NAD T 747 vs. Onkyo TX-NR709

I am looking for a new A/V receiver, and I am seriously considering the NAD T 747 and the Onkyo TX-NR709. It will be used about 75 percent for movies and 25 percent for music. The features I'm looking for include at least 5.1 (if not 7.1), auto room calibration/set-up (such as Audyssey), the ability to decode all the new lossless formats found on Blu-rays, the ability to make movie dialog easier to hear when listening at low volume levels, and pre-out jacks so that I have the option of hooking up a separate amplifier to it in the future.

John Dixon

Just about every A/V receiver these days has at least 5 channels of amplification and can decode all the lossless audio formats. The 7.1-channel NAD T 747 (reviewed here) has everything you want except low-volume dialog compensation. NAD has a reputation for skipping some features in favor of audiophile performance at reasonable prices, and the T 747 seems to follow this trend; as reviewer Mark Fleischmann concluded, "it delivers impeccable amplification that can tell a cinematic story and weave a musical spell." On the other hand, the T 747 is getting a bit long in the tooth; our review of the T 757 will be posted in the next few weeks.

HT hasn't reviewed the Onkyo TX-NR709, but we have reviewed the TX-NR609, which is one of our favorite budget AVRs. However, it doesn't have pre-outs, so let's take a look at the 709, which has everything you want, including Audyssey and THX low-volume modes and pre-outs. It also has HDMI 1.4 connections (the T 747 uses HDMI 1.3, so no 3D or other features of 1.4), and it uses the Marvell Qdeo video processor, which is certainly newer and probably better than the NAD's Faroudja DCDi processor. You don't mention access to Internet radio and content on networked devices, which the Onkyo offers but the NAD doesn't.

Other AVRs to consider in your price range include the Integra DTR-50.2 ($1400) and Marantz SR7005 ($1600), both of which offer all the features you want as well as access to online and networked content and more power than the 709 or T 747. Please see the reviews of these units for the specifics, but I'm confident you won't be disappointed in any of them.

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Mittchell's picture

Reliability is often overlooked when comparing different a\v receivers. There is more to consider than just pure specifications. I haven't documented this myself but,if you are from the " where there's smoke there is fire " school of thought,the Onkyo / Integra (made by Onkyo) receivers have relatively poor reliability compared to the competition. Another problem they have,or at least they used to, (possibly related) is that they run hot compared to receivers from other manufacturers.

The Onkyo / Integra receivers are pretty tempting this year because of impressive specification - even more than usual. They seem as though they would be more "future proof" than competing receivers IF THEY LAST through the years. A big feature on this year's Onkyo / Integra surround sound receivers is 4 K upscaling for future 4 K displays and forthcoming 4 K projectors.

If anyone is going to roll the dice on an Onkyo or Integra receiver,I most definitely would not go with last year's Integra DTR-50.2 when you could have this year's Integra DTR-50.3 for the same price which adds the 4 K upscaling and undoubtedly better 1080p upscaling. As far as Onkyo goes,the TX-NR809 is a better proposition than the TX-NR709 or TX-NR609. The TX-NR809 can be had new for $ 779 flat or for $ 708 refurbished and it adds the new HQV Vida chip in addition to the Marvell Qdeo Kyoto G2H chip. Anything below the TX-NR809 this year does not include the HQV Vida chip!

The ONLY reason that I can think of to go with an Integra DTR-50.2 over a DTR-50.3 is the fact that any receiver manufactured before December 31st,2010 is allowed to have & should have High Definition component video outputs. Due to the " Analog Sunset " rule or law,equipment manufactured on January 1st,2011 or later MUST limit the component video output to 480i or maybe 480p at the highest.

The differences between the Integra and Onkyo receivers are :
1) The Integra receivers come with a 3 year warranty compared to a two year warranty with an Onkyo receiver.
2) Integra receivers are designed towards the custom installation market more so than the Onkyo's are & the Integra's are usually only available @ specialty,up-scale or semi-upscale home theater dealers. However,the Onkyo TX-NR809 does seem to have every connection and feature that the Integra DTR-50.3 has (including an RS-232 port and ISFcc custom calibration capability) except for being short one component input as well as one component output.
3) The Onkyo receivers are more widely available & available well below the M.S.R.P..
4) In my opinion,the Integra receivers look better cosmetically. Also,they are more exclusive - if that matters to you.

To make a long story short,for an Onkyo receiver,I would recommend the TX-NR809 or above. For an Integra receiver,I would recommend the DTR-50.3 or above. You have to go above these models for 9 channel surround sound & for better D.A.C.'s. Only if you need or want your component video outputs to send out a high definition signal at the cost of not having 4 K upscaling,then look at a 2010 or 2009 model. Almost always,the HDMI connection is the best bet (and obviously it reduces clutter) but,what if your HDMI output section fails after the warranty expires ?? As a side note,there is a firmware update available for the DTR-50.3 and one is also available for the TX-NR809 .

Later on,I will recommend some alternatives by other AVR makers which have a better track record for reliability.

Colin Robertson's picture

The response to this question should have been Sound (NAD) vs. Features (Onkyo)..

For what it's worth, my friend's Onkyo recently had some subtle distortion coming from one of the surrounds. He spent months trying to get the company to fix the problem. Several trips to the repair shop with no repairs being done (because they didn't notice the problem themselves and didn't properly test it), and while Onkyo finally ended up replacing the receiver, they replaced it with a newer and lower-spec model.

Ever wonder why HT receivers from companies like NAD, Rotel, Anthem, etc. always cost more than "competing" models from likes of Onkyo, Denon, Yamaha, etc..? Hint: they're nowhere near as good sounding, but because they push volume, they can afford to throw all the new whiz bang features in their models. The parts that actually affect the sound (amp section, power supply, quality parts) are given much more attention in a NAD than they are in an Onkyo. Given NAD's are modular these days, it should be a no brainer.

Mittchell's picture

There are many different options out there when it comes to choosing an audio-video receiver. There are receivers available in the " mass market " and there are receivers from more exclusive high-end companies (as mentioned in the above post) which are mostly only available @ specialty home audio-video dealers. The exclusive,high-end brands usually do offer better sound quality @ the cost of features and sometimes,glitches in operation. For the purpose of comparison,I will separate these 2 types of receivers into different categories. This seems to be the consensus after extensive research that I've done :

Reliability ( Mass Market Receivers )

1) Yamaha
2) Pioneer Elite / Pioneer ; Denon / Marantz ; Harman / Kardon
5) Sherwood / Sherwood-Newcastle ; Sony
7) Onkyo / Integra

Sound Quality ( Mass Market Receivers )

1) Pioneer Elite * SC Series *

2) Onkyo / Integra : * towards the top end of their lines *

3) Denon / Marantz

4) Yamaha : The RX-Z11 from a few years ago has better sound than almost all,if not all,other modern Yamaha receivers. If all of their receivers sounded even close to that one,Yamaha would be higher on this list.

5) Harman / Kardon : Recent AVR offerings by them have been catching up on features seemingly @ the price of worse sound quality.

6) Sherwood / Sherwood Newcastle ; Sony

As far as video capabilities go,they largely depend on the video processing chip employed so,you would have to look @ the specifications of specific models of receivers,not just the brand. (The same holds true for digital to analog audio converter chips when it comes to audio performance ; it varies by specific model.)

Quality video processing chips to look for are :

1) Sigma Designs VXP : ( currently only available in a high end Anthem D2v pre-amp \ processor & also as an upgraded video module for the NAD T 785 receiver )

2) Marvell Qdeo Kyoto G2H chip or the DE2750 QDEO processor ; also the first generation Marvell Qdeo chip ~

3) HQV Vida or the HQV reon or the HQV Realta chip (Yamaha , earlier Denon's , Onkyo / Integra)

4) Anchor Bay scaling & deinterlacing chips ( Anchor Bay ABT 2015 is the name of one of their good ones,if I recall correctly ; used in some Denon equipment,perhaps in Marantz equipment as well. )

For some mass-market A.V.R. recommendations to consider :

* Pioneer Elite : SC series - ICE amplifiers : Class D2 , Class D3 Amplifiers on the new 2011 models : SC-57 ; SC-55 - Also worth consideration are some earlier Elite SC models : SC-37 ; SC-35 ; SC-27 ; SC-25 and the SC-09tx .

* Denon : AVR-4311ci ; AVR-4312ci ( forthcoming ) ; AVR-3311ci ; AVR-3312ci ; AVR-2809ci ; AVR-4810ci ; AVR-5308ci ( The last 2 digits in the Denon model #'s correspond to the model year!! )

* Marantz : SR7005 ; SR6006 ; SR6005 ; SR8002 ( the SR8002 is an older model ) Marantz now also makes slim-line receivers but,I would only use them as a secondary receiver where space is a big issue i.e. > in a bedroom or somewhere similar.

* Sherwood - Newcastle : R-876 ( forthcoming ) ; R-972

* Harman / Kardon : AVR 3650 ( This Year ) ; AVR 3600 ( Last Year ) ; also the AVR 7550HD ~ The AVR 7550HD can be upgraded for 3 D pass-through capability @ designated Harman / Kardon service centers while there is a firmware update to accomplish this on the AVR 3600. The AVR 3650 ships with 3 D capability , also AVR 3600 units manufactured during the last quarter of 2010 or later do not require the update.

* Yamaha : Aventage Series RX-A2010 ; RX-A3010 ( both current ) ; last year's RX-A2000 ; the RX-A3000 or the old RX-Z11

I will get to receivers from high-end,specialty manufacturers next.

Mittchell's picture

I consider the following brands to fall into the category of specialty,high-end AV receivers : Arcam , Anthem , NAD , Rotel , Pathos , Cambridge Audio , & Sunfire.

As a side note,Emotiva has given up on receivers to concentrate on various power amplifiers ; Outlaw Audio no longer makes surround sound receivers,they are focusing on stereo receivers,power amplifiers,as well as a forthcoming pre-amp / processor.

This is how I would rank the top specialty,high-end receiver makers in general for sound quality :

1) Arcam

2) Anthem or NAD

3) NAD or Anthem

4) Sunfire ( probably over-priced ; they claim 200 watts x 7 ch. )

5) Pathos ( no processing , signal in > signal out : to be used with quality source units - stereo,5 channel surround )

6) Rotel ( They also make top-notch transformers used in different equipment including equipment from other manufacturers. )

7) Cambridge Audio ( They seem to do better with source units - disc players etc..)

For a combination of reliability & audio quality,NAD may be the way to go right now. For reliability,sound quality,and video quality together,the NAD T 785 (with the Sigma Designs VXP image processor video upgrade module) should be among the best,if not the best,for video processing / up-scaling in this category of receivers. I haven't seen any video processing test bench results for the NAD T 785 with the VXP chip but,it seems promising.

Anthem just recently started making AV receivers after becoming established in the pre-amp / processor and power amplifier markets. They very well may have the best room correction - calibration system. When their first generation of receivers were launched,there were some glitches in operation such as occasional "popping" noises in some of the channels. I believe that their engineers were working on trying to develop firmware updates to resolve most of the issues but,I'm not sure how it turned out. I am sure that Anthem will become more of a force in the AV receiver market once they get the issues resolved & once they get a couple of generations of receivers under their belts.

Arcam makes top-notch receivers however,their flagship receiver - the FMJ AVR600 has some video processing issues and also it has or had operational issues that may or may not have been addressed by updates. Their other current receiver,the FMJ AVR400 is more up to date but,it lacks a little bit when it comes to power & the AVR600 beats it when it comes to overall sound quality. So,as far as Arcam goes,it might be best to wait for something in between the AVR 400 and the AVR 600 ( not the AVR500 which is an older model ) OR wait for the successor to the AVR600 .

Specific Models to Consider in This Category :

* NAD : T 785 ; T 757 ; and the T 775 ~

* Anthem : MRX 500 ; & the MRX 700 ( step-up features = HD Radio,better transformers,and more power ) or future models ~

* Arcam : FMJ AVR600 ; and the FMJ AVR400 or future models ~

* Pathos : the Cinema-X ~

* Cambridge Audio : the Azur 650R ~

* Rotel : the RSX-1560 ( obsolete Faroudja video processing ; One reviewer recommends to upgrade the power cord. ) ~

* Sunfire : TGR-401 Theater Grand Receiver ~