NAD VISO HP50 – Review
It’s just awesome when you find some friend to share your hobbies with, especially when you’re not having an usual hobby like us, the audiophiles. Well, I managed to gather a few quality friend with this hobby. One of the perks is that you get to hear a lot of new gear.
For example, one of my them managed to stack up a very nice looking pile of portable/closed headphones. He wanted my opinion on some, so he came with a big bag ( true story ) full of headphones. The bag contained the following: NAD Visio HP50, AKG K545, AKG K550, Sony MDR-1R. Adding my existing Focal Spirit One S and Focal Spirit Classic, this would be a heck of a comparison to make. I must admit that I feel a little overwhelmed, so I will start with a review of the NAD VISO HP50 .
Looks, Presentation & Specs
I like the looks of these headphones as it has an elegant and well finished design. When I’ve put them on my head for the first time, I felt a good grip that helps with the sound isolation. I kind of like this, as I’ve also tried a pair of AKG K545, and like it’s bigger brother, the K550 it didn’t have a good isolation because of a poor grip. Even though the HP50 could be a little too tight for some, I found it comfortable enough, and I surely prefer it this way compared to the AKG models.
Let’s get into the specs of the headphone.
HP50 has a interesting technology , the RoomFeel which, from what they say, should expand the soundstage:
Created to translate the warm, open sound of live performance directly into your private headphone experience. Countless hours were spent in one of North America’s most sophisticated audio labs in the research and development of RoomFeel™ technology, discovering a way to add back to the recording without altering the audio signal. The result is true headphone innovation that lets you sense the music around you, feel every beat, and hear a more open soundstage.
The other specifications found on their website:
20Hz – 20,000Hz +/- 1.5dB, -3dB @ 15Hz
Imp: 32 Ohms
Listening Impressions and Tests
The guitars from the beginning had a very pleasant sparkle. When the voice appeared, I thought it to have a good and clean presence. Then the drums kicked in and impressed me with a very strong and energetic kick.
Ok, I’m going to love these headphones. When the song started I felt the kick of the bass and it knows how to make an entrance as it has a strong, fast and accurate kick. HP50 reproduced this song with very good energy and PRAT.
This is a very engaging song and HP50 reproduced that with ease. These must be one of the most fun and energetic headphones I have ever heard. The guitars plucks had an incredible attack. When the artists hit the guitar’s body and use it as a drum, I could feel the guitar’s housing.
As expected, these headphones would be just perfect for rock. Their energy and impact strike again. The guitars have a good extension and body giving them a very good presence in the scene. The voices are very well textured and are in the line with the mids, meaning they are not sent back in the scene as with other headphones. These are one of the cleanest and present voices I’ve heard in these types of headphones yet.
The Nordinc Sound: 2L Audiophile Reference Recordings – Haydn: String Quarted in D major, Op.76. No.5 – Finale – Presto
This song showed me that these headphones can shine on this kind of music too. The song was clear showing good transparency, details and a good and natural soundstage. The violins were really enjoyable showing good instrument extension and separation.
This song struck some childhood memories, as HP50 managed to reproduce it in a very energetic and captivating way. Besides the energy transmitted by these headphones, I love how the voices are in the line with the instruments having great presence and extension.
The bass on these headphones is very punchy and energetic. It has a very strong kick, good control and decent extension. These are not a pair of neutral headphones, having the bass a little emphasized. One thing to be noted here is that even though it has a very punchy and fun bass, I sometimes miss the more natural decay you can find in Focal Spirit Classic or Spirit One S. These being said the bass is one of the strong points of HP50 .
The mids are very rich and enjoyable on these headphones . The instruments and voices have a very good and natural presence.
I feel that the treble is well balanced and the transition between the upper mids and treble is nicely done. The treble is well extended helps opening the sound while making the soundstage taller.
These headphones offer a very pleasant and clean sound over the whole spectrum starting from the mids and to the treble. Everything is clear and well presented. I think it beat all the other similar headphones in this department.
Energetic and Fun
Even if they are not neutral headphones they have a very strong point when it comes to fast and energetic sound. They managed to make me dance in my chair. They really know how to make you tap and headbang. These are one of the most energetic and fun headphones I’ve tested.
I loved the voices on HP50 . They are right there in front of you, in line with the instruments and other sounds, as they are not sent one ore more layers back as some headphones do. So the voices have a very clean, natural and strong presence.
I consider the soundstage to be quite natural and opened for a closed pair of headphones, so I feel that the RoomFeel technology is quite effective.
These headphones are on the warm side. They also bring you in the front row, so you are right there near the instruments and the artists.
Instrument separation and imaging
They are one of the best I’ve heard in closed headphones and I think only K550 and Focal Spirit Professional could be in the same league.
Compared to AKG K545
I’ve recently heard these headphones for the first time as well. They are very interesting as well. Their isolation and grip are better than on their bigger brother, the K550, but still not good enough, as I felt that they sounded better if I pressed them a little towards my ears. It’s safe to assume that the NADs have better grip and isolation.
Compared to the NAD HP50 , they have a more neutral presentation that sends you a few rows back. The bass is punchy as well but not as powerful as on HP50. It goes deeper but it doesn’t have the same control and speed. Also the voices are not so present, clean and well extended. The treble is not so natural and presents a little sibilance, but less so than K550.
The soundstage is not as tall or deep but it has better width on K545.
The HP50 sounded more natural to my ears in both the instruments and vocal departments.
HP50 is also more detailed with a richer and more extended mid-range. The treble is extended on both headphones but it is cleaner and less harsh on NAD.
Overall I liked the NADs better as it has a more energetic, transparent, more detailed & natural sound presentation.
Compared to Focal Spirit One S
The bass on One S is awesome as well, as it also has a very strong punch with great control and energy. The One S has better extension as it can go deeper. Overall, HP50 has a slightly better punch, faster & more controlled bass. Even though I liked them both and it might be a matter of taste, I ended favoring the HP50 in this department. The mids are more recessed and less clear on One S compared to HP50, with less present and extended voices. The treble has also better extension on HP50.
So practically HP50 has overall better bass, more present and balanced mids and treble, more present and extended voices, more details and better transparency .
Compared to Focal Spirit Classic
Spirit Classic doesn’t have as much emphasis on the bass as the HP50 and has overall a more neutral presentation, but is still on the warm side. Both of them have a very punchy, fast and controlled bass with the difference that Spirit Classic has a more natural extension and decay while HP50 has a stronger punch.
Both present the voices in a very pleasant and detailed way, but HP50 brings them a little more in front and gives them a little more presence.
HP50 has overall better transparency and the sound is overall cleaner. Spirit Classic seemed to have a slightly wider soundstage while HP50 had a taller and deeper one.
Spirit Classic seemed to have a more complete instrument extension which makes the guitars and all instruments more extended and overall more detailed.
Overall, I liked both headphones very much and I really didn’t decide which I like most and it might just be a game of preferences.
Compared to Sony MDR-1R
These headphones are extremely cheap in Romania for their performance. I think they go for less than 120 EUR (165 $) here. Considering their performance, that is a real bargain. They really deserve a review of their own and I hope I have the time to write one soon.
Compared to the MDR-1R, HP50 has deeper, more controlled and faster bass and faster sound in general, better transparency and details, more present and better textured voices and a more coherent, deeper and taller soundstage. It also has better instrument separation and imaging.
Even if the MDR-1R is a very good headphone, it’s not quite in the same league with HP50 .
Compared to AKG K550
I owned and loved these headphones for a while but I had some problems with the grip that wasn’t strong enough to get a good isolation and ended up like this. These headphones have some things that no other closed headphones in this test manages to achieve . The soundstage on K550 is very big considering they are closed headphones and they kind of outrank all the other headphones here in this department.
These are also neutral headphones and I can easily say that they are the most neutral headphones from this review. They also have an excellent non emphasized bass with great speed, punch, extension and detail. It’s not as punchy as with HP50, but it packs a good punch of it’s own.
The problem with these headphones is that they have an unnatural and sibilant treble that gets you tired after a short while. These being said, the HP50 still has better transparency, a more natural sound presentation with more present and better textured voices. Even if the soundstage is not as big as with the K550, the soundstage of HP50 sounds more natural to me.
The NADs also have a more energetic and fun sound signature.
Even if K550 have some strong points, I easily ended favoring the HP50 .
I am really glad I had the chance to hear these headphones and I must say that I ended up loving them. They have a distinctive energetic and fun sound signature that just makes you want to dance. They might be on the warm side, but they they are not slow, not at all. They have a very fast pace when it’s needed. Actually, they are one of the fastest headphones I’ve tested.
They also have a very balanced sound signature throughout the spectrum. Even if the bass is a little emphasized it never invades the mids. The mids are rich and very present without any dip and the transition to the treble is well done, resulting in very present and natural voices.
They will surely go somewhere in the top or near the top of my recommendation list.
- Addictive bass with excellent punch, control and good extension
- Very energetic & fast sound signature
- Natural, present, clean and well textured voices
- Rich mids & well extended treble
- Good transparency and details
- Very good and natural soundstage
- Very good imaging and instrument separation
- Good isolation and grip
- Appealing design and good build quality
- The punchy bass could get you tired after a while
- Could get a little uncomfortable after a while