NAD VISO 1 iPod Speaker/Sound Bar Manufacturer's Comments and Questions for InnerFidelity Readers
Editor's Note - After publishing Steve Guttenberg's recent review of the VISO 1 I got an email from Mark Stone, Lenbrook America's Marketing Manager, expressing his concern that Steve didn't quite "get" the product. Oddly enough, Steve had called me prior to the review saying he wasn't completely comfortable doing the review. I must say, I wasn't very comfortable doing the review of the Arcam rCube, a similar sort of product. InnerFidelity is all about audio products that don't go in the listening or home theater room, so the VISO 1 is exactly the type of product that needs reviewing in these pages.
I think I'm a little confused, and could use the input of InnerFidelity readers, but first, let's hear what NAD has to say.
Manufacturers Comments on the NAD VISO 1
NAD would like to thank Inner Fidelity and Steve Guttenberg for the very thorough and positive review of our NAD VISO 1 Wireless Digital Music System. I know that is a mouthful, but the VISO 1 is really a new category of product. It is the first time that a high end speaker company and a high end amplifier company have integrated their design and engineering teams to create an all-in-one product that meets some very lofty performance goals. It uses our latest and best high end audio technology but puts it in a form that is WAY friendlier than even a modest component system. And true, you lose some flexibility in this comparison, but you gain simplicity, space, and yes, performance.
By integrating speaker and amplifier design from the start we were able to optimize ALL parameters of the design. This means that for a given size and budget, we were able to get more of everything: higher maximum SPL, lower distortion, deeper bass response and smoother response both on and off axis. And I mean a lot more. Of course Steve honed in on the one inherent weakness of any all-in-one design; stereo imaging. But a lot of audiophiles (myself included) bought “The Beatles in Mono” and raved about the sound quality – and for a good reason. Good mono sounds better than bad stereo. The sound from a VISO 1 may not be wide, but it is big and deep!
We don’t expect audiophiles to downsize to a VISO 1, but they may have an office, exercise room, vacation home, or some other space where accurate and lifelike sound from a compact system would be perfect. And I bet they have lots of spouses, relatives, friends and neighbors who would NEVER EVER in a million years own a component hi-fi system because it is too complex, too confusing and too big to manage (but they love music!). And what about all those sons and daughters, nieces and nephews, Millennials and Digital Natives who have all their music on a smart phone and want to multi-task and listen to music? We believe that some percentage of these kids will become audiophiles, and just like 30 years ago, their first real hi-fi product will be a NAD.
Director, Technology and Product Planning
Editor's Note: I don't think I've developed a well structured set of values for this type of gear and would love a little feedback. For instance: when is a clock radio cool, and worthy of review in an audio enthusiast publication? Apart from the home theater and listening room, what kind of audio gadgets do you have around the house, how do you control them? Steve Guttenberg wrote recently that listening to 5.1 surround for movies on two channel systems is perfectly legit, could a similar argument for essentially mono audio be made for casual listening at home? Are the kinds of products needed by audiophiles around the home different for folks who are not audiophiles but who value quality when they get to experience it? Greg Stidson claims the VISO 1 is "a new category of product," is it really? I could make the argument that, other than some cool features and good sound, it's just a fancy boombox. On the other hand, once you add the wireless connectivity, the user experience does change significantly --- I know that controlling my Slim devices from my iPad has made my old Squeezeboxes infinitely more useful. At some point advancing feature sets do dramatically change the product.
I think we're going to be seeing a lot more products like the VISO 1. For example, I found the new line of AirPlay enabled Philips Fidelio products quite cool when I saw them at CES. The problem is Im not sure if "quite cool" actually translates into something worth the money. I've heard the Zeppelin is B&W's most profitable product; just like with headphones, we're likely to see a product pile-on in speaker-based personal audio products.
So help me, dear reader, what's valuable with these products? How should their worth be evaluated on InnerFidelity?
I'll close with this NAD video on the VISO 1 as it further tries to explain how this product is different from other things out there.