Review: NAD NAD 7080 Receiver Amplifier

Category: Amplifiers

In 1977 NAD was formed and the first products were 4 integrated amps,2 tuners, and 4 receivers. They were the 3030,3045,3060 and 3080 Integrated Amps. The tuners were the 4030 and 4080. Next was the receivers 7030,7045,7060 and the 7080 which was the flagship model.

The last 2 numbers indicate the watts rms per channel,with the exception of the 4080 and 7080 which produce 90 watts RMS per channel. These initial offerings were produced for the 1978 year only and are very rare today. In 1979 NAD released the Model 3020 Integrated Amp and stood the audio industry on it's ear. During 1978 the NAD dealer network was not as vast as today, and these were only sold in a select few high end shops,that needed to compete with the mid - fi explosion of the late 70s and 80s.

So the topic of this review will be the NAD 7080 Receiver.Tried very hard to acquire the NAD 7080 when it first came out,but due to the very thin dealer network was not able to locate one. Recently this has changed and finally found a very pristine example in gorgeous condition.

A Receiver is nothing more or less than the sum of 3 parts.Amplifier,PreAmplifier and Tuner. Lets face it electrons have no idea if they are traveling on 1 chassis or 3 chassis. Receivers are generally regarded as a comprised product due to one chassis layout. This is where it becomes interesting,if properly designed with this compromise in mind, then one can minimize the receiver solution. NAD executed this design in the NAD 7080 and produced a receiver with outstanding sonic characteristics and approaching the separates level indeed. The NAD 7080 is a fully descrete amplifier,no cheap IC parts anywhere. Appears to use the Motorola hi hat output transistors wired in parallel no less! Means they are coasting most of the time.

The heart of any receiver is the Amplifier section, so lets start there.

Power Amplifier Section:

Continous average power output at 8 ohms min RMS power per channel 20-20,000 kHz both channels driven,with no more than the rated distortion/ 90 W(19.5 dBW)
Distortion: 0.03%
Clipping Headroom: + 1.6 dB
Clipping Power(Maximum Power) 130 Watts at 8 ohms
160 Watts at 4 ohms
180 Watts at 2 ohms
Dynamic Headroom at 8 ohms - + 2.5 dB
Dynamic Power( short term) 160 Watts at 8 ohms
200 Watts at 4 ohms
200 Watts at 2 ohms
Reactive Load Rating - + 2.5 dB(160 W)
Transient Overload Recovery Time <5 uSec.
Slew Factor - >50
Slew Rate - 40V/uSec.
Damping Factor at 50Hz 8 ohms - 120
THD - <0.03
IM - <0.03
TIM - <0.03
Frequency Response 20-20,000 kHz at rated Power - +/- 0.5dB
Frequency Response Range 5-50kHz
Input Impedance -10K/100pf
Input Sensitivity - 140 mV
Signal to Noise Ratio - 104 db at rated power.

For a product produced in 1978,these are impressive specifications. Was way ahead of it's time when compared to other receiver products of the day.

Now to the Pre Amplifier Section:

Phono Inputs(2 provided)
Input Impedance - 47k Ohm/47pf
Input Sensitivty - 0.25mV
Input Overload - 200mV
THD - 0.01%
RIAA Response Accuracy - +/- 0.3dB
Signal to Noise w/cartridge - >82dB ref 10 mV

High Level Inputs(Tuner,Aux,Tape)
Input Impedance - 50k ohm/100pf
Input Sensitivty - 20mV
Signal to Noise Ratio - >80 dB
Maximum Input Signal - Infinite
Frequency Response 20-20 kHz - Infinite
Distortion All Types - <0.01%

Bass Control Range at 50Hz - +/- 11 & +/- 13dB
Treble Control Range at 10kHz +/- 6 & +/- 9 dB
Infrasonic Filter - 20Hz 12dB/oct.
High Filter - 8kHz 12db/oct

For a receiver pre amp this is very good indeed.

Lastly the Tuner Section of the NAD 7080

FM Tuner Section:

Input Sensitivity 30 dB quieting 1.8uV/10.3dBf
Input Sensitivity 50 dB S/N Stereo 35uV/36.1 dBf
Signal to Noise Ratio Mono/Stereo 74dB/70dB
De-emphasis Accuracy re 75u.sec +/- 0.3 dB
Frequency Response 30 - 15 kHz +/- 0.5 dB
Channel Separation at 1kHz - 40dB
Selectivity,alternate channel - 70dB
AM Supression at 45 & 65 dBf - 65dB
Capture Ratio at 45 & 65 dBf - 1.0dB
Image Rejection - 70dB
I.F. Rejection - 80dB
SCA Rejection - 70dB
Pilot Signal Suppression - 55dB
THD at 100% Modulation Mono/Stereo 0.2%/0.3%

AM Tuner Section:

Usable sensitivity - 300uV
Selectivity - 30dB
Image Rejection - 55 dB
I.F. Rejection - 45dB


Width x Height 19.3 x 5.9 inches
Net Weight 42 Pounds.
Power Consumption 110-120 V 60Hz.

Additional Info:

Has Pre in/Main out jacks
Has switchable de-emphasis FM switch.
Housed in Wood Cabinent with Black Overlay & Vented
Separate power supplies for preamp & power amp.

That covers the technical end of the NAD 7080 Receiver. Overall the build quality and construction is exemplary indeed, truly built to withstand the test of time. The face plate is 1/8 inch thick extruded aluminum. The tuner dial and meters are covered in actual glass, not cheap clear plastic.

But with all the above being said, it would matter not,unless it has the ability to deliver the music. That it does very well indeed. Tested it against another receiver from that era the Marantz 2270. More on that later. What follows next is the musical listening experience of the NAD 7080.

Thought I would throw a difficult test at it right away. That being the Telarc Disc of "Fanfare for the Common Man".This is a real time recorded CD and is pure DDD recording. The opening shots of the kettle drum were right on, not muddy or loose, but tightly defined and with great ambience and decay. The horn sections of this piece were alive and not shrill. This is one of the most dramatic recordings you will ever hear and the NAD 7080 reproduced it with a sonic excellence, that was hard to imagine. It was geat fun to play this recording a few times and marvel at the results the NAD 7080 played this recording. The cymbal crashes gave me chills, the accuracy was uncanny.

Satisfied that the NAD 7080 can handle the most difficult material, it was on to something less demanding than a real time CD recording. Next up was Hiroshima on CD. This group plays a wide variety instruments and the tonal textures of each instrument are sometimes difficult to reproduce accurately. The album was Providence. The result was more than satisfactory with the keyboards,flutes clearly there and all the octaves and nuances of the program material fully realized. The background vocals remained just that,but clearly there. It was interesting to hear the different percussion instruments. As in the Copland disc,the NAD 7080 played the percussion parts with true verve and not over embellish that end of the recording.Had been awhile since I had heard this recording and it was very refreshing to hear the way the NAD 7080 brought it to life.

Now on to something perhaps less demanding than the above two selections,was some rock. Fleetwood Mac Greatest Hits CD.Once again the NAD 7080 performed very well. Usually Rock n Roll is an up in your face experience with most gear. The NAD 7080 presentaion was a wide soundstage with great depth front to rear. Not hard or grainy. Stevie Nicks voice was reproduced with great accuracy. Buckinghams guitar was well reproduced,the guitar strings really came on without harshness. Christine McVies voice took on a timbre that was indeed mellow,but with her distinctive sound. And as always Mic Fleetwood drumming and percussion was right dead center and had a certain authority. The overall presentation was quite pleasing and sounded very good, but was a tad lay back. But the accuracy was amazing.

Last selection for this review was Bob James "Restless" CD. I have always found that piano music is the most difficult to reproduce due to the many tones and octaves this instrument represents. The NAD 7080 had no problem in reproducing Bob James piano. One could almost hear Bob strike the keys and the hammer hit the strings. One of the most musical presentations I have heard on this CD. From the lowest register to the treble, the NAD 7080 was able to render a most convincing performance. Heard all the octaves and nuances one would hear if there in person. Attack,decay and ambience were immediately there. The opening track called "Lotus Leaves" was a tour de force by Bob James and the NAD 7080 captured the performance with solid verve. Once again accuracy and detail filled the room. At one point I thought Bob James was about to emerge from the speakers. Each note,register was uncanningly right on, with the soundstage putting Bob James right in the middle,with the sidemen to the left or right. The NAD 7080 plays music with great authority and accuracy.

As mention earlier used a Marantz 2270 as a comparison to the NAD 7080. The Marantz 2270 was certainly one of the most sought after Receivers of the day, and power wise the comparison to the NAD 7080 was close indeed. Have to tip my hat to the Marantz 2270 in the rock n roll listening test.The Marantz 2270 can certainly rock and its AM/FM Tuner was very good indeed. But when it came to real time recorded CDs,classical, and jazz it could no where deliver the same sonic excellence as the NAD 7080. The NAD 7080 can rock make no mistake about that,it is just a tad laid back in doing so. The NAD 7080 with its excellent power reserves just has the Marantz 2270 out classed completely. The Marantz 2270 has a forward soundstage and the its depth is shallow. Many receivers from this era exhibit the same basic sonic signature. The NAD 7080 is by far more musical,with a glorious sounstage, with tremendous depth.Its main strength is its power reserves,detail,accuracy,transparency and speed. The slew rate of a receiver provides an index to the circuits ability to produce undistorted power on demand high frequencies.The Nad 7080 power receiver stage is actually a moderate gain video amplifier! Hows that for speed and clarity in all regsiters!!!

Another area where the NAD 7080 excels over the Marantz 2270 is in the function of the controls. The NAD iis very precise in its action. Each control operates with authority and is precise in its action.Plus NAD used the Baxandall controls. Whereas the Marantz 2270 controls feel not near as precise and lack that precision feel. Only Luxman receivers had controls approaching the NAD 7080 level.

As far as glitz and glamour go the Marantz easily covers the NAD 7080. With its silver face,back lit dial, to its gyro tuning wheel. Quite impressive. NAD on the other hand decided from the very beginning. that the best quality was to be put inside the cabinent. If there was to be a compromise it would be in an area that did not affect musical performance. The original name was "New Acoustic Dimensions" and later would become known as NAD. In fact all their early gear has "New Acoustic Dimensions" labeled on their gear. The cosmetic appearance of NAD gear from early days to present has remained basic. Although the first generation has a brownish front color,with faint yellow for the lettering. Sometime back this was changed to gray with white lettering. However NAD has remained with a basic no nonsense cosmetic front.

Most all the receivers from this era were silver in wood cases, or supposed wood. Anyway the idea was to have as many lights,meters,etc, like a Tokyo light show. Very clever marketing. If you can't dazzle them with brillance of design, then bulls**t them with lights,that don't make music.

But for the true music lover the NAD 7080 was the only choice.

The early NAD gear is truly a Classic and in recent years have become quite collectible. Although hard to find,the search is truly worth it as a fan of fine audio gear and music.

I would like to thank the Audiogon staff for posting this review of this fine piece of NAD History as well as Audio History. I also ask the indulgence of the Audiogon membership for the posting of this in the amplifier section.Just wasn't another place to post.

Lastly, No the NAD 7080 cannot compete with todays separates or my Threshold/Forte gear. We are talking about two totally different ends of the spectrum. But the NAD 7080 will outperform any receiver in the so called stereo wars of 1975 to 1985 and certainly sounds vastly better than any receiver I have heard in recent times. Perhaps the Magnum Dynalab Receiver is better, but I have not heard one.

Without question the NAD 7080 Receiver has withstood the test of time and continues to deliver the music. The early NAD designers and engineers have to feel justly proud of these early products. They created an instant Classic for the ages.

Associated gear
Luxman Turntable,Denon CD Player,Time Window Speakers,Musical Concepts Interconnects.

Similar products
Marantz,Pioneer,Sansui,Rotel,Tandberg,Carver,Denon, you name a receiver i have heard it.

Great Review!
I have a 12 years old NAD Monitor 7000 receiver that served me all the years very well. This model has an excellent tuner, phono inputs and a "Power Envelop" amazing amplifier.
During these years I upgraded my CD Players, speakers, threw away my turntable and my vinyl records, but did not touch the NAD 7000.
Some attempts to replace it with more Hi-end amplifiers just failed because while comparing it side by side I did not find any real sound improvement or other justifications to replace it.
The last attempt was a NAD C350 amplifier that I have in another room for DVD stereo watching. I replaced my NAD 7000 with the NAD C350 and listen to it carefully for few days. There was some refinement in the high and little more accurate and stronger bass but I still liked the sound of my NAD 7000 receiver better.
I read your excellent review about the NAD 3080 receiver, may be my NAD 7000 is also belong to some golden era of NAD although it is from the late 80th.
Since posting this review, have discovered a feature on this receiver that I overlooked.

Ambient Recovery Switch for concert hall effect on 2nd set of speakers, if used. Very cool feature. In this mode the second set of speakers are thrown out of phase with a 5 millisecond delay. Very effective and have only seen this feature on the early NAD top end Receivers and Integrated Amps. This is not a gimmick, gives a convincing concert hall effect!

This switch is located on the back of the cabinent and is marked stereo/ambient. Also was a feature on the NAD 7060 as well. For those of you lucky enough to own this receiver,give that feature a try. I don't know of any other receiver that had that feature, appears to be exclusive to the early NAD gear and was not carried forward to later NAD products.