Processors

NAD T 187 7.1 A/V Processor & T 975 Seven-Channel Power Amplifier

ARTICLE INDEX

Design of the NAD T 187 Surround Processor & T 975 7-channel Power Amplifier

NAD likes to take a purist approach not only in the sound and performance of their products but also their appearance. These brand-new components don’t look much different than the 3020 amp that delivered fantastic sound to my Boston dorm room back in the Eighties. The front of both boxes is a simple flat faceplate with a single groove cut into the top quarter. The T 975 adds a second wider groove near the bottom. The T 187’s display is large and easy to read from across the room. In addition to the blue-green lettering we’ve come to know and love, there are large red icons for the different surround codecs that let you know instantly what type of signal you’re hearing. Buttons are few with just power, source toggle, menu navigation and a few keys for tone control, tuner functions and listening mode. The right side is dominated by a large volume knob which has a nice mechanical feel. Below the power button is a headphone jack. On the right lower corner are the front inputs (HDMI, stereo RCA, composite & S-video) which you can use for a camcorder or game system.

The back panel contains pretty much every connection type you could possibly need. There are six HDMI inputs and two outputs which send the same signal to two displays. Further digital inputs include three each of optical and coax and one output of each type. Analog inputs include a 7.1-channel RCA and six for stereo sources. In addition to the 7-channel RCA outputs for your power amp, there are two subwoofer outputs, also RCA. For analog video, there are three component inputs, three composite and three S-video. There are analog outputs of all types to feed the extra zones. For control, there is a single RS-232 port along with 12-volt triggers, in and out, and IR in and out jacks. Pretty much any control setup you can imagine is supported by the T 187.

In case you’re wondering about video processing, the T 187 has none. Video is a straight pass-through. It will transcode analog video to digital so you can hook up a single HDMI cable to your display for all sources. Otherwise, the signal is unaltered on its way from source to screen.

The T 975 7-channel amp has a no-surprises back panel with RCA inputs for all channels and an input signal attenuator. This can be used to balance speakers of different sensitivities or to allow greater use of the volume control from your processor. I left these turned all the way up and still enjoyed an extremely low noise floor. My speakers are pretty close in SPL with the front three matched exactly and the surrounds at 3dB higher. I let the T 187 take care of balancing this difference. The only thing I missed were XLR connections between the two components. I realize that at this price point you’re not going to get a truly balanced signal path but I like the higher-quality cabling and positive connections afforded by XLR.

The HTR 8 remote is probably the best OEM wand I’ve ever seen included with any piece of electronics. Not only is it backlit, it has a motion sensor so it lights up when moved. The layout is pretty much perfect with some real thought put into its design. It can be programmed to control up to eight additional devices. Instead of entering codes for different brands, you teach the commands to the T 187’s clicker using the remote from the device you want to control; kind of like the Sony Remote Commander I used back in the Nineties. For controlling the processor, there is a set of discrete input keys, menu navigation, toggles for Audyssey modes and listening modes, and tuner controls. At the bottom are channel level rockers for the center, sub and surrounds. Another feature is the ability to program macros of up to 64 commands. You can even plug it into your computer through its USB port and create macros, save libraries, and clone other remotes. I really enjoyed using the HTR 8 and would probably consider using it to control my entire home theater system; it’s that good.