Looking for an all-in-one wireless speaker that sounds ace, beautifully well-built and easy to use? The Naim Mu-so might just have you covered. From the moment you take it out of the box; to hearing it with your own ears, you will be surprised of what this speaker is capable of. This is all aided by a sweet accompanying application that is used to control the Mu-so, you will locate your way around it in no time and if you are seeking a sound as close to a separates system without having all of the boxes and separate speakers, you can't really go wrong with this.
Naim Audio, a company founded in the 70’s. You might have heard of Naim Audio for their integrated amplifiers, pre-amplifiers, power amplifiers and DACs, all of which you can't go wrong with, but now you might hear of them for their wireless speakers too. The Mu-so was Naim's first, and is still probably the best of its class, period.
Naim Audio decided it was time to have a crack at the wireless speaker game back in 2014 with the ever-increasing market and demand for an all-in-one solution that still keeps the clarity and depth of a Hi-Fi separate system. With many other manufacturers already deep into the market with huge success, Naim were going to have to pull something out of the hat that would leave audiences delighted. And leave them delighted, they have, partly due to this speaker hosting a combined power of 450 watts, coming from 6 individual digital amplifiers powering 6 individual drive units - 2 tweeters, 2 mid units and 2 bass units - placed symmetrically. This is already sounding promising.
In the flesh the Mu-so features a timeless, futuristic design. Constructed of a solid layer of MDF, surrounded with beautifully finished aluminium with a matching heat sink for all things thermal, showcased on a transparent plinth. This speaker looks one of a kind and will not look old anytime soon. You can, if you like, purchase a different coloured grille to go with it. These come in at £50 and in three jazzy colours, but we think black is smart enough to begin with. One stand-out external feature is the presence of Naim's patented touch control interface. This is where you can control the selection of inputs and the skipping of tracks on the touch panel and the volume through the surrounding metal ring. They claim it takes around two hours to perfect the spinning resistance of the surrounding ring, and it shows, as you will find yourself spinning the volume control just for the sake of it because it feels so seamless.
When you finally get to turn the unit on for the first time you are greeted with a beautifully lit Naim logo as well as a pulsing light surrounding the touch control interface. This is when you will have to set the unit up through Naim's app that is available for iOS and Android but unfortunately not for Windows Phone. The set-up is fairly simple for those who don't have a tech touch. There is an LED indicator light found at the side of the unit so you'll know if you have it set up correctly or not after going through the step by step process on the app. Just make sure your router isn't too far away from the unit unless you plan on hard-wiring it into your network.
Once set up, you will be greeted with the Mu-so's home screen on the app. It helps that Naim have recently released a new update for the app making it faster and easier to use than ever before, just like your Sky remote, you will know it like the back of your hand in days. On the home screen you can easily access sources and settings for the Mu-so. Inputs include: Spotify Connect, TIDAL, iRadio, UPnP, USB, Bluetooth and a digital TOSLINK connection. The TOSLINK connection is handy if you would like to use this speaker as a sound-bar for the living room TV too. One nifty trick that is included in the app is the ability for multi-room playback. This means that if you ever have more than one Mu-so speaker, or a Naim Uniti amplifier, on the same network, you can make them play the same song at the same time. Something that the app does not show you is the selection for AirPlay. I like to describe this as Apple's Bluetooth. It means that if you own an Apple product, that is compatible for AirPlay, you can play anything to the speaker without having to put it through the Naim app, so long as your Apple device is connected to the same Wi-Fi network. So let’s just say you have an Apple Music subscription, you can AirPlay any track from it to the speaker. Here at Hi-Fi Corner, we tend to use UPnP and TIDAL most of, if not all of the time, as they are so convenient for us. TIDAL is great if you would like to stream CD quality music files from a choice of over 40 million plus tracks at a cost of twenty quid a month, but don't forget you will receive three months free with the purchase of a Mu-so. If you own a NAS drive at home and store all of your CDs on it, through ripping, or if you hold tonnes of music directly on your computer, the Mu-so can play back all of the music stored on these sources through UPnP with ease. In the settings you can do some quirky things: change the name of the unit, change the speaker placement from the wall, change the background of the app and even change the brightness of the logo featured within the plinth of the unit. Here you will also find a 'Loudness' option; turn it on and bass is subtly increased at lower volumes.
Now onto sound. Once the unit has been run-in the Mu-so's soundstage is full of presence and accuracy. Whether you're cranking it up or playing at atmospheric levels, you will not be disappointed. While listening to Michael Bublé's version of 'Feeling Good' highs and mids are sustained beautifully at any volume level while the bass tones from the double bass are present too with no distortion. Another track we demonstrated, Jamie xx's 'Good Times', basslines were full of life and voices crisp. A more acoustic track we tested, 'Against the Grain' from Hudson and Troop, was full of depth and guitar strums were clear as day. It is surprising how well this unit handles your music. When situated in front of the unit, left and right channels are present due to the formation of the drivers which can fool you, at times, making you think there are two speakers placed in front of you.
So, for £895, is it worth it? I'd say every penny. There are other options on the market that attempt to do the same as the Mu-so, but most fall short. It is a product with a timeless design, great build, heritage behind it every step of the way, great features, great usability and able to fit in with modern day living seamlessly. Whether you're using it to play background music when friends and family are around or you are having a sweet jamming session, the Naim Mu-so will keep you tapping your feet all night long.
To find out more about the Mu-So, click here.