On-ear headphones such as NAD’s Viso HP30 model rarely appear among audio websites’ top picks. There’s good reason for that. First, it’s difficult to make comfortable on-ear headphones, because the earpads, rather than encircle your earlobes, mash directly against them. Second, it’s difficult to ensure that the earpads seal correctly on the ear — and without a good seal, it’s impossible to get consistently good sound.
The Viso HP30 headphones ($229 USD) represent an attempt by PSB’s founder and chief engineer, Paul Barton, to make a better on-ear design. Barton has earned great reviews for the headphones he’s designed for PSB and NAD, and at least two leading reviewers consider NAD’s Viso HP50 over-ear headphones the reference standard for $300 closed-back models. (That last statement is true only if you count me as a leading reviewer. Your call.)
What’s different about the HP30s? At first glance, not much. The headband hinges about halfway down, letting the headphones fold flat, but lots of the on-ears I’ve tried can do that. The HP30s have a flat, tangle-free cable with an iOS-compatible inline microphone/remote — again, nothing out of the ordinary.
But the Viso HP30s do have RoomFeel, Barton’s trademarked tuning intended to make headphones sound more like real speakers in a real room. So maybe there’s something special about the sound . . .