TPV Reviews the T775 AV Receiver
April 16, 2010
April 7th, 2010 -- by Chris Martens
Source: The Perfect Vision
Within the home theater marketplace, NAD has earned a reputation as a firm whose roots are firmly grounded in the high-end audio tradition, yet as a maker of products that, though they may be premium-priced, are nevertheless affordable. Yet in almost every way possible NAD offers prospective buyers cues that its core values and priorities are different from those of most mass-market manufacturers. In essence, NAD is about sound quality first and almost everything else second. As a result has never been very interested in the game of "specsmanship" for its own sake, nor does it care about being first to market with the latest/greatest technical gongs and whistles (except, of course, in cases where said new technologies make for an audibly better user experience). But when NAD does make strong new technical moves, you can safely bet it will do so in ways calculated to make either a difference in perceived sound quality or to add long-term value to its products. A good case in point would be NAD’s T 775 A/V receiver, which is the subject of this review.
The T 775 is the next-to-the-top-of the line model in NAD’s new range of MDC (Modular Design Construction) receivers, where audio and video functions are each supported via separate, modular, plug-in circuit boards that fit in the receiver’s rear panel. The MDC approach offers several benefits. First, the MDC approach allows NAD to assure prospective buyers that—even as audio/video technologies rapidly change and evolve—the T 775 will not become obsolete because it will be possible to buy new audio or video boards to update the receiver over time. Contrast this to the typical mass-market approach where, to be blunt, technology updates more often than not entail replacing old units with new ones—lock, stock, and barrel. Second, the MDC approach frees NAD to design a receiver that, in a very real sense, is a performance-oriented A/V tuner/amplifier platform designed to last for years and years. While new features may come and go (and MDC components can flex and adapt with them as necessary), the core tuner, preamp, and amplifier sections of an NAD receiver remain rock-solid and unchanged over time. In short, MDC gives NAD owners the freedom to swap out audio/video feature sets over time, while preserving their investment in high-quality core electronics. That’s an approach I can respect, can’t you?
From a business perspective, NAD is what might be termed a "fast follower," in that it closely observes emerging technical trends, but follows them only once it is convinced they add real sonic benefits or tangible value (in other words, NAD products imposes a built-in technical "BS filter" of sorts). Several examples can be drawn from the T 775. First, it provides—as NAD products have traditionally done—extremely conservatively rated power specifications. In an industry where at least some level of spec inflation is de rigueur, NAD takes the opposite tack, honestly rating the T 775 at 2 x 130 Wpc for stereo operation, or 7 x 100 Wpc for 7-channel operation, with both specs taken at very low distortion levels. NAD’s power numbers may seem underwhelming at first, but in my experience they’re scrupulously honest and reflect the underlying muscle and sophistication of the firm’s amplifier designs. Similarly, NAD has equipped the T 775 with Audyssey’s MultEQ XT room/speaker EQ system, but with a very interesting wrinkle. Where most Audyssey adopters offer three standard equalization options—Audyssey EQ "On," Audyssey EQ set for "Flat" response, or Audyssey EQ "Off"—NAD has negotiated the right to offer a fourth EQ option for the T 775; namely, a proprietary NAD EQ mode, which we will discuss in more depth later on. The point is that NAD is continually looking for ways to push the sonic envelope—to deliver that elusive "something extra" that will matter to performance-minded enthusiasts.
Does this entail a price premium? It does, though not an outlandish one. The T 775 sells for $2999 (where competing models from mass market manufacturers might sell for roughly two-thirds that sum, give or take a bit). Thus, a key question to ask is whether the NAD’s sonic "extras" and other "intangibles" make it worth what it costs. I’ll attempt to address that question in this review.
Consider this AVR if: You want an A/V receiver that, more than most, offers the sonic qualities—such as openness, transparency, resolution, and robust dynamics—that are typically associated with A/V separates (that is, separate high-performance A/V controllers and multichannel power amps). Also, consider this receiver if you appreciate a product whose "Modular Design Construction" architecture offers a meaningful degree of future proofing in a world where new technologies are evolving rapidly. Above all, though, look at this AVR for its pure, natural sound quality.
Look further if: You need or want to be the first enthusiast on your block to own a receiver with all of the latest/greatest technologies. This receiver provides just 7.1 channels with 100 Wpc, where some like-priced competitors offer 9.1 channels with higher claimed power output per channel. Similarly, the NAD does not incorporate decoding features for Audyssey or Dolby modes that support so-called "height" or "width" channels. But that said, note that the NAD’s core sound qualities are among the best you’ll find in any AVR at any price.
Ratings (relative to comparably priced AVRs)
User interface: 7
Sound quality, music: 9.5
Sound quality, movies: 10
Full Review can be found here.
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