DVD ETC. T 763 AV Receiver
February 5, 2005
Reviewer: Tim Tepas
NAD T 763 A/V Surround Sound Receiver Hearing is Believing"
The leaves have been raked, the garage cleaned up and the lawn mowed. I have finished all the things on my honey-do list, so now I can have some time to myself. After I finish the weekly chores around the house that my wife assigns, I like nothing better than to sit down, relax in front of my theater system and enjoy sonic bliss. Of course, almost anything would sound better than a high decibel lawn mower or orbital car polisher, however, I don't like to settle for merely adequate. I much prefer a powerful, quality receiver playing my favorite tracks through an excellent set of speakers.
This particular autumn day a NAD T 763 surround sound receiver was the perfect therapy for my weary bones. The T 763 represents the middle ground of performance receivers by NAD. It is a descendant of generations of award-winning electronic components, from a company that would rather be known in serious audiophile circles than by a group of teenagers gathered at a mega-electronics store. Finding an authorized NAD dealer may be harder than driving down to your local Appliances-R-Us, but the rewards of enjoying one of their performance-oriented receivers, such as the T 763, is well worth the effort.
NAD has earned a reputation for producing power amplifiers that deliver the power they promise with minimal noise distortion. By using NAD's PowerDrive amplifier technology, power adjustments are made automatically to meet the needs of each loudspeaker. The benefit to the PowerDrive system is an even power distribution for dynamic performance with little distortion even at high volume levels. And speaking of volume levels, the T 763 asserts an ample 100 continuous watts per channel into six channels driven simultaneously. Even large rooms benefit from the considerable power the T 763 demonstrates.
A review of the NAD T 763 wouldn't be complete without including one of the most highly regarded music surround modes available, the EARS circuit. Developed by NAD, the EARS (Enhanced Ambient Recovery System) circuit is a digital signal processor designed to create an artificial listening environment. Unlike many other DSP systems, the EARS circuit uses proprietary NAD surround processing to reproduce a two-channel recording with a natural ambient acoustic sound without resorting to artificially generated reflections or regenerations. This subtle but effective surround mode enhances the spatial presence of a recording for a tremendously enjoyable experience. Digitally speaking, the T 763 combines this high-speed DSP engine with a 24-bit 96kHz-sampling-capable D/A converter for all channels.
Beyond processing and amplifying a sound source, this receiver has the flexibility to act as a command center for a variety of home theater needs. The receiver offers video switching for all the popular video formats such as component, composite and S-Video, and digital audio inputs and outputs as well. To accommodate a separate listening experience, NAD has added a convenient second zone to the speaker outputs for a second pair of speakers to be added to the front channel amplifiers. Playing music in a separate room, by the poolside or in the garage is as simple as running the speaker wires and using the included separate second zone remote control.
"I must admit I received a great deal of satisfaction from the NAD T 763 during my evaluation."
Because technology advances so rapidly, most new electronics are left behind almost as fast as they hit store shelves. With the T 763, NAD wanted to create a flexible system that could be improved as new technology emerged. This "future-proof" design is possible by upgrading the T 763 operating software through a RS-232 data port. In addition to upgrades, the Windows compatible NAD software can interface with a personal computer for connection to highly advanced automated control systems. Complete remote control functionality of the T 763 from a remote location is available with an optional accessory available from NAD audio specialists. This forward thinking flexibility adds value to an already valuable piece of equipment.
Installation/Setup/Ease of Use Like other NAD products I've had the pleasure of reviewing, the T 763 has a beautiful simplicity about it. The unit is attractive and well built without a multitude of LEDs, buttons or switches to clutter up the front panel. The few buttons that are located on the front panel each serve a distinct purpose and are clearly marked. An oval display window in the center of the receiver gives the user solid feedback of the controls with its unambiguous white readout. To select a video input and its assigned audio and digital inputs, a single video button is used. For audio selections, an audio button is provided to step through audio sources. These two buttons do the work of separate buttons for each input such as a DVD, CD, satellite, VCR, etc. This simplicity bridges the gap between form and function because the controls are easy to operate, logical and straightforward. Additionally, each input can be renamed and the video, analog and digital inputs are assignable or can even be selected as "off".
When setting up the T 763, it is recommended to connect the receiver to a monitor to take advantage of the On Screen Display (OSD). I was reminded of this after I wired an MB Quart Vera series speaker ensemble to the receiver and the powered subwoofer wasn't playing. By connecting the unit to my display, I was able to configure the T 763 speaker settings menu to turn on the subwoofer output. The OSD is a powerful tool capable of making changes to input settings, speaker settings, crossover points and listening modes. Although a sound pressure level metering system isn't included, the channel balance can be adjusted with the OSD by using an inexpensive SPL meter (such as the Radio Shack #33-2050 meter) or simply by ear. By increasing or decreasing the decibel levels of each channel, adjusting the speaker distance and fine-tuning the delays, the T 763 can be refined to fit the dimensions of most rooms for optimal imaging.
Once configured, system parameters can be saved to one of five presets. After being saved and named into the non-volatile memory, the presets can be recalled to match a specific speaker setup. For example, you might name a preset "movie" that has a prominent center channel and increased sub output. A preset named "music" may have a lower crossover frequency and reduced sub level.
"Musically speaking, the T 763 not only exhibited the hard-hitting forceful lows I had come to expect, but softer details and subtleties in everything from woodwind instruments to female vocals."
Heat is always an issue with large, powerful receivers. My experience with NAD's T 752 was a prime example. Even properly ventilated, the older T 752 ran hot. But the new T 763, with its huge toroidal power transformer and brawny Class AB amplifier with multiple high current outputs, stays cool. NAD enhanced the uniquely designed heat sink with four precision fans that run at low speed to insure temperatures don't melt nearby audio equipment. Lower ambient temperatures translate into lower distortion levels regardless of high speaker load levels or dynamic program material.
During my lengthy test period, I listened to a variety of music and movies over a period of several months. The receiver was first connected to the aforementioned MB Quart Vera speakers and later to the Image ensemble by PSB Speakers. Zone 2 was utilized for all-weather Infinity Outrigger and JBL Northridge speakers playing poolside. During the course of my evaluation, I always seemed amazed at how well the T 763 delivered power to each speaker without crying "uncle". No matter how demanding an action soundtrack was or how deep musical bass notes became, the receiver continued to drive the loudspeakers with more power in reserve. When listening at realistic sound levels, subtle nuances of surround sound material were apparent. While watching movies, the balance between effects and dialogue was evenly matched. Voices seemed clear while background noises and music stayed detailed and in proper soundstage. Musically speaking, the T 763 not only exhibited the hard-hitting forceful lows I had come to expect, but softer details and subtleties in everything from woodwind instruments to female vocals. I believe this receiver would deliver adequate amplification in a large listening environment as well as providing a smooth sound at moderate listening levels.
I must admit I received a great deal of satisfaction from the NAD T 763 during my evaluation. There are plenty of features and advanced technology that set NAD apart from other manufacturers. Abundant connections allow for future growth and the supplied backlit universal remote control is one of the better controllers available. Custom installation features such as the ability to operate a Zone 2 and the optional accessory for programming the T 763 via personal computer are extraordinary. Power output should be fine for most applications and the DSP processing proved to be exceptional. —By Tim Tepas" Rating 96
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