The Naim Mu-so was one of many perfect all-in-one audio techniques I’ve reviewed, and this up to date model is best in each method. The Naim Mu-so 2nd Generation good points HDMI with ARC, so you’ll be able to pair it together with your TV; and it helps Apple AirPlay 2, Google Chromecast, and Bluetooth, so you’ll be able to stream music from nearly any supply. It has an even bigger amp, extra processing energy, and higher drivers than the unique. It’s solely just a little dearer—$1,599—and it sounds positively divine.
The 2019 model of the Naim Mu-so doesn’t look appreciably totally different than the unique, however Naim says 95 p.c of the system has been re-engineered, together with a redesign of the speaker’s inside and its bracing and baffle molding that to squeeze out 13-percent extra inside house whereas rendering all the enclosure extra inflexible to suppress vibration and undesirable resonance. The new mannequin nonetheless sits on an acrylic base with a dimmable LED lighting up its model, and that large aluminum heatsink on the again of the unit stays to ship passive cooling. The outsized management wheel has been carried over, with a brand new proximity sensor that lights up its touch-sensitive controls the moment you place your hand close to it.
Naim added HDMI with ARC help, to make it simpler to make use of the Mu-so as a soundbar together with your TV (the unique had solely a Toslink connector). This mannequin has that and a 3.5mm analog enter, too, however the speaker’s 5-inch peak would possibly obscure the underside of your TV’s display screen (and block the TV’s IR receiver) if you happen to place it proper in entrance (I’d counsel placing your TV on a riser of some type). Naim doesn’t present mounting brackets to hold the 28-pound speaker on the wall, however I suppose you could possibly bolt a shelf to the studs in your wall and relaxation it on that. The speaker doesn’t decode Dolby or DTS, so it doesn’t matter that there’s no possibility for including encompass audio system, however you’ll must configure your TV to ship digital audio to it in PCM format, versus bitstream.
The new mannequin correctly retains its 10/100 ethernet port, so you’ll be able to hardwire it to your community if in case you have the infrastructure, however Naim up to date the speaker’s onboard Wi-Fi adapter to a dual-band (2.4- and 5GHz) mannequin. I think most patrons will stream music in excessive decision (as much as 32-bits, with sampling charges as excessive as 384kHz) from a UPnP server on their community or from an area USB storage machine. Alternatively, you’ll be able to stream from Tidal, and any of your favourite web radio stations (by way of TuneIn) instantly from Naim’s app. There is not any help, nonetheless, for MQA-encoded Tidal streams. The speaker helps Spotify Connect, so paid subscribers can use that service’s app to play their favourite music. If none of these choices fit your palate, you need to use Air Play 2, Chromecast, or Bluetooth to stream different companies, reminiscent of Apple Music, Qobuz, Deezer, or what have you ever.
Inside the Mu-so 2nd Generation
The Mu-so 2nd Generation has a barely extra highly effective amplifier than the primary technology—it delivers 475 watts in comparison with the unique’s 450 watts—however its onboard digital sign processor is considerably extra highly effective: 2,000 MIPS (million directions per second) in comparison with a measly 150 MIPS for the first-gen speaker. One of the numerous options the DSP allows is a room compensation algorithm that lets you not less than considerably customise the speaker’s efficiency to your room. This isn’t as bold because the room correction software program you’ll discover in higher A/V receivers, and even the Trueplay expertise Sonos developed for its audio system, however it should compensate if in case you have no alternative however to position the Mu-so towards a wall or in a nook (the third setting turns off compensation if you happen to’re capable of put the speaker in an open house).
Remove the brand new Mu-so’s black asymmetrical fabric grille (you should purchase a replacement grille in olive green, peacock blue, or terracotta red, however these value £50 every) and also you’ll discover a comparable three-way audio system to that which made the unique Mu-so sound so fabulous, together with a big bass port on the underside of the cupboard. This time round, nonetheless, Naim labored with its sister firm Focal to design a complete new set of mid-range and bass drivers designed to ship true stereo from a single cupboard.
There are left/proper pairs of 1.0-inch silk dome tweeters, 2.0-inch midrange, and 5.0-inch woofers. At the Mu-so’s unveiling in New York earlier this yr, Naim Audio’s director of design, Simon Matthews, instructed TechHive contributor Jonathan Takiff the groups “went through six versions of the mid-range and seven iterations of the long-excursion bass driver until we got to the place where we wanted to be.”
What it’s like to make use of the Mu-so 2nd Generation
Naim’s app, accessible for Android and iOS, is a comparatively Spartan affair, not less than till you select a supply and music to play. Icons throughout the highest symbolize your sources (servers, USB, web radio) and companies (Tidal, Spotify, and so on.). Touch certainly one of these and the related submenu will seem. The house display screen additionally shows a row of headings for the artists, tracks, radio stations, playlists, and presets you’ve designated as favorites. Touch a type of, and a listing of things from that class will seem.
The Naim app is responsive sufficient whenever you’re looking or looking web radio stations or on-line streaming companies. Tidal integration is especially good, as you’ll get artist bios and different details about the music you’re streaming. But it depends on no matter UPnP server you’re utilizing to retailer tracks you personal, so discovering that music may be ploddingly gradual if you happen to don’t have a quick server. This is without doubt one of the areas the place Sonos excels. They don’t help high-res audio, however their cellular consumer is without doubt one of the greatest and most responsive regardless of how gradual your server is likely to be. That mentioned, if I have been to purchase a Mu-so, I’d most likely additionally arrange a Roon Core on a high-powered NAS field (or purchase one thing just like the Roon Nucleus Theo Nicolakis reviewed for TechHive in July if I needed a plug-and-play resolution).
You may management the Mu-so from the touchscreen show inside its outsized management wheel. The outer ring of which is illuminated by dimmable white LED. As I discussed earlier, a proximity sensor brings the show to reside whenever you place your hand close to it, exposing 15 buttons that do all the things from play/pause and track-forward/again by means of your queue, to biking by means of the Mu-so’s audio inputs, sources, favorites, to pairing your Bluetooth gadgets. The wheel itself, in the meantime, controls the speaker’s quantity. As with the unique mannequin, Naim’s easy distant management appears as if it might belong to a $99 boombox. It performs all of the features it must, it’s simply not wherever close to as elegant as the remainder of the system.
Listening to the Mu-so 2nd Generation
I arrange the Mu-so 2nd Generation on the entrance of my 247-square-foot house theater for my listening checks, which the speaker had no drawback filling with sound. Actually, I couldn’t push the quantity stage past about 75 p.c with out it turning into uncomfortably loud—not because of distortion or clipping, it was simply an excessive amount of for my ears. I later moved the speaker into my kitchen, which has an adjoining nice room (about 700 sq. ft mixed), and the Mu-so had no drawback filling that house, both. This monster will stand as much as probably the most raucous of events.
The Mu-so can deal with nearly any audio format you’d care to hearken to, together with WAV, FLAC, and DSD. I don’t personal any DSD recordsdata, and most of my music assortment has been ripped from CD and encoded in FLAC at 16-bit/44kHz. But I’ve additionally bought a good variety of tracks from the Bowers & Wilkins Society of Sound subscription service which might be encoded at greater resolutions, together with Tincian, from the Welsh alt-folk group 9Bach. I selected “Babi’r Eirlys” (snowdrop child) to begin my analysis. You don’t want to grasp Welsh to be moved by 9Back co-founder Lisa Jên’s plaintive a cappella vocals on this monitor, which the Mu-so delivered with clean readability. The subsequent monitor, “Asteri Mou,” consists of an extended intro with piano, then acoustic guitar, after which harp earlier than Jên begins singing. The Mu-so provides every instrument its personal distinct house, in order that the combo turns into greater than the sum of its elements.
Moving on to extra conventional pop music, I queued up Adele’s “I Miss You,” from her 2015 album 25. Adele’s voice is wonderful, in fact, however what takes your breath away on this monitor is when drummer Paul Epworth interrupts the ethereal vocals and echoing piano by beating his tom-toms and snare drum. You can really feel the slam of every drumhead in your intestine.
I additionally streamed a couple of tracks from jazz artist Gil Evans’ album Go Hard or Go Home on Tidal HelloFi. The trumpets on “Blues for Pablo” sounded extremely shiny, as if they have been about to burst out of the Mu-so’s grill. Steely Dan wasn’t the final of the music I listened to on the Mu-so, however the legendary band is certainly one of my standbys for house audio evaluations as a result of founders Donald Fagen and Walter Becker (who died in 2017) have been such perfectionists within the studio.
There’s a lot happening in “Jack of Speed,” from Two Against Nature, one of many final albums the duo recorded collectively, that it may well sound like a mishmash on lesser audio techniques. Actually, that’s true of most of Steely Dan’s advanced and complicated work. But on this monitor, the high-hat strike that opens the track simply sizzles. The Mu-so’s potential to distinctly render the drums, bass, guitar, and vocals is simply outstanding given its dimension. This speaker doesn’t overlook a single element.
Is the Mu-So 2nd Generation worth?
The Naim Audio Mu-so 2nd Generation is just not a cheap little bit of equipment at $1,599. But its construct high quality, function set, and efficiency are all high notch. If you have been to purchase separate elements—loudspeakers, amplifier, streaming machine, server consumer, and so forth—you’d certainly pay significantly extra. You’d additionally must take care of a complete lot extra wires. The Mu-so can function with nothing however an influence twine, if you happen to select.
Naim pitches this product as a do-everything audio system, however I’d hesitate to suggest it as a soundbar. Yes, the presence of HDMI with ARC definitely renders it succesful of being paired together with your TV, however you’ll solely get stereo and also you’ll by no means have the ability to add encompass audio system.
Playing music on the Mu-so is a complete different matter. This speaker sounds beautiful, and it may well deal with any almost any format you’ll be able to consider from nearly any supply you’ll be able to think about: on-line, offline, digital, or analog. This is a superb music system whether or not you use it solo or as a part of a multi-room audio system. I like to recommend it wholeheartedly.