NAD L 70 DVD Receiver
Sugg. Retail: $1200(CAN)
Distributor: Lenbrook Industries Ltd.,
633 Granite Court, Pickering, Ont. L1W 3K1
(905) 831-6555 FAX 837-6359
(Reprinted from the Fall 2003 Audio Ideas Guide)
This new receiver is striking right out of the box because it abandons the traditional and conservative NAD style that has changed little over the years, 30 in all. According to a white paper issued by the company, “Because the L70 is a DVD receiver, some people might be tempted to try to squeeze it into the rather crowded `Home-Theatre-in-a- Box’ category. While we do consider the L70 to be a convenience oriented, or `lifestyle’ product, we emphatically declare that it has very little to do with the HTIB found at the electronics superstore. The L70 is a genuine high fidelity component that shares the same fanatical attention to musical performance that is the hallmark of every NAD product.”
”A major advantage to the L70, over the HTIB system, is the ability to choose one of the really superb speaker packages on the market today and properly drive them to theatrical sound pressure levels in the home. With the ability to deliver 5 X 45 watts simultaneously, 20 to 20 kHz, with less than 0.08% THD, the L70 is far more powerful than the majority of AV receivers on the market today. NAD has measured many 5 X 100 watt receivers that are unable to deliver as much real power as the L70!”
The goal set for the Solutions Series was to balance “simplicity of operation with useful flexibility”, without adding too many channels and extraneous digital or DSP formats that most owners would never use. It’s supposed to be plug-and-play, and I’ll say more about whether NAD has achieved this goal below.
The front panel is handsome in brushed aluminum, with double- crescent-shaped display and DVD/CD drawer, flanked by buttons for main functions, with Volume and Selector knobs at right, and a cursor array at left beside the Setup button; at lower left is a covered front panel input for S- and composite video and stereo audio. Rear-panel inputs are provided for CAB/SAT and VCR, with S and composite inputs and RCA audio jacks, in addition to six channel analog inputs for DVD/SACD players. There are no component inputs, but a set of component outputs is provided, these being non-progressive scan. There are Toslink optical and a single coaxial digital input, with a Toslink digital out for recorders. This complement should suffice for most HT systems.
The remote control, a universal type, is something the NAD engineering team are especially proud of, and will be provided with most of their coming receivers. Quite long and slim, it lights up through all the buttons, which are identified on the lit surface. At top are device selector buttons, as well as On/Off and Macro function, with numeric ones below. Under these are Up/Downs for Channel and Volume (nicely thumb-adjacent), with the cursor group below. Under these are controls for the DVD player, with a very nice touch at bottom, on-the-fly-use Up/Down keys for rear-channel, Centre, and Subwoofer levels. I’ll say more about these in particular below.
It’s a learning remote, able to memorize codes, and will run 8 other devices. It will operate any NAD component right out of the box. There are excellent and clear step-by-step instructions for programming and using the remote in the owner’s manual.
Hookup of the L70 to the Totem Dreamcatcher speakers was a snap, and just the two components constituted a complete plug-and-play home theatre system, but, as they say at NAD, not your typical HTIB one. Total cost is well under $4000, for a system that pushes the lower threshold of high end audio and video at an amazing price point.
This was amply demonstrated with the software I viewed and auditioned through the system. Music DVDs included The Last Waltz and Hell Freezes Over, and both had very natural sound with superb dynamics, and an engaging sweetness; the system’s power limits never seemed to be challenged even at pretty substantial levels. Movies included The Fifth Element, Showgirls and the IMAX film, Into The Deep.
These were selected (rather casually, I’ll admit) to assess various types of program material for picture and sound. For example, the Eagles were heard in DTS, and the sound was surprisingly good, while Showgirls (with all its T & A) is a very good example of MGM’s pixel-wasting practice of letterboxing very widescreen films in non-anamorphic mode (they eventually joined the stretch-screen crowd). Similarly, all the IMAX films are in 4:3 aspect ratio, and I prefer to zoom them to fill the screen on my 64″ Elite set. In both cases, the picture quality was excellent, with a minimum of scan lines visible, though not quite as seamless a picture as with a progressive scan feed. I should also note that the component out from the receiver had a more detailed quality, with slightly richer colour than from the S output. In general, the video quality was very good, and perfectly suitable to the display devices that are likely to complete this system. Of course, Into The Deep was not the 3D of the IMAX theatre I first saw it in years ago in Vegas.
I did find one fly in the soup that may concern some owners with several video sources: to view a VCR’s or other device’s picture, you will have to also connect either or both S and composite connections to your monitor, since each video path is exclusive. Without component inputs, the L70 can output only its own DVD video signal in this mode. Hopefully that will not pose too much of a problem, given the number of inputs offered on most of today’s video displays.
But getting back to audio, I did an FM tuner station scan with our outdoor Lindsay bowtie (double dipole) outdoor antenna, and brought in 47 stations, most with excellent, quiet stereo, including WNED-FM at 94.5, which is often overshadowed by Toronto’s CBC Radio Two at 94.1. I have to say that I’ve never encountered a bad (or even mediocre) NAD tuner, and the tradition is here well maintained, with very high sensitivity and selectivity, with low noise. It also offers RDS display of station info, something I see more and more broadcasters employing every time I test a tuner. FM buffs take note, since this tuner’s performance rivals that of separates selling at its full HT receiver price.
And sound quality overall was very impressive with all sources, the Dolby Digital and DTS decoding very accurate and lifelike, with lots of surround detail through the Totem system; they seemed a very good match. Though NAD’s traditional soft-clipping circuit is not advertised as part of this design, I did not hear any sense of strain at quite high movie sound effect levels. It appears that in this case it’s as much amps as watts, the Dreamcatchers far from starved for current.