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South African Review of NAD T 748

December 7, 2011

T 748 AV Surround Sound Receiver - Front T 748 Review: Everything You Need, Less of What You Don't

By William Kelly

I remember way back when the world was young and life progressed at a more gentle pace. We used to review stereo amplifiers in tens at a time. Nowadays, life has become more rushed and the frenetic pace has changed in the equipment available to you, our discerning and beloved readers. No more dramatic have the changes been taking place than within the realm of the receiver. Replacing the faithful stereo system as its beating heart, the receiver dominates the landscape of the home entertainment system in a fashion never before contemplated. The systems themselves are swiftly changing as new generation technologies multiply and deliver more and more in terms of features, quality and usability.

So we get to the NAD T 748. As we all know, NAD has been doing good things recently in the receiver space and the good news story just seems to get better and better. One wonders how much more technology they can pack into a receiver these days with even entry level models delivering an eye watering spec level. The T 748 is hardly entry level — at around seven grand it's not lightweight in the asking price stakes. But you do get a lot of return on your investment in your entertainment system. The most obvious place to start would be with what it sounds like. But, I'm not going to.

I'm going to start with what it looks like, and how it is built. Given that I slide countless receivers in and out of my Eagle rack — the sliding rail option stand was the best money I have ever spent — I have to say that on bended knee cowering over hot power cables and poking around with speaker cables and interconnect cables I get an intimate look at the rear end of most boxes that come my way.

One can really get to grips with quality at the business end of any receiver. You can tell pretty quickly the kind of build quality you are dealing with and the T 748 is certainly impressive in this regard. All the mountings are solid and connections are made with a most reassuring sense of rigidity. Once connected you get the impression things will stay connected for all time.

The spec sheet above of a miserly 40 watts a channel might put off the power hungry but before you get carried away let me assure you no-one was more surprised than me when I saw the rating, after having listened to the amp throughout. Note the THD at 0.08%. Therein lies the world of difference. That's pretty low as far as these measures go and hence the T 748 sounds far better than its wattage rating may imply of its abilities. Sonically, the T 748 continues its impressions of reassuring solidity garnered from the physical impressions it delivers. The receiver pushes its power with decidedly minimal fuss and bother. The sound floor is so slow as to be inaudible and the presence that the T 748 generates is simply enormous without being room. You don't know it's there but you do know just how big it is...

It would be too strong to say the T 748 dominates though. It simply doesn't. It has sonic volume, which is an entirely different thing, and don't for a second think that this means instruments get lost in the sonic space. If anything they are even more precise — and it is this sense of space combined with unnerving accuracy that makes the T 748 such an easy thing to listen to. In fact reviewing the T 748 was a genuinely pleasurable experience that left me feeling afterward that I could have spent a few more weeks with the unit and still not come to grips with all its talent. Want the bad news?

My conclusions above w ere drawn when listening to the amplifier in stereo mode only (at around 80 watts). In multi-channel mode the T 748, with its nearly unrivalled list of DSP modes, the unit is even better, despite a slight power drop (40 watts) in 7-channel mode. I had room filling movie sound that would fill a small palace. The space around me was huge. I felt as if my room was at least twice the size, but not at the cost of sacrificing pace on the altar of murky sound. No, everything was superbly detailed and the precision with which the NAD paints its sonic world around you is truly something special

The T 748 is a definitive example of how watts on a receiver can be almost entirely dismissed when one has the quality in the circuitry that the T 748 has — this is a receiver of top quality in the best of NAD tradition, and it shows. Highly recommended for an audition.

For the full review online, click here.

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