NAD T778 A/V Surround Receiver - Cool Running, Cool Looking… A Powerhouse of a Component! - Review

Manufacturer & Model
NAD T 778 A/V Surround Receiver
MSRP
$3,199.00
Link
https://nadelectronics.com/product/t778-surround-amplifier/
Highlights
Nine channels of NAD’s latest Hybrid Digital Amplifier Technology
New touch screen and improved ergonomics for user-friendly operation
4K UHD video pass-through
HDMI CEC/eARC
High-Res BluOS enabled Network Streaming
Dirac Live Room Correction – Dirac Live LT included – Full version available for purchase
Full decoding of MQA content via BluOS
Apple AirPlay 2, ROON Ready, Tidal Connect, Spotify Connect
MDC (Modular Design Construction)
Custom Integration friendly- RS232 Serial Control Port. Trigger In/Out
Summary
The NAD T 778 A/V Receiver is a cool running yet powerful receiver with nine channels of Class D amplification. Flexible analog and digital I/O with internal patching make for easy setup. A large 6 ¼” x 2 ½” color touch display occupies the front panel. BluOS enabled, and Apple AirPlay, ROON Ready, Tidal Connect, and Spotify Connect make the T 778 a very internet-ready/friendly receiver. MQA decoding is also included via the BluOS interface. Video is a true 4K pass-through and is HDMI CEC/eArc compliant. Custom Integration features like IR relay, RS232 Control port, IR inputs/outputs, and assignable triggers make the T 778 very customizable, enabling it to flex into most custom installation integrations. Modular design (MDC) aids in “future-proofing” the lifespan of the receiver.
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The Review
NAD was founded in London in 1972 by a Group of European Audio Importers disgruntled with what they considered the hyped-up and questionable Japanese hi-fi product specifications of the time. The group hired Americans, audio executive Martin L. Borish (AR Boston), and Norwegian-born designer Bjorn Erik Edvardsen (AR Boston) to organize and head up the newly formed NAD (New Acoustic Dimension). From the first components released, the revered NAD 60 and 90 integrated amplifiers, and later (1977) the best-selling integrated amplifier in history, the NAD 3020, they had us on the hook. NAD has become well known over the years for providing the highest quality audio and home theater components coupled with great value.

Owned since 1999 by the Lenbrook Group of Companies and headquartered near Toronto, Canada, the NAD tradition of innovation and performance continues unabated today.

The Lenbrook Group of Companies also owns speaker company PSB, and perhaps even more interestingly, Bluesound.


Some of the BluOS technology from Bluesound has migrated over into the NAD products. For example, the NAD T 778 AV Receiver reviewed here is packaged with a BluOS connection kit and the BluOS software interface.

To quote NAD;
“NAD’s reference Audio Video Receiver (AVR) is a cutting-edge powerhouse for state-of-the-art music and home theater. (NAD is) Well known for our high value/high-performance reputation in the AVR category, the brand’s reference model builds on that legacy with an expansion of unwavering philosophy of real-world performance, simplicity of operation, and future upgradeability.”



Delivery Day
The T 778 arrived directly from Pickering, Ontario, Canada via UPS. The unit was wrapped in a printed cardboard box pockmarked with the usual assortment of lovingly applied UPS dents and dings, but no real damage was evident. The box is single-layer heavy-duty cardboard with the receiver wrapped in plastic and safely suspended between two formed closed-cell foam end pieces. Also in the box is a warranty card and some quick-start information. A manual is available, as is customary nowadays, online for download. The accessories and accouterments are to be found in a compartmentalized box that is nestled in the bottom of the box and trapped between the foam endcaps to prevent any possibility of movement.

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First Impressions
A beautiful piece of gear, the T 778 has a simple, elegant appearance that is ascetically pleasing and unobtrusive. The front panel is adorned with only a softly illuminated on/off/standby button and a ¼” headphone jack on the left side, a large touch-pad color LCD screen (6 ¼” x 2 ½”) in the center. One oversized knob (volume) is on the right located above a single HDMI and USB port. The uncluttered appearance is broken only by the “bragging strip” along the bottom. Luckily, and sensibly, that strip of paper is easily removed, restoring the aesthetic appeal of the front panel. In the interest of keeping my review sample as pristine as possible, I forewent the peeling of the “bragging strip” and the plastic display covering.

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The receiver has a nice heft and substantial feel weighing in at 26.7lb (12.1kg) and measuring 17 3/16” wide x 5 9/16” high x 16 15/16” deep (435mm x 140mm x 430mm).

The back panel is nicely organized with the speaker binding posts lined up along the bottom and side by side instead of the more common, but much clumsier and sometimes more frustrating, over/under configuration used by many other manufacturers. This layout works great for the nine built-in amplifiers and the resultant nine sets of binding posts stretching from the left side of the receiver to just short of the IEC power connector and the master power switch on the right. It also tends to illustrate why receivers with more than nine internal amplifiers must opt for the more commonly found “over/under” configuration.

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Construction and Design
The fit and finish of the T 778 are perfect. The front plate has softly radiused edge inserts on either side, giving the receiver a refined look. The T 778 is rack-friendly and will comfortably sit on a deep rack shelf or rack-mounted in a standard 19” rack using the included rack ears. The unit is three standard units high (3U).

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The rear panel is organized in a sensible “cluster” style layout. The MDC (Modular Design Construction) modules on the backside of the receiver include a digital I/O (HDMI in/out, LAN, and USB) module on the left side, with one empty MDC space above the main Digital MDC. To the right is an analog MDC I/O module with two assignable stereo line-level inputs, a moving magnet phono input, an analog stereo pre-out for adding a dedicated Zone 2 amplifier, and a Preamp out cluster with LCR, side, and rear surround outputs, and two paralleled subwoofer outs, all using RCA jacks. A knurled ground pin for the phono is also on this module plate. Below the central analog cluster is a combo module with two coaxial digital and two optical digital inputs and the Height 1 and Height 2 analog pre-outs.

Continuing to the right is what I’m calling the “Custom Integration Cluster,” containing an RS-232 plug for custom command input, a +12V trigger group (one in and three out), and an IR control group with one in and three out. A variable-speed fan rests against the right edge of the cabinet. The “Custom Integration Cluster” is the only “cluster” not on an MDC module and is mounted directly to the rear panel, as are the row of speaker binding posts on the bottom of the back panel and the three-pin IEC power connector and the system power switch.

Admiring the clean design aesthetic of the exterior, I couldn’t resist peeking inside. The innards of the T778 were neat and trim, in large part, due to NAD’s Modular Design Construction design philosophy.

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The fan plenum and power supply are on the left side of the image. Going right and toward the rear (up), you can see the MDC cards. The HDMI/LAN/USB digital I/O card is on the right, with the empty slot visible above it. Centerish is the main analog I/O MDC card sitting atop the digital audio in/height channel pre-out card (not visible). The Hypex amplifier modules are visible across the front of the box. The sheet metal “bridges” have the card guide rails mounted in the sides, keeping the MDC modules aligned and secure. The modules themselves plug into the host PCB using time-proven edge connectors. In the case of the digital MDC boards, a small number of ribbon cables are present, inserted into plugs, and then “glued” into place to secure them with what appears to be a silicon material.

The amp section uses what NAD calls their Hybrid Digital Amplifier Technology, at the heart of which are the highly regarded Hypex Class D amplifier modules. The T 778 outputs plenty of clean power coupled with a robust power supply design. The FTC sanctioned power rating of two channels is 140 WPC RMS into 8 Ohms or 170 WPC RMS into 4 ohms. When all nine channels are driven to rated distortion, the amplifier section still pumps out 85 watts RMS per channel. That’s the potential for a whopping 765 watts of power radiated by nine speakers into the room!

Amplifier section rated distortion is given as IMD <0.03% @ 1/3 rated power and THD <0.08% @ full rated power. Pre-amp THD is reported as a miniscule <0.01%.

NAD gives damping factor as a respectable >300 from 20Hz to 20kHz.

The frequency response in the amp section is given as +0.3/-0.8 dB 20Hz to 20kHz and ±0.3dB 20Hz to 20kHz in the preamp section.

Signal-to-noise ratios in both amp and preamp is a respectable >100dB (referenced to rated power into 8 Ohms, A-Weighted, and 2 volts, A-Weighted respectively).

I like the completeness and obvious real-world reporting of the specifications. No exaggeration, just the facts Mam… In fact, NAD has coined and uses the term Full Disclosure Power (FDP) to reflect its commitment to reporting real-world, honest, and usable power specifications.

Video-wise, the T 778 is a pass-through device that can switch and pass up to 60fps 4K UHD HDR video. The HDMI on the T 778 is Version 2.0b and not the latest and greatest version 2.1. Currently, I consider that a moot point in this, the real world. There are very few 2.1 compliant displays in the wild and even less content running at 4K 120fps in a higher than 18Gbps environment. And while Version 2.1 may support up to 10K resolution, there is little or no commercially available 8K (or higher) content out in the wild anyway, and not likely to be any anytime soon either! So, while the T 778 may have “older” video technology, consider NAD’s modular approach to building their products. It is not too much of a stretch to believe there may be an HDMI 2.1 plug-in module in the works.

There are two HDMI 2.0b outputs, one designated 1080P and the other 4K to match your display type, and five rear and one front HDMI 2.0b inputs.

There is no scaling happening in the receiver, so don’t expect 4K content to be downscaled to work on your 1080P display unless your source can down-scale it to 1080P. 1080P content will, of course, pass through and work just fine on a 4K display.

This receiver’s real forte is audio and streaming audio. A look at the bragging strip affixed to the receiver's front reveals some interesting tidbits. Starting from the left, we can see the receiver is Dirac Live® enabled, Dolby ATMOS®, dtsX®, Bluetooth® (using the included Bluetooth dongle), BluOS® Enabled, 4K ULTRAHD, Apple AirPlay®, MQA®, Hi-Res Audio enabled, and built using the NAD MDC (Modular Design Construction) build structure.

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Setup
I pulled my Marantz AV 7703 Pre/Proc from the rack and installed a nice deep rack shelf in its place. I had the option to rack mount the T 778 using the included rack ears but wanted to ensure the T 778 was returned to NAD in the condition it was received, so rack mounting was nixed.

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I would call the binding posts on the receiver “3-Way.” They readily accept up to 10-gauge bare wire (a little tight but doable), pin connectors, and banana plugs. The posts may accept some varieties of spade lugs but not what I had on hand. My spade lugs were either too thick and too wide to make entry or too small to straddle the post, not fitting the relatively small slot that appears to be there to accommodate spade lugs. The manual makes no mention of using spade lugs, and the “Quick Start Guide” illustrates/advocates the use of what appears to be banana plugs.

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Regardless, I opted to use locking banana plugs for the LCR speaker connections and removed my installed spade lugs for the side and rear surrounds speaker wires, and just inserted the bare wire directly into binding posts.

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I left the Height 1 and Height 2 speaker duties to my Parasound ZoneMaster 450 and connected the T 778 to the Parasound via the Height 1 and Height 2 Pre-Outs and leaving internal amp number nine to be used for Zone 2 duties.

The rest of the connections were straightforward plug-and-play.



I initially used the on-board Ethernet Port to do the latest upgrades and connected with Apple AirPlay and the BluOS App. There is no wireless facility, either Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, built-in to the T 778. To enable any form of “wireless” connectivity, you must add and set up the included BluOS kit provided. More on that in a bit.

Time to take a quick look at the contents of the “accessories box.” In that box, you will find the items necessary to set up the wireless connections, remote control the receiver, rack mount the receiver, and perform the Dirac Live Calibration.

  • Quick Setup Guide (for the BluOS Kit)
  • BluOS Kit containing USB Hub, Wi-Fi Dongle, Bluetooth USB Micro Adapter, and USB to USB Cable Extender
  • HTR 8 remote control with 4 AA batteries
  • ZR 7 zone remote control with 3V CR2025 battery
  • Dirac Live Calibration Mic Assembly with Ferrite Base
  • USB/MIC Sound Adaptor
  • Detachable mains power cords (qty 1 - IEC 3-pin US and qty 1 - European 2-pin type)
  • Rack attachment ears and hardware
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I loaded the BluOS App on iPhone, MacBook, and iPad along with Dirac Live in preparation for calibrating and using the T 778.

I started by testing the wireless capabilities of the T 778/BluOS Kit. I had already started using and had upgraded the T 778 via the direct Ethernet connection. Because of this, I had to remove the Ethernet cable and do a BluOS Factory reset to enable the wireless dongle. This reset is quickly done via the T 778 setup menu, either from the front panel “touch screen” or the remote using the OSD “Menu” button. Once the BluOS has been reset, the T 778 will pop up in the Wi-Fi networks on whatever control device you are using, in my case, an iPad, as the MDC model designation and the last four digits of the system MAC address (exp: VM 310-XXXX). Selecting that from the list allows your control device to enter the Wi-Fi password and connect the T 778 to your router. And, “Voila’!” you have a Wi-Fi connection. Bluetooth connection is handled separately through the other tiny dongle on the BluOS Kit.

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I proceeded through the NAD T 778 setup menu, and step-by-step built my “Global” setup structure.

The last step of the setup was running a Dirac Live configuration. Then, gathering my MacBook Pro and a speaker stand, I once more raided the Accessory Kit for the calibration microphone and the microphone/USB/Computer interface adapter module.

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I loaded the Dirac Live 3 LT software onto my MacBook and got busy. The supplied Dirac Live 3 software/application is the LT version. The Dirac LT provides for calibration of the system from 500Hz and down. The full version of Dirac Live 3 can be purchased from Dirac and used for $99.00 enabling full-range measurements. I might have opted to make that purchase if I didn’t already limit the Audyssey correction I usually perform using my Marantz processor to 300Hz and down anyway.

This was my first experience using Dirac Live. I began the calibration by manually checking and entering the speaker distances and setting the SPL levels in the “Dirac Green” before running the calibration.

It was an effort to get to the endpoint of the calibration, with a couple of false starts and an application lockup that was remedied only by starting over once more. However, the transfer of the “filter settings” to the T 778 went fine once the filter calculations were completed. Initial impressions of sound and soundstage were good, so on I went.

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Listening
Yes, I “listened” to the T 778. But as I get older, and hopefully wiser, I’ve come to realize the sonic differences between well-designed electronics are slight/subtle at best. Maybe, even just “better in different ways” from other equipment. So, any comparison or judgment I make must ultimately be only to mine, or in the reader's case your, “reference” gear, and any “opinion” finally generated must come from listening over time.

A direct comparison in my testing environment, and most others, is neigh-well impossible. Aural memory generally can’t survive intact through the thirty-minute to one-hour transition of changing over from one pile of gear to the other. So, unless the sound is patently, glaringly, jarringly different, or just plain ol’ bad, any opinion on “subtle” differences put forth by a reviewer means little. It is a very speculative opinion at best. I’ll get to some comparisons and opinions but bear with me a moment as I start with more general impressions.

Overall, my impression of this receiver's “sound” character was neutrality and clarity. This piece's “sonic signature” was no “sonic signature.” To me, that is a good thing, a very good thing.

It was not overly warm and soft as with some tube-based equipment. And indeed, it was not excessively cold or sterile as some Class D amplifiers have impressed me as being in the past. And there was absolutely nonethat the “transistor harshness” from the audio past.

There was, however, a distinct feeling of solid available power and power reserves as well. Either loud or soft passages were reproduced with equal aplomb with excellent dynamics, appropriate weight, control, and a tactile feel.

The T 778 reproduced digital sources with an organic and analog feel. Analog sources were… Well, analog in sound character.

The soundstage was as I thought it should be. Pieces I am intimately familiar with that exhibit good space and spatial staging still exhibited that characteristic.

If anything was different than what I was used to, possibly the Dirac Live tuning was contributing a little more clarity and distinction to the sound of the low end. I turned off the Dirac and noticed a slight but distinct difference. Was it better than my Audyssey calibration? Maybe. Oh, aural memory, you fickle thing!

If the basic, foundational sound and power are what they should be, what else might be an essential consideration in this type of equipment?


Function and Operation
To me, it is the functional and operational aspects that can be as or (possibly) more important considerations when reviewing receivers, preamp/processors, amplifiers, and other complex pieces of electronic equipment.

Over the years, the complexity of AV receivers, and the like, has elevated. As a result, I’ve come to look at the preamp/processor/receiver in an AV system as the equivalent to the digital mixing console in a studio. Besides being a “receiver,” preamp, and amplifier, the modern AV Receiver is an audio-video switcher/virtual patch-bay/signal modifier/effects processor/DSP engine/tone control (EQ), all in one complex box.

Like it or not, the functional and operational characteristics of this complex piece of equipment become just as important as the “sound” of the component.

How did the NAD T 778 stack up operationally? Quite good!

The first place I usually start is with the setup menus. The setup menu of the T 778 is straightforward. To use the front panel display, simply touch the menu drop-down (hamburger icon in the upper left corner of the front panel display). To display the setup on your screen/display device, simply press the “Menu” button on the supplied NAD HTR-8 remote controller to start your configuration.

Navigation using the remote takes a bit of getting used to, at least to me, it did. When using the up and down keys, they do just that, move the selection box/cursor up and down. When on the wanted selection, you must press the RIGHT ARROW key, NOT the ENTER/SELECT key located in the center of the arrow circle. Pressing the RIGHT ARROW key takes you to the following drop-down list. Pressing ENTER generally does nothing. Color me brain-washed, or whatever, but I had the most challenging time breaking from the habit of trying to select something using that center ENTER button. If you need to retreat to the previous drop-down, don’t press the RTN (RETURN) button… It does nothing! Instead, press the LEFT ARROW key to return to a previous menu. The ENTER KEY is used occasionally for final confirmation or selection only.

When you enter the Main Menu system, you are presented with five selections to begin your setup.

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Looking first at the DSP Options, the essential selections are Lip Sync Delay and Dirac Live On/Off. Lip Sync can be adjusted from 0ms to 120ms. Dirac Live can be turned On or Off. This option will be grayed out and unavailable unless you have a Dirac Live Filter loaded, no filter, no choice.
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Next up is the Tone Controls Menu.
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There are bass and treble controls independent of the Dirac Live filter. Unfortunately, no parameters are given at which frequencies these tone controls shelve. I recommend that the tone defeat be “ON” and eliminate them from the circuit altogether. Do they work… yes! Do you need them? Maybe! For use at the user’s discretion.
Zone Controls is the setup menu for Zone 2. Note that Zone 2 is analog audio-only, with no digital audio or video.
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The most in-depth and arguably, most crucial menu series is the “Setup Menu.”
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  • Control Setup - Setup of parameters such as standby options, CEC over HDMI control, and IR channel selection are covered here.
  • Source Setup – Each source can be configured independently.
    • Enabled – Yes/No
    • Name – Can be renamed to display whatever and be displayed on the front panel display or the OSD
    • Analog Audio - The T 778 has three analog audio inputs (Audio 1, Audio 2, and Phono) that can be assigned to any source. If “Off” is selected, no analog audio signal can be used by the particular source. Note: An incoming digital signal present at the assigned digital input will always take precedence over the assigned analog audio input, even if both are present. To maintain the analog audio input for the particular source, select “Off” at the “Digital Audio” setting of the same “Source” menu.
    • Digital Audio - There are various types of Digital Audio input for the T 778. These are HDMI, BluOS, Optical, and Coaxial digital input. Another option is “Off,” whereby no incoming digital audio signal is selected for the particular source.
    • Video-Input - All six HDMI sources on the T 778 can be assigned as the video input to any source. Another option is “Off,” wherein the specific source is prompted not to select any Video input.
    • HDMI ->HDMI 1, HDMI 2, HDMI 3, HDMI 4, HDMI 5, HDMI Front
    • Previous -> Display or retain preceding video.
    • A/V Preset - Any source can be assigned a stored Preset. The parameters set up in the selected Preset will be adopted into the source it is assigned. If it is desired not to assign the particular Source a Preset setting, select “None.”
    • Trigger Out – Even the 12V trigger can be source dependent with any of the following protocols/combinations; Trigger Out: 1 -> 2 -> 1 + 2 -> 3 -> 1 + 3 -> 2 + 3 -> 1+2+ 3. Another option, of course, is “None” whereby that particular Source is not assigned any Trigger Out.
  • Speaker Setup
    • Speaker Configuration -> The speakers that are present in the configured system, size of speakers (along with “Enhanced Bass” choices when the front speakers are set to LARGE), the low-frequency crossover point
    • Speaker Levels – This allows for manual balancing of all active speakers using a selectable test tone.
    • Speaker Distance – Get out your tape measure (or input your measurements from your Dirac Live setup if already done). Dirac Live should be completed now after the basic speaker configuration is finished.
  • Zone Setup – Zone 2 setup
  • Amplifier Setup - If the surround back speakers are not used in the main zone, the surround back amplifier channels can be assigned as either Front (Bi-Amp), Zone 2, or Height 2.
  • Trigger Setup – The T 778 features three configurable +12V DC Trigger outputs. When sent to a compatible trigger input, the receiver can activate a component or system the trigger output. A Trigger Input is also available to turn on the applicable associated link.
  • Listening Mode Setup – Setup of the DTS, Dolby, NAD Enhanced Stereo, and PCM parameters. The T 778 offers stereo and surround decoding of the following encoding; Stereo, Direct, “EARS” (NAD proprietary surround processing said to enhance and recover natural ambiance from stereo recordings), Enhanced Stereo (all-channel stereo), Analog Bypass (no analog-to-digital conversion or processing), Dolby ATMOS, DTS:X, Neural:X
  • Front Panel Display Setup – Display brightness, auto-off, and displayed information, including a cool stereo VU meter display, available when using BluOS sources.
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A/V Presets – Another vital menu. Up to five presets can be stored for instant recall or assignment to any source. Many of the previously configured global toggles are available as Yes/No (or On/Off) choices within the A/V Presets Menu. When an A/V Preset is assigned to a specific source, the configuration of that preset takes precedence over the global configuration.

You may quickly recall and assign any A/V Preset at any time to the currently active source using the HTR 8 remote control. First, press and release the HTR 8’s A/V PSET key and select the numeric key 1-5 corresponding to the desired A/V Preset number. The newly recalled A/V Preset will then manifest, replacing the previous A/V Preset (if any).

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System and Upgrade – Factory reset and upgrade for both the BluOS and the NAD System Factory firmware. Note: to switch from an Ethernet connection to a wireless connection (BluOS Wireless Module), or vice versa, disconnect the system you want to change from and do a BluOS Factory Reset.
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Select Language – Select either English or Chinese. In this case, I opted for English. The T 778 manual is available for download in English, French, Dutch, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish. Oddly there is no download available for Chinese.
System Info - The multi-level System Info Menu displays essential information at a glance about current firmware versions of the MCU, DSP, Video, and BluOS/OSD, as well as the unit’s serial number, IP address, system temperature, and fan speed. It also offers a shortcut to check on available system upgrades.

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While every Menu, parameter, switch, and toggle are available through the front panel touchscreen display, it is undoubtedly more convenient to use the well-appointed NAD HTR-8 Remote Control and the OSD (On Screen Display) from the comfort of the catbird seat.

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The NAD HTR-8 remote works seamlessly with other NAD products by accessing the NAD component IR code set. It is a “universal remote” as well in the sense that it can “learn” up to 350 commands from any IR device. Additionally, the remote can record up to 52 different macros with 64 commands in each macro. “Learned” commands from each of your other than NAD devices can be assigned to any of eight “Pages” referencing the devices noted on the top of the remote or used in the building of macros.

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There are also some single/combo button shortcuts on the remote to make the audiophile/videophile’s life easier.

Most notably, a group of three buttons at the bottom of the remote labeled CHANNEL VOLUME. These three buttons allow on-the-fly volume adjustment of surround speakers (as a group), center channel, or subwoofer(s), up or down relative to the front right left speakers.

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Another great shortcut button allows cycling through and selecting the A/V Presets (Labeled PROGRAM/A/V PSET). Still better, the button right below labeled AUDSY/RES (a holdover from NAD’s Audyssey inclusion days?) allows selection of any of the three stored Dirac Live Filters or disables Dirac altogether.

One more button of note is the “SURR MODE” button. Pressing this button cycles through the different Stereo and Surround Sound modes available. If starting in “Stereo,” it goes something like this… Stereo -> Dolby Surround -> Neural:X (DTS) -> EARS (NAD proprietary ambiance restoration) -> Enhanced Stereo (Multi Speaker Stereo) -> Analog Bypass -> Back to Stereo

So, what’s left after the menu/configuration system? Let’s talk BluOS. As some may or may not be aware, Bluesound/BluOS is a sister company of NAD. It makes perfect sense that BluOS handle the high-quality audio streaming duties in the T 778. BluOS is essentially a control system, much like HEOS in Marantz/Denon products. When installed on a mobile device, BluOS controls the streaming connection to the electronics. The music is not transmitted from the mobile device, as with a Bluetooth connection, and its inherent limitations. Instead, it is received directly from the internet into the playback device (internet appliance, receiver, integrated amplifier, DAC Streamer, etc.) via Wi-Fi or Ethernet. It is only “controlled” by the mobile device acting as the user interface. The BluOS implementation is exemplary, and I had no problems with its use or interface. When wanting to go “wireless,” it is important to note the Wi-Fi is not built-in to the receiver but instead is relegated to a small dongle on the BluOS Connection Kit.

The other available wireless connection to the T 778 is Bluetooth. The Bluetooth is enabled through a tiny dongle on the supplied BluOS hub. The dongle device works fine, and I experienced no connection problems or dropouts within a normal 30+ foot operating range.

The limited analog connections on the T 778 worked as they should, as did the optical digital inputs. Unfortunately, the coaxial digital inputs remained untested as I have nothing in-house using coaxial digital connections.

There are no “legacy” video connections on the T 778.



Summary and Closing Thoughts
The T 778’s primary component identity appears to be a bit of a split personality by NAD’s own description.

When you go to the T 778 product page ( https://nadelectronics.com/product/t778-surround-amplifier/ ), you note the product tagline in the upper right, “T 778 AV Surround Sound Receiver,” followed by the main title in the “Product Story,” “Introducing the T 778 A/V Surround Amplifier.” This statement is immediately followed by the heading “BluOS Enabled 4K Ultra HD Receiver with Immersive Sound.” On the other hand, the cut-sheet makes no bones about it, labeling the component a “Surround Amplifier.”

So, what is it? I scratched my head and took a step back, and then took two steps forward into the 21stCentury. It’s a RECEIVER! There is plenty of capability built-in to receive near anything broadcast over the RF airways today because it is also “rebroadcast” over the internet. The NAD T 778 is an internet receiver and streamer. While it is not a “Receiver” in the traditional sense, there is no terrestrial AM or FM receiver built-in after all. The NAD T 778 can certainly be classified as a receiver in the most modern internet sense of the word.

Using the excellent BluOS App, you can add and control any music streaming services at the highest quality available. This high-resolution, multi-room music platform has over 20 music services integrated from which to choose, including the ability to play MQA files. The user can also add any internet-streamed AM/FM radio station to the playlist. You can even set up presets just as on any terrestrial receiver!

The BluOS app is smart enough to search for and serve up any local AM/FM radio station that is also streaming. Or widen your search globally and find thousands of stations worldwide! If the radio station is streaming (and most are), it’s available!
So, what the NAD T 778 is, is a high functioning, flexible, and great sounding piece of kit. The line-level analog inputs are sweet-sounding with the analog sources I tried them with (OPPO UDP-203 analog out, Yamaha CDC-703 CD Player analog out). The phono preamp in the T 778 does not disappoint either, delivering low-noise, smooth and coherent sound with plenty of gain.

I gave the NAD proprietary EARS aural processing a try. I found that it worked as claimed on some material, expanding the soundstage and adding a fair measure of “air” to the sound of acoustic instruments and sparsely accompanied vocals. However, anything more complex in nature and the effect began to break down and became of limited or no use, at least to me.

All wired digital sources played audio perfectly via the T 778 (AppleTV 4K HDMI, OPPO UDP-203 HDMI, Yamaha CDC703 optical digital output) with a dead “black” background. The sound was as clear and airy as the source material allowed with a natural, organically analog feel.

The amplifier section delivered plenty of pure, dynamic power to the speakers with never a hint of stress, strain, or break up even at insane listening levels. The digital surround processing worked great with all surround modes tracking perfectly across all speakers with movies. SACD/DVD-Audio/Blu-ray Audio sounded great with the T 778.

The T 778 does nothing fancy with video. There is no upscaling, no downscaling, no overt manipulation of the video. Instead, it is a pass-through device, or at least as much of a “pass-through” device as is possible with the complex HDMI signal path. But that is OK. Less processing should translate to a cleaner video up to its 4K 60fps HDR limits. Indeed, the video displayed by the T 778 is perfect if your upstream devices are correctly configured.

For fun, I compared the HDMI “Handshake” timing between the NAD T 778 and my Marantz AV 7703, finding the T 778 completing its “Handshake” and displaying video within two to four seconds, compared to the irritatingly long twelve to eighteen seconds of the Marantz!

After a proper setup, I had only one issue with the video/HDMI. I lost all video when switching from one source to another and had to turn the T 778 off/on to reset. However, the problem never reoccurred, even when I tried to replicate the failure. So, I’ll just chalk up that one glitch to a failed HDMI “Handshake” and go on.

The front panel display is a nice feature, and I liked both the utility and the “bling” it brought to the receiver. Of course, in a dark room, you may have to tone it down a bit (you can, and I did) as it is big and bright enough constantly draw attention to itself. But the ability to reduce the “complications” present on the screen or auto-off the display should make it a valuable feature for anyone.

full?d=1639936478.jpg


Early in this treatise, I promised a performance comparison to “my reference” setup. In this case, my “Reference” Equipment includes the following.

  • Marantz AV 7703 Preamp/Processor – Specs, if you are curious…
  • Parasound Halo A21 Stereo Amplifier – Class A/AB – 400 watts RMS x 2 into 4 Ohms – Front Right and Left
  • Parasound Halo A52+ Five-Channel Amplifier – Class A/AB – 255 watts RMS x 5 into 4 Ohms – Center and Surround
  • Parasound ZoneMaster 450 Four-Channel - Class D Amplifier – 50 watts RMS x 4 into 8 Ohms – ATMOS

Notwithstanding my earlier statement concerning the difficulty of making a valid comparison between two different piles of equipment, I’m going to take a stab at it anyway. To me, the “sound” of the Marantz/Parasound combo was better defined, a bit warmer, and slightly more accessible. I attribute that to clarity and definition added by the Marantz’ discrete component HDAM (Hyper Dynamic Amplifier Modules) analog preamp modules and the excellent implementation of the 32-bit 192kHz AKM AK4458VN DACs used. The Parasound amplifiers add higher available power, greater current reserves (even greater than the substantial T 778 reserves), Class A/AB operation, and the whopping >1100 damping factor all contribute to the sound, control, and aural feel.

So does the $3200.00 T 778 outperform my Marantz/Parasound “reference” setup? No, in my opinion, it does not. But then again, the MSRP of the NAD T 778 is roughly 2.5 times less than the cost of my separates! So, if factoring in the price vs. performance vs. features, the NAD T 778 may very well come out ahead on many scorecards.

Is the NAD T 778 perfect for the price? That would have to be a purely subjective judgment based on the buyer's needs/wants/desires/assessment coupled with the installation requirements. But, in my humble opinion, there are just a few things that I think are lacking or could be improved.

First, I find the lack of built-in Wi-Fi/Bluetooth facilities odd in a $3200 receiver, especially since this is a BIG PART of how the receiver connects to the world. The use and placement of the tiny Wi-Fi dongle severely limits the range. Using the supplied “USB extension” cable extends the range only slightly.

Second, the receiver seems a little lite on inputs for a component that touts custom integration as a significant feature. I can think of many installations where five HDMI (rear) would not be enough, and only two analog line-level inputs appear to be a bit stingy as well.

Thirdly, the receiver is supplied with the “Lite” version of Dirac Live. Sure, the full version can be had for an additional $99.00, but that would seem to be a small inclusion for the $3200 price of admission into the NAD T 778.

Lastly, I missed the on-screen display of volume level and other parameters like the current surround mode. Yes, the front panel display visibility is good, and volume can certainly be easily seen from across the room, but the rest of it cannot.


The above are admittedly nit-picks “in the grand scheme of things.” The bottom line is the NAD T 778 A/V Surround Receiver is a robust, feature-rich, well-built piece of equipment. The specifications accurately represent the performance you can expect from this highly functional, flexible, and excellent sounding Receiver/Streamer/Preamp/Amplifier. Given all that, the NAD T 778 will be an excellent choice for many.

full?d=1639938213.jpg




NAD T 778 A/V Surround Receiver Specifications:

Amplifier

FTC Power: 8 Ohms 140W RMS (21.5dBW) 4 Ohms 170W RMS (22.3dBW) (2 channels driven)
Full Disclosure Power (all channels driven simultaneously at full bandwidth at rated distortion): 9 x 85W
IHF Dynamic Power: 8 Ohms 165W (22.2dBW) 4 Ohms 280W (24.5dBW)
Total harmonic distortion at rated power: <0.08%
IM distortion at 1/3 rated power: <0.03%
Damping factor: >300 (20Hz-1kHz, 8 ohms)
Input sensitivity and impedance: 1.12Vrms (ref. 8 Ohms, VOL at 0dB)
Frequency response: +0.3/-0.8dB (ref. 1kHz, 20Hz-20kHz)
Signal/noise ratio: >100dB (ref. rated power at 8 Ohms, A-Weighted)
Signal/noise ratio: >85dB (ref. 1W at 8 Ohms, A-Weighted)

Pre-Amplifier
LINE INPUT

  • Frequency response: ±0.3dB (ref. 20Hz – 20kHz)
  • Signal-to-noise ratio: >100dB (ref. 2V, A-Weighted)
  • Total harmonic distortion: <0.01%
  • Input sensitivity: 245mVrms (ref. 2V)
  • Maximum output level: >4.5Vrms
PHONO INPUT
  • Input Sensitivity: 6.2mVrms (ref. 2V) (ref. 20Hz – 20kHz)
  • Signal-to-noise ratio: >80dB (ref. 2V, A-Weighted)
  • Maximum Input Level: >90mVrms (1kHz)

Power Consumption in Standby: <0.5W (full standby) - <8W (network standby)

Dimension and Weight

  • Unit Dimensions (W x H x D): 435 x 140 x 430mm* - 17 3/16 x 5 9/16 x 16 15/16″
  • Net Weight: 12.1kg (26.7lb)
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5kg (34.2lb)
*Gross dimensions include feet, extended buttons, and rear panel terminals.
 
Last edited:

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NAD has such an interesting attack when it comes to multi-channel receivers. It always feels like they take things part way when it comes to the home theater side of the equation. It's great that DTS:X is now included... I'm going off memory, here, but a few years ago I think they only had Atmos decoding. But what's confusing is the lack of immersive upmixing support. As far as I can tell, the T 778 lacks DTS: VirtualX and Dolby Surround... correct?
 

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While it is difficult to tell from the NAD website there are several surround modes embedded in the receiver. in the absence of an ATMOS signal the T778 will default to Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus, or Dolby Surround codecs that are part of the Dolby ATMOS system. With DTS:X, DTS Master Audio is the default in the absence of object based information. There is some upmixing support through the use of DTS Neural:X.

While there is no mention of Virtual:X there are a couple of “Virtual“ modes dealing with stereo sources. The EARS mode is an interesting mode that trys, and somewhat succeeds, in extracting additional ambiance, space and air from stereo recordings, and an “Enhanced Stereo” that speads the stereo signal around to the various surround speakers.

NAD unfortunately doesn’t do a great job of breaking down the details of the surround modes available. They do go into great detail on the music/streaming decoders/codecs in the “receiver” :cool:
 

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Exactly... that's the odd part. They include legacy decoding for Dolby and DTS, and they have immersive decoding... but they are leaving off the upmixing options for those two technologies. It's only odd because every receiver brand under the sun seems to include them. I guess EARS approaches what I'm talking about, but that's stereo-centric.

It's almost as if NAD is trying to stay away from a true crossover product, preferring to lean toward a stereo-first approach. Perhaps I'm way off on that assessment, but I'd be curious to know why that's the case if true?
 

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Wasn‘t this kindof skewered on ASR for being rather mediocre? I was looking into buying one but no HDMI 2.1 and lots of bugs and problems in the owners’ threads.
 

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Not sure… but you can’t just rely on one review’s take ;-)

HDMI 2.1 is available in a module (either now or down the road). Tom, any comments on bugs?
 

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Not sure… but you can’t just rely on one review’s take ;-)

HDMI 2.1 is available in a module (either now or down the road). Tom, any comments on bugs?
Well it was thouroughly measured, it’s not a subjective opinion… NAD stuff hasn’t fared so well lately, in general. I think just the M33 got a pass.

I’m quoting just from memory so could be entirely wrong, but I believe this receiver is compatible with modules v1 and there isn‘t and extremely likely won’t be HDMI 2.1 for v1, just for v2, which is also incompatible with v1 and this receiver.
 

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I’m all for measurements, but you have to always question if (a) a measurement actually uncover an issue that’s perceptible and (b) if the measurement is in fact legitimate. ASR obviously has a good reputation… but one review shouldn’t be the definitive stamp on any product.

Perhaps long term owners have uncovered bugs that might not readily pop up in 2-3 week time period. If you’ve been hanging in owner threads, you might probably have a better idea of issues. And maybe those issues have been corrected with firmware updates?

Tom is very thorough, so I’m confident his conclusions match his experience.


@Tom L. can check with NAD on modules… that part is easy :-)
 

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I’m all for measurements, but you have to always question if (a) a measurement actually uncover an issue that’s perceptible and (b) if the measurement is in fact legitimate. ASR obviously has a good reputation… but one review shouldn’t be the definitive stamp on any product.

Perhaps long term owners have uncovered bugs that might not readily pop up in 2-3 week time period. If you’ve been hanging in owner threads, you might probably have a better idea of issues. And maybe those issues have been corrected with firmware updates?

Tom is very thorough, so I’m confident his conclusions match his experience.


@Tom L. can check with NAD on modules… that part is easy :-)
I have asked NAD about the possibility of a HDMI 2.1 MDC upgrade but they did not reply. I will quiz them again.

the only “Bug“ was the odd video dropout. It happened one time and I could not reproduce it so I just chalked it up to a dropped HDMI Handshake. Nothing else presented as what I would consider a bug.

I did a quick search for known issues when I was in research mode. I found no real repeating complaints other than a few references to The receiver being a bit twitchy with certain HDMI cables. I used a variety of HDMI cables during testing, including my 35’ 2.0 cable to the projector With no issue.


Todd, I believe your thoughts are pretty much correct… NAD is a “music first” company and proudly states that on the website!

Tom
 

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Great review and discussion posts! For audio fidelity and overall premium audio performance NAD's T778 is one of my favorite 9.2 channel receivers.
 

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Wasn‘t this kindof skewered on ASR for being rather mediocre? I was looking into buying one but no HDMI 2.1 and lots of bugs and problems in the owners’ threads.
Keep in mind there aren't really any AVRs that are doing superbly at ASR when considering SINAD, although most all of them have distortion and noise below audibility.

I'm a huge fan of NAD... and have always enjoyed having their products in my systems... all the way back to the NAD Power Tracker 2200 amp, quite a few years ago. I would still have my last AVR if it hadn't been for the HTP-1 surfacing with endless features and functionality.

If I have to nit-pick... the menu... never liked how it operates.

Thanks for the review Tom... excellent!
 
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Review nicely done, Tom. Thank you for donating your time and expertise for our reading pleasure!

Regarding the ASR Review & Measurements, this unit fared pretty well amongst it’s brethren.



48915



48916



Amir sums it up nicely with,
Conclusions
NAD gets a lot of things right with T778 with high efficiency and cool running amplifiers, large beautiful display, excellent cooling if needed and good DAC performance (for an AVR). Alas, there just isn't enough attention to detail with respect to noise, bugs, input digitization, etc. Given all of this, I give up and let you all decide if it fits for your purpose. I hope NAD takes this platform and this data and makes a clean up pass for next year to build a truly superior product. As it is, it doesn't get there.”


My take? The performance is audibly decent. The benefits, features, and appearance are very good.
 

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Thank you! I certainly concur with Amir! The T778 does get at lot of things right. It is a great sounding piece of equipment from my subjective point of view. And, it “does no harm” as to the video. I loved the display finding it both useful and beautiful.
I was initially worried about the potential for noise from the fan but never heard even a whisper during operation.

Overall a nice piece of kit!
 

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As mentioned on our dedicated web page, owners of supported AVRs can now beta test our completely new mobile apps introducing an auto-target curve that calculates a suggested target specific for each system, and a simplified way to change the target, should that still be desired or required:

Thanks for your time :)
Flavio
 
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