NAD | In-Ear Monitors | $ 169.00
After the success of the NAD VISO HP50 over-ear headphones, NAD, with the help of Paul Barton, has come out with a new in-ear model for their VISO line of audio products. This becomes NAD’s first steps into the in-ear business. It’s a strong step, but does come with its weaknesses.
Frequency Response: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
Impedance: 16 ohms
In the Box
NAD VISO HP20
Silicone Tips (Single Flange: 5 sizes)
The styling that NAD employs with their HP20 is definitely unique and edgy at the same time. The metal housings have a simplistic smooth finish around the round barrel that tapers slightly into a square. The back end of the housing has the NAD name and logo screened onto it while VISO is written prominently on the main barrel. The strain reliefs angle outward to complete the unique, edgy design.
The sound that Paul Barton employs on the HP20 is very lush in the midrange that is a little boomy with the bigger bass while the treble is actually quite soft and well controlled. The sound of the HP20 actually doesn’t have too much in common with the HP50, but a sound stage is something that is there. NAD calls this the RoomFeel feature.
Showing off with quantity in the low end, the HP20 is able to compose itself well still. The bass can be a little impactful at times, almost boomy in a sense while the low-bass focus allows the sub-bass to have a strong presence while also maintaining decent fluidity. Despite the bigger size, the bass is still tight and allows for a good sense of speed, something that is tough to execute.
The midrange of the HP20 offers warmth and lushness, in many ways, it is reminiscent of the VISO HP50 over-ears. Smooth becomes the word that describes the midrange the best. This takes a bit away from detailing and retrieval, but also adds emotion and lushness to the vocals and instrumentals alike. The upper instrumentals lack slightly in clarity while the vocals do get up high. These, however, aren’t the best with sibilant recordings.
In the treble ranges, the HP50 obtains the energy and power. The upper treble can get a bit edgy at times unfortunately, but offers strong detailing and separation. In many ways, the upper treble overshadows the lower treble which is there with great detailing but could use better presence at times. Extension is a strong suite with the lower treble as well as the upper treble.
Packaged with the VISO HP20 is a small, semi-hard carrying case that is about the size of a hockey puck. The case has slots for the airplane adapter and the ¼” adapter. You can easily get the cable clip to clip inside of the case, however, you really can’t fit much more into there. Regardless, the case will do an ample job protecting the IEMs when they aren’t in use.
NAD utilizes thick aluminum to house the dynamic drivers. The housings have a pretty good density to them and don’t feel (or sound) hollow. That said, the housings seem strong physically. Exiting each metal housing is a medium-length strain relief (that is actually long in contrast to other IEMs).
Like with the HP50, the HP20 uses flat cables in their design. The flat cables do offer good thickness and flexibility. As with most other flat cables, having these tangle up is next to impossible. All-in-all, the cable on the HP20 feels firm and durable.
At the terminal end of the cable is a headphone jack. The jack is angled at 90-degrees with a thick headphone jack that is sturdy. The strain relief is robust although a bit stiff. The only downside is that the headphone jack is nickel plated instead of being gold plated.
This becomes the main weakness of the VISO HP20. Due to the length of the housings and size of the strain reliefs exiting the housings, the VISO HP20 can only be worn straight down. There is no way to wear them up comfortably which is unfortunate (this is my preferred way to wear IEMs). They do also stick out quite a ways too. On the up-side, the HP20 does come with 5 sets of tips to ensure a proper seal.
Retailing at 170 dollars, the NAD VISO HP20 walks into a price range with some pretty steep competition. It’s not the worst IEM in this price range, but it still definitely isn’t the best. With that said, it is priced competitively and bundles with a 3-button remote and mic. Unfortunately, the comfort may plague this product for many.
NAD’s first step into in-ears is a step that any headphone manufacturer needs to make. Although I was really impressed with the HP50, the HP20 had a weakness or two that made it a little offensive, the comfort would be the main complaint. Sonically, they may not be perfect, but the NAD VISO HP20 is competitive in this area.
I’d like to thank Peter for the product sample.