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