Introducing the NIMROD - Our First Impressions
In our last blog post Speaker Kit Development at Visaton we shared images of a new kit Visaton had in development, which was in the early design stages. In that post we promised to share any updates we received on the kit, which has since been called the NIMROD, and that brings us to today's blog post, 'Introducing the NIMROD - Our First Impressions'.
The guys at Visaton had promised a fully assembled pair of NIMRODs for us to look at and listen to and these arrived in a hefty crate a few weeks ago.
NIMROD speakers arriving fully assembled.
Now that we've had a good chance to evaluate the new speaker, we are pleased to convey our first impressions here.
The NIMROD design
The NIMROD is a compact design which has it’s own specially designed stand. Each speaker is quite heavy at 18.5 kg, so the stands need to be sturdy and stable. These are not overbearing speakers and they will blend well into small and medium sized rooms. The aesthetics are very pleasing in a 70’s retro way! The top surface is the same size as a 12 inch LP! Our sample is a dark mahogany veneer which looks very attractive. The baffle is not veneered but could be if you preferred.
The driver units are aligned in a conventional way, with the tweeter and midrange units off centre and the bass unit central. Unusually, the tweeter is mounted within a wave guide which helps integration with the midrange unit. In effect this makes the output of the tweeter better time aligned with the output of the midrange. We found this worked very well and upper range frequencies were reproduced seamlessly. The system is a bass reflex design, but unlike most historic models the NIMROD does not have a reflex tube, but rather a narrow slotted port which is located front facing at the bottom of the cabinet.
Some original speakers from the 70’s had fairly “flabby” bass response however the NIMROD has a tighter low end with good definition. This is probably down to the quality of the Visaton GF 200, 8 inch bass unit which has a rigid glass fibre cone.
Visaton GF 200 base unit - seen in the NIMROD.
The star of this speaker however is probably the Visaton B 80 midrange driver unit. This is a relatively new paper coned design which can be used full range or as a mid range. Lovers of vintage equipment very often point to the midrange sound of old speakers and amplifiers which typically have a warm, euphonic signature. Descriptions like “liquid” and “smooth” spring to mind. The NIMROD definitely has something of this and as a result is very easy to listen to for long periods of time.
Visaton B 80 midrange driver - seen in the NIMROD.
However this is a Visaton speaker so there must also be detail and focus! This never seems forced however as it can with many modern speakers. These natural qualities are very much the domain of the B 80 and to a great extent it is this drive unit we feel which gives the NIMROD it’s fine character.
The G 25 FFL tweeter is a fairly conventional 25mm soft dome, ferro fluid cooled voice coil with a very smooth high frequency response. It does not really draw attention to itself but is detailed, clear and particularly good at reproducing ambient sound like hall acoustics.
Visaton G 25 FFL tweeter - seen in the NIMROD.
All the drivers seem to blend well and together create a very realistic sound picture. It is quite strange listening to speakers with wide baffles again. So many speakers in the recent past have been narrow designs which were said to improve imaging. Visaton themselves have designed such speakers. That being said, during our time listening to the NIMRODs we were not aware of a problem of this type. In fact, we found the imaging to be excellent!
The NIMROD Set Up
At 84dB these are not sensitive speakers and you would think that they would need a relatively powerful amplifier to get the best out of them. In the interests of authenticity however, we set them up with a 20 watts rms Pioneer receiver of 1974 vintage which sounded rather lovely. This would probably not be an option in a large room! A Devialet D400 provided a more modern take, with additional drive and tighter bottom end. The midrange and top retained the same warm and inviting character we had come to expect from this speaker. A decent modern solid state amplifier of around 100 watts max output would be a good, safe match for the NIMRODs but we would be very tempted to use them with something more in character like a 50 watt valve amp. Our Icon Audio Stereo 40 was quite addictive!
20 watts rms Pioneer receiver used with NIMROD speakers.
We tried to audition the NIMRODs with various types of music and although they work with pretty much anything, I think lovers of classical and acoustic jazz would be particularly impressed. Instrument timbres and string tone are so well reproduced. The bass goes pretty low but you could not say it is seismic, so perhaps you should look elsewhere for playing techno rock.
The NIMROD is not like other speakers from the Visaton range. The Visaton “house” sound is detailed, revealing and dynamic. In other words a modern sound. The NIMROD cannot help but retain some of the Visaton house sound but it also has its own distinctive character, which is warmer, more euphonic and consequently more forgiving of poor recordings. It is certainly a welcome addition to the Visaton range and is a clear tribute to those great speakers from the past.
Further technical information and construction details for the NIMROD can be found on the Visaton website.
The NIMROD kit is now available to buy on our website impactaudio.co.uk. The kit is sold in pairs for customer assembly and includes everything needed to build two speakers, except for the cabinets.
What do you think of Visatons new kit design? If you have any further questions about the NIMROD please get in touch or leave us a comment below.
Written by Neil Harris
- Sophie Harris