NAD T748 7.1 Channel Home Theater Receiver - Review

NAD's T748 Goes Back to the Basics

NAD T748 7.1 Channel Home Theater Receiver - Front View w/Included Accessories
NAD T748 7.1 Channel Home Theater Receiver - Front View w/Included Accessories. Photo (c) Robert Silva Licensed to About.com

Manufacturer's Site

While everyone else is trying to cram in as many features as possible in their home theater receivers, NAD has taken a minimalist approach to their new "entry-level" receiver, the T748. You won't find video upscaling, internet radio, or 2nd Zone capability, but you do have 7 channel amplification (with front speaker Bi-amping option), 3D and Audio Return Channel-enabled HDMI connections, dedicated iPod docking port, and auto speaker calibration system.

In addition, this unit runs very cool with its two built-in cooling fans. Is this the right home theater receiver for you? Keep on reading to find out. After reading this review, get a closer look with my supplementary T748 Photo Profile.

Product Overview

The features of the NAD T748 include:​

  1.  7.1 channel home theater receiver delivering an FTC-rated 80 Watts per channel (2 channels driven) or 40 Watts per channel (7 channels driven) from 20Hz-20kHz at .08% THD into 8 ohms.
  2. Audio Decoding: Dolby Digital Plus and Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio, Dolby Digital 5.1/EX/Pro logic IIx, DTS 5.1/ES, 96/24, Neo:6.
  3. Additional Audio Processing Options: Enhanced Stereo and EARS (Enhanced Ambience Retrieval System)
  4. Auto-Calibration speaker setup system (built-in test tone and plug-in microphone provided).
  5. Audio Inputs (Analog): 4 (3 rear/1 front) Stereo Analog.
  6. Audio Inputs (Digital - Excluding HDMI): 3 (1 front/2 rear) Digital Optical, 2 Digital Coaxial.
  1. Audio Outputs (Excluding HDMI): 1 Set - Analog Stereo, Subwoofer Pre-out, 1 Headphone output, 1 set of 7.1 Channel Analog Audio inputs.
  2. Speaker Connections: Up to 7 Channels, surround back channels can be reassigned for front left/right channel speaker Bi-Amping.
  3. Video Inputs: 4 HDMI ver 1.4a (3D pass through capable), 1 Component, 2 (1 front/1 rear) S-Video, and 3 (1 front/2 rear) Composite.
  1. Video Outputs: 1 HDMI (3D and Audio Return Channel enabled), 1 Composite Video.
  2. Analog to HDMI video conversion. HDMI pass-through of native 1080p and 3D signals. The T748 does not perform deinterlacing or upscaling functions.
  3. AM/FM Radio Tuner with 30 Presets.
  4. Rear mounted iPod docking port connection (labeled MP Dock/Data Port).
  5. RS-232 and 12 Volt Trigger connections provided for custom install control capability.
  6. Wireless remote and onscreen menu system.
  7. User Manual on CD-ROM.
  8. Suggested Price: $900.

How The NAD Auto Speaker Setup System Works

The NAD Speaker Auto-Calibration works by plugging in a provided microphone into the designated front panel input, placing the microphone at your primary listening position (you can screw the microphone onto a camera/camcorder tripod), go into the auto-calibration option in the speaker setup menu.

This takes you to submenu where you designate whether you are using a 5.1 or 7.1 channel setup and then the Auto Calibration takes it from there, first determining the size of your speakers and distance of each speaker from the listening position. From there the system will set the optimum speaker level for each channel you.

However, as with all automatic speaker setup systems, the results may not always precisely accurate or to your taste.

In these cases, you are able to go back in manually and make changes to any of the settings.

Hardware Used

The additional home theater hardware used in this review included:

Home Theater Receiver (used for comparison): Onkyo TX-SR705

Blu-ray Disc Player: OPPO BDP-93.

DVD Player: OPPO DV-980H.

Loudspeaker/Subwoofer System 1 (7.1 channels): 2 Klipsch F-2's, 2 Klipsch B-3s, Klipsch C-2 Center , 2 Polk R300s, Klipsch Synergy Sub10.

Loudspeaker/Subwoofer System 2 (5.1 channels): EMP Tek E5Ci center channel speaker, four E5Bi compact bookshelf speakers for left and right main and surrounds, and an ES10i 100 watt powered subwoofer.

TV Monitor: Westinghouse Digital LVM-37w3 1080p LCD Monitor.

Video Projector: Optoma HD33 (on review loan).

Video Scaler: DVDO Edge

Audio/Video connections made with Accell, Interconnect cables. 16 Gauge Speaker Wire used. High Speed HDMI Cables provided by Atlona for this review.

Additional Level checks made using a Radio Shack Sound Level Meter

Software Used

The software used in this review included the following titles:

Blu-ray Discs: Across The Universe, Ben Hur, Hairspray, Inception, Iron Man 1&2, Kick Ass, Percy Jackson and The Olympians: The Lightning Thief, Shakira - Oral Fixation Tour, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, The Expendables, The Dark Knight, The Incredibles, and Transformers: Dark of the Moon.

3D Blu-ray Discs: Avatar, Despicable Me, Disney's A Christmas Carol, Drive Angry, Goldberg Variations Acoustica, My Bloody Valentine, Resident Evil: Afterlife, Space Station (IMAX), Tangled, Tron: Legacy, and Under The Sea (IMAX).

Standard DVDs used included scenes from the following: The Cave, House of the Flying Daggers, Kill Bill - Vol 1/2, Kingdom of Heaven (Director's Cut), Lord of Rings Trilogy, Master and Commander, Outlander, U571, and V For Vendetta.

Internet Streamed Content: Troll Hunter (Netflix)

CDs: Al Stewart - Sparks of Ancient Light, Beatles - LOVE, Blue Man Group - The Complex, Joshua Bell - Bernstein - West Side Story Suite, Eric Kunzel - 1812 Overture, HEART - Dreamboat Annie, Lisa Loeb - Firecracker, Nora Jones - Come Away With Me, Sade - Soldier of Love.

DVD-Audio discs included: Queen - Night At The Opera/The Game, Eagles - Hotel California, and Medeski, Martin, and Wood - Uninvisible, Sheila Nicholls - Wake.

SACD discs used included: Pink Floyd - Dark Side Of The Moon, Steely Dan - Gaucho, The Who - Tommy.

Audio Performance

At first glance, the power output ratings stated for the T748 may seem modest, but, in reality, that is not the case. The T748's power ratings adhere to the FTC standard which is more conservative than standards used by many manufacturers. I found that the power output of the T748 to be more than adequate to fill an average size room and compared well to my Onkyo TX-SR705 home theater receiver in both 2 and 5/7 channel operation modes.

Using both analog and digital audio sources, the T748, in both 5.1, and 7.1 channel configurations, delivered an excellent surround image. The T748 is robust, and runs cool, over long listening sessions. Feeding both two and multi-channel PCM signals via HDMI from the OPPO BDP-93, as well as undecoded Dolby/DTS bitstreams via HDMI and Digital Optical/Coaxial connections to compare between externally processed audio signals and the internal audio processing of the T748, I was happy with the result. Using a variety of music and movie source material, the T748 did an excellent job. There was no sense of any strain or recovery time issues with demanding music or movie tracks.

In addition to the standard Surround Sound processing modes, NAD also offers its own sound processing option: EARS (Enhanced Ambience Retrieval System) is an alternative to Dolby Pro Logic II/IIx and DTS Neo:6.

Instead of trying to replicate the precise directionality of the Dolby and DTS surround sound format options, EARS takes the ambiance cues that are present in two-channel music recordings and places only those ambience cues into the surround channels.

This is designed to create a more natural immersive sound, without exaggerated directional manipulation. The result is actually quite good.

I found when scrolling through the available surround modes, EARS did a great job of keeping the main focus in the front left, center, and right channel speakers, but also sending a enough of the ambience to the surrounds and also sending slightly deeper bass to subwoofer, without over-exaggeration in either case. EARS cannot be used in conjunction with Dolby or DTS sources, it is best used with stereo music content.

Also, if you desire not to use any audio processing options, NAD also provides an Analog Bypass setting which allows a direct path from the incoming audio signal straight to the amplifiers and speakers with out further processing.

The T748 also provides extensive audio setting options, such as being able to adjust the dynamic range settings for Dolby Digital and DTS source material independently, as well as setting up to five A/V presets that can be assigned to each source independently as a default A/V setting profile for that source. However, in addition to specifically assigning an AV setting profile for each source, you can access all the available presets on each source as well by pressing the preset button on the remote then selecting number buttons 1 through 5.

However, as much as I like NAD's audio setting flexibility, I was disappointed that two important audio connection options were not included. NAD has decided not to include a dedicated phono input, nor a set 5.1/7.1 multi-channel analog inputs on the T748.

Manufacturer's Site

iPods and Media Players

The NAD T748 incorporates both iPod and media player connectivity. If you have a digital media player or network media player with analog audio outputs, you can plug it into the front panel input that is also used for the Auto Speaker Calibration microphone. You can also access audio from an iPod using this same connection.

However, if you purchase the optional IPD 2 iPod Docking Station and plug the control cable of docking station into the MP Data Port on the rear panel of the T748, you can access all playback and control functions of your iPod using the T748's remote control.

Also, by connecting both the analog audio outputs and the S-video output of the iPod docking station to the associated inputs on T748, you can access audio and photo/video content stored on your iPod.

Video Performance

The NAD T748 provides both 2D and 3D video signal pass-through, as well as analog-to-HDMI video conversion, but the T748 does not provide any additional video processing or video upscaling. In other words, what comes in from your source is what is sent to your TV or video projector even after conversion to the HDMI output.

What this means is that if you have a low resolution source, such as a VCR or non-upscaling DVD player, the T748 will not be upscale the signal. The TV or video projector will have to perform the upscaling function. On the other hand, if you already have an upscaling DVD player, HD cable/satellite box, or Blu-ray Disc player, then further video processing or upscaling would not be needed anyway as those higher-resolution signals will also be passed through the T748 as is. Also, 3D Blu-ray sources were passed through untouched.

In addition, if you already have an external video scaler in your setup, you wouldn't need a home theater receiver to perform video processing or upscaling functions, especially if the scaler is placed between the receiver or video projector, as is sometimes the case in custom installed setups.

What I Liked About The T748

  1. Excellent audio performance.
  2. 3D-compatible.
  3. Inclusion of S-Video inputs.
  4. Uncluttered front panel.
  5. RS232 interface for custom install control systems.
  6. Easy-to-use onscreen user interface.
  7. Two Built-in fans maintain cool running temperature.

What I Didn't Like About the T748

  1. No 5.1/7.1 channel analog audio inputs.
  2. No dedicated phono-turntable input. If you need to connect a phono turntable you need to add an external phono preamp or use a turntable with a built-in preamp.
  3. No front mounted HDMI input.
  4. Only one set of component video inputs.
  5. No video scaling.
  6. No powered or line-out Zone 2 options.
  7. Feature set a little lean for the suggested $900 price tag.

Final Take

The power output ratings may appear to be modest on paper, but the T748 delivers more-than-enough power for most rooms and provides exceptional sound. Practical features I really liked included: Comprehensive audio processing options, auto-speaker setup system, 3D pass-through, and analog-to-HDMI video conversion (although further video processing and upscaling is not provided).

The T748 also did a great job in both stereo and full surround sound operation. There was no sign of straining or clipping at high volumes and I really thought that inclusion of two cooling fans was a great idea - the unit runs very cool in comparison to many receivers I have received.

The T748 offers practical setup and connection options, without a lot of feature and connection overkill, but does not include some options that I would have expected in its price class, such as a dedicated phono input or 5.1/7.1 channel analog audio inputs.

If the emphasis on audio performance and flexibility, not having a dedicated traditional phono input for a turntable and no 5.1 or 7.1 channel analog audio inputs is disappointing for an audio-emphasized receiver in the $900 price range. The audio-quality conscious consumers that NAD is targeting would also more likely to still have analog turntables and/or SACD players, or universal DVD/SACD/DVD-Audio players with multi-channel analog outputs.

If you are looking for a home theater receiver that doesn't provide a lot of frills, but really delivers where it counts in audio quality, the NAD T748 is worth your consideration.

For an additional look at the NAD T748, also check out my Photo Profile.

Manufacturer's Site

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.