NAD T 187 7.1 A/V Processor & T 975 Seven-Channel Power Amplifier


Setup of the NAD T 187 Surround Processor & T 975 7-channel Power Amplifier

Installation was pretty easy since I used only a single digital source, an Oppo BDP-93. I connected an HDMI cable to bring in Blu-ray and SACD signals and a coax cable for CD playback. I have found that the lower jitter inherent in a digital (coax or optical) signal does have an audible effect to the positive. To connect the T 187 to the T 975 amplifier, only single-ended RCA terminals are available. I used some beefy cables from Bluejeans to carry signals to the power amp. The input level controls were all left at their maximum setting.

Exploring the T 187’s menus revealed a simple and intuitive text-based system. Everything was easy to find and adjust. The main screen has just five options, Listening mode, DSP Options, Tone Controls, Zone Controls, and Setup Menu. The Listening mode menu lets you adjust the parameters of the various modes. Things like Center Image Width or Panorama are available here depending on the mode selected. You can also toggle the different modes with a remote key. This works nicely because it doesn’t actually switch the mode until you stop pressing the button. The end result is a much quicker switchover making A/B comparisons easier. I’ll talk more about the different modes in the In Use section.

DSP Options let you adjust the lip sync delay up to 120 milliseconds to adjust for delays in video transmission. Since the T 187 does no video processing, I was able to leave this at zero. Also in this menu are the Audyssey MultEQ options (NAD, Audyssey, Flat or Off) and settings for DynamicEQ and Dynamic Volume. I tried the different EQ curves and settled on Audyssey for movies and NAD for music. The main difference is NAD’s proprietary curve tightens up the bass a bit.

Tone Controls are just that; bass, treble and a center dialog slider that boosts only the midrange of the center channel. I set the Tone Defeat to On which bypasses that circuit entirely. Zone Controls lets you configure up to four zones. You can specify the source and the output volume independently for each zone. The included remote can control all four zones if you wish.

The final menu is Setup which is where I spent most of my time. The first thing I noticed is NAD does away with the convention of naming the different inputs. Rather, they are numbered 1 to 9 with the Tuner being source 10. Each source can be configured with whatever signal path you want based on available inputs. In my case, I set up Source 1 as Blu-ray utilizing the HDMI input for both audio and video. Source 2 became my CD input and used the coax digital connection coming from the same player. The remote has discrete buttons for each source so quick switching is easy. I prefer this system over the complicated routines used by most other receivers and processors. Honestly, do we really need an input named VCR any more?

After configuring my sources, I turned to the speaker level settings in the NAD’s menu but found I could not get the tones to play. After referring to the manual, I learned I had to press the “Test” button on the remote to actually set the levels. This was just an exercise as I planned to run the Audyssey MultEQ setup. I used my usual measurement layout of six locations starting with the main seat. Keeping this consistent in all my reviews allows a more accurate comparison of the different room EQ systems I encounter. When this was complete, I compared the various Audyssey flavors available from a convenient toggle on the remote. The default curve is NAD’s proprietary one which served up some terrific bass and my sub definitely announced itself in Mike Tyson-like fashion. The Audyssey curve was even more bass-heavy; to the point where I dropped the sub volume 3dB to smooth things out. The Flat option tailors the response of the center, surrounds and sub to the main speakers. I found this option lived up to it’s name by sounding flat and dry compared to the spaciousness of the other two curves.