• iPod dock with 30-pin Apple-type connector. The VISO 1 dock provides an ingenious, easy-to-use sliding clamp mechanism that gently but firmly holds iDevices in place and eliminates the need for easily lost docking adapters. A welcome touch is that the dock can position iDevices vertically or horizontally. The iPod dock input is the automatic default choice for the VISO 1, so the user must toggle a selector switch in order to choose other inputs.
• Apple device compatibility: iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 3G; iPod touch—4th generation, iPod touch—3rd generation, iPod touch—2nd generation, iPod touch—1st generation; iPod classic (80GB – 160GB); iPod nano—6th generation, iPod nano—5th generation (video camera), iPod—4th generation, (video), and iPod nano—3rd generation (video).
• aptX Bluetooth wireless interface. According to NAD, the aptX Bluetooth interface “is a ‘hi-fi’ version (of Bluetooth) offering the same performance as a wired connection.”
• 96/24-capable optical S/PDIF digital audio input. Note: This connection option allows the VISO 1 to be used with the digital audio outputs of flat-panel TVs or, please note, with Apple TV systems.
• 480p/576p-capable component video outputs.
• Optional composite video output (via what would normally be the Pb output jack for the component video outputs).
• USB jack that, please note, is for intended solely for installing software updates.
• Caveat: We think NAD may have missed a golden opportunity by leaving out a USB digital audio input (if offered, a USB input would conceivably allow the VISO 1 to play up to 96/24 digital audio files directly from computers—a very desirable feature).
• Small, sleek, handheld remote provides controls for source selection, muting, volume up/down, track forward/backward, and play/pause.
• David Farrage of the New York-based firm DF-ID developed the industrial design for the VISO 1. We have called the VISO 1 a “one-box” system, but its design actually thoroughly curvaceous. There are virtually no flat surfaces on the VISO 1 enclosure—a touch that not only makes the cabinet look cool, but also helps prevent internal standing waves for better sound.
• At first glance, the VISO 1 gives the impression of having a quasi-cylindrical enclosure that rests on its side. A closer look, though, reveals an upward-angled, semi-flattened face surface that serves as a mounting baffle for the system’s drive units; a curved fabric grill covers the baffle. One end of the enclosure sports a ducted port for the built-in woofer, while the other end provides a subtly recessed power switch.
• Girdling the center of the VISO 1 enclosure is a stylish, satin finished, circular metal hoop that stands several inches in front of the baffle surface and that carries the VISO 1’s iPod docking cradle, a source selection switch, and a volume up/down control.
• Early release VISO models were all produced in black, but a white version will become available shortly.
• A rear-panel I/O bay provides a USB jack (for firmware updates), an optical S/PDIF input, and a set of component video output jacks (one of which can serve double-duty as a composite video output jack).
• The VISO is designed for tabletop use, but can easily be wall-mounted via an optional bracket available from NAD.
Part of the joy of the VISO 1, apart from its visual appeal and overall compactness, is that it is dirt-simple to use. Honestly, once you get it unboxed, you can go from 0-to-sound in under a minute. If you’re like me, you might try the VISO 1 with an iPod first, which is the simplest of tasks: you just open the dock clamp, park your iPod on the docking connector, close the clamp, make sure the VISO 1 is turned on, fire up iTunes and start a song playing, and then toggle the VISO 1’s source selection button a few times until you hear music playing. Voilà! Instant hi-fi.
But frankly, the VISO 1’s true character only becomes apparent when you try listening through its aptX Bluetooth interface. If you’ve only ever heard mediocre-sounding early-generation Bluetooth implementations, you’re in for a real surprise in that the aptX Bluetooth interface sounds remarkably much like a wired connection (which is to say it’s really good). As I see it, aptX Bluetooth changes the whole character of the VISO 1 in two ways. First, it means you can use the VISO 1 with pretty much any Bluetooth enabled source, not just with Apple devices, which is great news for Android fans. Second, it frees users to get up and walk around, taking their source components across the room from the VISO 1 (up to 25 feet or 8 meters away) while still preserving legitimate, “hi-fi” grade sound.