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December 2004
Enjoy the Music.com Review Magazine
NAD T763 Surround Sound Receiver
Review By Ian White
Click here to e-mail reviewer

 

  All of Our Precious Bodily Fluids...

Baseball in October, Apple Pie, Donna-Mae in the backyard bomb shelter...

What could be more American than that?

Movies.

NAD T763 ReceiverRegardless of the fact that Hollywood has failed to produce anything in recent memory worthy of the art of Ford, Wilder, Capra, or Lubitsch and that the modern acto r has become a nauseating mouth piece for political causes that they know nothing about, movies will always be remembered as the great American contribution to the cause.

Television they can keep…because lord knows how I will be able to cope without Tom Brokaw or Jerry Springer.

I am sure that it will strike many as odd that I would be touting the virtues of cinema in a publication dedicated to the reproduction of the musical arts, but the die has been cast (yes, I am going for the all-time cliché record in this month's column) and the two medium shall forever be intertwined. The sound quality of the "audiophile/videophile" receiver has improved so much (although there are some funky vintage units floating around), that many consumers are willing to spend the extra money to make it the focal point of their home entertainment system. Audiophiles will, no doubt, shake their heads in violent disagreement, but these are the same people who would rather fondle line conditioners than listen to music.

NAD and Denon will sell more surround sound receivers in 2004 than the high-end will sell amplifiers, pre-amplifiers, and integrated amplifiers, and I am not talking about the entry-level products. If not for the explosive growth of DVD and surround sound, many high-end manufacturers would have no sales. Multi-channel music might be a good idea in concept, but has it really been the driving force behind the sale of surround sound?

Hey Bob, how's that SACD player working out for ya? Been listening to that Diana Krall CD much?

Another factor working against the industry is that the average person does not have the time or financial resources to hear "live" music more than once a month. I would love to have the opportunity to do so, but between work, relationships, karate, traffic, holidays, eating, work... did I mention work? It is just not possible.

However, in an average week, I make the time to watch at least seven movies. At least one of those viewings will be at a cursed multi-plex that charges fourteen dollars for soda and regular popcorn. If you calculate that the average film is ninety minutes that means I spend 32,760 minutes each year watching films. Even with four audio systems at my disposal, I still only listen to 21,900 minutes of music each year.

My suspicion is that I am not alone in this behavioral shift. For better or worse, we are a nation of couch dwellers and the pollsters had it all wrong on election night.

We are not a nation of monotheists deep in spirituality and moral thought. We are a nation of obese (not me though... I'm down to 190 pounds), Tivo-worshipping, Big Gulp slurping, tabloid-reading consumers with remote controls strapped to our belts.

Kapplah, Kapplah.

 

I Was Shocked By The Performance...

As I was finishing up the review of the T763 surround receiver, I came upon a review in one of the competing audio/video magazines of NAD's flagship receiver, the T773. For the most part, our conclusions were rather similar. What really annoyed me, however, was that the reviewer in question expressed "shock" at the sound quality of the T773 in comparison to far more expensive separates.

Que?

Why do we feel so forced in this industry to make up nonsensical descriptions of how a product sounds?

"Shocking" would be having smoked meat and Cott's Black Cherry with Osama, Arafat, and Kim Jung-IL at Sch wartz's Deli on St. Laurent in Montreal before going outside to spin some dreidels.

When I connected the T763 while standing in a bathtub filled with water, I was shocked...

Now I know why Kim feels so "ronry"... Ugh.
I think what my esteemed colleague meant to say, and what I discovered during the review process is that NAD has made a strong case for not using separates with both the T773 and T763 surround receivers. They are both really that good.

 

We Can Do That... We Don't Even Need A Reason.

The T763's output is rated conservatively at 100 W/ch into six channels and there was never any suspicion during the review process tha t NAD exaggerated the numbers. The T763 can handle the most complex sound mix with relative ease and I constantly found myself having to turn the volume down in order to avoid death by strangulation (see confusing contradictory remarks below). Even with the soft clip button engaged, I never came close to tripping the receiver up. My home theater is 23' x 11' x 8' which qualifies as medium sized due to its narrow width, so results will certainly vary in a larger/smaller room. For 95% of the review, I turned the soft clipping off and let Frankenstein out of the castle.

From a functional perspective, there is one quirk that bothered me. Why does one have to crank the volume up to -20dB before achieving any meaningful levels? My Spendor surround system is rather easy to drive and I rarely felt the volume was loud enough until I hit -15dB or lower. The T763 allows the user to boost the signal through the On-Screen Menu, w hich did alleviate part of the problem. The receiver clearly has the ability to drive a large system to house shaking levels, but one needs to hold the level button down for an eternity to get there (in reviewer's speak, more than 4 seconds).

While I am nitpicking, the multiple fans do a great job of cooling the unit down during those difficult moments, BUT only if the unit has adequate ventilation. Don't look so confused folks. If you plan on installing the T763 into a tight fitting rack or cabinet, make sure you have adequate room on all six sides. When I first installed the T763 into my built-in unit, which was originally framed for a slightly larger receiver, I discovered that the T763 became hot to the touch, rather quickly.

I did experience two shut downs due to the heat, but once I moved another piece of equipment that was above it to a lower shelf, the problem ceased. Later in the review process, I moved the T763 to an open equipment rack and it was much cooler to the touch. In fairness to NAD, the unit was left on for many months without issue and I did beat the living crap out of it some nights with multiple concert DVDs at serious risk to the hearing of anyone within a mile of my home.

The rear panel of the T763 has just about every input/output that one needs at this point in the game, with the exception of DVI or HDMI inputs/outputs. For users who would prefer to do all of their switching through the receiver, this will be an annoyance. For users such as myself who prefer to run their DVD players and satellite box directly into the television, it was not an issue.

I recently switched from a 42" Sony LCD set to a 52" Toshiba DLP rear projection television with two HDMI inputs so the NAD was never going to be used for video switching to begin with. I did run a set of Vampire Wire component cables from my Denon DVD-3910 into the T763 an d a similar run of component cables into the Toshiba to see if there was a noticeable change in picture quality. The T763 deserves high marks for how well it preserved the picture quality, but I still preferred the picture going direct.

The binding posts are all located on the right side of the rear panel and as long as you give the T763 a minimum of six inches of clearance, you should have no trouble with speaker wires terminated with bananas. I had planned on using my Nirvana S-L speaker cables with the T763, but the spades made it impossible. In their place, Vampire Wire ST-II and DH Labs T-14 worked extremely well.

The T763 has six digital inputs (4 coaxial, 2 optical), 2 digital outputs (1 coaxial, 1 optical), 2 subwoofer outputs, 7.1 outputs for use with an external power amplifier, 7.1 inputs for an external processor or SACD player, RS-232 port for firmware updates, IR and 12V triggers, and a multi-source output for running audio/video to another system.

The front panel of the T763 is rather clean looking with only a minimal number of buttons to inadvertently push and mess up your entire system. Not that I did that more than once a week. One nice feature was the inclusion of a headphone jack for those rare moments when one may have to show some consideration and listen to the boob tube with a set of cans.

 

Mr. President... We Simply Cannot Allow A Mineshaft Gap!

Many moons ago, I gave up on remote controls. I grew frustrated trying to retrieve the seven that I owned from the dog, finding the one I needed when the phone rang (or when the neighbors threatened to shoot me through the wall if I did not lower the volume), and replacing the batteries. The Logitech Harmony (reviewed here) is my new best friend and never shall we part.

The HTR 2 supplied by NAD was one of the best that I have tried to date. It beat the pants off of any remote Denon ever supplied me with due to its large, legible buttons, superior backlighting, and ease of programming. NAD also supplies a credit card-sized remote for Zone 2 with the T763 and it worked after I installed an IR repeater system and ran 50' of CAT-5 through my ceiling to a room on the same floor.

Set-up with the T763 was relatively straightforward and I did like the ability to raise/lower the level of the subwoofer, center channel, and surrounds with the remote. After calibrating the system with the help of my trust rat shack meter and DVE, I felt that everything sounded quite balanced. The T763 offers users every current surround format including DTS:ES, DD/EX, DPLIIx, Digital PLIIx, DTS NEO:6, and HDCD encoding. NAD also offers its EARS (Enhanced Ambient Reco very) mode, and two enhanced stereo modes.

 

Listen To The Radio And Sit Down And Shaddup!

Few people buy surround receivers for their "tuner" section, and I find that quite depressing. Great radio content may not exactly be throwing itself at listeners these days, but I still fall asleep most nights listening to classical music on the FM dial and I was glad to see that NAD did not skimp on the T763's tuner. Strong FM signals (while using the enhanced stereo 1 mode) really made late night listening on the couch rather enjoyable. There was a slight bump in the upper midrange, but I found that most vocals came across fairly clean and clear. Strings had a slightly more artificial sound compared to my modified Sansui TU-717 tuner which also has a more laid back presentation. On classical material in particular, I liked that fact that the NAD did not render impotent the sound.

The first DVD that I threw at the T763 (actually, I have thrown an increasing number of DVD cases at my Denon DVD-3910 of late as it keeps acting up) was the emotionally stirring AC/DC: Live At Donnington Recorded in 1991, the boys from down under have rarely sounded better and only a complete wally would listen to this at conversation levels. The 5.1 surround mix has an almost overbearing amount of LFE, but the T763 allowed me to adjust the bass downward by 3dB, which gave the mix a greater sense of clarity and certainly widened the soundstage. Angus Young did not sound lost in the mix, which greatly enhanced the listening experience.

While not a new recording, Sony's Best of Sessions at West 54th:Volume One is still one of my favorite DVDs with its 5.1 surround mix of unequaled quality. The levels on some tracks are somewhat uneven, but the mix of performers and song selection makes it a winner. The T763 roared through the various performances showing off its detailed and crisp midrange, and complete lack of strain. Its tonal balance certainly leans to the warm side of the force, but I felt that it made surround mixes less fatiguing at higher volume levels.

No Enjoy the Music.com surround sound receiver review would be complete without a reference to Star Wars or George Lucas' efforts to ruin the trilogy with two of the worst prequels in motion picture history, so I decided to bite the bullet and watch all five films in one sitting (no, I was not drunk... but thanks for the suggestion).

One of my all-time favorite scenes in the entire saga takes place in The Empire Strikes Back, when an Imperial Star Destroyer cut s across the screen and begins to drop its probe droids in search of those pesky rebels with the 70s haircuts. The rumble produced by the T763 was not only impressive for its sheer visceral impact and believability (as if I'd know what a friggin Star Destroyer sounds like), but for how well the receiver did with spatial cues. You really could follow the probe droid as it fell out of the cargo bay doors, and descended to the surface of Hoth. Total nerd-like-stuff, but where's Triumph when you need him?


The Force is very strong with this one...

 

Specifications

Type: Surround sound receiver

Output: six channels x 100W

Features: PowerDrive™ High Current HolmgrenT82™ Toroidal Power Transformer

Stereo Bypass

5 A/V Custom Presets store unique speaker level and tone control settings

Direct access speaker level adjustment for surround, center and subwoofer

Surround Modes: Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital EX, Digital ProLogic IIx, ProLogic IIx, DTS, DTS ES, DTS NEO:6, Matrix 7.1, EARS, Enhanced Stereo Surround Modes HDCD

Inputs: six A/V all S-Video and Composite, two full tape loops, three audio inputs and one tape loop

Component Video: 3 Inputs and 1 Output, HDTV Compatible

Digital Inputs: 4 Coaxial, 2 TOS Link freely assignable

Digital Outputs: 1 Coaxial, 1 TOS Link


Analogue Input: 7.1 (for DVD-Audio)

Multi-Source 2nd zone A/V pre-out with independent source and volume
ZR-2 Second Zone Remote included, discrete codes for independent zone

RS-232 port interface for advanced control systems

Three  12V Tr igger Outputs, 12V Trigger Input

IEC Detachable Power Cable

Preamp Outputs for all 7.1 channels (2 Subwoofers)

DS FM/AM Tuner with 30 direct access presets

HTR-2 eight device illuminated learning remote with Macro function

Dimensions: 17 1/8 x 6.75 x 16.75 (WxHxD in inches)

Weight: 45 pounds

Price: $1,399

 

Company Information

NAD Electronics International
633 Granite Court.
Pickering, Ontario L1W 3K1
Canada

Voice: (905)831-0799
E-mail: nad@NADelectronics.com
Website: www.nadelectronics.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
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