NAD T762 Receiver 
Home Theater AV Receivers AV Receivers
Written by Christopher Zell, Ph.D.   
Monday, 01 September 2003

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.

I wanted to see if the NAD could rock, and what better source for that than “Live in San Francisco” (Sony Music Entertainment), the double disc DVD concert video from one of my guitar heroes, Joe Satriani. I could listen to Joe play all day, and the NAD served the music well, once again creating excitement without being edgy and fatiguing. On “Flying in a Blue Dream,” Joe’s singing, melodic guitar rose above the throbbing, palpable beat pounded out by Stu Hamm (certainly one of the finest bassists in rock) and drummer Jeff Campitelli, escalating into chunky raw riffs with great detail, then back and forth between the two styles as only Satriani can do. Sonics through the T762 were powerful and melodic, sometimes both at the same time. The surprising old-time rock ‘n’ roll prelude to “Summer Song” was a real treat, with Hamm and Satriani trading licks back and forth before blasting into the familiar, punchy rhythm of this extremely invigorating cut. Moving on to one of Joe’s trademark melodic compositions, “Always With Me, Always With You,” the NAD was musical and spacious, as the surrounds creating a very realistic feel for the large hall. Sparser numbers such as this, and Stu Hamm’s spectacular “Bass Solo” highlighted the T762’s ability to recreate the original event, complete with the echoes and imperfections, as well as the power that only a live concert can provide. The NAD was up to driving to very high levels, not quite able to reach reference volume with 100 watts a channel, but loud and clean up to that point. The NAD’s proprietary Soft Clipping made the transition unobjectionable, subtly compressing the dynamics rather than turning harsh as the volume is cranked especially high. To be safe, I have soft clipping engaged for sources like this where I’m likely to lose my head and goose it with reckless abandon, allowing me to have my fun worry-free.

  I found the NAD T762 to be a consistently solid performer with movies, as was certainly the case with Tim Burton’s “Batman” (Warner Home Video). I have always thought the original film in the “Batman” series was the best, creating an appealing dark mood and quirkiness that was present in the early comic books I read over and over again as a youth. Danny Elfman’s score was at various times mysterious, majestic and melodious through the NAD, providing a large part of the alluring atmosphere radiating from this film. During scenes such as Jack Nicholson’s Joker riding a float into downtown Gotham City to the addicting music of Prince, the T762 rocked and shocked, as it should, helping to create one of the most memorable moments in the film. Despite the fact that this is an action film, filled with raucous, almost over the top sounds, fights and effects, the NAD not was overly etched or fatiguing. This did not mean that its presentation was soft or euphonic, evidenced by the easily intelligible conversation in complex sections, or the wealth of very clear underlying details in the Vegas style party in Bruce Wayne’s mansion. The clicking of heals on the floor, glasses clinking, chips rustling, and the roulette wheel rolling in the background all articulated the wealth of detail that the NAD provided. This receiver worked well in all of the various films I viewed, never calling attention to itself or offensive, but still providing jump when appropriate.

I spent a few nights enjoying the DVD-Audio disc Vespertine (Electra Entertainment Group) from Icelandic pop artist Bjork. The unique music on this disc, while bearing many similarities to her other albums, is influenced by the album’s namesake, the traditional evening prayers sung by monks (vespers). There is no mistaking Bjork’s varying, sometimes almost childlike vocals and general quirky style, but I found this disc soothing and subtle musically (if not always lyrically), consistently rewarding and interesting. Her unique ability to move gently from strange sounds and beats into starkly contrasting, beautiful melodies on tracks such as “Hidden Place” was portrayed very well through the T762. All of the details and curious sounds underlying the melodic choir and orchestra on “It’s Not Up To You” were clearly brought out by the NAD, flowing nicely into the pretty, almost waltz-influenced refrain. Quite often, the center channel information on this disc is purposely quite strong, making the room enlarge in all directions in an eye-opening manner when the music finally opens up into the four remaining channels. Overall, Vespertine was an excellent, enveloping, and strangely soothing late night experience through the NAD surround receiver.

Regardless of how much I enjoy multi-channel audio, the majority of music that I own and enjoy is still two-channel. Therefore, the T762’s performance with two-channel material was extremely important to me. In addition to testing the T762’s two-channel prowess, it was very interesting to play around with the processing of stereo to multi-channel playback on this and other discs. Each of the primary processing algorithms, Dolby Pro Logic II, EARS, DTS NEO:6, and Matrix 7.1 had its own unique strengths and weaknesses. I would not declare a winner among them, each complementing different songs in distinctive manners. If forced to generalize, I would say that the well-recorded and detailed cuts tended to favor straight two-channel, while others often benefited from the extra ambience and spaciousness provided by multi-channel modes. I know this sounds wishy-washy and noncommittal, but it is amazing how each album, and even different cuts within an album, were each synergistic with different treatments. The exception may have been Matrix 7.1 which, while occasionally fun, was usually too aggressive in the surrounds for my taste. The more options of quality stereo to multi-channel processing modes available in a home theater processor or receiver, the merrier for me. I enjoy having them all at my disposal, especially when there are adjustable parameters available for further fine tuning and tailoring.

I listened extensively to an interesting disc I have rediscovered of late, Situation Dangerous (Magna Carta) by drummer Terry Bozzio, bassist Tony Levin and guitarist Steve Stevens. Although not entirely improvised like their first album, Black Light Syndrome, the new offering from this virtuoso trio still takes you on a rollicking musical tour of wild, progressive, and flamenco-tinged rock, through melodious and atmospheric jazz, and everything in between. Listening to “Endless” in two-channel mode, the NAD depicted a great sense of space between Stevens’ clear acoustic and electric guitar, the underlying cello and bass lines, and the crisp percussion. The stereo presentation was the clear winner on this particular cut, very three-dimensional and detailed without being etched. Interestingly on this track, some of the multi-channel modes, particularly EARS, actually sounded less spacious and flatter in comparison to the two-channel feed, at the same time losing a bit of the transient snap and air. Similarly, “Melt” was excellent in stereo, the clear instruments emanating from a black background, bringing to light the low noise floor that I experienced time and time again during my review of the T762. But two-channel was not the clear champion this time. Other modes, particularly EARS with its tasteful use of the surrounds, and Dolby Pro Logic II, added impressive ambience without losing the excitement of the performance. Although two-channel never failed to please, moving on to other tracks such as “Tziganne” highlighted many positive qualities of surround sound. This track opened up in multi-channel, particularly Dolby Pro Logic II, without losing too much of the snap and cleanness of the straight stereo feed. I think you get the idea here without my forcing any more specific examples down your throat: the NAD T762 handled two-channel material very well, and utilizing the other modes at the fingertips of the user greatly enhanced the experience and fun. The T762 did not highlight any range or aspect of the music above another, nothing stood out or was obviously lacking, it simply provided a pleasing, balanced musical presentation across the board.

Additionally, I want to comment on the tuner section. I’m not too hopped up about the radio stations available in my local area (San Diego), either from a content or a sound quality basis, but the NAD did a fine job of picking up all the stations I do listen to occasionally. In general, I was pleasantly surprised by both tuner operation and sound quality. I found myself listening to more radio broadcasts that I had previously done during the past few years. FM sensitivity seemed above average, as I pulled in all the standard stations and a few extra quite clearly. Sonics were very good for FM, sounding musical and non-etched, especially considering the typical quality of FM signals. I also found the multi-channel surround modes to be very useful with FM, filling the room with sound in a pleasing manner. More often than not, I found DTS Nero:6 to be very complimentary to FM music, although Dolby Pro Logic II with all of its adjustments, and also EARS and Matrix 7.1, were effective at times. Since FM source signals are not extremely high fidelity to start with, the detrimental effects of processing were minimal, while the enhanced spaciousness and slight rounding of transients in some modes were welcome changes. As far as AM radio is concerned, it is my experience that reception can be quite dismal for many receivers on the market these days, but not so with the T762. I’m not saying I was rocking out to AM -- after all, how good can a limited bandwidth AM station be? -- but sensitivity was fairly good, background noise low, and voices very clean and intelligible. This is enough for me, since AM mainly serves the purpose of talk radio for me these days, not music.

The Downside
Nearly every receiver has an inherent downside, and that is the packaging of many amplifiers in the same chassis with a substantial amount of additional electronics. Although the NAD T762 can drive all channels at 100 watts simultaneously, there may be occasional peaks that demand more power on a short-term basis when playing at high levels. Additionally, the NAD may not be up to the task of driving very inefficient loudspeakers loudly, but if you do own such speakers, you should be in the market for separate components, not a receiver, to handle such demanding loads. For those with normal to high sensitivity loudspeakers and average-sized rooms, the NAD should be quite effective, especially with the soft clipping circuit safeguarding your speakers and ears. One could also utilize the T762’s preamp outputs and augment with a higher-powered external amplifier for the more demanding front channels, leaving the capable built-in amplifiers to handle the surrounds, and possibly the center also.

One other minor issue I have is with the rear panel layout of the T762’s loudspeaker binding posts, which made connections to speaker cables a challenge for me. Lastly, I would appreciate even more detail in the already good manual, since home theater set-up and usage is a complex, challenging assignment for the user, and the more help and tips you can get, the better.

NAD has certainly delivered on its heritage of value, performance and simplicity. Although the T762 is anything but Spartan in its features and capabilities, it remains extremely simple and intuitive to set up and operate, easily one of the most straightforward home theater receiver/controllers that I have used to date. The multitude of multi-channel processing modes makes it very flexible for use with two-channel sources, increasing the chances of achieving a pleasing sonic presentation for each source. The T762 contains six powerful, 100-watt amplifiers with impressive short-term dynamic reserves that will drive most medium to high sensitivity loudspeakers to satisfying levels. Additionally, the preamp section alone is impressive enough to my ears to suggest using its preamp outputs to drive a higher-powered amp should the need for more power come up, particularly for the front channels. I can’t imagine needing much more power for the rears than the T762 can provide. The NAD provides for an excellent cornerstone of a home theater system that you can use for hours on end, consistently sounding smooth, non-aggressive, never fatiguing, and always interesting. In a nutshell, when operated within its limits, the NAD delivers flagship receiver performance at a less than flagship price. I would be concerned if I were another home theater electronics manufacturer forced to compete against the impressive dollars-to-performance ratio of the NAD T762 Surround Sound Receiver.
Manufacturer NAD
Model T762 Receiver
Reviewer Christopher Zell, Ph.D.

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