NAD T-175HD versus Anthem D2

blueboxerblueboxer Posts: 622
edited January 2011 in Electronics
Well, it has been a couple days of fun listening and even an all night party to have fun listening to music with a group of friends. None of us are audiophiles, engineers, or anything even technical. With that being said the only evaluation offered is what was preferred by myself as well as the overall consensus in terms of enjoyment and sound quality. We played Transporter 3 and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on BR for the HT portion and then switched to an assortment of music styles and artist via iTunes streamed via an Apple TV and HDMI. I realize this is not the quality transport or source most would use or prefer, but it is the means that I listen to most of my music throughout the house and as such was used in the this process as well.

To minimize the factors the same Anthem MCA 50 amp was used with audioquest Columbia RCA cables and MIT HDMI and speaker cables. The only change was the actual processor. Room correction was not used on the NAD to avoid any advantage since the D2 did not have ARC. The same measurements were entered into the setup for both processors in terms of speaker size, crossover, distances, and gains. Speakers used were Def Tech Mythos ST as the mains, Mythos 10 as the center, and BPVX in the rear. The only enhancements were Single Barrel Jack, Chimay, and some Samuel Smith assorted brews.

Overall winner: NAD T-175HD

My overall disclaimer with the winner selected is that it may be due to the synergy with the speakers more so than overall superiority. The NAD tamed some of the brightness of the DefTechs and softened up the vocals and top end just the right amount. Musically, everyone preferred the NAD regardless of the type of music being played. The sound was just more relaxed, not as detailed as the D2, but still not lacking clarity or separation. I have heard the M15 on Paradigms and B&W and remember being even more pleased and in love with the music it put out, so the overall sound would most likely improve with more musical speakers.

Musically the Anthem was just so detailed and sharp at times that it distracted from the listening experience. Sure, you might be able to hear the pluck of a guitar string more accurately and detailed, but sometimes it drew too much attention. The best compliment is that it didn't seem to color the music any which way and that may be the greatest or worst thing about it depending on the equipment it is paired with. When I think back to listening to the B&W, Vienna Acoustics, and similar speakers I could see the pairing as being outstanding. However, with my setup it was accurate, detailed, but not perfect. I would say that the Anthem nailed every sound, but the NAD seemed to allow certain sounds to linger or smooth out just that little bit that made music more enjoyable.

With movies the overall verdict was a little mixed. Most people seemed to mirror my experience, which was that the NAD seemed to present the most coherent and connected surround sound, but that the Anthem really separated the little details and movement in certain scenes. I think the in your face accuracy of the Anthem really brought the punch to certain movies. One scene that seemed to sum it up is when the helicopter is flying over Sam after being knocked unconscious/dead and seeing the Primes in his vision. With the NAD you really felt the helicopter as it traveled away from you and the swirling effect of the blades, but with the Anthem the blades sounded so sharp that it sounded as if it was chopping through your hair on each sweep, but it seemed more of a chop chop chop motion versus the swirling of the blades with the NAD.

Another scene, which I mentioned before was when one of the Decepticons is firing across the screen. With the Anthem you could hear a difference in the rounds being fired off center and then directly center screen. It was obvious and impressive. With the NAD, there was not such a clear difference, but the overall scene sounded wonderful and the rear effects were more present, again a more cohesive picture versus the impressive dynamics of just the one part of the scene.

Visually, both players did an incredible job with the video portion. The pictures looked equally wonderful and vivid with both players, I would call it a tie.

The advantages of the NAD would be that Audyssey was available, the setup is far easier, much nicer remote, and the cost new is much less. However, used they can be had for about the same if you shop hard, but on average the Anthem will be 600-1000 more. However, the Anthem did run cooler if space is limited in your cabinet, but the Anthem is also a couple inches wider, which in my case limited where I could place it in my cabinet. The Anthem is also a much more stunning statement piece.

Neither processor is a loser IMO. I would be happy with both and may end up using both for different setups and results. I am very tempted to try the same comparison with B&W, Totems, or the upcoming LSI series and would not be surprised if the outcome would swing back the other way. In the meantime I am keeping the NAD in the current system and will be trying it with a NAD T955 or 975 to see how the NAD amp changes things up. I will also be replacing the audioquests with MIT AVT1's or S3's, so stay tuned.

Another disclaimer is the the NAD offered decoding of bitstream TrueHD where as the Anthem received the signal via PCM. I am still not convinced that it made much of a difference if any. It was cool seeing the processor say TrueHD, but overall I am still not convinced I would pay for the difference to get the D2v.
Post edited by blueboxer on

Comments

  • blueboxerblueboxer Posts: 622
    edited January 2011
    I realize there was not much interest in this review, but I decided to follow up after a few more days of listening. The NAD still remains the favorite for music, but I now give the nod to the Anthem for movies. I still feel that the NAD gives the movie and associated soundtracks a smooth and linear presentation, but the Anthem does seem to nail things dead on in terms of dynamics, which sometimes makes the scene.

    The Anthem (perhaps thanks to the THX processing) really allows certain scenes, sounds, or effects to really hit you in the way that makes movies fun. Vocals seem to remain center stage and present throughout the scenes where as with the NAD the vocals sometimes get muddled into the overall sound. However, this is in comparison to the Anthem after analyzing and watching the same scenes over and over and is not something that is obvious overall.

    Another side note, after running the Audyssey on the NAD I noticed a slight overall improvement. Both their MultiEQ and NAD DSP mode for movies and EARS for music are my preferred setups at this point. The NAD OSD is very basic, but also very easy to use and setup whereas the Anthem took a lot longer to get comfortable with and navigate through without fumbling around.
  • polkfarmboypolkfarmboy Posts: 5,724
    edited January 2011
    I think there was alot of interest in this , I myself never responded after I read it because it was so awesome and did not want to clutter it with a post

    I was hoping for a showdown with arc vs audessey

    But a very good review and awesome gear , I envy you being able do have the privilege to get a listen to both these units

    I never even heard of the NAD pre until this shoot out
  • mantismantis Posts: 15,404
    edited January 2011
    When I compared these 2 preamps I was shocked how good the NAD is and how not so good the Anthem can be. I'm not sure if I just expected so much more out of the Anthem and not as much out of the NAD but personally I would own the NAD , bang for the buck new to new preamps their isn't even fair. The NAD runs away with the prize.
    Dan
    My personal quest is to save to world of bad audio, one thread at a time.
  • polkfarmboypolkfarmboy Posts: 5,724
    edited January 2011
    I would a shootout with the NAD and marantz av7005

    Buy a marantz blueboxer, on a 30 day trial lol
  • blueboxerblueboxer Posts: 622
    edited January 2011
    PFB, I would be happy to try out even more gear, but at the moment I am trying to source another set of speakers for the main game/listening room. I am fortunate enough to have received feedback from Dan (Mantis), Dorokusai, and others via PM as well as reading some of the reviews from DarqueKnight, BlueFox, etc... to kind of steer me towards the direction that I thought would make me the most content.

    For those of us that are not near dealers that we can demo gear at or loan gear out, we are forced to learn the hard way at times in terms of basing purchases on reviews and feedback. Hopefully, I can return the favors and input received here via my very basic review, so I am glad you found it worth reading and are not billing me for the two minutes of your life that you would want back.

    Back to the regular scheduled program: I am not sure if ARC would have evened out the playing field, but initially I did use both processors with the same measurements and crossovers manually inputed to keep the comparison as fair as possible. The general consensus is that ARC does do a lot more than the Audyssey does in terms of room correction. I still think both processors are beautiful pieces and they definitely offer much more than any AVR I have used (Denon, Pioneer Elite, Arcam). The Arcam 600 came very close sonically, but also cost as much as the processor and amp did too.

    Overall, I think Dan hits the nail on the head when you factor in the bang for the buck you receive with the NAD. I am still going to hang onto the Anthem until I get more neutral speakers that may allow the extra detail the Anthem offers. I just wish I pulled the trigger on a used NAD T955 I saw last week!!!
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