To appreciate how powerful and convincing low (or at least low-ish) bass can sound through the VISO 1, put on the track “Power of Denial” from Thomas Newman’s magnificent sound track for the film American Beauty [Dreamworks]. The track opens with a powerful, plunging low-frequency glissando that lands on very low note that is allowed to sustain for a few seconds, providing underlayment for the rest of the song to follow (this motif will repeat at several points in the track). On most small systems this passage sounds, well, weak and under-nourished, but not so the NAD. It sounds surprisingly full bodied and, for the most part, at ease when delivering low bass at relatively high output levels—a fact noted with real surprise by several first-time listeners. True, if you are a low-bass connoisseur, you might find the VISO 1’s bass sounds slightly under-damped (though never really “loose” or “wooly”-sounding). But frankly, this slightly under-damped quality is a very small price to pay for a compact one-box system that provides genuinely room-filling sound—low frequencies included.
The song “Senia’s Lament” from Jerry Douglas’ Lookout for Hope [Sugarhill] makes a good vehicle for showing off both the VISO 1’s overall sophistication and full-range sound. The engine that drives this song forward is plaintive, soulful sound of Douglas’ Dobro, which carries the main melodic theme and serves as the center of gravity around which the other instruments revolve. The VISO did a beautiful job with upward-reaching twang of the Dobro, nicely revealing the instrument’s many moods and, if you will, voices within voices. But as the song evolves and unfolds, it becomes much richer and more complex when midrange percussion, and then low-frequency percussion, enter the mix—accompanied the deep, earthy voice of an acoustic bass. Indeed, there is one distinctive point where the bass and kick drum double one another as the voice of the Dobro floats high overhead. It’s one of those delicious but also challenging moments where the music asks the audio system to do two things at once: in this case, to play low with articulacy and power, while simultaneously playing with delicacy, nuance and control much higher up. The NAD pulls this off—again at satisfying, room-filling volume levels—without any sense of becoming confused, compressed, or overtaxed. The beauty, here, is that the VISO 1 looks like (and is) a compact one-box music system, yet it sounds much more like a full fledged mid-size hi-fi system. Who says you can’t have the best of two worlds?
Consider this system if:
• You want one the two best sounding one-box, wireless, iPod-compatible music systems being built today (the other is the identically-priced Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air).
• You want a system that offers aptX Bluetooth connectivity, and thus can work with any Bluetooth-enabled device, not just with Apple products. Note, too, that the aptX Bluetooth implementation sounds terrific—very much like a wired connection.
• You want a system that is compact and highly portable, yet comes very close to offering big-system richness and dynamic oomph.
• You want a system that is equally at home in whole room and near-field listening applications.
• You like a system with sleek, distinctive, and yet not overly radical styling
Look further if:
• You’d willingly trade off aptX Bluetooth connectivity (the VISO 1’s advantage) in exchange for Apple AirPlay connectivity and a USB digital audio input (the B&W Zeppelin Air’s advantages).
• You like product styling that is dramatic, perhaps even in a slightly controversial way—a description that fits B&W’s Zeppelin Air to a “T”.
• Down deep, you’d prefer an affordable, wireless-capable, compact audio system that provides separate Left/Right speakers that can be placed several feet apart (in which case, look at the Focal Bird system).
NAD VISO 1 Wireless Digital Music System
Driver complement: two 2.75-inch full range drivers with aluminum dome/cone diaphragms, one 5.75-inch “subwoofer” driver.
Integrated amplifier power: Two x 15 Wpc amplifiers for full-range drivers, one 80-watt amplifier for the subwoofer. Amplifiers use class D technology with 35-bit resolution and a switching frequency of 844kHz, with 0.005% THD. Amplifier module is also used to implement a non-bit-reducing digital volume control, custom EQ curves for drivers, digital crossovers for the speaker system, and a soft clipping feature.
Frequency response: 33Hz – 28kHz (-6dB) Anechoic, 50Hz – 20kHz (± 1dB) Anechoic.
Inputs: One 30-pin iPod-type docking connector, one wireless aptX Bluetooth interface, one 96/24-capable optical S/PDIF interface, one USB port (for firmware updates only).
Outputs: One set of component video outputs (via RCA jacks), optional composite video output (re-purposes the Pb component video output jack as a composite video jack)
Dimensions: (H x W x D) 10.25” x 18.9” x 11.8”
Weight: 12.34 lbs.
Warranty: 2 year, parts and labor.