NAD Viso 1

Product Name: NAD Viso 1
Product Type: Bluetooth/ iPhone/iPod dock speaker unit
Price: $699
Reviewed By: Jez Ford
Magazine: Mar-April 2012
Distributor: Audio Products Group Pty Ltd
Who Sells What/Website: NAD

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NAD’s entry to the speaker dock market is remarkable in a number of ways. First, it is entirely digital, taking a digital signal, performing all its EQ and processing digitally, and even amplifying digitally, with only a simple HF filter circuit on the output. That doesn’t mean it’s good, of course, but it’s certainly a first,  here using digital amplification developed for the company’s latest $6000 digital amps, and operating at 35-bit resolution, so even at low volumes, the full bit-depth is maintained.

Secondly, NAD’s distributor here, Audio Products Group, somehow manages to match US pricing here in Australia. Hardly anybody 
else does that — compare with the Yamaha and JBL (both 30% higher than in the US), or iLuv (75% higher). That helps the Viso 1 offer even better value than it would anyway.

Thirdly, it’s just such an odd shape. From early pictures, it looked like a B&W Zeppelin Air with the ends cut off. But it’s far larger — not as wide (lacking pointy bits), but half as high and deep again as the Zeppelin. It needs more space than many rooms will afford; it certainly failed the ‘missus test’ in our lounge.  

There is one caveat to that — you can put it out of the way, since once it’s set up, you may never need to touch it. While the obvious thing is to put your iPhone or iPod in the beautiful expanding and rotating dock, it is easier and more fun to use the Viso 1’s built-in apt-X Bluetooth streaming, allowing you to keep your iPhone or iPad in your hand for track selection. Note that if your device doesn’t support apt-X (which can stream at CD quality and potentially above), the streaming will revert to Bluetooth’s somewhat grungier SBC (sub-band codec). We believe the iPhone 4S has apt-X but the iPad 2 doesn’t (lists of apt-X 
devices are hard to come by), but we used mainly the iPad here without any noticeable drop in output quality. The only downside to Bluetooth streaming is remembering to turn off Bluetooth on your device after each session, to save its battery life. There’s also one optical audio input, a component video output, and a USB port for software upgrades.

Those digital amps are rated at 50W for the 14.6cm ‘subwoofer’ driver plus another 15W each for the two 7cm aluminium drivers, and mighty indeed is the sound these manage to produce. We had an initial impression that the bass component was slightly overwoofed, but it took only a few minutes each time to accept that the strong bass was in no way interfering with the frequencies above it, and so to settle into a clear, clean and very much hi-fi sound. It did well across widely differing material, supporting the light stuff while not bloating out on the phatties. There also seemed none of the fake ‘widening’ techniques that some reputable manufacturers have applied to their docks... while it seems odd to call such a plug-and-play dock ‘purist’, that seems to be the approach here.

Assisted by its excellent local pricing, NAD has leapt to the top of the superdock value chain. Make sure you see one before you buy (to appreciate the size), but we don’t reckon you’ll regret a purchase on sonic grounds.

PROS
Rich, wide and pure sound
Apt-X Bluetooth streaming
Optical input

CONS
Size
No AirPlay

Dimensions (whd): 480 x 260mm x 300mm
Weight: 5.6kg
Warranty: Two years