Surround Sound Speaker Systems

"Imagine" (NAD Blu-ray Player and Receiver, PSB Speakers)

ARTICLE INDEX

Specifications : NAD T 747 Surround Sound Receiver

  • Design: 7-Channel A/V Surround Receiver
  • Codecs: Dolby TrueHD, DTS HD Master, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby ProLogic IIx, DTS HD High Resolution Ausio, Neo:6, EARS surround, Dolby Headphone
  • Power Output: 2 x 110 Watts RMS into 8 Ohms, 7 x 60 Watts RMS into 8 Ohms
  • THD+N: 0.08%
  • Room Correction: Proprietary with 5-band parametric EQ
  • Video Processing: Faroudja DCDi
  • Inputs: 4 HDMI; 3 Component Video; 4 S-Video; 4 Composite Video; 2 Optical Digital; 2 Coax Digital; 7.1-Channel Analog Audio; Front – S-Video, Composite Video, Analog Audio, Optical Digital
  • Outputs: 1 HDMI; 1 Component Video; 1 S-Video; 1 Composite Video; 7.1-Channel Analog Pre-out; 1 Coax Digital; 1 Optical Digital; IR Mini Plug; 12-Volt Trigger; Zone 2: S-Video, Composite, Stereo Analog
  • Dimensions: 6.6" H x 17.1" W x 15.5" D
  • Weight: 29.3 Pounds
  • MSRP: $ 1,299 USA
  • NAD Electronics


Introduction and Setup

The NAD T747 AV Surround Sound Receiver is a 7-channel two zone receiver that is capable of decoding bitstream inputs of all the latest high-resolution audio formats. I like its understated styling a la NAD. The minimalist front panel has a simple two-line VFD display in the center of the panel. The characters on this display are about 3/8" high. This is a major improvement over the super small logos that are commonly found in so many of today's receivers and processors. Moving from left to right across the front, there is a power switch, a headphone jack, a cursor control, menu button, listening mode button, source selection switches, a volume knob, and a set of front A/V inputs. Besides the manufacturer's trademark and the unit's model number, the front panel sports only 3 other logos: Dolby TrueHD, DTS HD Master Audio and HDMI. That's it. No cluttered alphabet soup for NAD!

Imagine System Review

Around back, the T747 has a full complement of inputs and outputs; including 4 HDMI inputs, a 7.1-channel analog input, an XM radio input, IR ins and outs, an optional iPod dock input and zone 2 outputs (SD only, but with variable or fixed audio). One surprising throwback is a switched AC outlet. Interesting. The speaker outputs are solid five-way binding posts. The power amplifier outputs for the surround back channels can be assigned to provide speaker level output for Zone 2.

Imagine System Review

The remote control provides comprehensive functionality to put the user in command of all the T747's features and operations. It is not backlit, but the buttons are reasonably well-differentiated by size and shape so it was easy to use effectively in the dark after a few days on a short learning curve. It can control other NAD components, but no codes are supplied for other manufacturers' products. It is not a learning remote, either. I was slightly disconcerted with this particular unit as the batteries bounced around inside the remote a little. NAD includes a second, smaller remote for Zone 2 operation.

The T747 has a proprietary set-up and room correction utility. The small, grey microphone resembles the original Audessey mics and had a threaded insert so it could be easily mounted on a standard tripod pan head. The algorithm makes adjustments only at the prime seating position and includes a five-channel parametric equalizer. I'm sure a lot of readers will think it can't be any good because it doesn't handle a whole bunch of seating locations and have lots of equalization bands. My experience with the T747 was that it calibrated quite swiftly and I ran it one time, went back in and changed all the crossover settings to 80Hz and never messed with it again. The resulting sound was very nice. If you want to reset the T747 to factory defaults, then you will have to call technical support: the manual is very brief and does not include this information. (The manual was kind enough to provide this direction on Page 24, however, "Place the supplied microphone in the listening position at about the same height as your listening ears." I was about to put it at the height of my listening eyes, whew!) But it is easy to re-run the set up utility if you are not happy with the results. You cannot review or manually set the EQ settings with the T747.

Receiver NAD T747AV Surround Sound ratings

Setting up the inputs on the T747 took a little longer than required by most receivers. Navigating the menus is at first awkward because sometimes you use the right arrow to advance through the menu tree and sometimes you press the enter button to effect a change. It wasn't always readily apparent which way was right way to do it each and every time. The user also must key in the input names. It bothered me that NAD didn't have labels like DVD, Blu-ray or CD that the user could select, but it only consumed about 30 minutes of my life to enter the correct names. It took this long because the menu didn't provide a "keyboard" interface and instead I had to scroll through all the upper and lower case letters as well as a wide range of integers and special characters to name the inputs. So you find yourself asking, "Should I scroll up or down for the fastest way to get to the lower case letters?" By the time you figure this out, you'll be finished naming the inputs. On the plus side, once you are done, only the active inputs show up on the list: After set up, even the least experienced user in the house could get light and sound as desired.

This brings me to one other problem I had with the user interface, you couldn't wrap around the menus so if you wanted to go to the last item on a page, you had to scroll all the way through to the end of that menu. This was particularly annoying when I wanted to switch between 60Hz and 24Hz operation. The menu location where you change that parameter is the next to last menu item in the whole tree. The T747 always processes the video inputs. There is no pass-through capability and I found myself accessing this 24/60 Hz toggle everytime I switched between satellite and Blu-ray. In practice, this was only a minor problem, though.

All in all, the T747 was a well constructed piece of equipment that had a very solid feel to it. But it was modest in its size and weight. So I didn't need to wear a hernia belt to lift it into my equipment rack. The T747's class AB amplifiers generally ran pretty cool so on those occasions when we forgot to turn it off at the end of the evening, I didn't feel too bad about it because the T747 didn't seem to have a carbon footprint a mile wide like my reference THX Ultra 2 receiver.

In Use

The T747 has the capability to store and later recall user-defined A/V presets. With these presets, the user can establish things like the surround mode, bass/treble tone controls, rear speaker delay, lip sync delay, etc. They can be assigned to individual inputs as defaults. They can also be called up on an ad hoc basis to quickly accommodate specific program material. I did not bother with these presets and never felt like I needed them. The basic set up was just perfectly fine by me throughout the entire review period.

As mentioned in the previous section, I was frustrated that you couldn't bypass the receiver's video processing. It generally worked pretty well with most program material (but struggled with 30 frames per second music videos). The biggest issue with the receiver's video processing was that whenever I wanted to watch a film-based Blu-ray, I had to scroll through a bunch of menu items to toggle the receiver from 60 Hz to 24 Hz. It didn't really take long to do this it was just a little annoying. I also felt that casual users would be lost trying to switch this setting back and forth. So I guess most people would set the receiver to output their display's highest resolution at 60 Hz and leave it at that. NAD may consider a way to bypass the video processing in the T747 or make the 24/60 Hz selection an item that can be defined through the A/V presets.

The Reader

The receiver had a very low noise floor which was especially apparent while screening a movie like Doubt with its compelling, minimalist mix. Or check out the scene near the end of The Reader where Kate Winslet says, "The dead are still dead". The attack and decay in her voice were so real sounding and the noise floor was so low, I had chills up and down my spine. A certain purity of tone overlaid on a silent background came through on SACD's like Eric Clapton's classic "Slowhand". I put on this SACD just to listen to a few tracks and I wound up listening all the way through because the performance through the NAD/PSB system was so remarkably good.

Slowhand

The T747 reached its power output limits if I cranked it up on material such as the attack scene in Australia. Most of the time, however, I felt that the receiver offered very good macro dynamics as in the submarine scene in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. So it was one of those chameleon-like experiences where the program material, my mood and other factors combined to create a somewhat variable experience in terms of the perceived maximum SPL's. Bear in mind that I have a pretty large theater space and the PSB Imagine speakers are rated at 4Ω nominal. I would certainly recommend the NAD T747 receiver if your space is up to about 3,000 cubic feet or so. It just may not be the right choice for a really large space like mine. The T747 typically sounded really great and put out a lot more power than one would expect based on its modest rating.

Benjamin Button poster

The system as a whole delivered an un-hyped, articulate sound with well developed surround envelopment.