Here’s all you need to know about Naim Audio: When Bentley Motors was looking for a premium audio package to plug into its luxury autos, it hired this legendary British hi-fi brand. And Naim just released the Mu-so Qb, a wireless speaker that’s a scaled-down version of its entry-level Mu-so, the $1,500 boombox that Apple employees blast hellishly loud after they close up shop.
Anyone who’s visited an Apple store in the past year probably has seen the Mu-so: a long, low modernist box that looks like something Jony Ive sketched on a napkin. The Mu-so Qb morphs the form-factor into an 8.6-inch cube. It may have a footprint smaller than a toaster, but the Qb retains signature Mu-so touches: subtly contoured grill; glass touchscreen; an extruded heat sink that looks more artistic than functional; and an illuminated acrylic base that makes the Qb appear as if its hovering above a mag-lev plinth.
All programming and functions are controlled via the Qb touchscreen and your iOS/Android device. If the latency of iPhone taps annoys you, spring for the optional remote. I don’t know what’s more bizarre: that Naim took the time to design an obsolete interface, or that it charges just $20 for it. That interface is middling, by the way. The Naim app is short on features and visually uninspired, but glitch-free and easy to use. The budge-proof cable inputs are discreetly tucked in back, with every port a multi-format music lover needs: 3.5mm analog, optical, USB, and Ethernet. Minimalist yet conspicuous in a post-modern Patrick Bateman kind of way, the Mu-so Qb is the ideal wireless speaker to prop out a glass sheathed designer apartment on the west side of Manhattan.
The supporting cast includes Bluetooth (apt/X), AirPlay, Spotify Connect, Tidal and the usual Internet radio suspects. It also can tap your music library over UPnP (universal plug and play) and sample rates up to 48kHz via Wi-Fi.
It can’t play DSD files, but neither can any other wireless speaker. If you’re in a hi-res mood, it will support 24/192kHz listening sessions but only via the Ethernet port. The Qb is also down with multi-room playback; up to five other Naim devices can be synced to the same network. That’s good news for robber barons who wish to strike envy in the hearts of Sonos-loving houseguests.