Naim Mu-so

FOR Rich, pow­er­ful sound; sense of scale; dy­nam­ics; fin­ish and de­sign; fea­ture list AGAINST Sounds a touch thick at high vol­umes

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Yes, it’s true; at £895 this is an am­bi­tious propo­si­tion, but one that has the full weight of Naim’s long-stand­ing hi-fi ex­per­tise be­hind it. And with an im­pres­sive list of streaming fea­tures matched by an equally im­pres­sive de­sign, it cer­tainly starts off as a se­ri­ously tempt­ing prod­uct.

A sight for sore eyes

We’ll ad­mit we’re ut­terly taken with the Mu-so’s looks. It’s a gor­geous de­sign (and one that of­fers a choice of grille colours). The cab­i­net is made of MDF and wrapped in a layer of brushed alu­minium for a hefty, pre­mium-qual­ity feel and a good level of damp­ing.

The high­light, how­ever, is that vol­ume dial. A solid ring of bead-blasted an­odised alu­minium, the cir­cu­lar, il­lu­mi­nated con­trol is per­fectly weighted and a dream to use. It dou­bles as a touch­screen con­trol in­ter­face, while the crisp dis­play also in­di­cates your streaming op­tion of choice.

There’s a claimed 450W of power cours­ing through the Mu-so’s sonic veins. Six cus­tom-de­signed driv­ers (two dome tweet­ers, two midrange and two ‘race­track’ bass driv­ers) are hid­den be­hind the grille, each pow­ered by a 75W dig­i­tal am­pli­fier, and there's also a ribbed, flared bass re­flex port.

There’s aptx Blue­tooth, Airplay, UPNP, Spo­tify Con­nect and thou­sands of in­ter­net ra­dio sta­tions on board. Phys­i­cal in­puts in­clude a USB port, an op­ti­cal in­put (lim­ited to 24-bit/96khz) and a 3.5mm ana­logue. There’s also an eth­er­net port to go along­side the wi-fi. Whether you’ve got an IOS or An­droid de­vice, lap­top or NAS box, this Naim plays it all.

File com­pat­i­bil­ity is ex­ten­sive as well. The Naim sup­ports all pop­u­lar au­dio for­mats, from lo-res MP3S and Spo­tify streams to 24-bit/192khz WAV, FLAC and AIFF files. You get full-fat high res­o­lu­tion through the eth­er­net con­nec­tion, while go­ing wire­less lim­its things to 48khz.

We pre­fer us­ing the neatly de­signed app to the sup­plied re­mote; the lat­ter has a pla­s­ticky fin­ish at odds with the Mu-so’s pre­mium feel.

This is more than just a looker. The power be­hind the Mu-so’s sound is im­pres­sive. It drives all songs with a sure-footed sense of rhythm, rich de­tail and lash­ings of deep, rum­bling bass.

The scale of sound is huge. It eas­ily fills our large lis­ten­ing room with its soar­ing dy­nam­ics, and the airy sound­field is as wide as it is tall and deep. Play Jim Croce’s melodic

and you’ll be en­veloped in an en­chant­ing, full-bod­ied sound. In­ter­net ra­dio sta­tions sound ro­bust, too.

Notes stop and start with foot-tap­ping pre­ci­sion, in­stru­ments are ac­cu­rately and co­he­sively laid out, and si­lences be­tween notes have in­ten­sity. A de­mand­ing track such as Time from the

In­cep­tion sound­track shows off the dy­namic prow­ess on of­fer here – the grad­ual build-up is pal­pa­bly tense.

Hi-res sen­si­bil­i­ties

Feed the Mu-so hi-res tracks such as REM’S Los­ing My Re­li­gion (24-bit/192khz) and it shifts up a gear. Ev­ery gui­tar strum is tan­gi­ble, high notes are crisp, drums hit with sat­is­fy­ing im­pact, and Michael Stipe’s vo­cals are clear and in­ti­mate.

Our only nig­gle is that a slightly mus­cle­bound char­ac­ter rears its head when the vol­ume is turned up.

The Naim Mu-so is a se­ri­ously at­trac­tive prod­uct. The per­for­mance lives up to the spec-sheet hype, it looks stun­ning, and that pow­er­ful yet sub­tle sound is as close as we’ve heard to hi-fi from an all-in-one unit such as this.

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