NAD T 778 receiver review Page 2

NAD, like fellow surround sound marques Arcam and Rotel, has embraced Dirac EQ. As discussed in previous AVR reviews (see HCC #313 for the Arcam AVR30), this is superb software, skilful at correcting acoustic issues and impressively flexible. The latest 3.0 iteration allows you to create filters with the bundled microphone and the Dirac app on a mobile device (for a less accurate result) or with a calibrated mic and Dirac on your laptop/PC (for optimum results). The T 778 offers three slots for Dirac corrections, which is handy for tinkerers that want to create and compare their own target curves. I won't get into the argument about the benefit of correcting frequencies above the 500Hz limit that the version of Dirac here offers, but it feels a bit weird you don't get the full Dirac Live version on a receiver at this price (it's an optional upgrade).

When it comes to power, the T 778 is NAD's first AV receiver based on its new Hybrid Digital topology, built upon Hypex Class D modules. Power ratings don't look particularly exciting, but the Canadian brand is at pains to point out its 9 x 85W claim is with every channel driven across the 20Hz-20kHz frequency range and with a distortion lower than 0.08% THD. And in practice the T 778 clearly has the power on tap to drive relatively demanding speakers.

Pedal To The Metal
All AV receivers have streaming and music options, yet most are still heavily focused on home theatre duties. This BluOS-equipped NAD feels more versatile, featuring, for example, an EARS mode which uses the centre channel very effectively to broaden out a stereo soundstage.


Movie-wise, the T 778 steps up to the plate with the Dolby Atmos mix of Ford vs Ferrari (4K Blu-ray) through my DALI Rubicon-based 5.1.4 setup. It sounds energetic, yet controlled and cohesive too. An especially thrilling sequence sees British driver Ken Miles pushing a GT40 prototype to its limits, resulting in fading brakes. The sound of squealing tires is positioned with delightful accuracy, traversing around the track (and my listening room).

This scene is interspersed with shots of a terse telephone call, a huge difference in dynamics that the T 778 handles deftly. Later, when Carroll Shelby convinces the rotund Ford president to 'see what 9 million dollars feels like,' the high-octane sequence that follows finds the NAD putting its foot to the floor. Panned effects come clear and fast, the engine roars and every gear shift has a forthright clunk. When Henry Ford II starts crying when the car comes to rest, it's hard not to madly giggle along.

Although the positioning of Atmos sound details was superb in Ford vs Ferrari, I did notice rear surround channels not perfectly integrated while spinning Alfonso Cuarón's Gravity (Diamond Luxe Edition Blu-ray). Just after the destruction of the shuttle, when Sandra Bullock is hurtling through space and the camera shifts to a first-person perspective, to heighten the sense of immersion her voice moves to the rear channels – here it lost its definition. After looking into it, I realised the culprit was a tweaked Dirac correction gone wrong. Be warned: there's definitely potential for messing up once you start playing around with target curves of individual speakers...

That's the paradox of NAD's T 778. The touchscreen display and slick BluOS streaming make it very consumer- friendly, but beneath the gloss it's still a cinematic-sounding AVR receiver suited to enthusiasts. The HDMI specification isn't bang up-to-date, and there more affordable rivals that offer extra onboard amp channels, but this should be on your shortlist if you want an AV all-rounder with some advanced skills.

HCC Verdict

NAD T 778

Price: £2,500

We say: A refreshing new take on AV receiver design when it comes to the user interface, and packed with useful features including Dirac Live. A commendable performer too.

Overall: 4.5/5


DOLBY ATMOS: Yes DTS:X: Yes IMAX ENHANCED: No POWER OUTPUT (CLAIMED): 9 x 85W (4 ohm, 20Hz-20kHz, all channels driven) MULTICHANNEL INPUT: No MULTICHANNEL OUTPUT: Yes. 11.2 MULTIROOM: Yes. Zone 2 plus BluOS AV INPUTS: 4 x digital audio (2 x optical and 2 x coaxial); 2 x stereo phono HDMI: Yes. 6 x inputs; 2 x outputs VIDEO UPSCALING: No. COMPONENT VIDEO: No DIMENSIONS: 435(w) x 140(h) x 430(d)mm WEIGHT: 12.1kg

ALSO FEATURING: Dirac Live calibration (20Hz-500Hz, upgradable to Full); BluOS multiroom/hi-res music streaming with control app; full-colour touchscreen control panel; Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant Skills; Roon endpoint; dual subwoofer outputs; Ethernet; 2 x USB inputs; headphone output; five configurable AV presets; Enhanced Stereo mode; MDC (Modular Design Construction)