NAD T 787 A/V Receiver


Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $4,000 At A Glance: Seven powerful amplifiers • Complexity simplified • Future-proof modular design

For good reason, grizzled veterans of the audio/video hardware wars eagerly anticipate reviewing NAD gear. The company’s distinguished history began in the 1970s with the invention of the business model that was adopted years later by Apple, among others. Rather than building a factory to produce its products, NAD contracted with existing manufacturing facilities, thus avoiding high capitalization costs.

But more important than the innovation that allowed the upstart company to go toe to toe with the existing audio establishment was New Acoustic Dimension’s first smash-hit product: the NAD 3020. This shockingly inexpensive (under $200) integrated amplifier sounded far more powerful than its rated 20 watts per channel and brought high-performance audio to the masses.

The 3020 spread virally through dorms and graduate student apartments. Skeptics finally heard the difference between high-performance audio the mainstream magazines of the day failed to acknowledge (since, as everyone back then knew, if it measured the same, it must sound the same) and that era’s mass-produced audio swill.

Originally a distributor collective, NAD was purchased in 1999 by Canadian firm Lenbrook (its first and current North American distributor), who retained its original business model. As the new T 787 A/V receiver demonstrates, at a time when too many other companies have lost their way in an insane race to tack on more unnecessary and unwanted features on the way to the price-point-driven, mediocre-sound-quality bottom, NAD has maintained its original commitment to high-quality sound, solid engineering, and the elegant simplicity of the design esthetic that launched the company those many years ago.

Inside and Outside the T 787
On the outside, the T 787 exudes simplicity and maintains the 3020’s industrial design esthetic. The front fascia incorporates one large volume knob, yet no controls are hidden behind a fold-down door. Large, easy-to-read lettering populates a generously sized fluorescent screen. A fully equipped A/V input lurks behind a small pop-out panel adjacent to which is a button to select it without fumbling with the remote. Why has no one else thought of that? The operating system is free of confusing menu nests. Nests are for birds!

At the same time, the T 787 hardly skimps on features. It incorporates seven HDMI, three component video, and even four S-video inputs along with three each optical and coaxial digital inputs. It has three remote audio zones and offers seven channels of high-power amplification. It has XM and iPod ports, an AM/FM RDS tuner with presets, Audyssey MultEQ XT (including a bespoke NAD setting), defeatable tone controls, a 7.1-channel input and a multichannel preamp output, and five A/V presets that you can apply to any input at the push of a button. Also included is a proprietary EARS surround mode that avoids the usual added tinny reverb as it turns stereo sources into multichannel. A direct mode passes undigitized analog signals such as those from a turntable/phono preamp.

Of course, the T 787 has all the latest Dolby Digital and DTS codecs and can pass a 3D video signal. It has a headphone jack and also includes two remotes: a small one for remote zone 2 and the large HTR8, among the most ergonomically pleasing, easy-to-use programmable remotes I’ve yet encountered. The rear panel is a model of layout efficiency, and with their wide, easy-to-grip and -tighten flanges, the binding posts are among the best found on any A/V product.

Inside, the T 787 includes a stacked pair of large toroidal transformers. Rather than simply depleting the capacitor bank when called on to deliver high power, the 120-watt, sevenchannel amplifier section has a second high-voltage rail that can kick in when needed. The T 787 also includes NAD’s proprietary soft clipping feature that gently limits output to prevent audible and potentially speaker-damaging distortion at high SPLs (I left it off to maximize dynamics).

What has NAD left out? All the unnecessary bells and whistles most users don’t need or want, such as height and extra front channels, lousy-sounding DSP-based surround modes, and all the video controls that unnecessarily duplicate those that all modern display devices already include. NAD limits video processing to an unidentified chipset that upconverts legacy 480i video to 480p. NAD doesn’t specify either the DSP or the digital converter manufacturer, preferring to let the sonic performance speak for itself.

Also omitted is the thick, small-print, incomprehensible instruction manual that accompanies most modern A/V receivers, or at least, used to. Instead, NAD supplies a full-color, one-sheet, quick setup guide and a DVD-ROM containing PDF files of the instruction manual in various languages. The manual, refreshingly written in the active tense, runs a relatively short 48 pages. At 55.6 pounds, the T 787 is heavy and comes with a heavy (by today’s cheapened A/V receiver standards) $4,000 price to match.

Setting Up and Using the T 787
Although the T 787’s GUI and operating system were unfamiliar, I fully set it up and began using it within a half hour and without the aid of the instruction manual. Still, it took me a few minutes to figure out how to access the GUI, which is not via the usual menu or setup button. Instead, you hit the cursor ring’s right arrow, which makes complete sense since you’re going to use those controls once you’re in the GUI. Again, why has no one else thought of that?

Once that’s figured out (and much appreciated), the rest is cake, although the easier-to-use Source Setup table view should be renamed the Normal view. In that mode, all inputs are listed vertically as a table of nine plus T for tuner. There, you can easily configure each input for both video and audio input jacks (HDMI, S-video, coaxial, or optical, etc.), assign a preset number, trigger function, and rename the input. Many GUIs nest the rename function elsewhere and force you to look for them and remember what each one was by number. Why? Let’s just say that between the easy-to-access (once you know where it is!) GUI and the generously sized, properly illuminated remote control, configuring and using the T 787 is a pleasure.

A useful setup feature lets you assign more than one audio source to a given input. For instance, if your SACD player’s multichannel analog output doesn’t also output two-channel CD audio, you can assign a pair of analog inputs or coaxial digital inputs to the seven-channel analog input source. So configured, the 7.1-channel input can seamlessly output both 7.1 analog and decoded digital two channel.

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COMMENTS
ShinezALot's picture

This product doesn't have a USB port on it? What am I missing here? In going through the owner's manual (available at their site) I see nothing about USB and the iPod connection is by way of a Doc that is sold separately (see pag 8). And no DAC either.

And this is future proof by way of Modular Design Construction (MDC)? Can I get a module that provides for a usb port?

Or does NAD know something about usb that I don't (it's going away)?

On this product retails for $4,000?

Sound quality must be amazing though....

kevon27's picture

You have to really love the TAD brand to get this thing for $4000..
I say, shop around before you buy.
Marantz AV7005 = $1000- 1599
Emotiva xpr-5 = $2000 (sweet overkill)
or
Emotiva xpa-5 = $900
..
So you can get the Marantz AV 7005 for a $1000
and two xpa-5's for $1800
all totaling $2800. I would even have enough money to get an Oppo BDP-95, which brings the total to $3800 and still have $200 left..
Now that's $4000 well spent.. Sorry TAD.

Masteraudionson's picture

Based on your comment, it appears that you think that the most of the performance is based on the amplifier portion of the system. In fact, in most cases, my customers eventually realize that the digital and preamp section of the system is at least as important to the sound quality if not more important. If you are using a receiver that is lacking sufficient power then an decent outboard amp will certainly allow you to play louder without clipping distortion but it will not improve the sound quality as much as you might like to think. I would bet that the NAD(I am an NAD dealer) will sound much better than your proposed combo. I have reached this conclusion after many first hand experiences with exactly what you are suggesting. By the way, I am a NAD dealer because I tried several of the major mass market brands and was consistenly dissappointed with the sound that I got when I used them.

applebyter's picture

NAD may not win in the mass market, but hopefully people interested in high-end audio will have better value judgement.

I haven't heard this model. Any other NAD audio product I've listened to was far superior to any Marantz audio gear going for under $10K. And the Marantz gear was superior to other "name" brand audio gear.

I'm not convinced about the benefit of a USB port on receivers/processors, but am willing to listent to arguments. My impression from other manufacturers that do include USB is that to do it right is expensive. Personally I can't see the benefit of having a computer in the room with this type of equipment versus using something that can stream the audio over IP (e.g. a Squeezebox). I'd rather have my computer somewhere more useful.

If you want to plug an iPod into something like this you'll need a dock anyways, it would be pointless plugging an iPod into a USB port for gear of this quality.

ShinezALot's picture

applebyter:

I hope I didn't test your patience too much with my comment on USB. The point isn't to use a computer as a source; I just like the idea of having an iPad or iPod as source for the convenience of it. Understand exactly what you mean about sound quality (sq); however, this receiver also has a tuner and how does the sq from that compare to USB? My guess is not too favorably. But you have to have a tuner right?

But hey, we all know what it is like when you want to buy a receiver or processor with really great, sublime sq as your main goal: most options have you buying loads of stuff you really don't need or want like tons of connection options (check out the back of the Denon A1-HDA for example).

So NAD has a niche and they have decided that USB is just going to insult, alienate, or otherwise frustrated their niche market. I understand that.

The last statement made by Michael in his review has me especially curious. That's not because I don't trust him: I am sure he is being quite honest. But I wish I knew what other AV receivers are only second best, in his mind, compared to this NAD product. I have looked at all of the reviews he's posted here going back about 9 years. Some good receivers are not among his reviews. So I wish I knew if he has heard the Anthem D2V, Arcam AV888, Denon A1-HDA, or Bryston SP3. Or maybe someone else can provide their opinion. Does this NAD product sound better than all four of these? I realize this is very subjective, but other opinions would be interesting to hear.

Spaceman's picture

I own the T757 and although the sound is great (also in stereo)one thing that is very annoying is the fact that the the digital input (coaxial and optical) cannot cope well with digital audio formats like MP3 or FLAC. A slight delay occurs at the start of each track.
Only solution NAD can offer is to connect devices through analog connection (on an AVR receiver !)
Can the reviewer verify if this is an issue on this model as well ?

Ladyfingers's picture

I can confirm that the gap occurs on this model too. I assume it's some noise-gating tech or other, as my Sony HTiB managed to lock onto digital streams with no gap at all.

If you're a NAD fan, I would rather wait for the PCM-PWM amplifier tech as featured in the C390DD and M2 to make an appearance in their receiver line. It will, eventually, and will sound amazing.

KYFHO69's picture

The end of the review states "Overall, the NAD T 787 is the best-sounding A/V receiver I’ve yet heard." If that's the case then why is the rating for sound performance marked down? Makes no sense to me.

palmva's picture

i purchased this reciever partially as a result of this result and some dedicated time listening to it at the dealers and in my home. Before I tell you my opinion, I would like to state that I have owned the NAD T773, flagship reciever prior to this purchase. Let me tell yyou, this amp has fantastic dynamic range compared to the aforemention T773 and it has transformed my speakers performance 10 fold. I've gotta say this reciever has an iron clad grip and control of my speakers with contributes to an imperceptable distortion level.

For those that believe that this reciever isn't worth the $4K, try it for a weekend in your home, turn out the lights and just watch or listen. Believe me, you will change your mind!

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