Purity and power
NAD brings its usual high-quality and understated power, along with extras including the BluOS multiroom platform and room correction.
It’s been six years since we reviewed NAD’s T 757 receiver — has it taken so long for the T 758 to appear? That seems like a long time between models. But it turns out that this is not just a NAD T 758, but a NAD T 758 v.3. And apart from amplifiers that have similar specifications to that long ago model, very little is the same.
You might call this a home theatre amplifier rather than receiver, since it has no real radio section — although it does have BluOS, which gives it access to the Bluesound multiroom platform, through which you can play internet radio… so we’ve called it a receiver anyway, as does NAD’s distributor here in Australia, Convoy International.
In power terms the T 758 v3 quotes seven channels of amplification with a rating of 60 watts. But this is NAD, so don’t let that you mislead you — NAD understates its power, or perhaps more realistically satiates its power compared with other companies. Here this is 60 watts each with all seven channels running. In stereo mode it’s rated at 2 × 110 watts. So think of it as offering similar output to a receiver rated at 110 watts per channel.
I’ve noticed something about home theatre amps and receivers in recent years. If a unit has seven amplifier channels, then it only supports two overhead channels. If it has nine amps, then it’ll usually also decode to four overhead channels. The NAD T 758 v3 differs on that, too. While it only has the seven power amplifiers, if you want to add a pair of amps yourself, you can use the pre-outs to power up four overhead channels. That is, this amp will decode the full 7.1.4 channel Dolby Atmos experience. (Though it won’t give the full DTS:X experience, because it does not support that Atmos-like format.)
The two internal amplifiers which default to surround rear have the usual flexibility: bi-amping the front speakers, driving height speakers, or powering a second zone.
One reason home theatre receivers and amps need to keep being upgraded is changing standards. This one supports full UltraHD video with HDR and so on, and HDCP 2.2 so that it works with UHD Blu-ray players. Surprisingly, there are only three HDMI inputs and only one HDMI output. But then I have to ask: how many source devices does the normal person plug in anyway? Three would probably suffice for most. There are also five sets of analogue audio inputs. Two are on the front, one with RCA sockets, the other with a 3.5mm socket. This last used to double as a socket for the measurement microphone, and it’s still labelled as such, but that function no longer applies.
There is no phono input and there are no analogue video inputs or outputs.
But there is both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth (but not Ethernet). These are provided by means of a four port USB expansion hub, with two of the ports occupied by a Wi-Fi dongle and a Bluetooth dongle. The drivers within the receiver provide the necessary support, so that you can select Bluetooth independently of Wi-Fi and vice versa. The Wi-Fi appears to be single band
2.4GHz (at least, it would not see my 5GHz access point). Inside the amplifier is the BluOS operating system. That supports the multiroom Bluesound system, so you can use this amplifier as part of that.
The network connection is also needed to use the calibration system, which is called Dirac Live LE.
Setting up your speakers with this receiver is a two-part process. The first part is rather old-fashioned: you go into the speaker set-up menu and set the sizes and crossover frequencies (independently for each pair) for the speakers. As part of that, you specify the ‘Type’ of any height speakers you are using: Dolby Enabled Front, Dolby Enabled Surround, or Height Front, Middle or Rear.
Then you decide whether you want to use Dirac, or do the distances and levels manually. Dirac tunes the system for room and speaker anomalies — in part — and also adjusts phasing to ensure a coherent wave front. See the panel for full details.
As I expected, the amplifiers built into this unit were first-class. They powered all the speakers to whatever heights were required by the source material. Even large floorstanders were controlled well in the bass. Not once did I feel there was a lack of reserves, whether with music or movies.
At one point I happened to be using very different front stereo speakers to my usual ones, and they had a noticeably different tonal balance. Since the EQ applied by the free version of Dirac only covers up to 500 hertz, some of those tonal differences remained. That did contribute occasionally to some tonal changes as my ‘walk around the room’ test voice moved from speaker to speaker.
The focus of this system is clearly on purity. There’s a Surround Mode button on the remote control. You press on that to cycle through available audio modes. With stereo you can invoke the various Dolby Surround and DTS Neo 6 modes, plus something called EARS (that extracts ambient sound for the regular surround channels) and Enhanced Stereo. With DTS surround content the only options seemed to be ‘Direct’ and ‘Stereo Downmix’. Dolby Digital could be played back in Dolby Surround mode in order to make use of your height speakers.
The amp passed through all the video I threw at it pretty much perfectly. That included Ultra HD at 60 frames per second and HDR, BT.2020 colour. And it included Dolby Vision. There is no video processing done by the receiver. There are no overlays for when you’re changing the volume. If you hit the ‘Menu’ button, your picture is going away
to be replaced by a 1080p menu. If you’re using a projector, you’ll probably have to wait for a few seconds for the picture to re-sync.
One little usability feature I loved: you can configure which information the front panel display shows on its two lines. They can include things like source, volume, video or audio mode, signal information and so on. Furthermore, at any time you can hit the ‘Display’ key on the remote to cycle through that information on the bottom line of the display. For those who like to know what you’re getting (including video resolution, colour standard and so on), this is great.
The Wi-Fi set-up took a little longer than I expected because of, I think, some weaknesses in the instructions. The procedure initially seemed simple enough. When first powered up, the Wi-Fi attachment acts as an access point. You connect to it with an Android or iOS device, then enter the password for your Wi-Fi network into it. It goes away and connects to your Wi-Fi. All that worked smoothly. Then, continuing to follow the instructions I downloaded and installed the BluOS app on my iPad Mini, and it insisted on going through the exact same process again. Again, that part went well, but it was slightly irritating having to do the same thing twice. Why the app didn’t just see the amp on the network eludes me.
Once the app was connected, it noticed that some firmware needed upgrading. With my permission, it claimed to go away to do it. But the app just hung with ‘Preparing’ on the screen. After a couple of hours I forced the app to close. When I restarted it, it connected with no further difficulty. Then I went to the amp’s menus to check for updates, and it turned out that the BluOS gizmo still needed updating. That proceeded quickly, though, and completed without difficulty.
Then I figured I’d play some music with the unit in stereo mode. I looked for an item to play music from a server. Nothing was obvious. So I started up my usual DLNA music player software, and it couldn’t see the NAD amp. So it seems it doesn’t support DLNA. Digging into the settings, I found that you could set up Network Shares. That is, if you have a bit of familiarity with your home network, you can enter the IP address of a folder containing your music, along with logon credentials. Do that and the app starts indexing all the songs in the folder. In my case it took an hour or so to work through the 30,000+ tracks. When it was complete, it added a ‘Library’ item to the main menu. The tracks were indexed by Artist, Album, Song, Genre and Composer. I could also drill down into folders.
There was one surprise in network audio performance. Specifically, my rips from multichannel DTS tracks were played back properly as multichannel DTS rather than noise. Most receivers can’t do that. It also supported MP3, iTunes-style AAC, Apple Lossless and FLAC up to 24 bits, 192kHz. There was no stuttering or buffering issues on any of these formats. DSD is not supported.
One final note. I was half expecting the unit to be unable to display track information on the TV when network audio was playing. I was wrong. It indeed showed information, and cover art that’s probably the cleanest I’ve ever seen on a home theatre receiver/amplifier.
The receiver has a built-in web page which you can use to exercise extensive control over it. Just key in the unit’s IP address on any browser on the same network.
This isn’t necessarily the device for those who want their hand held through the easiest of set-ups. But for those who simply want high performance and pure signal handling, the NAD T 758 v3 ought to receive close consideration. Stephen Dawson
NAD T 758 v3 AV receiver with BluOS
Modular Design Construction BluOS streaming/multiroom