New Acoustic Dimension, aka NAD, is a brand well known to audiophiles. Beginning in the late 1970s with the 3020 integrated amplifier, the once-British, now-Canadian company has developed a reputation for solid-performing, high-value electronics. Like many other manufacturers, NAD is now moving beyond its traditional two-channel audio and home-theater products to address, with its Viso products, the booming market of compact desktop and personal audio gear. A recent addition to the range are the HP50 headphones ($299 USD).
Knowing that the NAD Viso HP50s were designed by Paul Barton, I had high expectations for them. I wasn’t disappointed. Their tonal balance is close to neutral, with a little extra upper midrange that highlights the crucial vocal band. Their bass is extended, even, and articulate — though some listeners will doubtless want more of it. While no closed-back headphones will sound as open as an open-back design, the HP50s sound more open than most. Most important, they communicated the music without ever doing anything to distract from it.