If you have never heard of Naim then you have missed out. They have been delivering quality high-end hifi and audio solutions for over 40 years from their base in the United Kingdom. The Naim mu-sois their first foray into the world of wireless and we are delighted to confirm that they did an amazing job. The mu-so is simply fantastic.
In recent years, Naim have partnered with Bentley to ensure their incredible luxury sports cars are fitted with a worthy audio solution. This is the stable that the mu-so is from and this is kind of quality and prestige that the mu-so most definitely lives up to.
Design & Build
You can tell just from first impressions that this is a quality product, delivered from a quality company. It looks incredible and though some may say it has the appearance of a “fat soundbar” we think it looks incredible.
The speaker cabinet is made of MDF which has been carefully wrapped in a layer of anodised aluminium. These both improve the cabinet’s damping amd helps the mus-so to deliver a natural, distortion-free sound.
It also has a distinctive extruded aluminium heat sink that spans the length of the rear of the mu-so to maximise thermal performance. The mirrored base is a beautiful touch, too, making the whole unit look like it is floating and featuring the glowing Naim badge when you are using it.
On top of the mu-so you will find the control interface. This consists of a touchscreen interface and a display fitted on a beautifully illuminated dial.
The dial is made from a solid ring of bead-blasted anodised aluminium and the attention to detail and the quality of this control is simply incredible. It really is great to use (it is lightly weighted just beautifully).
On the touchscreen area, simply tap the illuminated icons to play or pause your track, or spin the dial to either choose from any of the three wired inputs, or to switch between five preset radio stations (you can set presets using the Naim app). The illuminated display shows which streaming option you’re currently using.
The segmented lighting around the edge is a lovely touch too. You turn the dial and they light up to indicate the volume. All in all, it is a very polished control interface (pun intended).
If the standard black grille doesn’t thrill you, or if you have a different colour scheme to fit the mu-so into, you can choose to change it. Other grilles are available in blue, orange and red. The unit measures in at 122mm (h) x 628mm (w) x 256mm (d) and weighs in at 13kg. This does restrict where you put it and there are also some settings regarding how far away the rear of the unit is from the wall.
Now it would be a huge disappointment if a speaker system that looks as incredible as this, doesn’t deliver when it comes to sound quality. Well we are delighted to confirm that there is absolutely no chance of that at all. This is a premium-looking unit and is certainly a premium-sounding unit as well.
The sound is amazingly clear and the detail is very impressive in upper ranges. The bass is deep and smooth, with no trace of cabinet distortion, and the mid range and treble are also great. Overall, the listening experience is excellent. The mu-so certainly delivers a punch, especially for a speaker unit of this size.
But how have they managed it? Well, Naim have designed and installed six custom-designed speaker drivers (2x bass drivers, 2x midrange drivers and 2x dome tweeters), each of which are powered by 75 watt digital amplifiers to deliver the 450W of punchy sound perfection that has wowed us so much.
These, coupled with the high-performance 32-bit digital signal processor, some smart bass porting and internal configuration (that moves large volumes of air with low turbulence) enables the mu-so to produce that stunning sound.
You do have to be careful where you choose to place it in the room, though. Better bass can be achieved by pulling it a little from the wall so a little trial and error is required to achieve that wonderful, perfect sound.
Let’s start with the local connections and ports. Underneath you will see the power, ethernet port and optical input ( TosLink optical digital audio socket) in a recessed panel on the right. On the left is the bass port (part of the clever system that produces such a great sound by moving so much air through the cabinet.)
On the right side of the unit (when looking at it) you have the USB socket, the 3.5mm analogue input and a pin-hole for Wi-Fi key sharing (for easy setup) and for restoring the mu-so’s settings back to the factory defaults. The USB can be used to play content from a memory stick ( MP3, ALAC, AAC, FLAC, WMA, WAV, AIFF or Ogg Vorbis formats supported) or from your iOS or other storage device that uses the UMS format and, of course, the 3.5mm analogue in.
Here you will also see the multicolour status LED which is useful to show the connection status or other useful system status info.
Now, onto the non-local audio sources. Well, these are numerous. Naim have gone to town and you can connect to the mu-so using the following methods: Apple AirPlay, Bluetooth and UPnP. These, plus the ability to use iRadio, Spotify Connect and a multiroom ability really do make the mu-so incredibly equipped to meet all your wireless audio needs.
We would normally recommend running a wired local connection to your home network using the ethernet port (perfect for Internet streaming and access using your local wifi network) but the mu-so will happily sit on your wireless network itself, and the quality of the wireless antennae built into this unit is truly impressive. It performed so solidly when we tested it that it really doesn’t seem to matter whether you have it wired into your network or not.
The inclusion of iRadio with the mu-so is fantastic. You can access 5 preset iRadio stations from the mu-so touch panel or if you are using the Naim app then you can browse different stations, search and update your presets and even store an additional 35 presets in that app.
Multiroom allows you play local network audio streams to multiple Naim multiroom products connected on the same local network. The mu-so multiroom input is selected automatically when it receives an incoming stream but you can disconnect it from the stream using the touch panel or using the app if you want to turn it off. You can also change the settings (via the great app) to exclude the unit from your multiroom setup.
The UPnP options enables the mu-so to play audio files stored on UPnP-compliant servers (such as the Naim UnitiServe) or on other serving devices on your network with integrated UPnP software. This works great and supports a ton of great formats. It is important to note that the audio files must be DRM free in order to be used, though.
Remote & Apps
The mu-so can be controlled from either the touch panel and dial, the remote control or the Naim app. The remote is ok, but we found that the Naim app offers a better experience and more complete control and setup facilities. We would definitely recommend that before you start to use your mu-so you download and install the app on your iOS or Android device as it really does makes things so much easier.
You have to ask how the Naim mu-so stacks up against the competition, and when compared to the B&W A7 in particular. It really is a tough one. You could argue that the A7 is also a great-sounding, premium quality speaker unit and is slightly cheaper, but the things that push the mu-so over the top are the, the looks (arguably), definitely the better connectivity options, the additional power output the mu-so has and the Naim App, which really is the final nail in the A7’s coffin, in this comparison. Some may say that you can put the A7 anywhere and it will sound great whereas you need to be a little more choosy with the mu-so, but as with everything it comes down to personal choice.
For us, the Naim mu-so wins and would take pride of place over the incredible B&W A7, if your budget can stretch to it.
Well, it is worth reiterating that this is Naim’s first wireless speaker product, and what a debut. This fabulous wireless speaker system isn’t the cheapest but it is one of the best and most beautiful systems we have ever seen. It looks great, sounds great, has a ton of connectivity options, allows streaming from Internet-based services and is comes with a 2-year manufacturer warranty, just to add the final icing to the cake.
The Naim mu-so is simply a quality, premium wireless AirPlay speaker system that really does take things to another level.