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NAD C 717 Micro DVD Receiver review: NAD C 717 Micro DVD Receiver

If you're after a super compact system that'll primarily provide great music and movies second, the NAD C 717 does just that.

Nic Tatham
4 min read

Home theatre doesn't come much simpler than this. One box, plug in a pair of speakers and away you go. NAD's new C 717 DVD receiver might not be everyone's idea of home theatre-in-a-box, but if you're not after a multitude of components and don't have a large room to fill, this could well be the answer.


NAD C 717 Micro DVD Receiver

The Good

Home theatre doesn't come much more compact. Sounds great with CDs and music DVDs. Dead simple to use.

The Bad

Average picture quality. Movie dialogue can get lost. No DVD upscaling.

The Bottom Line

If you're after a super compact system that'll primarily provide great music and movies second, the NAD C 717 does just that.


The C 717 is typically NAD, which means it takes the brand's customary old-school design and simplistic approach. That's not to say the company doesn't embrace the latest technology, but it likes to avoid unnecessary complexity and that's exactly what the C 717 does — it makes home theatre simple. It's aimed to fit in where full-size home theatre components can't: say a townhouse or apartment, study bookshelf or bedroom. Although priced around the same as many a HTIB system, NAD believes its performance is in a different league.


Despite the small box, there's quite a lot happening within. The C 717 will play your DVDs, CDs and MP3 encoded discs, but it won't play Blu-rays. There's FM/AM radio with 30 presets and a sleep/alarm function. It's also stereo only, without any DSP or surround sound processing onboard — just bass and treble controls. A decent remote control is also provided.

NAD makes the point that this unit also has a small carbon footprint, with its Class D amplifier claimed to be some 40 per cent more efficient than an ordinary linear amplifier, and only consuming 1 watt power consumption in standby. Power output is only rated at 20 watts per channel so speaker matching with "easy-to-drive" in mind would be best. We teamed it up with a pair of small Quad 11L standmount speakers and the NAD had no trouble producing decent volume levels.

Connectivity is quite good too with a subwoofer output and optical digital audio out, plus you can hook up a satellite receiver or set top box. The C717 outputs 576p via component video or RGB SCART, so there's nothing high definition about the NAD's image quality; as the company states, it prefers to put "music first".


As a result, we tried "music first" and as expected, the little NAD is a tuneful performer. Radiohead's In Rainbows sounded well-balanced and reasonably gutsy, especially if you choose to hook up a sub. The system produced quite a big, warm sound, with plenty of detail and surprisingly high dynamic ability for such a conservatively powered amplifier section. It played loud with no shortage of impact or drive, and its generous balance meant no tendency to harshness or treble overkill. Only with hardcore dance or harder rock mixes would some listeners wish for greater slam and attack, but there's no getting away from this little system's spirited performance.

The NAD didn't mind a wide variety of musical styles either. Whether it was a delicate classical solo instrument recital or more complex pieces, the C 717's presentation was one full of ambience and atmosphere, conveying the flow of the music while at the same time revealing a close-up view of timbres and finer musical details. This isn't the sort of thing you'd describe about the musical performance of most HTIB systems, but this NAD isn't typical of this product category.

We were really enjoying listening to CDs on the NAD, but time had come to put its home theatre side to the test. We knew the video wasn't going to be spectacular at this low resolution and on a HD display, the C 717 was a long way behind the Blu-ray -playing systems at this sort of price. We popped the excellent Planet Earth DVD on and although it looked acceptable with a reasonably well resolved image, we couldn't help but think that 1080p upscaling would have been well worth including on the C 717. Picture quality was generally too grainy and colours a little flat for our liking — it improved a bit by turning the progressive scan on, but we've seen much better looking DVD players. We also found the lack of any surround sound processing a bit of a problem with action movies. In stereo, louder sequences tended to drown out speech and dialogue, but increasing the volume only accentuated the problem. And although the C 717 acknowledged DTS-encoded discs, it doesn't decode them, but will instead bypass it through to the digital output. It does, however, downconvert Dolby Digital or MPEG audio to 2-channel PCM audio.


As a secondary system this NAD's a fine choice, but we wouldn't recommend it as your main source of home entertainment. It sounds better than it looks and represents pretty good value too. All in all it's a neat little package — if you're after a super compact system that'll primarily provide great music and movies second, the NAD C 717 does just that.