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

What Hi-Fi (UK) - - Contents -

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.

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