Published on September 26th, 2013 | by Greg0
We’re In Love With NAD’s VISO 1 AP Wireless Speaker
We regularly check out gear that we like, and occasionally gadgets that we truly love. For the most part, they catch our eye because they offer something brand new, a major advance, or an upgrade that takes a product to a new level. More often, we like the look but not the feel, and there’s usually a catch buried somewhere in the fine print that comes with using a product over and over again. Rarely do we find something that we like and have it be oddly unavailable, but that’s the case today. You might not have even heard of the company, but we would very much like to change that.
NAD is a sister company to PSB Speakers, the firm that brought the excellent Alpha PS1s to the world. And we’ve got two pieces of gear to check out separately, the first of which truly knocked our socks off. The NAD Viso 1 AP Wireless Speaker is one of the very best that we’ve tested in this class, and not only catches up to it’s obvious inspiration, the Bowers and Wilkins Zeppelin and Zeppelin Air models, but surpasses them in some ways. Available in either white or black, ours was the darker option, and sat up nicely against several of the recent wireless audio systems that we’ve tried.
It’s gotten to be a bit confusing, with Apple’s Airplay taking over a large segment of the market, but Bluetooth continuing to hold strong and offer a compelling alternative especially for non-iOS users. Sonos continues to be a bit of a niche player, and there are a few other competitors, but few with major market share. We’ve seen the occasional unit attempt to combine both protocols, but today’s is one of the few that does so well. Not only does the Viso 1 AP support Airplay, but also our preferred Bluetooth protocol for audio, the lossless aptX codec that ensures your high bitrate files aren’t compressed into oblivion. If you’re the type of person who listens mostly to Spotify, then you might not notice- but if you have carefully chosen and built an MP3 or FLAC collection of 320 kbps music then you should definitely take a careful look at the Viso 1 AP.
It’s not just wireless- even the wires are nice on this unit. It’s likely the only wireless speaker we’ve seen with an optical digital input, perfect for adding it to a home entertainment system. There’s also a USB port for charging and playback from external media like a thumbdrive.
Let’s talk for a moment about the overall design. The tighter proportions than some competitors mean that it can fit snugly on a desk without consuming your entire space, as the Zeppelin can (and does). The metallic ring adds a classy accent, with pretty excellent controls put front and center, and a side-ported 50W bass woofer that adds plenty of oomph to the pair of 15-watt primary drivers. The sound is a little more directional- where you are sitting does matter though the soundstage is broad it does change. But there is plenty of power to spare, enough to fill a large living room and serve as the primary sound source for a party. We did face some Airplay issues, largely with the occasional drop in connection that we’ve seen repeatedly, but Bluetooth was sturdy and simple (though limited in range and lacking multi-room synchronization of course). We didn’t miss the dock (available on the non-AP previous model), but it’s possible that you might if you have an older 30-pin phone. The remote is pretty meh, but you’ll largely want to use your smartphone or tablet to control playback.
The NAD Viso 1 AP is a stellar wireless speaker, one that purrs whether you’re listening to Willie Nelson or Childish Gambino. We liked the warm sound, sharp and present, almost aggressive, snappy and persuasive. There’s no cut off at the top or bottom, no hard edges, and no real distortion, with audio that matches the style of the unit. The Viso 1 AP wears it’s pricetag well, and is the sort of conversation piece that has a very practical purpose- allowing you to enjoy your music in a new way, without worrying about wires. Available now, online and in stores, for around $600.