Enjoyment is a simple concept; you either enjoy something or you don't - it's black and white. And yet the technology charged with aiding in our enjoyment, thus enhancing our lives, has become increasingly complicated. Take for instance home theater: HDMI was heralded as the "one cable solution" yet many of us still wonder when that cable is going to arrive. AV preamps and receivers are another area where features and so-called functions have overwhelmed performance and thus our enjoyment, replacing it instead with anxiety. And then there is 3D, which I won't even get into. It doesn't take much to begin to understand why home theater and audiophile markets are failing to turn interested consumers into long-term enthusiasts. Everything has gotten too complicated, for why should anyone invest in multiple speakers, AV receivers, higher-end cables, Blu-ray players and expensive HDTVs when a soundbar, for many, will provide the same level of enjoyment? I'm not trying to be the voice of doom here, but clearly there is a problem and a disconnect between what the people want and what manufacturers are giving them. Luckily, there are manufacturers like NAD who have always put their customers' enjoyment above all else by keeping things simple.
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NAD is a manufacturer that has been with us awhile and over the years has built a very loyal customer base around the principle of music first. When everything you do falls under a singular focus, in NAD's case a focus on the purest sound reproduction, then the fog of technology becomes easier to see through, for instead of trying to navigate through it you can simply rise above it.
A perfect example of this can be found in NAD's newest AV receiver, the T 757
. The T 757 retails for $1,599, personifying another NAD ideal - value. Unlike many of today's modern AV receivers, the T 757 puts music first, which is physically evident in the T 757's Spartan appearance. I'm not sure I've ever seen a more streamlined and minimal AV receiver fascia than the one found on the T 757. Clad in NAD's trademark graphite/dark charcoal grey color, the T 757's faceplate features a large, but simple, LCD display flanked by a handful of manual controls, the most predominant being the volume dial and directional control pad. There is a small trap door that hides the T 757's front mounted inputs (composite video, analog audio, digital audio and Audyssey ) so as not to mar the T 757's otherwise tailored good looks. While the T 757 may have a minimal appearance, it's still a substantial piece; measuring 17 and an eighth inches wide by seven inches tall and 16 inches deep. The T 757 tips the scales at a respectable 34 pounds as well.
Around back the T 757 in line with the minimal theme, sports one of the cleanest back panels I've seen in terms of inputs and organization. Starting from the left and working to the right you'll first come across the T 757's digital audio and video inputs and outputs. The T 757's digital audio and video inputs reside on a card which is part of NAD's MDC platform or Modular Design Construction philosophy
whereby owners will be able to upgrade the digital section of the T 757 as the technology evolves without having to purchase a whole new AV receiver. NAD has been employing their MDC philosophy for years and it has served them and their customers well for it makes products like the T 757 practically future-proof. As for the digital inputs themselves, the T 757 has three coaxial and three optical digital inputs mated to both a single optical and coaxial output. In terms of HDMI, the T 757 has four 3D compatible HDMI inputs as well as a single 3D capable HDMI monitor out. With regards to the T 757's HDMI prowess it will transcode legacy or analog video signals to the HDMI monitor out, though it will not perform any scaling to 1080p like other similarly priced AV receivers. NAD does this on purpose, claiming that scaling often occurs either at the source or at the display level, making the feature in an AV receiver such as the T 757 irrelevant and in some instances more complicated than necessary. Having lived with the T 757 for a few months I can now see what NAD is on about.
Moving beyond the T 757's digital MDC AV card, you'll find (moving top to bottom) its RS-232 port, XM Radio input, MP Dock Data Port, 12-Volt trigger out, IR in and dual IR out. Continuing on you'll find the T 757's analog video inputs which include two composite, an S-Video and three component video inputs mated to a single component video monitor out as well as a single composite monitor output. To the right of the analog video inputs is the T 757's analog audio inputs, including a full compliment of 7.1 channel analog ins, which are becoming increasingly rare these days given the proliferation of HDMI and the lack of multi-channel music. There are three pairs of analog audio inputs as well as a single pair of analog audio inputs for a second zone. Strangely missing is a phono input, which I was kind of expecting to find on the T 757, especially from a company that puts so much emphasis on music coming first. But in the same breath I understand, for if pure music enjoyment is your end game, then a dedicated phono preamp is going to be what you're after. Thankfully, NAD makes a few stand-alone phono preamps
that are not only sonically good but also good value. Lastly there is the T 757's antenna input, which rests just above its 7.1 channel preamp outputs. On the right side of the T 757's back panel you'll find its seven, five-way binding posts which accept all types of wire minus spade terminated cable due to the large plastic surrounds located at the base of each post. A detachable power cord as well as a switched AC outlet rounds out the T 757's list of inputs located on its back panel.
Under the hood or behind the scenes the T 757 boasts 60-Watts of what NAD claims is Full Disclosure Power, as in all channels being driven simultaneously at the point of measurement. In terms of dynamic power the T 757 is rated to 137-Watts at eight Ohms and 243-Watts at four. As for surround sound codecs the T 757 does decode and playback all of the latest formats including Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. The T 757 also has a faux surround sound DSP for two channel source material that NAD calls EARS, which isn't unlike Meridian's Tri-Field for those looking for a point of reference. The T 757 does feature Audyssey's latest auto setup software but unlike other AV receivers who tout Audyssey features like a logo on their favorite NASCAR, the T 757 somewhat underplays the technology as if to discourage customers from using it. I like that. The Hookup
The T 757 arrived on my doorstep shortly after another fine receiver, the Anthem MRX-700, left my humble abode. While the T 757 retails for less than the Anthem MRX-700 I consider them to be competitors, though upon opening the T 757's box it was immediately apparent that you couldn't ask for a more different approach to AV receiver design. The T 757 is beautiful to behold for it is simple yet elegant and immediately reminded me of another high-end brand - Classé. Not that the T 757 looks anything like Classé's latest product line, it doesn't, but it manages to be beautiful in its simplicity, not unlike Classé's SSP-800 AV preamp
or CA-2300 amplifier
Installing the T 757 in my system was as easy as making the requisite connections, plugging the sucker in and hitting power. I used a variety of loudspeakers with the T 757 beginning with Magnepan's MMGs
, followed by Tekton Design's M-Lore
and then later Paradigm's new Monitor 7 loudspeakers. By the end of my review I was using the T 757 as an AV preamp connected to my Parasound 5250 v.2 multi-channel amp
driving my reference Bowers & Wilkins 800 Series Diamond loudspeakers
. As for sources I utilized my Sony BDP-S580 universal Blu-ray player
, Dish Network HD DVR and AppleTV. Everything be it speakers or source components were connected via Transparent Link and Wave cables; this included my reference 800 Diamonds. As for the video side of things I connected the T 757 to my Panasonic 3D plasma
as well as to my Anthem D-ILA front projector
via single runs of Transparent Performance HDMI cables.
Upon powering the T 757 up, I immediately pulled up its on-screen menu which was surprisingly barren, no fancy illustrations or layers of menus, just a few simple options, each of which took you to a limited set of options and controls. Setting the speaker settings within the T 757 was simple and straightforward and with the help of an SPL meter I was able to balance all of my speakers' levels in no time. From there I set the subwoofer crossover point and - voilà - I was done. Audyssey will accomplish the above mentioned tasks but I chose not to use it for I don't normally like what Audyssey does to the sound of my system given that I've taken the requisite care to treat my room with acoustical treatments from GIK Acoustics
In all truthfulness I have yet to encounter an AV receiver that is easier and faster to setup than the T 757. From opening the T 757's box to pressing play on my Blu-ray player and sitting down for a quick demo the entire process took maybe 15 minutes. I let the T 757 play for a solid 24 hours before sitting down for any sort of critical listening. Performance
I began my evaluation of the T 757 by testing its power rating, which compared to some AV receivers available today may seem low at 60-Watts of power. Well, the T 757's 60-Watts was more than up to the task, powering the less than efficient Magnepan MMGs. Satisfied that the T 757 could punch above their weight class in terms of power I experimented with speakers, flip flopping between the affordable Paradigm Monitor 7 v. 7 floorstanding speaker and the Internet direct darling Tekton Design M-Lore. Both the Monitor 7 and M-Lore are efficient designs (91dB plus) and have fairly benign loads, which suited the T 757 just fine. Both have a slight edge to their high frequency performance that makes for a somewhat upfront presentation, something the T 757 retained though it sounded far more weighty and fleshed out than with other AV receivers I've demo'ed recently. Regardless of the three budget loudspeakers I used to initially test the T 757's abilities, one thing became readily apparent: the T 757 was decidedly higher-end sounding than I had originally thought possible, which lead me to want to connect it to and power my reference, $24,000 per pair Bowers & Wilkins 800 Series Diamonds.
Read more about the performance of the NAD T 757 AV receiver on Page 2.