NAD Viso HP30 Review

NAD Viso HP30 Review

A scrappy little on-ear headphone that claims to be the culmination of 40 years of audio engineering, the NAD Viso HP30 retails for $229.  But at this price, it’s competing with the likes of the Sennheiser Momentum Series, and the Audio Technica ES770H.  So how does it compare to the competition in terms of sound?

NAD Viso HP30 Review

NAD Viso HP30 Review

The HP30 comes with two cables in the box, including one with an iOS-compatible in-line mic and remote to control playback and volume.  There’s also a nylon carrying case and an airline adapter.

Construction seems decent, comprised of a plastic build utilizing sturdy aluminum extenders.  With pad-like cushions on the ears, and rubber padding on the headband, the HP30 is neither comfortable or uncomfortable.  While I don’t mind the on-ear design at all, that rubber padding is a little rough on my noggin, and does get a little aggravating during longer listening sessions.

The HP30 is fairly portable, though, as it relies on an interesting design where the right ear piece swivels forward and the left ear piece swivels backward, allowing the headphone to be compacted without a tendency to fall apart like headphones utilizing the more traditional hinged design.

Specs

Frequency Range:  20-20,000 Hz
Impedance:  32 ohms
Sound Pressure Level (SPL):  NA
Total Harmonic Distortion (THD):  <0.25%

Frequency range is fairly standard, as is the nominal impedance – more than understandable, since these are designed to be used with smartphones and other low-power devices.  Volume is decent and probably lands close to 110 or 115 dB.  Distortion is given as a low <0.25% but it seems closer to 0.3%, honestly.

Low End

The first thing I notice about the low end of the HP30 is the booming bass.  It doesn’t sound unnatural, but with plenty of oomph, it easily steals the show.  That being said, the detail in the low end is still quite good, and decent control ensures that bleed doesn’t get too out of hand.

Mids

Midrange sound on this NAD is amazing.  Great fidelity keeps the sound clean and smooth, without a hint of distortion or compression.  Vocals and instrumentation are pristine.  The overall awesomeness of the mids can sometimes be lost against the bassy low end, which seems to overpower much of the frequency range.

High End

Bright but not too bright, the high end has ample detail.  Female vocals sound downright luscious.  Strings might lack the least amount of detail when it comes to very high notes, but otherwise it’s a pretty majestic sound.

Soundstage

Too much depth and only some placement make for a strange sense of soundstage.  While not a wholly realistic experience, it is fairly immersive.  Be warned, though, that the sound can seem just a tad bit oppressive after an hour or so.

Other Observations

These headphones seem optimal for rock and hip-hop.  While classical and accoustic music can sometimes suffer from the intense low end, this same driving sound can really punctuate a bass line or a meaty guitar riff.  Add to this the very capable high end, and you have a very v-shaped sound signature.  During my listening sessions, I continuously found myself cuing up Mobb Deep and Sterophonics.  But I didn’t shy away from some Vanessa Carlton, either – that high end sounds fantastic with female vocals.

Recommendations

If you’re more into high-end detail, I would probably suggest the $199 Sennheiser Momentum On-Ear.  It’s a little more stylish with less detail, but it’s also more suited to music that doesn’t need gnarly bass or tons of low end detail.

For those who are want even more dynamic sound in their ‘phones, the $219 Audio Techinca ES770H might be worth a look.  While it features an even more-intense low end, it also sports a brighter, almost-piercing high end.  This one is probably a better option for those who listen to orchestrated pieces, or music where a grand, sweeping sound takes precedence over the more contained (and more controlled) approach of the HP30.

Final Analysis

A sturdy performer for rock fans and hip hop heads everywhere, the NAD Viso HP30 more than pulls its weight where dynamic sound and ample bass are in high demand.  For fans of acoustic and instrumental scores, however, other options may offer a greater sense of satisfaction.

You can find these headphones for the best price here:

Audio 46 (Use our promo code,  “majorhifi” to get 10% off)