If you shop at any large electronics retailer, you’re bound to see families leaving the store with large boxes filled with complete home theater systems. These boxes contain speakers, a receiver and integrated DVD player that are meant to fill the needs of each application. While a HTIB can do a good job at simplifying the home theater experience, they can leave individuality out of the equation.
Seeing a need to bridge the gap between separate components and home theater in-a-box systems, innovative audio manufacturer NAD Electronics has developed a combination audio/video receiver and DVD player that can be mated to a set of speakers of your choosing. This new receiver/DVD combo, called the L70, is a convenience oriented “lifestyle” product that delivers high fidelity to equally balanced speakers.
Making a slight departure from the traditional NAD design of a grey matte finish, the L70 is embraced by a titanium anodized finish. The black buttons NAD uses in their other components have been replaced with textured silver knobs and buttons canted to the left. The result is a very attractive contemporary style all its own. The eye-catching design matches many modern flat screen televisions. Since surround sound formats allow for the same wide bandwidth and large dynamic range for the rear channels as they do for the front channels, all five channels of the L70 are capable of putting out an equal amount of power rather than limited power to the surround channels. To accomplish equaled output, NAD abandoned the accepted practice of using digital IC amplifiers used for slim-line cabinets and instead moved toward using higher quality discrete components capable of producing much more dynamic power. The Crystal DSP with AMK Sigma-Delta high resolution analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog converters are evidence of the superior ingredients used to complete the package.
EARS, the Enhanced Ambience Retrieval System exclusively from NAD is a software-based DSP program that produces musically convincing surround sound from stereo sources. Unlike program effects like “Stadium,” “Concert Hall” or “Jazz Club,” the EARS DSP program doesn’t add unnatural synthesized reverb. The system takes only the audio information present in the original recording to envelop the listener in a warm natural environment without any artificial effects. Ambient information from stereo recording is fed to the rear channels by the EARS circuitry with in-phase information common to both left and right channels sent to the center channel. The product is a widened front image, natural acoustic environment and spatial surround channels.
The L70 is built with the audiophile in mind, but the DVD player incorporated into the receiver is feature packed, too. The multi-format playback plays the most popular disc formats and recognizes DTS or Dolby Digital media and automatically switches accordingly. Disc navigation is made simple from the controls on the faceplate, but more advanced features like multi-angle, multi-sound, multi-subtitle, frame, zoom and repeat can be called upon from the HTR-L70 remote control. The control has a logical layout that makes operating the L70 quite easy. Illuminated buttons and the ability to learn commands from up to 8 other pieces of equipment make the DVD/receiver an asset to home theater enthusiasts with a horde of remote controls.
Installation/Setup/Ease of Use
The L70 is a nice, compact unit that takes the place of individual components such as a DVD player and receiver of comparable performance. The unified component easily lends itself to a condo or apartment where limited space may dictate home theater choices. A den or game room would be a natural for this component, but front row center in a main home theater environment works equally well.
Flexible audio and video source connections are provided to join numerous components together. Cable, satellite and VCR inputs are the principle video inputs on the rear of the cabinet with an additional fourth input on the front panel for game consoles and video cameras. Six channel audio source inputs are also included for future expandability by adding new products with surround sound decoders. Video signals from the L70 to my monitor ran through component cabling, but S-Video and composite are included.
Read more about the performance of the L-70 receiver on Page 2.
Adding to distinction from inexpensive HTIB systems is the lack of spring loaded
speaker clips. NAD uses loudspeaker binding posts to attach speaker
ensembles to the unit. The posts are a welcome addition and ease the
setup of speakers by providing multiple connectivity choices. When
using these binding posts to attach wiring to my reference speakers, I
noticed the placement of the posts was a bit cramped as I’ve seen in
other NAD receivers. But it took only minutes to connect speakers, a
powered subwoofer and my HDTV to get rolling with a movie. But I
continued with the setup operation to properly calibrate and configure
my system for optimal playback.
The user interface, available in a dot matrix display on the front
panel or from the on-screen display by way of the HTR-L70 remote
handset, is powerful enough to make adjustments to your home theater
system without confusing the whole family. After displaying the OSD on
the receiver or monitor, the speakers can be configured for surround
mode, level trim using a test tone and delay times.
I spent a great deal of time with the L70. Not necessarily because I
was searching for specific high or low points, but because I really
enjoyed it. From the easy setup to the powerful performance, everything
about this DVD/receiver conveyed the message NAD wants consumers to
understand: that NAD Electronics has put years of research and
development into each of their products to deliver the finest award
Audiophiles may be disappointed with the power specs on paper, but
concerns with only 45 watts per channel quickly disappear when sound
pressure levels rise in your home. Instead of inflating power ratings
and making empty claims common in the industry, NAD accurately measures
the power output their products deliver. While driving the L70 to
substantial levels, guests in my home during my trial run would swear I
was lying when I told them the unit was rated at 45 watts per channel
in surround mode and 60 watts stereo. I couldn’t agree more.
The CD quality sound emanating from my Mirage speakers was very
authoritative. The high resolution detailed sound was distinguished in
many of my favorite jazz recordings. Stereo buffs will no doubt be
drawn to the jaw dropping sound from CD and even radio broadcasts, but
the L70 offers much more. NAD doesn’t include progressive scan on the
DVD player. Their position is that any display that accepts a
progressive input also uses a line doubling circuit that is customized
to the native resolution of the display. Adding progressive scan would
then prove redundant. As long as a DVD player is fed good material, the
output will generally be good. But when decoding substandard DVD media,
deinterlacing glitches or other problems can arise that won’t be
corrected by a display if it doesn’t have a good film-mode
deinterlacer. My Mitsubishi HDTV has a good deinterlacer, but many DVD
players on the market areequipped with deinterlacing abilities far
beyond mortal men, er, machines.
In my testing on the L70, I didn’t encounter video errors or
compromises on any major level. Occasional line twitter and the loss of
some resolution were the only negatives I encountered. Positives of
non-progressive output are true black levels and color saturation.
Anyone with a quality television will undoubtedly forget the NAD isn’t
progressive scan and just enjoy the picture quality.
I was sad to pack up the L70 when my evaluation was finished. The sound quality
in both stereo and surround modes was exceptional and ease of operation
a joy. Serious home theater owners will like exploring the macro
command functions and the fine tuning of the sound output. If a simple
complete package for home theater duties is what you seek, be sure and
find the NAD L70. Coupled with an accurate sounding speaker ensemble,
the L70 has an elegant look and a sound that will surprise you.
NAD L70 DVD/CD Surround Sound Receiver
5 x 45 watts into 8 ohms
2 x 60 watts into 8 ohms
DVD-Video, CD, CD-R/RW, VCD/SVCD
Dolby Digital, DTS, Prologic II and EARS
Digital coaxial, digital Toslink and 2 S-Video inputs
Digital Toslink. Component, S-Video and
One 12-volt trigger
Learning remote with illuminated keys
17.2″ W x 4.75″H x 13″ D
Weight: 26 lbs.