focused. Another poignant song, "All Things Must Pass," sung by the trio of Clapton, McCartney and Lynne sounded magical, with each singers contribution clearly discernible. A haunting and thundering rendition of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" sent this concert off the charts...

"When it comes to designing and manufacturing components with excellent QRP (quality to price ratio), few companies can match the track record of NAD."

Conclusion

Unwavering from their historical priorities, NAD continues to build components with strong performance and straightforward functionality. Accomplishing this at an affordable price, NAD has consistently been one of the leading manufacturers of quality to price ratio components. Their commitment to providing a real-world upgrade path for the T 773 was demonstrated by NAD's release of their Version 2.0 Operating System, offering viable and valuable improvements to an already competent component. The T 773's performance was outstanding, its installation and implementation was a breeze, and it provided enough functionality and adjustability to accommodate most home theater systems. It offers an honest 110-watt, seven-channel amplifier section that is capable of driving any reasonably efficient loudspeaker system to very high levels, and it will become more effortless if the system is augmented with a powered subwoofer. NAD refrained from adding a lot of useless DSP surround sound modes, such as Hall, Club, Stadium, etc., yet included a few modes that could provide benefit to varying material and sources. It performed flawlessly throughout my review, staying relatively cool even during demanding demonstrations. It always maintained its composure, remaining tonally accurate during both music and movie playback. NAD has always been one of the handful of manufacturers that I have recommended without hesitation in the past. The NAD T 773 A/V surround sound receiver continues that confidence and is firmly planted in my list of components meriting a high recommendation.

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