Sugg. Retail: $2000 (CAN)
Distributor: Lenbrook Industries Ltd.,
633 Granite Court, Pickering, Ont. L1W 3K1
(905) 831-6555 FAX 837-6359
(Reprinted from the Summer 99 Audio Ideas Guide)
The T770 is a complete A/V receiver with an unusually full complement of features. Though the brochure barely mentions it, and the manual ignores specs altogether, power output is rated at 80 watts each for the front channels, and 70 for surrounds (the brochure also says 70 x 5, but why quibble?). More important is the claim of “up to 40 amps of peak current”, along with NAD’s traditional Soft Clipping circuit. Power should be “adequate”, as they say at Rolls Royce about horsepower.
Though Dolby Digital is included (not DTS), there are also 6-channel discrete inputs, which might just come in handy some day. There are also preamp outs for all channels.
According to one portion of the brochure, Burr-Brown 18-bit DACs are employed, while elsewhere in the text they are described as “Crystal Sigma-Delta DACs and ADCs.” ADCs? I don’t believe anything is, in fact, converted to digital here, just the other way around. Whatever the case, 3 digital inputs are offered, coaxial, TosLink, and coaxial RF for a laserdisc player, which means the receiver has a built-in RF demodulator. As well as Dolby Digital and Pro Logic, there is a music surround mode called EARS (Enhanced Ambience Recovery System).
The front panel of the T770 has that austere handsomeness typical of NAD in a gun-metal grey finish. Controls are logically laid out in groups, with a front-panel input (Video 5) covered by a plastic cap at lower left. The tuner of the European version offers RDS on FM, but this feature is not found on North American models. This receiver looks deceptively simple relative to its considerable sophistication.
There are 5 video inputs (S and Composite), labelled Video 1-5, Aux, CD, and a pair of audio tape monitors. Two video outputs are provided in addition to that for the Monitor. Interestingly enough, while the video outs will not allow an S signal to have a composite output and vice versa, the Monitor output is said to provide video from either type of input to your TV.
There is also an output, with its own volume control on the remote, called Multi Source for feeding a separate signal to another room. The T770 remote will also control an NAD cassette deck or CD player, but no code or cloning functions are provided to allow control of other component brands.
I liked the remote control a lot. It is especially well laid out, with space between the buttons, easily readable white type, and a logic that is immediately evident. Though not backlit, it can be used in relatively dim light. Unfortunately, I can only show it from a fairly crude line drawing.
All setup can be done from the remote control, provided you pass the video through the receiver in order to see the on-screen menus, which do not show up on the T770’s scrolling front panel display. Contrary to the manual’s assertion that the Monitor out will carry both S and composite input signals on its S outputs, (there is even a diagram showing this) I found this not to be the case, each video signal path completely separate. Perhaps the European version allows this.
Speaker configurations and levels were easy to set up, and I configured the system to work optimally with the Klipsch Synergy Quartet system. Of course, I used my preferred Phantom setting for the centre channel, and made use of a neat feature that allows setting the acoustic distance to front and rear speakers for the room; this is a better and more user-friendly approach than calculating milliseconds of delay.
However, it could be said that this convenience is offset by the requirement that one press Test, then Channel Select three or four times to scroll to the rear channels, before you can adjust rear levels. You only set the speaker distance once, but rear level adjustment is an often-used feature, so why make it so cumbersome with the menu, and during the process temporarily mute the soundtrack, too?
Otherwise, ergonomics are excellent, the Master Volume buttons just where the thumb can find them, with selector and Mute buttons above. Selection of surround modes is very simple, and the inputs can be quickly scrolled through.
I watched several movies in whole or part using the T770, including the superb new DVD of Jewel Of The Nile, which showed how good the Pro Logic performance of the receiver is from the Dolby Digital Surround (2 channel) soundtrack. On the excellent laserdisc version of Titanic I found that I could not access the RF demodulator (if there actually is one on the North American version of the receiver), but, again, the Pro Logic performance was excellent from the linear PCM digital track. The DVD of the IMAX film, Titanica had a remarkably good Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack (and it’s a much better film than Cameron’s opus bloatus boatus) as the deep sea subs explore the wreck. The eerie sound effects and music are very effective as you feel submersed in the big IMAX picture.
Another good test of the Dolby Digital was the soundtrack from The Arrival, every paranoid’s favourite film, especially the bathtub scene. Here the dribbles and creaks preceding the cascading bathtubs were very well reproduced, every subtle effect heard clearly. This is a very good sounding Dolby Digital receiver, comparable to some much more expensive separate processors, here replete with very good amplifiers. Speaking of which, I used the receiver for the most part with the Soft Clipping feature off, and never felt the need for it, though larger speaker systems in larger rooms might make good use of it.
My overall impression of the NAD T770 is of exceptional value, with some ergonomic quirks, but overall ease of use, once you go through setup. Whether it does or does not provide RF demodulation is of interest only to a small band of laserheads, while the sound quality in Dolby Pro Logic and Digital is quite close to the best I’ve heard.
An added bonus is the EARS mode for music, which adds a nice ambience in the rear channels that doesn’t overwhelm imaging and clarity at the front. It sounds rather like Dynaquad, very natural and ungimmicky. I liked EARS both on the Gershwin 2-DVD Audio set from Classic Records (See SuperSounds), and on our Chuck Israels jazz recording.
In sum, the T770 is a receiver to enjoy both movies and music through. Can there be a better recommendation?