NAD T 747 A/V Receiver

Price: $1,299 At A Glance: An A/V receiver for the audiophile on a budget • Faroudja DCDi video processing • Essential features only, no fad features

Ready for Takeoff

Paring life down to the essentials is a fine art. You should aim to reduce the quantity of stuff in your life and increase the quality of what remains. This may take some work. You may need to sit down with the entire contents of your sock drawer and discard all the ones with rather large holes. But then you experience the joy of buying (and wearing) beautiful new socks. And the daily need to find two good ones that match will become less onerous.

Designers of A/V receivers have a major sock-drawer problem. They rarely throw anything out, and they continually add new stuff of varying merit. For the consumer, this makes buying and using the product harder than it should be. First, you have to read spec sheets to find the things you really want (gray, argyle, light wool, black, casual, cotton, etc.). Then, you need to match the feature to a line in the user interface or a button on the remote. Is it this button? No. Is it in this menu? No. What does the manual say? Where is the manual? Where am I? Is this Venice?

Choices, Choices
To keep consumers from roaming the world barefoot, NAD limited the T 747 A/V receiver’s features the things that make the AVR sound good and things you’ll likely use. You get Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio lossless surround decoding, four HDMI 1.3 inputs, Faroudja DCDi video processing, and auto setup and room correction. As with all 2009/early 2010 A/V receivers and surround processors, you don’t get 3D [At press time NAD informed us that three of its higher-end Modular Design Construction AVRs, the T 765, T 775, and T 785, priced between $2,499 and $3,999, will be dealer upgradeable to HDMI 1.4a and 3D.—Ed.], and you don’t get a lot of useless DSP modes or height and width channels.

Some of NAD’s choices may be debatable. For example, to access a digital music library, the T 747 has a port for an optional iPod dock, but it doesn’t have a network connection for PC access or Internet radio. It includes Dolby Virtual Speaker, which simulates surround effects from two speakers. But it doesn’t have Dolby Volume, which tames movie soundtrack extremes, nor does it have its THX or Audyssey equivalents. The old-school Dolby Digital Midnight Movie mode is present, but it only works with old-school Dolby Digital signals.

My contact at NAD told me it’s prohibitively expensive for a small company to implement the new low-volume listening modes. That may change someday, and NAD is considering Dolby Volume, et al., for future models.

NAD primarily aims to appeal to the surround audiophile on a budget. As one of the legendary “low end of the high end” brands, NAD puts your $1,299 to work. The T 747 produces listenable and nourishing sound, and it ignores most other distractions.

The front panel is simple, per NAD tradition. It features a navigation ring at far left with a couple of buttons, including one that cycles among the listening modes. The other side of the display hosts a pair of small source-select buttons and a volume knob. The remote control is simple and surprisingly attractive, with a high-gloss black front and a rounded back. The graphic user interface (GUI) is also reasonably attractive, but the font is unusually tiny. NAD likely designed it with extrabig screens in mind. With my city dweller’s 32-inch set, I had to sit on the floor in front of the TV to see the menus.

Like most AVRs, this one includes automatic setup and room correction. Unlike Audyssey’s and Trinnov’s versions of this technology, this one allows only one position for the setup microphone. The manual says that 5.1 and 7.1 configurations are eligible for automatic setup. (I performed a manual setup for my 5.0 configuration.) The system emits test tones and senses the noise level around each speaker, the number of speakers, as well as speaker distance, level, and size. Then, it applies equalization to each channel. You can turn off the EQ later if you prefer the straight sound of the AVR. You can also use multiple speaker settings (large, small, with or without sub) with the AVR’s presets. It performed beautifully without EQ.

One small quirk turned up in the manual setup. The center and surround channels were 10 to 12 decibels lower than the left and right (when set at zero). It turned out that the input I was using was set to Dolby Virtual Speaker. When I changed it to Dolby Pro Logic IIx, the levels evened out, and after I set them with a meter, none of the differences was larger than 2 dB. This was a pretty trifling matter. It was a setting and not a design flaw, and it possibly wasn’t even a factory-default setting.

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