The other day I was presented a pair of NAD VISO HP50 by its designer, Paul Barton. I have previously bought a PSB M4U-2 noise cancelling headphones and I liked it so much I write a review AFTER buying the product for myself. I liked it so so much I bought ANOTHER pair for my daughter’s use. I consider the PSB M4U-2 as my reference headphones. So presented with this NAD, I have a very high expectation to begin with.
At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this year, NAD showed off its Viso HP50 headphones, a pair of headphones that professes to improve stereo imaging, thanks to NAD’s RoomFeel technology (Identical technology used in PSB M4U-2 headphones).
As a long-time NAD and PSB fan – I currently own an NAD 316BEE stereo amplifier and a whole slew of PSB speakers and, of course, the two pairs of PSB M4U-2 headphones – I was looking forward to hearing NAD’s first pair of headphones aimed at portable and the travelling crowd who doesn’t feel the need for Active Noise Cancelling .
The Viso HP50 draws on the merits of the PSB M4U 2 which has received rave reviews from music lovers for its impeccable audio reproduction. NAD and PSB are sister brands owned by Canada-based Lenbrook Group, designed by my idol, mentor and friend, Paul Barton. While the Viso HP50 is not a twin of PSB’s M4U2, it shares a similar design language. For one thing, it has an audio connector at the bottom of each earcup that you can use to plug the headphones into your music player. The earcups are connected by a manganese steel headband enclosed in leather, which feels comfortable when perched on my head. I can extend each earcup by about an inch, though for my big-ish head, I didn’t have to extend it too much. Each earcup contains a 40mm driver, which is packed between a passive noise-isolation plate and a filter. This design works extremely well, as the earcups successfully blocked out ambient noise and chatter yet still feeling extremely comfy after my not-all-all-exhausting test by having these headphones perched on my head for 12 hours straight. A whole lot more comfortable than my PSB M4U-2, to be honest.
As expected, the HP50 shines in what matters. In my Michael Buble and Rod Stewart marathon, vocals stood out from the soundstage filled by backup vocalists and musical instruments, including a piano, double bass and the entire big-band. The position of each instrument was also clearly audible yet spacious without being overly so at the same time. The HP50’s bass tones are strong enough for you to hear each stroke of the drum, but the reproduction is not overpowering – good news for folks like me who fancies natural sounding bass from any system. Its highs were also not overly bright and with a proper slight roll-off at the highest end. These attributes are presented very nicely thanks to Paul Barton’s RoomFell technology.
While the HP50’s frequency range is wide enough to take on a variety of music, it does not seem to excel the PSB M4U-2 in dub-step and hip hop numbers, which sound better with deep bass tones (although, again, I don’t prefer it). However, the sexy look of the headphones, the ultra comfortable padding and the amazing general sound quality (although I think to be very very slightly below the PSB M4U-2) make the NAD VISO HP50 my new daily-use headphones. I strongly recommend the VISO HP50 for anybody who are even remotely serious about sound quality. Buy it, your ears will thank you.