NAD T 757 A/V Receiver Page 2
It’s Bush, so of course, you want to crank it up. My Revel tower speakers demand an amplifier, and although I can drive them comfortably with bigger, more powerful AVRs, they would obviously prefer much more power than is available here. Not surprisingly, the T 757’s pro- tection circuitry cut in after five to ten minutes, not happy with the high-volume, full-range-speaker diet I was feeding it. Granted, I was listening at levels I wouldn’t want to sustain for hours on end. Even at levels that didn’t engage the protection circuitry but were still undeniably loud, the sound was a bit brittle with this CD. This suggests that the combination of desired volume level and load were pushing the unit too hard. When I hit the mute button, it exposed the whir of the three cooling fans for a few seconds. Then, seemingly embarrassed at being heard, they stopped spinning. But if you’re listening loud enough to kick on the fans, you probably won’t hear them.
To give the T 757 a fair shot, I pulled out my 15-year-old Alon Point V speakers, small floorstanders that I guessed would be an easier match for the NAD and far more typical of the type of speakers a T 757 is likely to encounter. I was right. I cranked the same Bush tracks at high levels for the entire CD. While the fans were still going, the NAD’s protection circuitry never once engaged. More important, the recording opened up and sounded much smoother and less compressed with the higher-sensitivity Alons. In particular, the hard-driving midbass became positively palpable. The T 757 definitely delivered, and this time, not under protest.
Next, I returned to my familiar Revels and cut my musical selections back to something a little less head-banging and a little more heady: Traffic’s classic Low Spark of High Heeled Boys album. The NAD once again returned to its sweet and musical demeanor. This was a good chance to try NAD’s proprietary EARS surround processing, which is said to “extract the natural ambience present in nearly all well- produced stereo recordings.” This early ’70s album certainly fit the bill. When I switched from Stereo to EARS, I measured a drop of about 5 decibels overall at my listening seat, so I did my best to equalize the levels as I A/B’d the two modes. I found that the midrange sounded somewhat subdued with EARS engaged, perhaps trading some body for added spaciousness. Overall, though, this mode was quite musically satisfying and certainly a good fit with this album. The NAD offers a nice level of detail and resolution, and it developed respectable if not outstanding soundstage depth on the highly familiar title track.
The Dude Abides
I never saw the original True Grit, but the Coen Brothers’ remake is a big hit in my book. The DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is sparse, and the NAD had no trouble driving the Revels comfortably. Gunshots—and you’ll hear lots of them—had the requisite snap that told me the T 757 was delivering the goods. The cabin scene is frightful for all its intimacy, and when Rooster shoots Emmett Quincy, the sound from his pistol reverberates like an elephant gun. Of course, what Hollywood Western would be complete without a Copelandesque backdrop of orchestral strings punctuating the vast expanse that was the West? The NAD certainly captured the dynamic swell. It was musically involving and emotive. Piano also features prominently in this movie, and the T 757 reproduced that instrument’s harmonic structure sweetly and convincingly.
A new limited-edition Blu-ray release about the laziest man in Los Angeles County was just released. That’s right, my most loved Coen Brothers’ movie of all time, The Big Lebowski, looking even better than the DVD, which in its day was also one of the best looking. Now with a DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack, it’s also never sounded better. Dialogue intelligibility is high, and the T 757 got all the nuances right, from start to finish. The NAD has a feature that downmixes a multichannel soundtrack to stereo. It’s easy to engage via the Surr button on the remote, so I tried it out. It rendered Kenny Rogers’ “Just Dropped In” in all its super-wide stereo glory. The downmix feature would certainly be useful if your main speakers are your pride and joy, especially with movies like The Big L that are so full of great music.
The NAD T 757 proved itself to be an interesting and appealing A/V receiver that does many things right, providing, of course, that you mate it with appropriate speakers that don’t present an unexpected challenge to the amp section, as my references did. Relatively efficient small towers or high-quality stand-mounted monitors are clearly the design target here. As my experience with both sets of speakers proved to me, they’ll let this modestly powered AVR demonstrate its wide dynamics and revealing character on a broad range of music and movie content.
But I’m not so sure that NAD hit its usual goal of being an excellent value this time around. The T 757’s price is commensurate with other AVRs that offer considerably more features and power, including some things that have become de rigueur, such as Internet radio, USB ports, DLNA streaming, video processing, and full room EQ capabilities. And while the Modular Design Construction provides unique peace of mind, at an estimated $200 to $600 per upgrade, only time can tell what real value it delivers for you.
On the other hand, the T 757 is no doubt one of the easiest AVRs to set up and use that I’ve had the chance to audition, and it exudes class and consistency in day-to-day use. By definition, NAD’s purist, music-first approach may leave a few things out, but fine sound quality is not among them.