Review: NAD T778

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The NAD T778 is the flagship model in the manufacturer’s range of A/V receivers. Sold for €2999, the T778 delivers up to 9 x 80 watts of power and can drive even the most demanding speakers. Equipped with 6 HDMI inputs and 2 HDMI outputs, this NAD receiver is compatible with UHD 4K HDR video streams and can decode DTS:X and Dolby Atmos audio streams up to 7.2.4 channels. The NAD T778 also features a network controller that enables it to access the leading online music services, but also to play HD audio files (FLAC, WAV, AIFF, MQA, etc.) shared over the local network. To do so, you simply have to use the BluOS app for Android and iOS, which can also be used to control the receiver.

The NAD T778 features a large color touchscreen, identical to that of the NAD M10 connected amplifier.

The NAD T778 A/V receiver comes with a calibration microphone and a Dirac Live software license that allows you to optimize the sound of the speakers according to the acoustics of the listening room.

NAD T778: the brand

NAD (New Acoustic Dimension) was created in 1972 from a meeting of minds between Marty Borish and Bjorn Erik Edvardsen, who both wanted to depart from the complexity and high cost of hi-fi equipment of the time. They decided to focus on the basics: musical pleasure obtained through the most natural sound restitution possible. This approach is based on three major concepts: performance, value and simplicity.

Since NAD was founded, Bjorn Erik Edvardsen has constantly developed innovative technological solutions to make high fidelity more accessible. 

At the time, the cost of a high performance sound system was a major obstacle for many young people who wanted to enjoy a decent hi-fi experience. Edvardsen was convinced that it was possible to make an affordable and durable amplifier using cutting-edge engineering by focusing on the fundamental elements to achieve good sound. 

Consequently, he began to test new ways of combining and configuring the transistors and wiring, etc, to create the first amplifier prototypes. Although their design and construction were somewhat rudimentary, they sounded better than similar amplifiers in the same price range. Almost immediately, these first prototypes caught the attention of audiophiles, distributors and investors, paving the way for NAD’s success.

Emblematic of the brand, the NAD 3020 stereo amplifier is the embodiment of the manufacturer’s philosophy: simplicity and efficiency dedicated to musicality.

Initially based in London in the UK, the growing team of NAD engineers managed by Edvardsen experimented with and refined electronic designs almost obsessively. This dedication resulted in the ultimate reward for the engineers and the brand: the creation of the best-selling hi-fi amplifier of all time, the NAD 3020, which was released in 1979 and is still considered to be the brand’s most iconic creation.

The success of the NAD 3020 amplifier was the prelude to many other achievements and industry firsts. In 1980, the NAD 3140 amplifier was the first in the world to be equipped with the Speaker EQ feature that allowed the low frequency level of the speakers to be raised by 12dB at 45Hz and 70Hz.

With its Speaker EQ setting, the NAD 3140 integrated stereo amplifier made a lasting impression.

Presented in 1981, the NAD 6100 cassette player was the world’s first Dolby C player. The brand’s first CD player, the NAD 5100, was released in 1984 and in 1987, the NAD 622 cassette player was named the best cassette player of the year by What Hi-Fi? Magazine.

With the NAD M2, the manufacturer successfully proved that it is possible to produce an extremely musical digital amplifier.

In late 2009, NAD redefined digital amplification with the NAD M2, shattering the preconception held by many audiophiles that digital amplification could not deliver a high-quality sound.

All of these NAD devices feature remarkable technologies developed in NAD’s laboratories, sometimes in collaboration with external technology partners. MDC (Modular Design Construction), Hybrid Digital, Direct Digital, Enhanced Ambience Recovery System (EARS) and Soft Clipping are just a few of the many technologies that illustrate the sheer scope of NAD’s research and development over several decades.

Today, the NAD development team is based in Canada and is led by one of Edvardsen’s closest associates and protégés. The team perpetuates the legacy of founders Borish and Edvardsen as well as their passionate belief that true-to-source sound should be accessible to all. NAD continues to develop and distribute amplifiers that are true references in their price range. This is the case of the NAD C326 BEE stereo amplifier, for example, which was awarded the Diapason d’or in 2012 and is still in production, or the NAD C368 DAC-amplifier that was a laureat in AVHUB’s Sound+Image Awards 2019 in the €1000 to €2000 amplifier category. 

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The NAD C368 incorporates the latest digital amplification technology developed by NAD, ensuring a perfectly linear frequency response across a wide bandwidth, and an optimal output power with all speakers, no matter their impedance.

The NAD M10 connected stereo amplifier, equipped with a large touchscreen like the NAD T778, also received numerous awards from the specialized press in 2019, notably the EISA 2019-2020 award for best connected amplifier, as well as a Diapason d’or.

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Featuring the same amplification technology as the NAD T778, the NAD M10 connected stereo amplifier made a great impression on us when it stopped by our test room.

NAD’s catalog now includes connected amplifiers, including the NAD M10 that we reviewed a few months ago (read our review of the NAD M10), DAC-amplifiers, power amplifiers, stereo hi-fi amplifiers and A/V receivers including the subject of this review, the NAD T778. The brand also produces CD players, radio tuners, network audio streamers, turntables and phono preamplifiers. It also offers the NAD DAC2 wireless DAC and the NAD HP70 Bluetooth headphones, which are aptX and NFC compatible.

NAD T778: packaging & accessories

The NAD T778 comes in a cardboard box, securely held in place with thick blocks of packing foam. It comes with numerous accessories that are all packed in a long and flat box placed on top of the amplifier.

The NAD T778 comes with many accessories.

List of included accessories:

  • 1 British standard mains power cable
  • 1 European standard mains power cable
  • 1 large backlit remote control + 4 1.5V AA batteries
  • 1 compact remote control (Zone 2 control) + 1 3V CR2025 battery
  • 1 microphone for DIRAC Live calibration
  • 1 USB to mini-jack adapter to connect the calibration microphone
  • 1 BluOS kit containing:
    – 1 USB hub
    – 1 USB WiFi dongle
    – 1 USB Bluetooth dongle
    – 1 USB to USB extension cable
  • 2 metal mounting plates + 1 set of screws to add the amplifier to a rack

NAD T778: presentation

The NAD T778 A/V receiver is in keeping with the brand’s high-power and high-efficiency digital amplifiers. This evolution of the NAD T777 V3 builds on the latter’s strengths while adding two amplification channels and a large touchscreen on its front panel for ease of use.

The NAD T778 therefore incorporates the proprietary digital amplification developed by the brand over several years, Dolby and DTS multichannel decoding and automatic calibration with Dirac Live. It is also compatible with BluOS for audio streaming and multi-room features.

The NAD T778 A/V receiver with the Focal Chorus CC700 center speaker to its left and the Focal Chorus 726 floorstanding speaker in the background.

Dolby Atmos & DTS:X

The NAD T778 A/V receiver handles different Dolby and DTS:X multichannel audio formats, including DTS:X and Dolby Atmos up to 7.2.4 channels. As a result, it can play these soundtracks on up to nine speakers and two subwoofers (a 7.2.2 channel audio system). If you wish, you can also pair the receiver with a stereo power amplifier to add extra Dolby Atmos speakers and achieve 3D surround sound with seven speakers, two subwoofers and 4 Atmos speakers.

9 x 80 watts FDP

The NAD T778 uses proprietary HybridDigital nCore amplification technology that is characterized by a high level of continuous power, great efficiency and an excellent damping factor. That last parameter is essential in ensuring that the low frequency drivers are perfectly controlled. As a result, the receiver is capable of powering the vast majority of speakers on the market, including those equipped with several large drivers and woofers.

The NAD T778 A/V receiver can deliver 80 watts of power over nine channels. Compared to A/V receivers from other brands, this output power can seem rather low. However, the output power announced by NAD is measured according to a much stricter protocol than the usual FTC standard. FTC measurements are often carried out with a single powered channed, over a single frequency (usually 1kHz) and with a high distortion rate (1 to 10%).

The Canadian manufacturer therefore discloses the output power delivered according to the standard it has developed to ensure that it is suitable for the amplifier’s actual operating conditions. Called FDP or Full Disclosure Power, this measurement is carried out with all channels powered simultaneously across the entire bandwidth (from 20Hz to 20kHz) with a very low distortion rate (0.08% max).

Consequently, when NAD announces a power rating of 9 X 80 watts, it is the actual power that the NAD T778 can simultaneously send to each speaker, whether they have an impedance of 4 or 8 ohms, and without distortion. In other words, the NAD T778 amplifier can generate very high volume, with excellent sound quality and constant neutrality, without its power supply failing when the soundtrack takes off.

Dirac Live calibration

The NAD T778 A/V receiver benefits from Dirac Live microphone calibration technology. This technology lets you adjust the speaker’s sound, regardless of the model, for a result that is always optimal and adapted to the acoustic properties of the listening room.

The Dirac Live calibration process can either be carried out on a Windows or Mac computer using the Dirac Live software, or with an Android or iOS smartphone via the Dirac Live app.

A look at the Dirac Live microphone calibration software on MacOS.

BluOS compatible

Featuring an Ethernet network controller, the NAD T778 A/V receiver can be connected to the local network and to the Internet. You can also use the included BluOS kit (in particular the USB WiFi dongle) to wirelessly connect the receiver to your Internet router.

The BluOS connection kit included with the NAD T778 receiver allows you to connect the device to the local network via WiFi and enjoy Bluetooth audio connectivity. Simply plug it into the USB port on the back of the receiver.

Developed by Bluesound, a brand know for its multi-room speakers, amplifiers and network streamers and with whom NAD has build a special relationship, BluOS technology allows the NAD T778 to access several thousand Internet radio stations, but also online music services like Spotify, Deezer, Tidal and more.

Via its local network connection, the receiver can also play numerous HD audio file formats (FLAC, WAV, AIFF, MQA, etc.) stored on a NAS or computer and shared over the local network.

Thanks to the BluOS app, the NAD T778 receiver can access numerous online music services including Amazon Music, Deezer, Qobuz, Spotify and Tidal.

The BluOS app, which is free to download from the Playstore and the App Store, handles playback control and lets you add the NAD T788 A/V receiver to a Bluesound multi-room system. You can then listen to music on all of your NAD and Bluesound devices.

Système audio multiroom Bluesound

AirPlay, aptX HD Bluetooth

The NAD T778 receiver is compatible with AirPlay technology to stream music wirelessly from an iPhone, iPad, iPod or Mac. Once it is connected to the local network, it appears as a remote audio device in the AirPlay tab on your Apple device.

It is also possible to stream music wirelessly to the NAD T778 receiver from a smartphone, tablet or compatible computer via Bluetooth. To do so, you must connect the included USB Bluetooth dongle to one of the receiver’s USB ports. In addition to AAC and SBC, the aptX HD codec is also supported to ensure a higher transmission quality.

UHD 4K HDR HDMI

The NAD T778 receiver’s HDMI controllers handle Ultra High Definition 4K video content, including HDR and Dolby Vision (high dynamic range images). The HDCP 2.2 copy protection standard is also handled to ensure compatibility with 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray players and Internet routers, but also the latest generation of UHD 4K TVs and 4K projectors.

The audio and video characteristics of the file being played are displayed on the NAD T778 receiver’s screen.

Connectors

The NAD T778 A/V receiver features an array of digital connections, including six HDMI inputs and two HDMI outputs, but also analog connectors, including a phono input.

The NAD T778’s connectors include six HDMI inputs (one of which is on the front) and two HDMI outputs. It is therefore possible to connect it to an Ultra HD 4K TV and a 4K projector at the same time. Convenient, the main HDMI output is ARC compatible in order to receive the audio stream of the program being watched. 

Thanks to the HDMI ARC feature, we were able to enjoy the Dolby Digital+ soundtrack of The Revenant on Netflix by using the audio return channel on the NAD T778’s HDMI 1 output.

The NAD T778 receiver is equipped with two analog RCA stereo inputs and a phono input compatible with MM cartridges to connect a turntable. It also features four digital inputs: two optical and two coaxial. Lastly, a pre-out output is available for each channel, as well as two extra outputs to connect an external power amplifier to create a 7.2.4 home theater installation.

Remote controls

The NAD T778 A/V receiver comes with two remote controls. The main remote control is the HTR8 model, a universal remote control with a learning feature. It can control up to 8 different devices, including the NAD T778. It isn’t particularly intuitive to use and it takes a while to become familiar with the numerous features it provides. 

This remote control is also equipped with full backlighting coupled with a motion sensor. It lights up as soon as you pick it up, making it easier to control your various devices when you’re in the dark. However, this backlighting is very energy-consuming and can quickly drain the remote control’s batteries. Fortunately, you can adjust the duration of the backlighting (1 to 9 seconds) and even deactivate it if you don’t use it.

Very compact, the second remote control is designed to control the Zone 2. The NAD T778’s Surround Back amplification channels can be assigned to a second listening zone if a 5.1 speaker system is sufficient in the main room. Called ZR7, this remote control lets you select the source and control the volume, as well as audio playback (play/pause, next/previous track).

The NAD ZR7 remote control included with the NAD T778 receiver is designed to control the second listening zone. 

Key specifications

Amplification

  • FDP – Full Disclosure Power (all channels driven simultaneously at full bandwidth and at rated distortion): 9 x 80W (19.3dBW) (20HZ – 20kHz, all channels driven, 4 and 8 ohms)
  • Total harmonic distortion at rated power: <0/08% (20Hz – 20kHz)
  • Damping factor: >300 (20Hz – 1kHz, 8 ohms)
  • Signal/noise ratio: >100dB (reference rated power at 8 ohms, A-Weighted), >85dB (reference 1W at 8 ohms, A-Weighted)

BluOS features

  • Compatible audio formats: MP3, AAC, WMA, OGG, FLAC, ALAC, WMA-L, MQA, WAV, AIFF
  • Compatible online music services (streaming): Spotify, Amazon Music, WiMP, Qobuz, IDAGIO, Deezer, Murfie, nugs.net, TIDAL, Napster, Bugs, KKBOX, Taihe Music ZONE, SOUNDMACHINE
  • Playback of music shared over the local network from Microsoft Windows (XP, 2000, Vista, 7, 8 and higher) and MacOS operating systems
  • Internet radios: TuneIn, iHeartRadio, Calm Radio, Radio Paradise, Slacker Radio
  • User interface: BluOS Controller app that is free to download for Apple (iPad, iPhone, iPod) devices, Android devices, Kindle Fire and Windows and MacOS computers
  • Control integration: compatible with Control4, RTI, Crestron, URC, push, iPort, ELAN, Lutron, Roon and AirPlay 2
  • Voice control: Works with Alexa, Works with Google Assistant

Connectors

  • 6 x UHD 4K HDR and Dolby Vision HDMI inputs
  • 2 x CEC/ARC HDMI outputs
  • 1 x RJ-45 Ethernet port
  • 2 x S/PDIF optical inputs
  • 2 x S/PDIF coaxial inputs
  • 2 x RCA inputs
  • 1 x phono input
  • 6 x pre-out outputs
  • 2 x subwoofer outputs
  • 9 x speaker terminals
  • 1 x USB port

Power consumption

  • Power consumption in standby: <0.5W
  • Power consumption in network standby: <8W
  • Minimum power consumption while device is operating: <63W

General

  • Dimensions (w x h x d): 435 x 140 x 430mm
  • Weight: 12.1kg

NAD T778: configuration

For our review, we connected the NAD T778 receiver to the Focal Chorus 726 HCM 5.0 home theater speaker pack using a pair of Viard Audio Silver HD12 HP speaker cables mounted with banana plugs for the Focal Chorus 726s, and NorStone B250 and NorStone W250 speaker cables for the center and surround speakers. We also added the REL T9i subwoofer, which we connected to the receiver’s LFE 1 output using a subwoofer cable.

Our test setup with (from left to right) the Focal Chorus 726 floorstanding speaker, the Netgear Orbi satellite, the NAD T778 receiver, the Focal Chorus CC700 center speaker, the Pioneer UDP-LX500 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player, the REL T9i subwoofer and the second Focal floorstanding speaker. 

We connected the Pioneer UDP-LX500 4K UHD Blu-ray player’s main HDMI output to the NAD T778’s HDMI 1 input using an Audioquest Cinnamon HDMI cable. We then connected the receiver’s main HDMI output to the HDMI ARC input of our LG OLED TV with a NorStone Jura HDMI cable.

BluOS kit and application

Once the speakers and sources were all connected, we plugged the BluOS kit into the USB port on the back of the receiver to connect it to the WiFi network generated by the satellite of our Netgear Orbi RBK50 pack. 

We connected the NAD T778 to our local WiFi network using the included BluOS connection kit, which we plugged into the USB port on the back of the receiver.

We then launched the BluOS app on an Android smartphone that was connected to the same WiFi network. You need this app in order to access online music services and web radios, but also to control multi-room streaming when you have several compatible Bluesound and NAD audio devices.

Once the NAD T778 is detected by the app, you simply have to enter the WiFi network ID and password for the receiver to connect to the network within a matter of seconds.

Once the NAD T778 receiver was connected to the Internet via the local network, we were able to enjoy web radios as well our Qobuz HiFi Sublime+ subscription.

Simply select Qobuz from the list of music services and enter your username and password to access your account.
The Qobuz interface in the BluOS app was intuitive and we were able to find our playlists. It also lets you control the various compatible players on the local network for multi-room streaming.

Dirac Live LE calibration

Before starting our listening session, we performed an acoustic calibration using the Dirac Live technology, which is compatible with the NAD T778. This step allows you to benefit from an acoustic calibration that takes into account the characteristics of the listening room, based on a series of measurements that are taken during the procedure.

To perform the acoustic calibration, you have to connect the included USB to mini-jack adapter to the USB port on the front panel of the NAD T778. The microphone is then connected to the mini-jack port on the adapter.

The calibration procedure can be performed using either a computer or a smartphone. We decided to download the free Dirac Live app from the Playstore. Once opened, the app quickly detects and connects to the receiver before guiding the user through each step of the acoustic calibration. 

The first step is to establish the listening position (chair or sofa) before choosing whether you want a focused or wide listening area. 

Once the app detected the NAD T778 receiver, we were able to choose the listening mode before starting the calibration.

The volume of the receiver must then be set high enough for the calibration to be carried out correctly. Put the microphone on the sofa, press the “Set gain and volume” button then adjust the volume using the volume slider in the app. Once this is done, the calibration can start. 

The Dirac Live app guides the user in taking the measurements for the calibration of the NAD T778 receiver.

The Dirac Live app takes a series of measurements at different positions in the listening zone to create a 3D map. In our case, thirteen different measurements had to be taken. This procedure allows the sound to be optimized according to the room’s acoustic properties.

For each measurement, the user must place the microphone at the position indicated on the diagram in the app. It is important to be precise when placing the microphone and it is a good idea to use a measuring tape to respect the distances recommended in the app. If the microphone isn’t positioned correctly, the measurement is invalid and has to be done again.

During each step, the microphone that comes with the NAD T778 receiver must be carefully positioned according to the recommendations of the app in order for the measurement to be carried out correctly and validated.

After the measurements have been taken, the app analyzes the collected data, calculates the correction to apply, then displays the response curve for each channel before correction (in color) and the corrected curve (in gold). The suggested correction can be saved and recalled from the BluOS app.

The free Dirac Live app provides corrections across a frequency range between 20Hz to 500Hz. To correct the entire frequency range, you must purchase the premium version of the app. This curve, which represents the response of the Focal Chorus 726 speakers, shows a dip and a peak and 120Hz and 150Hz for the right speaker (yellow peaks), as well as irregularities between 200Hz and 400Hz. The corrected curve (in gold) is much more linear.
The Dirac Live app also allowed us to correct the low frequency reverberation generated by our listening room.

NAD T778: listening impressions

Multi-channel surround sound

We began our listening session with the Mad Max: Fury Road Blu-ray, with its Dolby True HD soundtrack that is full of explosive and energetic sequences. The qualities of the HybridDigital nCore amplification modules were put to full use. During the chase scenes in the desert, the metallic sounds, collisions and explosions were extremely realistic. The sound of the crashing vehicles was powerful. Despite this, the dialogue remained perfectly intelligible. 

With the Mad Max: Fury Road soundtrack, the NAD T778 provided a very effective and accurate soundstage.

The sound effects were very precisely positioned, adding to the richness and realism of the soundscape. At the beginning of the movie when Max tries to escape through the underground tunnels, the voices of the dead haunting him unfolded extensively while the shouts of his pursuers echoed behind him. Firmly seated on the sofa, the spectator is fully immersed in the action.

Another disc, another mood with the Hans Zimmer: Live in Prague Blu-ray. The NAD T778 instantly enveloped us in the atmosphere of the concert, during which the many artists gathered on stage by the composer poured their hearts into the performance. We were even more enthralled by the rhythm of the different songs as the NAD beautifully reproduced all of their dynamic magnitude. The T778 also knew how to be subtle and nuanced during the calmer sequences.

Stereo sound

The NAD T788 was also very comfortable with music and was able to masterfully reproduce stereo recordings. We enjoyed playing our Qobuz playlists via the BluOS app. The NAD receiver was able to provide wide spatialization that was deep enough to enjoy the placement of the voices and instruments. The sound was rich and lifelike.

Thanks to the BluOS app, we were able to play tracks in high resolution via Qobuz on the NAD T788.

With the track Preach by Maverick Sabre, we could clearly perceive the depth of the soundstage as well as the singer’s breathing and mouth sounds at the end of words. The backing vocals unfolded extensively. With Prince’s The Truth, the sound of the guitar strings was very realistic and the singer’s voice was warm and languid. The attack and sustain of each note was exemplary. The sound was neutral with a balance that couldn’t be faulted.

NAD T778: compared to…

Onkyo TX-RZ840: both receivers are tied when it comes to handling surround sound. The spatialization is effective and precise, with impeccable timing. However, the NAD model takes advantage of its digital amplification to deliver a more dynamic sound with more impact and more power reserve than the Onkyo. 

The NAD T778 also provides a pleasant and truly high fidelity listening experience with music. In other words, the sound is neutral and balanced, unlike some A/V receivers that can be too enthusiastic. Not quite as powerful as the NAD M10, which delivers 2 x 100 watts into 4 and 8 ohms, the NAD T778 is also a little less precise and nuanced, but proves to be very pleasant with stereo recordings.

NAD T778: conclusion

The NAD T788 is an excellent investment for either a dedicated room or a living room equipped with a pack of home theater speakers. It also works wonders in stereo.

A perfect blend of the NAD T777 V3 A/V receiver and the NAD M10 connected stereo amplifier, the NAD T778 provides the best of both worlds. Its HybridDigital nCore amplification works wonders with both Dolby and DTS surround sound movie soundtracks and Hi-res audio files in stereo. Textured, detailed, nuanced and dynamic, the sound is realistic and extensive, in 5.1 and stereo.

Practical and pretty intuitive when accessing the different settings, the large touchscreen is perfect for reading the information about the music you’re streaming. Naturally, it can be disabled so that it doesn’t catch your eye when watching a movie.

What we liked

  • The dynamism at both low and high volume
  • The amount of headroom
  • The precise spatialization in home theater
  • The neutral and balanced stereo sound
  • The integration of streaming services with BluOS
  • The large color touchscreen

What we would have liked

  • A more user-friendly remote control


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Traductrice et rédactrice avec des goûts très éclectiques en matière de musique et de cinéma. Lorsque je ne suis pas au travail, vous pouvez me retrouver en train de regarder “Lost in Translation” de Sofia Coppola pour la centième fois, ou d’écouter un disque de David Bowie, Kate Bush, Joy Division ou Daft Punk sur ma platine Rega Planar 1. Étant d’origine britannique, je suis également adepte de séries à l’humour absurde comme Monty Python’s Flying Circus et The Mighty Boosh !

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