Pu­rity and power

NAD brings its usual high-qual­ity and un­der­stated power, along with ex­tras in­clud­ing the BluOS multiroom plat­form and room cor­rec­tion.

Sound+Image - - Test -

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.

Equip­ment

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

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.

In use

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.

Net­work­ing

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.

Con­clu­sion

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

The un­usual rear panel lay­out of the NAD is down to the com­pany’s Mod­u­lar De­sign Con­struc­tion, with its dig­i­tal au­dio and video cir­cuits on a re­place­able mod­ule to the left, al­low­ing fu­ture up­grades to the T 758 V3 to be swapped out or added. The T 757 v3

Mod­u­lar De­sign Con­struc­tion BluOS stream­ing/multiroom

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