|NAD T762 Receiver|
|Home Theater AV Receivers AV Receivers|
|Written by Christopher Zell, Ph.D.|
|Monday, 01 September 2003|
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NAD has long been known as a source of quality, reasonably priced audio components, providing performance and value without unnecessary and costly bells and whistles. Although NAD has been around for 30 years, you might say their reputation really started with the legendary, no-frills sonic gem, their 3020 integrated amplifier, about 25 years ago. Although I have had many positive experiences with NAD components over the years, I have not had my hands on one of their pieces since home theater burst onto the scene in earnest in the 1990s. So it was with a great deal of curiosity that I opened the box containing the NAD T762 Surround Sound Receiver a few months ago. The T762 is NAD’s top-of-the-line surround receiver, with six channels of amplification rated at 100 watts per channel, and is priced at a reasonable $1,299.
As you would expect from a flagship surround sound receiver, the NAD is a full-function, versatile unit. The T762 contains six channels of amplification rated at 100 watts per channel into eight ohms, with all channels driven. NAD has always rated their amplifiers conservatively, and the T762 is definitely no exception. It can achieve a true 100 watts RMS into all six channels simultaneously, which is unfortunately not true with certain receivers on the market. The T762 features NAD’s patented PowerDrive amplifier circuit, a further refinement of their well-received original Power Envelope circuit, offering greater amplifier stability, increased short term dynamic power and low impedance drive capability into real loudspeaker loads. The unit has the classic NAD look, unassuming in its charcoal gray exterior, simple yet elegant to my eyes. Top center is the Vacuum Fluorescent Display (VFL), which displays information on the T762’s modes, settings and functions. The T762 is equipped with a total of nine user configurable and nameable inputs, six of them A/V (two for video recording components), and three audio-only (one tape loop). Additionally, there are 7.1 audio inputs for connecting DVD-Audio and SACD sources. The NAD has a plethora of additional audio, video, and control connections, including six user assignable digital inputs (four coaxial, two TOS link), two digital outputs (one coaxial, one TOS link), three HDTV-compatible, wide band component video inputs, full 7.1 preamp level audio outputs with connections for two separate subwoofers, second zone video and stereo outputs, one 12-volt trigger input and three outputs for networking components, a switched AC outlet, a RS232 computer input, FM and AM antenna inputs, and a soft clipping switch. Directly below the VFL are four buttons and two toggle switches that control the display and the tuner section. A lighted power switch is located on the top left, and a large, solid and stable volume dial is to the right. A headphone jack and A/V inputs (composite and S-Video) are hidden behind a small cover on the bottom left. The remaining control buttons are centered near the bottom of the front face, including speaker selectors, source selectors, a surround mode switch, a button that enables level adjustments for each loudspeaker individually, and tone controls.
There is much more than initially meets the eye, including extensive set-up, calibration and processing capabilities. All of the normal processing modes are present, and a few unique ones as well: Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital EX, DTS, DTS EX Matrix, DTS ES 6.1, Dolby Pro Logic, a fully adjustable Dolby Pro Logic II, DTS NEO:6, two enhanced multi-channel stereo modes, Stereo downmix, Enhanced Ambience Recovery System (EARS), a proprietary stereo to 5.1 channel algorithm and Matrix 7.1 (another proprietary stereo to 7.1 algorithm), along with HDCD decoding. The RDS AM and FM tuner section has 30 FM presets and 10 AM presets. Included with the T762 are the HTR-2 learning remote control and the credit card-sized ZR-2 second zone remote. Both units were of more than adequate quality and functionality.
A complex home theater receiver such as the NAD T762 is far from trivial to set up properly. In order to evaluate the NAD owner’s manual, and also to ensure I had achieved an optimal set-up, I started from scratch and methodically worked my way through the instructions. After completely ripping apart the wiring of my reference home theater, I was informed that we were having a couple of families over that evening for a dinner party. Yikes - I now desperately needed a working system right then, since I knew that some of us would surely sneak off for some music and video fun at some point. With hardly a glance at the manual, I dumped a pile of interconnects and wires out on the floor, and proceeded to completely install the NAD. The back panel layout was logical, clear and convenient, with one exception, the five-way loudspeaker binding posts. The connectors were of high quality, but positioned in a vertical column, with little space between rows. I had a bit of a difficult time connecting my large diameter speaker wires, finding myself fumbling in the confined space allocated for the speaker terminal connections. Once connected, they stayed that way and worked flawlessly. I inserted the supplied batteries in the remote, turned on the T762 and my video projector, and quickly configured the inputs and calibrated the loudspeakers using the onscreen display (OSD). I threw a CD and a DVD into their respective players, and started flipping back and forth between them. Hey – not bad, this was sounding good right off the bat. I glanced at my watch and realized with amazement that barely 30 minutes had passed. Obviously the NAD T762, although a complex and very capable home theater receiver, was very intuitive for me to set up and operate. As a matter of fact, I’ve have not encountered a unit that was easier to configure, and I had no problem navigating through the various OSD menus to adjust whatever I wanted. The only thing I had a momentary problem with was invoking the OSD, which is done by depressing any of the arrow buttons on the remote rather than having a dedicated and labeled button. Most questions I had during the review process were easily answered by referring to the well laid-out manual. One particularly convenient feature also related to the OSD was the test button on the remote. Depressing it sends a reference noise signal to the loudspeakers one at a time, and turns on the OSD with the relative loudspeaker levels displayed. All you need to do is adjust calibration levels using an SPL meter, hit the test button again, the OSD is turned off and you’re ready to go.
The front panel power button places the T762 in standby mode. The unit is powered via the remote, or by depressing any other front panel button. The main display was easily legible from across the room in all but direct sunlight, but it was necessary to get up close and personal in order to read the remaining information on the periphery of the display. Similar to most home theater receivers and processors, many functions can only be accessed via the OSD on a separate video display.
The NAD primarily drove two loudspeaker systems during the course of the review, my reference Revel Performa home theater loudspeakers, and the Aperion INTIMUS 5.1 system that I reviewed last month. At times, I added one or two back surrounds to the mix (usually Paradigm Atom loudspeakers) to utilize and test the full 7.1 capability of the T762. I settled on an 80 Hz crossover frequency for the Revel system, and a higher 100 Hz frequency for the Aperions. Along these lines, I would advise the potential owner of the T762, and actually any home theater owner, to spend some time carefully evaluating the best crossover point for your system. A seemingly minor 20 Hz change can make a surprising sonic difference, and this is easy to do with a versatile unit such as the T762. Just enable the OSD, navigate to the speaker settings menu, and change the crossover point to your heart’s desire while you listen and compare. It is well worth the effort, and for nutcases like me, a load of fun to boot. One strange thing about the crossover involves bass routing if “Large” is selected for the main L/R loudspeakers, and “Yes” for the subwoofer. In this case, bass information from any loudspeakers set to “Small” would be sent to the subwoofer and the front L/R pair, which would result in double bass for those signals. NAD does, however, state that this is not normally the best option, although I would prefer that all extra bass be routed only to the subwoofer.