Review: Naim Audio Mu-so Qb Speaker
We review very few speakers in the price range of Naim Audio's Mu-so Qb ($1,000), but the compact sound system is being sold in Apple retail stores, and we thought it was worth a look. The heavy modern cube speaker can connect right out of the box to an iOS device via Bluetooth, or AirPlay, Spotify Connect, Tidal or UPnP using Wi-Fi and the free Naim Audio app. Mu-so Qb's striking design conceals two tweeters and two mid drivers all backed by 50W amplifiers, two passive bass radiators, and woofer with a 100W amplifier, for 300W of total power. A 32-bit digital signal processor controls the music. Mu-so Qb can also connect with other Mu-so speakers for multi-room sound — a nice bonus, but an expensive multi-room sound system, to be sure.
For a $1K desktop speaker, you’d expect great design, and Mu-so Qb doesn’t disappoint. A bold, modern, silver and black cube, Mu-so Qb would be an eye-catching piece in one’s home even if it wasn’t a speaker. Mu-so Qb isn’t a perfect cube, as its dimensions range slightly from about 8.25” to 8.5”. A plug-in 12.3 pound speaker, Mu-so Qb will be best in one prominent spot in the house.
The top of the speaker features touch controls, and a large knob to control volume — a glowing light emanates from underneath, which is another futuristic touch. Other than an input for the power cord, the back of Mu-so Qb houses USB, Ethernet, digital audio, and 3.5mm audio ports below the heatsink. A multicolor indicator light updates users on connection status. In all, Mu-so Qb is an impressive package.
We had no issues connecting to Mu-so Qb via Bluetooth, as we were streaming music a few minutes after taking the speaker out of the box. But AirPlay was also a painless experience for us. After a quick connection to our Wi-Fi network and the typical slight AirPlay playback delay, we found no issues when streaming using Apple’s own protocol. While many have moved on to Bluetooth by now, if you’re still an AirPlay evangelist, you shouldn’t be disappointed with Mu-so Qb.
The Naim Audio app is pretty good as far as these things go. A number of internet radio stations are at hand, users can change the lighting level on Mu-so Qb, and there’s even an option for setting up an alarm clock on the speaker from within the app. That being said, also as these things go, you’ll probably use it sparingly — to connect to Wi-Fi, or to turn on the speaker, mostly.
To say the sound is pretty great is probably expected at this price point, so we’re glad to hear a top-notch speaker here. Mu-so Qb is an excellent all-around performer that can get plenty loud enough for large spaces, but we noticed some differences in relation to Bowers & Wilkins’ Zeppelin Wireless — an expensive speaker we really like…which is still $300 cheaper than Naim Audio’s new offering.
In direct comparison, we found that both speakers have strong bass, with Mu-so Qb having a bit more punch, while Zeppelin Wireless’ design lends itself more to an all-encompassing rumble on certain songs. Overall preference will vary on this matter, and it may change from song to song. Zeppelin Wireless has more obvious stereo separation due to the difference in its elongated design when compared to the boxy Mu-so Qb. Mu-so Qb has a clear midrange with plenty of oomph, but it also loses a bit of detail in that area at times when facing off with Zeppelin Wireless. We could see how different listeners could prefer one speaker or the other — but even if you favor the Mu-so Qb’s sound, we wouldn’t say it’s worth hundreds of dollars more than B&W’s premium speaker.
Mu-so Qb is a powerful, impressive speaker in a much tighter package than the long Zeppelin Wireless, if space is a concern of yours. While we love Mu-so Qb’s sound and design, paying $1,000 for a speaker is understandably a non-starter for many consumers — but for those who do have the money to spend, you won’t be disappointed with this stylish cube, and based on that, the speaker earns our general recommendation.