Naim Mu-so Qb
FOR Outstanding build; features; big, bold sound; decent detail; rhythmic know-how AGAINST Bass is a little rich for neutral ears; could have more insight in the midrange
In 2014, Naim took some time out from producing more traditional hi-fi kit to have a punt at the wireless speaker market. It not only gained a legion of new fans but also proved it could bring hi-fi sound quality to a one-box design, albeit at a price.
Then Naim went a step further, by taking everything that we love about the original Mu-so and squeezing it into a more affordable, more compact design. The result was the Mu-so Qb, a stylish speaker with a small footprint but a big personality.
A ‘floating’ cube
The Qb’s design is striking yet minimalist, with an illuminated acrylic base that makes it look as though it’s hovering; its otherwise crisp outlines softened by the characteristic ripple of its three grilles.
As with the Mu-so, these grilles can be switched up from a dramatic black to more playful choices of blue, red or orange, while the back edge of the cube is given up to the same distinctive aluminium heat sink that kept things cool on the original.
It’s impeccably made – heavier than you might expect, and topped with the same gorgeous touchscreen dial that we loved on the original Mu-so.
Naim has positioned a five-strong custom driver set-up into a sturdy casing behind the front panel, placing some at an angle in order to widen the sound.
There are two dome tweeters, two midrange drivers and a single woofer supported by two passive radiators, all coming together to deliver a huge 300W.
Apple Airplay, aptx Bluetooth, Spotify Connect, Tidal and internet radio are all present, as is upnp for sniffing out music stored on your home network.
Hard-wire for hi-res
Fans of high-resolution music are in luck, with support for everything from MP3S all the way up to 24-bit/192khz hi-res tracks in WAV, FLAC and AIFF. The only catch is that you’ll need to be hard-wired to get the best sample rates.
Once you’re set up with Naim’s neat app (through which you can control a multi-room system), you’re ready to hear just how powerful the Qb is. It delivers a size and scale you just wouldn’t expect from such compact dimensions.
It offers a muscular presentation that certainly isn’t short of clout in the low end. Listen to Top Boy by Blacks and the larger-than-life bassline is deep and weighty. It's a touch overstated though, and lacks a little precision.
While the bass might steal the show in the sonic signature, its solidity rubs off on the midrange and treble too. Vocals are pretty clean and focused, while the high-end sounds open and composed – there’s little hardness here.
We do note a slight lack of subtlety in the midrange of Nina Simone’s when compared with the cheaper B&W Zeppelin Wireless though, the finer details staying hidden beneath its bold-as-brass presentation. Dynamics, too, are not quite as expressive.
The likes of the larger (and newer) Audiopro Drumfire are clearly better when it comes to outright insight, transparency and scale, although the Qb’s timing is still something it can be proud of alongside rivals.
That confident persona and sheer weight are valuable assets in such a small speaker. Add in a whole load of streaming connectivity and you have a very comprehensive speaker indeed. The Qb might not rate as one of the very best at this price but it remains a product to take seriously.