2013 Munich High End Show Highlight: NAD VISO HP 50 Sealed Headphones

Ever since I started measuring headphones I've wanted a compensation curve based on what the measurement head would hear from two very flat speakers in an acoustically treated room. Headphone compensation curves based on Diffuse Field or Free Field measurements aren't at all what speakers deliver. I mean, it just makes sense doesn't it? Stereo music is mixed on and made for two speakers in a room. Isn't that what headphones should emulate? Problem is, good sense isn't necessarily good science.

Both Paul Barton working at Canada's NRC Labs and Sean Olive at Harman have been working on developing better sounding headphones. Both extensively use rigorously controlled subjective listening tests, and both have seemingly come to the same conclusion: the right Head Related Transfer Function (HRFT) for headphones is derived from a head listening to two speakers. Man I love it when science and intuition just make good sense.

Paul explains it beautifully in the video, but basically the new NAD VISO HP 50 is designed with that concept in mind: Headphones should sound like two good speakers in an acoustically well designed room. NAD is calling that "Room Feel", and the HP 50 haz it. On quick audition, I thought the cans sounded pretty good, and moreover they seemed comfortable, good looking, and nicely featured. Totally stoked to get my hands on these sometime soon.

Seriously, Pauls explanation in the video is dandy.

ultrabike's picture

"Man I love it when science and intuition just make good sense"


Will be really interesting to see how the HP 50 performs!

Jazz Casual's picture

Interesting and it's a closed phone.

dleblanc343's picture

Hey Tyll, these are actually NAD division, although PSB/NAD are partners.

Viso is a NAD line, just to avoid confusion! smiley

Tyll Hertsens's picture

Of course, you're right. Silly me. I guess having Paul S. Barton (PSB) talking to me about it skewed my brain cells.

Seth195208's picture

...that would be interesting to test. Both companies(psb) are obsessed with designing anechoically flat speakers with large, relatively flat listening windows. The headphone measurement similarities (or lack of)would be very interesting to compare for both brands.

Harman would be another one(Revel), but I don't think they have come out with anything yet based on olive's research..

hitman57's picture

Personaly I'd Like to see Wireless Closed Cans.

halcyon's picture

Sean Olive is *superb* in sensory blind testing protocols and understanding of psychoacoustics.

If he has been involved in testing these headphones, I'll surely get a pair.

Thanks for the heads up!

Tyll Hertsens's picture

Sean Olive doesn't have anything to do with these cans, but is doing work similar to that Paul Barton is doing.  They're working independently, but are coming to similar conclusions.