At the PSB/NAD booth, two new products were launched that all of you may just have a need for! They are new categories for these companies and as usual for them, represent not only great sound, but real value. But first, a little background on how they came to market. When I attended the Munich HiFi show last spring, I spent a few days after it with all of the Lenbrook international distributors. Lenbrook is the parent company of PSB speakers and NAD electronics. Paul Barton, the founder of PSB speakers, is probably one of the most successful speaker designers on the planet. If you browse the recommended speaker sections of any performance oriented journal, you’ll always find more PSB speakers than any other brand. A big reason for his continued success is Paul’s devotion to relying on the latest scientific methods in his design. Since PSB is a Canadian company, they have at their disposal the National Research Center where you’ll find not only the best acoustic facilities in the world, but also about 40 acousticians to help with a project.
At the Munich HiFi show, Paul gave us a sneak preview of two new product categories he had been working on. The first was a pair of headphones. Before Paul even started to design his first pair of headphones, he set out to work with the NRC to design a true way to measure the performance of headphones. Over several months they were able to develop a model of the human ear that gave them the ability to analyze a headphone’s acoustic characteristics. Paul then proceeded to test every popular headphone on the market.
The new PSB headphones will be out before Christmas and to me represent a real breakthrough in not only performance, but unique design. First, they are extremely comfortable covering the ear completely. Unlike most headphones where the padding is symmetrical, Paul found if it varied slightly for in front of and behind the ear both comfort and performance were improved. One cool feature is the ability to connect the cord to either earpiece, so you can drape the cord in the way that suits your current environment best. Finally the sound is just spectacular. And, as you would expect from PSB, they will not only sound great, but be a real value. Projected price is around $399 and I think once you hear them, you will agree they compete with headphones at any price!
The other really neat piece we saw in Munich was NAD’s first venture into the world of iPod playback systems. Paul began the introduction by showing us the frequency response curves of several of the most popular docks on the market that were above $300 in selling price. No one was shocked to see that none of them had much real bass or had a very even response curve. He then showed us the test results for his new dock. We were all just astounded to see the measured frequency response of the new VISO1 iPod dock. It looked like what you would expect to see from a $2000 speaker! Paul was able to accomplish such great sound by using the NRC to model many different variations of his design. We then went into a pretty large room to get our first listen to the VISO1. To say it blows all of the competition out of the water is an understatement. You just have to hear this piece to believe it. We hope to see these before Christmas as well, pricing is supposed to be around $700.