NAD T 787 A/V Receiver Page 2

The remote automatically illuminates when you pick it up, and you can program it for how long it remains illuminated. It’s large, relatively heavy, and uses four AA batteries. But get your hands on one, and you’ll appreciate its workings, including the surround, center, and sub level trims lined up at the bottom. Maintaining the ergonomic logic, guess which of the nine input buttons comes preprogrammed for the 7.1-channel analog input? (Hint: It’s neither input 6 nor 8.)

Bold, Meaty Sound
What does meat have to do with sound? What does leather, asphalt, or jam have to do with wine? The wine guys use those and other descriptors all the time. The one they never use is grapey. God forbid a wine tastes like grapes! Ah, but I digress.

A/V receivers seem to have become increasingly thinned out and skeletal sounding over time, and some manufacturers are switching (no pun intended) to Class D amplification. But on first listen, the T 787 immediately took up residence on the full, rich, well-balanced, and pleasingly solid side of the audio street—and that was from a manual setup before I ran the Audyssey program. The T 787 exhibited a level of iron-fisted, speaker-gripping control rarely encountered in the receiver world.

Audyssey identified my three-way floorstanders as small and set the crossover at 40 hertz, and it measured the subwoofer distance as 30 feet or three times the actual distance. But NAD’s Jeff Talmadge told me to leave both that way, so I did. The sonic results indicated he was correct. Although you can correct Audyssey’s automatic settings, my advice is, if Audyssey identifies your large speakers as small, don’t take it as an insult to your manhood. Just go with it.

After I ran and applied Audyssey, the sound became even better balanced tonally and more solid. The smoothed-out response produced superior detail resolution and improved spatial dimensionality. The T 787 produced prodigious, deep, and solid bass (down to the 40-Hz crossover point) through the front L/R speakers and the rest through the Adam Audio SW260 Mk3 subwoofer, which required some tweaking to properly integrate since I’d previously set the L/R speakers to large.

I ended up watching straight through both Blu-ray Discs of the second season of Elvis Costello’s superbly produced and engineered Spectacle music and interview TV show (Bono, Richard Thompson, Nick Lowe, Levon Helm, Bruce Springsteen, Lyle Lovett, etc.). Other than in terms of sheer power and overwhelming dynamic authority, the NAD’s clarity of transient attack and overall high-frequency performance, though somewhat drier, produced sound that was different than but equally pleasing to that of the McIntosh separates I reviewed in Home Theater’s June 2012 issue.

The NAD offers a taut, rhythmically certain, and harmonically correct bottom, meaty mids, and a clean top end devoid of etch and edge. These combine to produce ear-pleasingly well-balanced sonics that invite the kind of long-term listening pleasure few A/V receivers can produce.

With the NAD decoding at 192kilohertz/24-bit resolution, Neil Young’s well-worth-the-money Archives Volume 1 box set produced a tonally well-balanced stereo picture that revealed a wealth of detail within a spatially generous, three-dimensional field that floated untethered to the two loudspeakers. That’s the goal, and the T 787 managed it with an ease few receivers in my experience manage.

NAD’s EARS multichannel setting added a relatively pleasing surround enhancement, but being an insistent purist, I preferred listening to two-channel material as recorded.

When Young’s Topanga 2 disc had finished, I couldn’t believe 51 minutes had passed, or that I’d sat there enjoying it for that long. Given what awaits downstairs, upstairs two-channel listening is usually for work, not for pleasure. That’s a testament to the NAD’s musicality, but don’t ask for a definition of that word. You know it when you hear it, and you especially know it when you don’t!

Later, I listened to Mobile Fidelity’s exceptional-sounding reissue of Music From Big Pink in its entirety. I was more than satisfied by how the system managed the late Levon Helm’s deeply tuned drum kit and how well it differentiated between his voice and the reverb cushioned around it on “The Weight.” When Helm hits those low toms, they sounded like pitch-identifiable toms, not undifferentiated thumps. Unlike with some receivers, the higher the SPLs, the better the T 787 sounded. It’s a rare receiver that invites you, almost makes you, crank it up for extra enjoyment.

Unprocessed Video
The T 787 includes two HDMI outputs, which obviates the need to switch between them if you have both a wall-mounted display for everyday viewing and a projector for movies. With no video processing to get in the way of 1080p signals, the T 787 simply passes along what it’s fed.

Among the movies I watched was Super 8, J.J. Abrams’ ingenious Steven Spielberg tribute. Set in the late ’70s, it’s about a not-so-cute space alien long imprisoned and exploited by the military that escapes in a small industrial Ohio town and the group of adolescent amateur filmmakers who get caught up in the government’s plot to recapture it.

In the very Spielbergian telling, references to Close Encounters and E.T. abound, as objects (including bicycles) fly through the air and electronics turn on and off as if possessed. Abrams adeptly mixes violence, humor, and pathos, including a heartwarming and heart-stopping final encounter between the young protagonist and the alien.

Although the story has more holes in it than the proverbial Swiss cheese wheel, it makes for a heart-pounding, eye-tearing good time that the T 787 expressed fully both sonically and visually.

It created an enormous and seamless three-dimensional environment in which it revealed low-level details skillfully inserted into the soundtrack by the sound editors and mixers, punctuated by thunderous, room-rocking explosions. Dialogue reproduction was solid, dimensional, artifact free, and as natural sounding and convincing as I’ve heard from any A/V electronics, thanks in great part to that meaty midrange.

Conclusion
NAD recognizes it can’t effectively compete in the current “race to the price and sound bottom” that most A/V manufacturers seem intent on pursuing. With the T 787, NAD has taken a principled stand for superior sound quality over gadgetry and design elegance over buttons, bells, and whistles.

While the company’s logic looks self-evident to performance enthusiasts, at a time when peripheral gadgetry unrelated to a product’s core mission appears to take precedence everywhere (see most current touchscreen-happy car commercials), NAD’s stand is not without risk.

You can buy far less expensive AVRs packed with far more bullet-pointed features and adorned with more control operability. Other than its industrial-design elegance, what NAD offers here can’t be seen but must be heard—something that in today’s retail environment is becoming increasingly more difficult to do.

However, if you do get the opportunity to hear the T 787 in a proper setting, its superb sonics should be immediately obvious. And its future-proof modular design converts a product usually on its way to obsolescence upon purchase into a long-term investment. Combine the T 787’s superior sonics with its ease of use, and the $4,000 price tag begins to make as much sense as does music played through it. Overall, the NAD T 787 is the best-sounding A/V receiver I’ve yet heard.

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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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