The original Naim mu-so aimed to bring wired sound quality to a wireless speaker, and what’s more to do it in a stylish way. It succeeded in its aim and won almost universal praise in the process. Now its Wiltshire based manufacturer is hoping that lightning can strike twice. Is their new offering value for money? Well, it’s not cheap, but the Naim mu-so Qb is still great value. It keeps the exceptional sound quality of its predecessor and a striking design that ensures visitors to your home can’t help but make a beeline for it.
Build & Design
The design is pretty straightforward, a block colour cube sat on some see-through, light-up perspex. A simple concept it may be, but one that is really easy to get wrong (and tip over into garish) without some subtle design points and solid craftsmanship.
Take for example the care that has gone into the choice of additional grille colours – “Deep Blue”, “Vibrant Red” or “Burnt Orange”. Each has been picked to stand out, but not in a brash way. Similarly, small details such as the grille coming as an all in one piece to keep it looking continuous as well as the subtle wave pattern that adorns the side show the amount of thought that Naim has put into the mu-so Qb.
For the majority of the time you will no doubt be controlling the device with your phone, but Naim has still put effort into the beautiful control dial on top that is surrounded by a groove in the aluminium. It has haptic feedback – basically vibrating when you touch the buttons to give a more responsive feel.
Yes, we’re uncharacteristically in love with the design, but we’re not the only ones. This cube is so sleek that Apple and John Lewis, retailers who always have one eye on design, have been giving the mu-so Qb pride of place in their stores.
It measures 21 x 21.8 x 21.2 cm so it’s big enough to be a feature in your living room but still small enough to sit on your bedside table.
Take off the grille and it instantly becomes apparent that you are not dealing with a simple bookshelf speaker. Instead, you get an incredibly sophisticated rig that is capable of replacing a full Hi-Fi system in a medium to large sized room.
Two tweeters, two mid-range speakers and a subwoofer driver are packed into the diminutive box. The result is that sounds can be separated out easily, resulting in a really clear sonic performance. However at higher volumes for particularly bassy songs, we did find the lower register dominated over the mid-range. To be clear, we really did have to push it to its limit to find this fault and in any case, the treble remained largely unaffected and vocals are always pushed forward.
For those wanting to use this device as a companion to their TV we would probably say to look elsewhere. We found its height made it hard to position in front of the telly, meaning sound would jarringly come in from an angle.
Those minor quibbles aside, this is a superb achievement for Naim. The mu-so Qb fills the room with a pleasant, lively and responsive sound that you would expect from a product that originally hit the market at a thousand dollars. Now the price has come down, we reckon this device is an excellent deal.
You can stream music over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. The companion app is functional and straightforward to use (though we prefer rival apps such as Sonos’). You currently a get 90 day free trial of Tidal, and with a device like this, you will hear the difference a premium streaming service such as Jay-Z’s (much maligned) company provides. If you’re a Spotify fan you can of course connect to that.
You can also connect via a 3.5mm connection, an optical port, an ethernet socket and USB. Wired it produces a better sound but that comes at the expense of convenience.