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NAD VISO 1 Wireless Digital Music System review

Gordon Kelly

By

Reviewed:

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Summary

Our Score:

8

Pros

  • Unique yet familiar design
  • Wonderful onboard DAC
  • Best Bluetooth audio we've heard
  • Superb bass response

Cons

  • Expensive for feature set
  • No AirPlay or Auxiliary Input
  • Won't fit an iPad
  • Less powerful than rivals

Key Features

  • 80W output (1x 50W sub, 2x 15W speakers)
  • Direct Digital onboard amplifier
  • Bluetooth aptX
  • Locking, rotationing Apple connector
  • Output audio input, Component video output
  • Manufacturer: NAD Electronics
  • Review Price: £499.99

Hi-Fis are out, docks are in. This may be a sweeping statement, but the addition of yet another high end audio specialist into the sector only adds further proof. For 40 years NAD has been a standout name amongst audiophiles and it has now joined the likes of Bowers & Wilkins, Arcam, Monitor Audio and more by entering the incredibly competitive sector of Apple docks.

Like its peers NAD has stuck to what it knows best, pitching the 'Viso 1' at the premium end of the market. This approach becomes clear before you switch the dock on. Out of the box it delivers a sense of déjà vu, yet somehow has a look all its own. NAD describes the Viso 1 as a 'ring design', referring to the silver band around it which contains the Apple connector. This is clearly inspired by the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air, but when combined with its tubular shape creates a dock that is stylish in its own right and delightfully different.

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Build quality is similarly impressive, successfully blending the piano black finish of the rear with the matt speaker covering and brushed aluminium ring. NAD takes pleasure in showing how the Viso 1 was put together too with the exposed screw at the top of the ring almost daring us to reach for our screwdrivers. Meanwhile the Apple connector itself has an industrial feel, sliding open to accept the iPhone/iPod before closing back down to hold it securely. This needs to be done as the connector can rotate 90 degrees allowing devices to be used in landscape mode. The genius of the ring design is it allows comfortable use of the device while connected, the sizeable downside is it means an iPad won't fit.

Connectivity continues this theme and smart hit and bizarre miss. A considerable hit is the addition of component video output which allows 480p and 576p iPhone/iPod videos to be sent to an HDTV while the Viso 1 plays the sound track. There is also an optical digital input which accepts up to 24/96k music from external devices like a TV, disc player or media streamer turning it into a sound bar. Meanwhile a microUSB port is used for updating the firmware. Given this goes beyond the usual array of dock connectivity it is all the more surprising NAD has neglected to include an auxiliary 3.5mm jack. This is by far the most common connector on any music device and will leave non-Apple product owners scratching their heads.

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NAD does have an alternative: aptX. This is a proprietary audio codec which can be licensed and integrated into Bluetooth to offer significantly improved audio quality. What NAD doesn't advertise is aptX requires support not just in the dock, but the source device as well. Happily over 100 products support aptX natively, including the HTC One X, One S, and One V smartphones, Creative Ziio 7 and Samsung Galaxy 7.0/Samsung Galaxy 7.7 Plus tablets, the Motorola RAZR XT910 and even Mac OS X Snow Leopard and above. There are also numerous dongles available. What doesn't support aptX right now is Apple iOS devices which is significant as NAD has somewhat surprisingly (for a high end dock) omitted AirPlay, though it could add support through a software update at any point.

Geoffrey Swenson

March 20, 2012, 5:26 pm

I don't get the point of an expensive dock like this with the stereo speakers separated by perhaps 15 centimeters.

I'm sure it sounds quite a bit better than cheaper units, but sound quality is so limited by the form factor, why spend so much? It would make some sense to make the stereo speakers easily detachable so they could separated further, which would add almost nothing to the cost of the unit.

Gordon394

March 23, 2012, 3:14 am

Their compactness is their fundamental selling point. That is the sole reason to spend £400 on a dock rather than the same money on large speakers and a separate bass.

The only dock we've found to have truly impressive sound separation for its size is the Arcam rCube where its speakers are physically angled at 45 degrees (from a head on perspective). This creates a tremendous room filling sound, but has proved a sales problem for Arcam as people stand in front of it for demos in shops and the sound bypasses them and disappears in a large store.

Compare this to a product which blasts out straight ahead and the latter wins the store experience every time... yet falls down in the home.

It's a hard one to juggle.

Kevin Walker

January 22, 2013, 5:03 pm

It does not have an aux in 3.5mm jack because it is an "all digital" design.

Nyankana

October 5, 2013, 8:47 pm

They do have a AP version of this device. Please do a review on it too, and how the AP compares to the rivals.

nicky

October 14, 2013, 10:04 pm

Seriously has a lot of blurtooth connectivity issues. It used to drip for a sec after every 5 -6 minutes. I was lucky to be able to returned it back.

Stay away from this product. I also brought this product reading ALL THE GREAT REVIEWS.

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