I Love These Headphones...The NAD VISO HP50

NAD VISO HP50 ($299)
For those of you looking for a great all-around headphone, run, don't walk, to your nearest NAD dealer and get one...right now.

Not convinced yet? Okay, I'd be happy to go on for a little while about why this headphone is simply a game changer. We'll start with Paul Barton...

You may have read my recent article on the work done by Sean Olive et. al. at Harman Intl. on developing a new headphone target response curve. In it, I describe the great lengths to which this research team has gone doing the detailed work needed to carefully develop a pleasing headphone response by both objective and subjective means. This very careful study is slowly but surely coming to the conclusion that headphones should sound like speakers in a room, and a target response curve for headphones is slowly coming to light. Dr. Olive is proceeding with this very methodical work in an effort to conclusively establish a new headphone target response curve for the audio engineering community. Much of Olive's work and methods rest on research done at Canada's National Research Council in the 1980s, which was aimed at finding pleasing loudspeaker target response curves. Floyd Toole lead the team of researchers at the time; both Sean Olive and Paul Barton were involved with the project.

While Olive's current work is designed to bring a new standard into the body of knowledge for headphone designers and must be extremely methodical toward that end; Barton is under no such onus in his work designing product for PSB and NAD. His job is simply to make a good sounding headphone. That's not to say Barton doesn't do careful and methodical research—he certainly does and, in fact, has participated in some recent strides developing a better ear-canal simulator that improves the accuracy of high-frequency measurements for headphones—but it does mean that he can make some assumptions about headphone response (like they should sound like good speakers in a good room) and move directly toward finished product. Such is the difference between pure research and product development.

Barton makes these assumptions with a lot of solid information in his head, however. First, he knows one heck of a lot about what a good speaker sounds like in a good room. And second, he has an expert grasp on acoustic couplers and how to measure headphones. Combine these two skills together and you've got a potent brew for developing some great sounding cans. I've spent quite a bit of time picking his brain on his thought process, and the development of PSB and NAD's "Room Feel" technology.

Basically, if you take a direct radiating speaker that measures flat in an anechoic chamber and put it in a room, you'll find that it will have a significantly warmer sound. This happens because as frequency gets lower, the speakers radiate more omni-directionally, and therefor, the sound power content in the room as a whole gets stronger as frequency get lower. While this increase in low frequency response is somewhat decoupled from our perception of the sound from the speakers, it remains an important part of our impression of what a good speaker system sounds like.

In headphones, of course, there is no "room response" in the equation, and designers have typically either attempted a flat response into the lowest notes or added a big bass hump to satisfy bass lovers, but no real thought has gone into making a headphone response match that of the typical low-frequency boost heard in a good room. Here Barton's long expertise in matters acoustic come into play, and he has developed a very well reasoned headphone target response curve that takes into consideration low-frequency room gain and a number of other characteristics of a speaker's sound in a room, which has been labeled "Room Feel" by the company.

Paul and I both await Sean Olive's final headphone target response curve with baited breath. He because he's pretty darn sure the NAD VISO HP50 is right on target, and I because after hearing Paul's latest take on "Room Feel" have got to believe that tuning headphones to sound like good speakers in a good room leads to a darned good sounding headphone, and I'd love to have a better compensation curve for my headphone measurements than the one I currently use.

Alright, let's talk about these cans...

COMPANY INFO
NAD Electronics International
633 Granite Court
Pickering, Ontario L1W 3K1, Canada
(905) 831-6555
ARTICLE CONTENTS

COMMENTS
hiroprotagonist's picture

I'm having a hard time deciding whether or not I get hd600s for home use and keep using my cals in the workplace and elsewhere, or if I should get something like the hp50 and use it for everything. What would you do? Have better quality at home but lower quality during the working day? Or just get one pair of non-open headphones to use consistently. Nice review as always!

Tyll Hertsens's picture

"I could live with these as my only headphones."

I wouldn't, of course, but these are an amazingly agile general purpose headphone.

donunus's picture

Of course you wouldn't do it since this is your job and hobby. We wouldn't want you to stick with this as the last pair because there would be no more reviews and no more innerfidelity LOL... But just being able to say that you can live with this one is enough for me to buy a pair.

hiroprotagonist's picture

If it came down to just sound quality, an hd600 and say 200~ budget amp/dac, vs these, how large would the difference in sound quality be? Forgetable or god I miss it?

Tyll Hertsens's picture

The HD600 is an excellent headphone, and will respond very well to an increasingly good front end and amp before it. Resolution and finesse will be superior to the HP50. But, the HP50 will have a somewhat better tonal character overall---punchier bass, a bit more lively---relative to the more laid back sound of the 600. It doesn't seem to improve as much with better front ends, and will likely be more pleasurable directly out of a smartphone. 

cansman's picture

Thanks Tyll,

I was looking forward to your review. It was both informative and entertaining!

Question: I read somewhere in Head-fi that the HP50 leaks sound (hence, disturbs others). I would have thought that if the heaphone isolates well, this would work both ways. Would you be able to verify?

Cheers,

cansman

Tyll Hertsens's picture

I found the isolation quite good, and leakage minimal. Generally, it does work both ways.

Gofre's picture

Great review as always Tyll! I'm considering purchasing these to take over as the sole headphones for my portable rig. My budget is about £500/$500 (the UK does not do well on price conversions for electronics!), but I can't seem to find anything that looks more suitable than these even with a couple of hundred quid breathing space above them. Do you have any other recommendations for high end, portable headphones for within that budget, and how do the HP50s compare to the Amperiors? Thanks!

Lawk's picture

I believe there are several elements to a "good sounding headphone" (if that even means anything, since people's hearing rates differently + subjective preferences), but the main 3 would be:

1: the quality and technology of the driver itself

2: the voicing/frequency response tuning of the driver

3: the chamber/enclosure/casing of the driver. And perhaps the cloth on top together with the distance/angle to the ear and pad characteristics.

....all those combined (dependant on each other)

But I highly doubt the experience between speakers and headphones could ever be identical. Maybe thats a good thing anyway. Sometimes intimacy and detail is wanted over an open, expansive live feeling.

Out of curiosity I saw the phiaton bridge MS 500 measurements in pdf, how do they sound Tyll? quite intrigued by the design.

Azteca X's picture

Thanks for this review, Tyll.  It certainly has put this 'phone on my radar.  The price is right for such praise and I am very interested in Doc Olive's work.

I'd been considering the Mr. Speakers Alpha Dog and the perennial favorite Sennheiser HD 600.  Now this little fella comes along.  I'll wait the next month or two and see if you post an Alpha review and do some research on the NAD.  I find sealed headphones very practical and this one really does have the whole package - sound good, don't scream "audio dork" if you wear them in public, half the price of lots of other "entry level" phones.

robm321's picture

Have you heard the Kef M500? Its by far the best of the closed $300 phones, bettering all the usual suspects, including the Momentum which is kind of a bassy mess with rolled highs. 

 

The M500 is like a Grado HP-2 light. If the HP-50 betters it, I'd be interested. Otherwise, the M500 is still the $300 closed phone to beat IMHO.

donunus's picture

I was waiting for Tyll's short comparison on these against the m500 too since not too many have heard both at the same time. The people that have heard both are also not known to me and I am not sure whether to trust them or not since I haven't seen any other reviews of any other cans from them yet for me to be able to gauge their tastes and similarity to my hearing.

Seth195208's picture

http://en.goldenears.net/index.php?mid=GR_Headphones&document_srl=23944

They look pretty bass oriented to me, with also a little too much lift at 3.5kh.

JML's picture

I have a pair of Barton's PSB M4U-1 headphones, and think they're fabulous.  The online reviews of NAD phones report they're very, very similar to the PSB phones, which is no surprise - and all of the reviews rate them very highly.  Tyll, you've heard the active NR M4U-2, but why not give the passive M4U-1 a try, given how much you like the NAD phones?

donunus's picture

Wow these measure very nice. Low distortion, good frequency response and square wave. I guess the room feel may also have something to do with the CSDs and how much delay is put into the lower mids to bass? Like the way speakers have some reverb/time delay in the room? 

Tyll Hertsens's picture

..."Room Feel" is all about EQ. No time functions that I'm aware of.

donunus's picture

ahh gotcha. Regardless, they look like good measuring cans even in the traditional standard.

Beagle's picture

I assume these are not quite as good as the PSB's, which also feature "RoomFeel". Why would Paul Barton design something for NAD that trumps his own cans? Or is it just a different sound, that you happen to prefer?

Tyll Hertsens's picture

...well, I found the M4U1 a bit too strident. If you look at the impulse response and 300Hz square wave from the M4U2 passive, you'll see what I mean.  While I think both cans come close to the proper EQ, I do think the HP50 does so in a more refined way.

I very much look forward to Paul's ongoing creations.

Hifihedgehog's picture

I knew that if Tyll was not getting all hyped about the Tascam TH-02, there had to be some other headphone drawing his attention about headphones elsewhere. This has got to be the biggest revolution yet in the sweet spot price region of headphones. The graphs seem to say NAD VISO HD50 is worth all the hype because it measures like a dream. One set of graphs goes on to show it as a little more treble oriented than Innerfidelity's datasheets, yet still sublimely linear, nonetheless. As an added bonus, a waterfall chart of the response of this headphone is included which is equally impressive: http://stereos.about.com/od/accessoriesheadphones/ss/NAD-Viso-HP-50-Meas...

RPGWiZaRD's picture

I thought the MSRP was $279? :)

Lorfa's picture

How do they compare? The 840s debut'd at about the same price. 

Audioaddict's picture

Hey Tyll thanks for reviewing a great closed can like i asked :). If i can ask one more favor how do these and the Sennheiser HD-650 compare? Remembering the 650 and hearing about these they seem to share some simmilarities.

AsSiMiLaTeD's picture

Tyll has already compared to the hd600 above, that should serve as a good reference comparison to the hd650

Audioaddict's picture

Thanks i appreciate it, still curious about the soundstage and the level of warmness and amp selection.

Tyll Hertsens's picture

Both are kind of warm headphones. But otherwise there's a good bit of difference. The HP50 won't get much better with more expensive amps. The 650 is a headphone that likes high-output impedance tube amps (Woo WA3, Bottlehead Crack) to my ears. They'll be somewhat more refined sounding as well. It's a sealed can, a damned good one, but it's not an open headphone and isn't going to get the kind of air the 650 has.

FLAC's picture

I just put in an order for these on Amazon. Since in the video it stated that they were available in black and white, I figured I would order them in red. I can't wait to have a listen.

Edit: They arrived. Initial impressions are looking good. They sound excellent.

SanjiWatsuki's picture

Hello Tyll,

 

I noticed that the measurements looked to me a bit similar to the B&W P5 measurements. I know that you were a fan of the P5s, so I'm curious how you think they compare to the HP50.

zobel's picture

I like the HD 518. Have you heard it Tyll? I bet it compares in EQ to this phone. Would be good to see it reviewed and measured, since it is a very affordable, well built, and great sounding headphone!

AsSiMiLaTeD's picture

Tyll I have to admit that I'm confused by your wall of fame.  The momentum are now retired, whereas before they were your favorite of the bunch.  While I certainly understand now preferring another headphone I'm not sure why all of a sudden that removes the momentum from the list...

Looking at it now it indicates that now all the sudden you actually like them less than those others still on the list.  So did hearing the NAD all the sudden male you hate the momentum?  Why not just put them second behind the NAD?  

Confused...

RPGWiZaRD's picture

It's because the wall of fame is listing headphones on a purpose-basis. Momentum was the "all-round / multipurpose headphone" and Tyll now feels HP50 does that task one step better. Other headphones may include "detail monster", "basshead king", "neutral king", "airy / large soundstage champ", "the street swag" etc. As we people tend to prioritize different things so the Wall of Fame list includes headphones that does something exceptionally great for a certain purpose.

Tyll Hertsens's picture

Basically the "Wall of Fame" is my reference headphones. I need one of each important type---as RPG states. Now that I have the HP50, I no longer need another headphone (okay, I'll still have the Momentum for comparison in a mix of cans) to make the (somewhat dumb) determination of best in class. If a similar type and price (within say $80) headphone comes along that I feel bests the HP50...then off it goes and the new one steps in.

gavtron's picture

Hi Tyll,

As there are a few new models coming out such as the new Alpha Dog, Focal, PSB, NAD etc it would be great if you could do a shootout, or at least a comparison chart of sound and features of each interesting new model being released :)

This may help reduce the amount of how does x compare to... questions in the comments :)

Keep up the great work with your reviews!  yes

gav.

ultrabike's picture

Tyll, I noticed in your pictures of the disassembled product (page 2) that there seems to be a small circuit inside the headphone cups. Any idea what that might be?

Tyll Hertsens's picture

...I think. Didn't see any components on it except the jack. Just a wiring ckt board to go from the jack to the internal wires.

GimmeCans's picture

These are virtual dead ringers for these "Turtle Beach" cans (another Johnny-come-lately headphone maker I guess) (with the obvious difference that these are bluetooth, maybe whoever actually makes these makes both wired and wireless) :

http://store.apple.com/us/product/HD969LL/A/turtle-beach-i30-wireless-io...

Think there's some "re-badging" going on here, somewhere?

Tyll Hertsens's picture

...but to the best of my knowledge the NAD is designed from the ground up. Could certainly be though that the manufacturer showed Paul some of the mechanisms they like to use and some were adopted, but just speculation there.

AGB's picture

Generally I boost LF starting from 190hz down to 90hz with parametric, a hump shape curve, the peak of the curve is at 60hz or so... +3dB...sloping down on both sides...

taking over another curve at 90 hz which peaks at abt 35 hz a little stronger boost, +4dB and gently rolls off below.

I boost another curve @ abt 7400K for sparkle at abt 3dB. I like sparkling water too.

These will do more or less for many headphones and earbuds to replicate more or less (each is individual of course) what Tyll has experienced in this review; and what would be perceived as flat or natural at the eardrum. The Federal government has refused sending me a research grant for this study. I'll survive without them.

You can all try these suggestions for free of course, and with the power of DSP such as this, one can make even a shitty-sounding headphone sound quite good. Even great. It's gonna put us all out of business, but then retirement isn't as bad as the Gulag.

I am using the parametric curves included with Fidelia software, including its FHX headphone module's crossfeed set to moderate levels.

Enjoy.

 

AGB

jherbert's picture

I bought this after reading Tylls praise, and yes, it sounds just great given its a closed headphone. However I will have to return it, because of the headband construction. This is designed in a way that puts all the load on one small area of my skull, and this starts really hurting after a while. Sort of the same effect the AKG K701 headband has. This is too bad, because it is an excellent headphone in every other respect. 

Tyll Hertsens's picture

I did worry that this might be the case, but my experience was that they were light enough that this was not a problem for me. Not too surprised that some might find it so, however. Thanks for your comment.

AndrewG's picture

Since the HP50's are so light and the caliper pressure is sufficiently strong, you can just extend the arms a notch or two, the headphones will be just as secure but the pressure from that one central point n the headband will lessen. Saved the day for me. Love these cans and the discomfort almost ruined it before I figured out the problem.

nariza7's picture

Tyll, thank you for your review on the hp50s, especially including some comparison with the sennheiser momentums since I was interested in that too. I was just wondering if you had tried out the KEF m500s or not and had time to compare them with the hp50s. I've heard good things about the KEF m500s, and was hoping to get a sense out of which to get of the three (momentums, m500s, hp50s). I am still interested in the momentums since they have been around for awhile and have been reviewed well. I wanted to determine whether the hp50s are worth the price point since they are new and all.

Do the momentums and hp50s improve with amping? I've heard that momentums dont improve as much with amping

DrForBin's picture

hello,

Tyll, based on your review my spousal unit really wants these cans for x-mas. however she breaks EVERYTHING.

what do you think of their long term survival as commuter cans?

thanks

 

Tyll Hertsens's picture

Well, I think they're reasonable well built, but if you want something bulletproof, get the Sennheiser HD25 Aluminum.

DanyBoy's picture

Hi

I'm really interested to buy this headphones, but I can't find an Viso Authorized Dealer online. I don't have any Viso Uthorized Dealer near me, that's why I want to get them online. Please anybody can help me?

Thank you!

CobelAli's picture

audioadvisor.com is an authorized dealer and they sell through their own site and through Amazon.  I've been looking around and looks like the price is the same every where at $299.

JML's picture

World Wide Stereo sells them on Amazon.

CLW's picture

Im about to go crazy trying to find the right headphones

the HP50 seem to fit the bill but want  to make sure

I listen to Blues Rock(Kenny wayne Shepard ,Joe Bonamasa ) and rock from classic Pink Floyd all the way up to Stone Sour ,so my music genre is wide

Would the HP50  be good or should I look at the VMODA M100

also Ive got a big head want something to be comfortable and not a vice on my head

thanks for any input

Chris

Tyll Hertsens's picture

The M100 is a good headphone for the bassheads, but in the end I find the bass emphasis too much for me for regular use.  The HP50 is warm too, but better balanced overall, and no so bass emphatic. I'd take the HP50 over the M100.

AndrewG's picture

Well recorded and engineered classic rock and blues rock sound great. More contemporary production styles (pop R&B, for example) are less impressive. But I have to say that for the money, these are killer cans for jazz. I thought the B&W P7's were more refined and generally superior in most regards (although not nearly as neutral and a bit too bassy) but they were a joke compared to the HP50's when it came to jazz. Fantastic value for the money the NAD's are.

bluejimbop's picture

Chris, I'm sure you're a nice guy, so I apologize but I can't resist swinging at the softball you lobbed: If you think your music genre is wide, then you do have a big head.

tkurth's picture

Well Tyll, you talked me into this headphone! Just got my NAD Viso HP50... and boy they are as great as you have described them! Really a well build headphone that sounds excellent just right out of the box! It is very comfortable (maybe a bit tight in the beginning but that can easily be adjusted) and nice seal. Very transparent sound, extended bass, juicy mids and crystal clear highs... The spacial impression is indeed different to other headphones (larger room effect, very good separation of instruments, excellent sound stage). The overall size is large enough for a comfortable over ear fit but also small enough to make this an easy travel companion. 

One minor criticism: the detachable cable is a bit on the short side for some listening situations and they could come with an extension to give some more flexibility. 

Overall, after just a few hours of listening, this appears to be an excellent multipurpose headphone (home, office, on the road) with an excellent prize/quality ratio. 

Thank you for your review and for motivating me to get this headphone!

CobelAli's picture

I keep flipflopping between headphones.  The momentums are interesting, but I can't stand my ears touching the cans.  While I don't have large ears, I don't want to risk it.  These cans sound like the best candidate for me and the price is right at the limit of my budget.  Let's see if any authorized sellers will offer discounts for Christmas:)

listener's picture

Hi Tyll,

I also read your positive review of the Create Aurvana Live! cans (first version). Although in a different price league, how would these compare soundwise?

northfaceseen's picture

Hey man,

How much does the earpad give, for example I have plastic glasses that stand off my head about 1-1.5cm?  I have tried the UE6000, M-100 without and with XL pads, and Momentum and the only great seal I got was on the M-100's with XL pads.  Do the pads give like the D-5000's or are they more stiff like the Momentums or UE6000?

Tyll Hertsens's picture

...but the padding is very soft. Should work as well as any I can think of.

jeckyll's picture

I just found out that headphonebar in Vancouver carries these, so I'll need to pop down to check them out.

 

Thanks for the review!

rowster's picture

Hi,

I notice these use a technology NAD dub RoomFeel.

You mentioned earlier that you think this is purely EQ not a time function but this page on NAD's website http://nadelectronics.com/articles/The-story-behind-the-development-or-N... seem to say they do use a transfer function - about halfway down the page.

So wouldn't this mean it would not work so well with a crossfeed plugin? Also wouldn't a DSP implementation of transfer function be more accurate and effective as an implementation built into a passive headphone would be static and unable to respond to changes so it would be one size fits all?

macksherlock's picture

Awesome headphones.

RCBleeker's picture

Hi Tyll,

I was wondering what material the earcups are made of. Is it metal or plastic?

Regards, 

Christian

eugenius's picture

I'm thinking of getting this headphone but the upper treble concerns me. I think that's why I didn't like the HD650 at all compared to my HD600, despite the lower bass extension and the higher resolution. The upper treble on the HD650 drops like that over 10kHz and IMO that is the thing that makes it sound closed-in, unnatural.

Is the HP50 the same?

AudioNewbie's picture

I bought the headphones about a week ago, hoping that the new pair would not have the same problem as my old, very cheap sony closed headphones of making my ears sweat.  I found the headphones to be a bit heavy a very hot. 

ehab's picture

Dear Sir,

I can only afford one entry level can. And I would like you to help me out between these 3. All I want is a headphone that will give me as much detail of music in my flac files. Looks, portability etc are not important, I can not invest in a amp but I have a home theater amp which I can drive headphones from.

I was thinking between the Nad HP50, the Sen Momentum Over the Ear and the Hifiman he-400 all of which are within my spending ability.

 

I really appreciate the time you put in answering me thank you.

Tyll Hertsens's picture

....the HP50, Momentum, and HE-400 in that order.

HenryPlunket's picture

I'm pretty new to this site but have been chasing great sound reproduction for decades.  I've had a headphone "problem" for years and already owned a few on the Wall of Fame before I read the lists for the first time.  I record music as a hobby and most of my good phones are full size closed models.  On blind faith and Tyll's recommendation I bought the NAD VISO HP50's.  Very nice--balanced, full range and highly detailed, they quickly became a favourite. Trusting Tyll a little more now, I shelled out for another Wall of Fame component, a Leckerton UHA-6S MKII Portable Headphone Amplifier.  Paired with the NAD phones and well recorded hi-res source material, it was literally a revelation:  The highest fidelity audio reproduction I'd ever hear through phones--possibly by any means.  Recorded music has never been so engaging and it was attainable without breaking the bank.  The next expensive speaker or component upgrade to my home stereo system just got a lot harder to justify. Tyll, you've got a new fan.  Thanks man.

wyd4's picture

Hi Tyll,

I have been umm'ing and ah'ing since I saw your review for these first pop up.
I am looking to potentially replace my UM Mentor's. I love them and would love nothing more than to keep them, however current situation dictates a downscale in some gear.
SAdly it is my IEM's that must go.
Essentially I am after an over ear can I can use for portable and at my desk at work that has good sound stage, ample bass, detail but non fatigueing and a rich midrange. It really has to be a genre master. The reason I fell in love with the Mentors.

Do you think these will fit the bill?
I also owned and used the Alpha Dog as a portable, but I am trying to steer away from using portable amps etc, I just want nice and simple.

Thanks

Scott

Audioaddict's picture

I bought the HP 50 and loved the sound but wanted a little more bass punch for heavy metal but loved the rest of the sound, but retuned them because of the headband but would buy them again if i'm desperate. Tried the Focal spirit classics but the pads are too small i'm sending them back today I don't care how good they may sound. The NAD's pads were perfect for me, so i've been looking at the Sony mdr 7520. Would this be a good headphone to try next? I listen to heavy metal, and rock ranging to soft acoustic to harder stuff. I need a good tight slamming bass when the music calls for it, a very clean and detailed midrange, and if possible a treble that isnt fatuiging but detailed and decent resolution.

James is already taken's picture

Dear Tyll,

Thank you so much for your work in reviewing headphones. After years of searching for a headphone with a close-enough-to-neutral sound signature, and closely reading your reviews for a couple years, I'm finally the very proud owner of these headphones! I was used to studio monitors at home so I was looking in that ball park (Momentums, BW7 etc. all too bass heavy and muddy sounding for my ears).
So thank you.

Quick question: I'm now looking for the HP50 equivalent in an IEM that will still allow me to feed my wife and children after buying them! Maybe Fidelio S1?
Thank you again and wish you all the best!

DaveinSM's picture

Tyll, I think innerfidelity is one of the best headphone research resources on the internet. That said, is it fair to say that the NAD Viso HP50 is the best sounding closed, full-sized "low" impedance headphone on the market right now? It seems that the only other headphones you rate as better sounding are all either: 1, very expensive; 2, open air; 3, high impedance sets requiring a good headphone amp... actually, all 3.

earlevel's picture

Terrific articles, Tyll, I'm enjoying reading your reviews. So, I hate to be the grammar police, but when I read "baited breath", I wonder if the writer just had a Ceasar salad that was heavy on the anchovies. it's "bated" (as in "abated", or diminished, breath). Feel free to delete this comment, and edit your text or not, as you see fit. Thanks!

dumbo's picture

I just picked up a pair of the HP50s and quite like them. My only real quibble is I wish they did a slightly better job of isolation. I noticed that the impulse response of these cans seems to be very clean in comparison to the competition and, interestingly, this seems to translate very well to a strong rhythmic sense when actually listening to them. I noticed that the Beats Solo 2 also had very nice attack and rhythm and also seem to have a very good measured impulse response. I haven't had a chance to put these two side by side and wonder whether, ignoring the more "closed in" character of the Beats, the Solo 2 can be fairly compared to the HP50?

dumbo's picture

I just picked up a pair of the HP50s and quite like them. My only real quibble is I wish they did a slightly better job of isolation. I noticed that the impulse response of these cans seems to be very clean in comparison to the competition and, interestingly, this seems to translate very well to a strong rhythmic sense when actually listening to them. I noticed that the Beats Solo 2 also had very nice attack and rhythm and also seem to have a very good measured impulse response. I haven't had a chance to put these two side by side and wonder whether, ignoring the more "closed in" character of the Beats, the Solo 2 can be fairly compared to the HP50?

losomg's picture

I know you have already said:"Internally these headphone seem to be nicely designed, and appear to be easily repairable." But I want to know about the durability. Is the only thing that i want to know about these. Because in the other parts they are great. Wait!! Only tell me your opinion about the people who said that they start to be boring in the highs. Thank you. (And i will appreciate the opinion of others).

nspp's picture

I wanted to have some headphone for my portable devices and found the sound very pleasant not as detailed as my etymotic but all seems to be at the right place even with philharmonic ensemble.

The sound is so nice that i want to try with my amps !

I see that you have a picture of a disassembled headphone !
Do you have a closer pic of the internal jack plug to verify if it use a common ground internally or not. I would like to use a TRRS 2 mini XLR 4pin cable to use balanced inputs.

By the way, i did put my etymotic er4 p-2-S cable and the sound was even better out of my Fiio E12 DiY amp.

Graham's picture

Hello,

I enjoy your reviews and have seen most of them on Youtube.
I like the NADs, but after reading one set of comments on the strength. I am worried about their robustness. The silver adjustable arms look plastically and weak.

My second choice would be Audio Technical ATh-M50x. These look very robust. You praise their sound and I wonder to the untrained ear whether most people would be able to tell a clear difference between NAD and M50x. Please can you advise if the difference is big and noticeable.

I live in the country and getting to decent hifi stores is really difficult and some thing I can do only very rarely. I did listen to a pair of Momentums. I could only listen to advertising talk, but the words all had a sssssss sound. Also I have large ears and am not sure the Momentums fit. The trial was very short.

If the NADs are robust, I will probably purchase these. I am looking for long life. Please can you provide comment on this as this will be very helpful. I like listening rock - hard and soft, prog, acoustic and some classical. So pretty varied.

Regards,
Graham.

zig3n's picture

Own NAD Viso HP50 and new OPPO PM-3, the NAD HP50 with Oyaide HPC-53R simply much-much better sound compared to OPPO PM-3.

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solrage's picture

The good news is that I ordered a pair solely base don Tyll's glowing review and loved them: one of the five best headphones I've ever heard. The bad news is that they did little to erase the blissful memories of my Sony MDR-R10s, which I sold to pay for my dream speaker system. Do I regret it? Yes and no. I've come to realize that both mediums have their strengths and weaknesses, but I think I've settled on the side of "speakers are better, despite their problems" (namely the difficulty of getting them to cooperate with your room). Still, these NAD headphones are a superb all-arounder and shame many phones 3x the price.

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TonyS's picture

Hi there,

I use an AKG K550 for my day to day listening at work (fed from a FiiO E17). Thinking about upgrading to the HP 50 and wanted to get some opinion (is it worth it? how do the two headphones compare? ....)

Open for any opinion...

Cheers
Andreas

Cristi N's picture

Hello,
I just bought a pair of Senn M2 AE and I feel that they don't just lack in treble ! It feels like I have cloth over the ear and on top of the cloth, the Senn's.

I want to know if thr NAD's HP50 are a better choise from the above point of view.

I would also need to know the difference regarding soundstage and positioning.

Please, those who had the opportunity to own/listen to them, side-by-side, write your thougts so I can draw a conclusion. I have less than 2 weeks to return the Senn's M2.

Thank you!

ps: I have a FIO Q1 that will go them.

Cristi N's picture

I just bought a pair of Senn M2 AE and I feel that they *just lack in treble* ! It feels like I have cloth over the ear and on top of the cloth, the Senn's.

LongRunner's picture

Hi, I've had a set of these for almost 2 years now (bought on this review's recommendation) and overall, they do indeed sound that impressive.

But I recently identified an unexpected, and quite prominent, peak in the heard response around 4-5kHz. (It's not easy to pinpoint with normal music, which has few fundamental frequencies that high, but test tones make it quite clear.) The sound improves considerably with a 1/3-octave equaliser set for about -7dB@4kHz and -12dB@5kHz, which I know is somewhat aggressive. (I've also used more subtle equalisation of the rest of the range for quite a while now.)

The standard octave equaliser provided in the PC audio drivers can't accurately cure that particular abberation, unfortunately, which limits my normal use of the finer equalisation to Foobar2000 (using a plug-in, as its default 1/2-octave equaliser generates readily audible artifacts). While I'm using only the on-board audio, it's my understanding that it would take a tragic design blunder to create an error of this magnitude in the electronic domain, so I can pretty much rule that out (and it doesn't exhibit any other major sound defects or pick up any strong interference, although the SNR of the ALC892 isn't quite "studio"-grade).

Even so, the sound is way better than anything else I've heard so far. I'm just oh-so-slightly disappointed that my unit has this peak. (Both sides exhibit it, although perhaps not to exactly the same degree. Unless it's something weird about my ears...) I'll also note that the screws connecting the headband to the 'phones themselves are prone to loosening with regular handling, and I've seen a few comments that vaguely suggest these aren't the most reliable headphones in existence. I haven't made any modifications to affect the sound, either.

Not that I'm in any great rush to buy another pair of headphones - and I'm not sure which alternative I would go with, anyway, observing that there still aren't any with thoroughly superior response. But I thought it worth mentioning.

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Raphaël's picture

Hello. Great review I totaly aproved. I had these headphones, it was magic, musicality and dynamic!
Unfortunately I have a big head and I had to sell them because it was too tight.
Since, I look for the same pleasure with more comfort (always for my sources which are smartphone and Fiio X1).
Do you know a VISO-HP50' like for my head ?
Regards.

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