Naim Mu-So & Mu-So Qb Review
Naim is an audio legend and known for designing some of the finest high-end audio equipment available today. The Mu-So and Mu-So Qb is their first entry into wireless and home distributed audio in a compact form (and much more affordable price!)
First things first, the Mu-So and Mu-So Qb are absolutely stunning designs and offered in a variety of colors to suit your taste. And if that wasn't enough you can go all out and get the bling worthy Bentley editions of either model. The cabinets are heavy and have a very premium feel to them. We doubt there is a better looking wireless speaker available on the market.
The Mu-So is the flagship wireless speaker in the range, although both share similarities in terms of design, construction, and even operation. Where they differ is in sound quality but don't take that to mean the smaller Mu-So Qb is a slouch in anyway, it's not. Let's start with the basics and similarities between the two models and then highlight the differences.
First the controls are conveniently located on the top of both units in the form of a rotary dial that functions to control the unit and display information. It allows you to adjust volume and control features such as playing or pausing and skipping around tracks and even changing inputs. Further the impressive display will also list the current track or source being played back. The dial has a hefty and premium feel and it's smooth in operation, a real dream to use. The led lights illuminate around the dial base to indicate the unit is on and the volume level is also shown on the dial itself in a series of glowing segmented lights. Another nice touch is the led Naim logo located towards the bottom which lights up as you approach the unit. Of course if you can't be bothered with any of that then a remote control is included or you can use the official Naim app for smartphones and tablets to control the units.
Speaking of remotes, that's about the only thing lacking as far as build quality goes. It's easy to use and responsive but the overall build quality is not up to par with the rest of the system, in fact it seems somewhat like an afterthought. And when everything else is so lush and wickedly put together this lack of attention to detail on the remote feels odd. Perhaps Naim included it as a last minute item and did hope everyone would use the app or the device itself.
Connectivity & Formats
Since Naim doesn't have it's own streaming service you aren't stuck with a particular source for music. Nearly every single streaming service is packed into the system ensuring your vast library is always available for playback. There's Tidal, Spotify Connect, Internet Radio, UPnP, and if a service isn't natively built in you can always use Bluetooth or AirPlay.
Moving on from streaming you have access to a USB port, an optical input (optical is limited to 24 bit / 96 kHz, although you'd be hard pressed to hear the difference at this level), and a 3.5mm analog input. Wi-Fi is built into the system but there's also an ethernet port for those that prefer direct connections.
So if you're streaming or have your media stored on a local NAS box or a laptop or even on a usb thumb drive you can be sure you can play it back on the Mu-So and Mu-So Qb. An extensive list of file formats are supported: MP3's, WAV, FLAC and AIFF files. One thing to note here is that wired connection provides an advantage in that you will get full high-resolution playback whereas wireless streams are limited to 48kHz.
Further control of all of this is provided conveniently in Naim's official app. The app is worth downloading as it will allow you to centralize all your streaming sources and feed it to the Mu-So and also allow tweaking the EQ settings in the system. It's an absolute must if you're installing more than one Mu-So or Mu-So-Qb in your house as it will allow you to setup multi-room audio quickly. The app is also a great way to discover free internet radio stations including some of Naim's favorites.
How does this sound, especially compared to other players such as the Apple HomePod or Sonos systems? In a word: astonishing!
If you're a HiFi nut or specifically looking for the best sound available in a wireless speaker then we feel you have no choice but the Naim Mu-So system. It delivers a rich sound full of character and body that beggars belief, one that you would expect of a more traditional HiFi system consisting of separate components throughout. If you're got a full blown audiophile system will this replace it? No, unfortunately nothing can truly touch separates but up to a certain price point and for those looking for a convenient all-in-one package you'd be hard pressed to do better.
The sound scale is large and able to easily fill moderate sized rooms with some authority. Further the unit delivers PRaT in spades (Pacing, Rythym, and Timing). The soundfield is rich and airy and it offers surprisingly decent bass. The Mu-So is a few notches higher compared to the smaller Mu-So Qb but neither are slouches. If you want the absolute best or have a slightly larger space we definitely recommend the Mu-So, save the Qb for smaller environments or perhaps where absolute sound quality is not a top priority but space is (think places like the kitchen counter where the smaller Qb would fit in perfectly well).
Through a variety of tracks we found the mid-range to be superb accompanied by a nice airy treble, crystal clear and non-fatiguing. Instruments and vocals alike sound natural and not emphasized in one direction or the other. Song after song you couldn't help but want to continue listening to the next track and continue being amazed by the sound quality coming out of such small devices. While the all out bass assault might be lacking -- no it will not plummet the depth of low frequency or make anything rumble -- what it does offer in exchange of outright depth is clean and taut output, perfect for its size and design goals.
The Naim Mu-So is a seriously attractive product and it's performance leaves all other wireless speakers far behind. It features outstanding build quality that's equally matched by the sound it produces all while doing so in a stunning package that would fit into virtually any decor. It's easy to use and the app is intuitive. If you care at all about sound quality and are in the market for a wireless speaker then the Naim Mu-So should be your first consideration.
Please contact us for more information about the Naim Mu-So and Naim Mu-So Qb.