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Wireless all-in-one system


Mu-so Qb

Manufacturer: NAIM AUDIO Ltd
Price (when reviewed): 3590 zł

Contact: Naim Audio Ltd | Southampton Road
Salisbury | SP1 2LN | England


Provided for test by: AUDIO CENTER POLAND

I can proudly say that my assessment of the original wireless, all-in-one Mu-so system by Naim was pretty accurate. I reviewed it for „Audio” magazine and wrote back then:

I wouldn't believe it if I just read about it instead of experiencing it - Naim is a killer. It outperforms all mini-systems I know and by a huge margin. It does so with grace and ease of a true professional. It is immediately obvious that it was built by professionals. Each aspect of its performance seems well thought through and tuned until required level was achieved and there was nothing left to improve any further.

I also foresaw that this was a game changer, that others would follow in its footsteps and it would change audio industry by opening it to new potential group of customers:

If that's how all-in-one systems should be like, if that's how non-audiophiles are supposed to listen to the music in their offices, homes, bedrooms, kitchens and so on, I believe that there is a future for audio industry. Because when these people recognize and appreciate this level of sound quality they won't be satisfied with anything less or maybe they'll even start looking for more – at this point they will be just one step away from becoming audiophiles/true music fans.

The first Mu-so, still admired today, still being a small jewel in Naim's portfolio they are very proud of, was based on solutions developed for two seemingly different worlds: for top-high-end Statement system and for car audio system that Naim designed for Bentley. The latter is a source of digital amplifiers and DSP software designed for these very drivers used in this particular array. By combining a streamer, music server, Internet radio, preamplifier, amplifiers and drivers made by Naim this British manufacturer created a product that brought audio world to its knees, literally.

Mu-so Qb

Using knowledge and experience gained from creating Mu-so Naim developed another, even more interesting product, Mu-so Qb. This is also a wireless all-in-one system sourcing several solutions from its bigger brother Mu-so, using similar stylistic although featuring smaller cabinet and offered at lower price.

People from development team said that the biggest challenge was fitting drivers into such small cabinet and make them sing. It was easier with original Mu-so because it featured a bigger cabinet and drivers could be placed further apart. Qb features 5 drivers positioned at different angles (proper ones were established through experimentation) but within much smaller space. There are two dome tweeters (Ø 25 mm), two mid-woofers (Ø 64 mm), each driven by a separate 50W amplifier. Bass stadium-shaped custom made woofer (145 x 76mm) is driven with a 100 W amp. There are also two passive radiators of similar shape, slightly bigger though, measuring 148 x 86 mm each. Drivers together with amplifiers allow Mu-so Qb to deliver 300 W of sound.

But what is Qb actually? Manufacturer calls it a: “wireless speaker”, and that's what it is also called in Naim's application for iPad. But in fact this is an integrated, all-in-one system with music server, streamer, amplifiers and speakers. Signal might be sent wirelessly directly to this 'cube' using AirPlay, streaming music from iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, or from iTunes. Music can be instantly played also from any device connected to Mu-so via Bluetooth; system is fully compatible with aptX codec, allowing high quality playback.

The device connects to home network wirelessly or via cable connection, which allows it to play music from NAS, but also from Spotify and Internet radio stations. Plus one can play music directly from a flash drive – just remember to put all music files in one folder.
Mu-so Qb is compatible with a wide range of music files formats, not just mp3, but also hi-res files such as: WAV, FLAC and AIFF up to 24 bits and 192 kHz, and ALAC (Apple Lossless) up to 24 bits and 96 kHz. But only if one uses a cable connection or plays music from a flash drive. Maximum resolution playable through wireless connection is that of 48 kHz. Obviously the device features also digital Toslink input and an analogue (mini jack) one.


A 32bit DSP is a heart of this device, managing digital signal and preparing its playback via particular array of drivers. But it was not a decisive factor of “big” Mu-so's success, nor was it its great performance. I' m sure these elements helped but they were only secondary to this device's astonishing appearance and an ease of its operation. I think that in this regard it set the bar very high for all others to follow for many years; the only other such successful product I know is Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin – these are today's designing icons of audio world.

Qb is offered as an alternative product to its bigger brother – less expensive but sharing the same DNA. Its name describes its shape – its a cube placed on an acrylic, backlit board, with three sides hidden under a nice looking grill, rear panel featuring a radiator and the top panel hosting a Touch Panel Volume Control – a backlit ring with touch panel within. The ring allows user to adjust volume, and patented touch panel allows him to switch the device to and from stand-by mode, select an input and choose Internet radio's presets. The aluminum ring rotates smoothly around backlit display when adjusting volume. I have to say that Qb's operation is really simple and particularly enjoyable.

The particularly sturdy cabinet also comes handy – the main part of the cabinet is made of a glass-filled polymer. It is a particularly durable material known also for its vibration damping qualities. Grill is replaceable which allows user to customized appearance of his Muso Qb – there few colors to choose from: Deep Blue, Vibrant Red and Burnt Orange.

The device might be controlled using Muso Control App for iPhone, iPad, iPod and for Android devices.

Naim | Export Sales Executive

The title on Mark Raggett's business card claiming that he's responsible just for sales outside UK is somewhat misleading. Do you remember Raveen Bawa from dCS, who's responsible for sales in this British company? – It's exactly the same story. Most people working in Sales departments in different industries are sales specialists not necessarily having any knowledge of specialized products they actually sell. Manufacturer hire them for a sole purpose of selling high volumes of products and not for them to become specialists knowing products they sell by heart.

But specialized trades follow their own logic. Proper knowledge of product is the very basic requirement necessary for salesman to have even slightest chance for success. Raveen, as well as Mark spent many years in their companies familiarizing themselves not only with products but also with the all stages of operation of their companies, starting with packing, through manufacturing, up to the sales. So they actually do know products they sell by heart.

Mark has been working for Naim since the early 1990ties and was one of the last people to assemble the famous Aro tonearm. As he says, only five people were ever actually building this arm, including designer himself. Each man was responsible for each unit he assembled starting from gathering necessary elements from a warehouse and ending with shipping the ready product.

When asked if and how such experience with purely audiophile products helps him deal with today's 'new wave' products like Mu-so, he smiled and said:

You know – he said – I remember perfectly, and I confirmed that also with people who worked here back then, that when in 1983 Naim introduced NAIT (Naim Audio Integrated amplifier – ed.) integrated amplifier some hardcore audiophiles turned their backs on Naim claiming that it „sold itself” and would “fall soon”. For them Naim was a manufacturer of separates – preamplifiers and power amplifiers, and so for them NAIT was an unacceptable compromise. This small device that offered everything most audiophiles needed became brand's biggest hit and it allowed us to spread our wings. Next generations of this amplifier are still manufactured today, and this very first model is still highly sought after vintage gear.

I believe that Mu-so is a 21st century equivalent of NAIT. Both systems, original Mu-so and the “cube” we are listening to now, are meant for the same type of customer as NAIT was back then. World has changed, evolved – that's an obvious conclusion of every research conducted for us, and our role is to offer people what they actually want to have, and not what we want them to have. Streaming, wide range of functionality, integration – that's what customers are after these days. Naim is a specialized manufacturer who tries to deliver products that customers want to have, but we also try to make them in the best possible way using the whole knowledge at our disposal. It's not true that lifestyle products, streamers don't have to sound good. Qb proves that such product can be quite the opposite by offering an amazing performance, possibly the best one in most homes it will be used in.

Mark obviously knows what's he talking about. Mu-so succeeded, also financially. Standing on two legs, one represented by the top high-end products such as Statement system, and the other supported by products such as Mu-so – Naim has become one of the leaders of our 'micro-industry'. They've achieved that because they understood the needs of customers. Right after entering my room and seeing Harbeth speakers Mark smiled and said: “you must like your hi-fi, don't you? - I can tell. But – he added quickly – most people don't really want an advanced, sophisticated audio system, even though they require a high quality performance combined with certain attractive appearance. It's them we created Mu-so, and now Mu-so Qb for.”

(I'd like to thank Piotr Linczowski and Grzegorz Surowiec of Audio Center Poland for organizing this meeting)


This Naim's cube (do you remember Rubik cube?) is delivered in a nice, cubic box with a handle. It's a standard packaging for „entertainment” products. Inside there are two pieces of protective polystyrene foam, and a carton box with power chords inside. One needs to unwrap the cube itself from a protective material and place it wherever one wants it to operate. It is important to place it in such a way to have access to the rear panel during installation. After that one needs to connect power cable.

First thing first – one has to connect Naim with home network using AirPlay. The first step is to download Mu-so free app for iOS or Android device. One needs to install it and then follow step-by-step instructions delivered by the application. First one has to configure Qb as „wireless speaker” – one will find it on smartphone or tablet under „Settings/WiFi” section. After device is connected to the network it is ready to play music from a selected source.

To optimize its performance one might choose one of EQ settings available in the menu – there are two of them: one used when Qb is placed in an open space (it applies some boost to the bass) and the other for when it's placed close to a wall. A selected source is indicated on a touch panel plus there are symbols allowing user to operate basic functions like: play, stop, skip and so on.

And I should mention of a very important feature – Multi-room/Multi-zone capability. This is really important as it’s fully synchronised multi room capable and fully scalable both in price per room and performance per room when fully integrated with any Naim streaming device (Mu-So – Uniti – Naim Network players).


All one needs is just a few seconds to realize that Qb is a smaller version of Mu-so. But after a few seconds of listening session one also realizes that sound-wise it is a completely different performer. The original system was designed as a high-end replacement of elaborate systems and it offered a remarkably clean, resolving sound. Qb offers the same qualities, although to a lesser extent, and yet it sounds differently.

It delivers an involving performance, a one that doesn't get boring. It's performance was tuned in such a way that lower midrange is particularly rich which creates an impression of a large scale sound, maybe even bigger than that of the older brother. This was obvious to me not only when playing hi-res files such as: WAV 24/192 Tango in the Night by Fleetwood Mac, FLAC 24/96 50 Worlds to Snow by Kate Bush or FLAC 24/96 Delta Machine by Depeche Mode. These, as always, sounded very good. But similarly impressive was sound achieved with mp3 files and from Internet radio.

And I think achieving this level of performance for compressed files must have been the most difficult challenge for designers. Even these really bad sounding radio stations this time delivered surprisingly good performance – sound was open, spatial, unrestricted. And there is no exaggeration in statement claiming that Naim offered a higher quality sound with internet radio as a source than a large system with amplifier and loudspeakers ever could using same source. Proper sound processing allowed Mu-so to mask problems of Internet radio's sound and to focus on upsides of played music. It's not a classic hi-fi system – that's obvious, but I didn't expect it to sound as one. It just does its job in its own way.

And it does this job damn well. Because also streaming services offering music of CD quality delivered a dynamic, rich performance. I believe that it is a combination of these two features that sets new Naim product apart from all competitors. Listen to Qb, and after that experience all other similar all-in-one systems will lack dynamics and richness for you. You'll miss this powerful performance too – Mu-so is capable of playing really loud and there will be no distortion in sound and you will be able to listen to it for hours without being tired.

I ran the basic test implementing the same method and the same selected track list that I've been using for all my tests regardless of price level of the product under review. And still, under such demanding conditions Naim took me by surprise with its performance sophistication and refinement. Yes, it was obvious from the very beginning that there was an emphasis present in 200-400 Hz range, and that the upper treble was rolled-off. While realizing that I couldn't really hold it against this device, I understood why such choices had to be made. I still did understand it even after taking price range into consideration.

It's not a classic hi-fi system after all. Naim offers a lot of fun, it is user-friendly, it looks good, becomes an important element of the room it is placed in. But unlike our highly valued audiophile systems that are considered by other members of the family as “weird” (at best), this Naim's cube becomes an integral part of the room and not a barely tolerated intruder. So I wouldn't risk asking my better half whether she would rather part with me or with Qb…


Intelligence manifests by, among other things, ability to adjust to changing conditions. Can one find a better example of an intelligent life on Earth then Mu-so systems? I don't think so. The first signal indicating an intelligent life on Earth to other inhabitants of the Milky Way was Mu-so. Its appearing did not hurt audio industry either. I mean the industry that lost its way trying to catch up with novelties that came to market in recent years, lost its qualities in the process and wasn't able to attract new customers. Qb on the other hand is a living proof that its designers are able to come up with something new, different then previous so successful product. It comes from the same family but its performance is difference and it is meant for a different customer group. And it makes it better, much better. Because audio involves making choices all the time, compromising. We could only wish that all manufacturers in this industry do choose and compromise in such a fabulous way as Naim does. Amen.

Product's specifications (according to manufacturer)

• analogue: 3,5 mm
• digital: TosLink up to 96 kHz
• USB: USB Type A
Streaming: UPnP, AirPlay, Spotify (Connect), TIDAL, Bluetooth (z aptX)

Network: Ethernet (10/100 Mbps), Wi-Fi (802,11 b/g) 2,4 GHz
Audio formats:
WAV, FLAC and AIFF – up to 24 bits/192 kHz
ALAC (Apple Lossless) – up to 24 bits/96 kHz
MP3 – up to 48 kHz, 320 kbit (16 bits)
AAC – up to 48 kHz, 320 kbit (16 bits)
OGG I WMA – up to 48 kHz (16 bis)
Bluetooth - SBC, AAC and aptX

Internet Radio Provider: vTuner premium 5
Internet radio formats:
Windows Media, MP3, ACC, Ogg Vorbis and MMS

Power output:
300 W – 4 x 50 W + 1 x 100 W

Power consumption:
• typical: 15 W
• standby: <4 W
• deep sleep: <0,5 W
Dimensions (H x W x D): 210 x 218 x 212 mm
Weight: 5,6 kg 



- Turntable: AVID HIFI Acutus SP [Custom Version]
- Cartridges: Miyajima Laboratory KANSUI, review HERE | Miyajima Laboratory SHILABE, review HERE | Miyajima Laboratory ZERO (mono) | Denon DL-103SA, review HERE
- Phono stage: RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC, review HERE

- Compact Disc Player: Ancient Audio AIR V-edition, review HERE
- Multiformat Player: Cambridge Audio Azur 752BD
- Line Preamplifier: Polaris III [Custom Version] + AC Regenerator, regular version review (in Polish) HERE
- Power amplifier: Soulution 710
- Integrated Amplifier: Leben CS300XS Custom Version, review HERE

- Stand mount Loudspeakers: Harbeth M40.1 Domestic, review HERE
- Stands for Harbeths: Acoustic Revive Custom Series Loudspeaker Stands
- Real-Sound Processor: SPEC RSP-101/GL
- Integrated Amplifier/Headphone amplifier: Leben CS300XS Custom Version, review HERE
- Headphones: HIFIMAN HE-6, review HERE | HIFIMAN HE-500, review HERE | HIFIMAN HE-300, review HERE | Sennheiser HD800 | AKG K701, review (in Polish) HERE | Ultrasone PROLine 2500, Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro, version 600 - reviews (in Polish): HERE, HERE, HERE
- Headphone Stands: Klutz Design CanCans (x 3), review (in Polish) HERE
- Headphone Cables: Entreq Konstantin 2010/Sennheiser HD800/HIFIMAN HE-500, review HERE

- Portable Player: HIFIMAN HM-801
- USB Cables: Acoustic Revive USB-1.0SP (1 m) | Acoustic Revive USB-5.0PL (5 m), review HERE
- LAN Cables: Acoustic Revive LAN-1.0 PA (kable ) | RLI-1 (filtry), review HERE
- Router: Liksys WAG320N
- NAS: Synology DS410j/8 TB
System I
- Interconnects: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-DA6300, review HERE | preamplifier-power amplifier: Acrolink 8N-A2080III Evo, review HERE
- Loudspeaker Cables: Tara Labs Omega Onyx, review (in Polish) HERE
System II
- Interconnects: Acoustic Revive RCA-1.0PA | XLR-1.0PA II
- Loudspeaker Cables: Acoustic Revive SPC-PA

System I
- Power Cables: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9300, all system, review HERE
- Power Distributor: Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu Ultimate, review HERE
- Power Line: fuse &#8211; power cable Oyaide Tunami Nigo (6m) &#8211; wall sockets 3 x Furutech FT-SWS (R)
System II
- Power Cables: Harmonix X-DC350M2R Improved-Version, review (in Polish) HERE | Oyaide GPX-R (x 4 ), review HERE
- Power Distributor: Oyaide MTS-4e, review HERE
- Stolik: SolidBase IV Custom, read HERE/all system
- Anti-vibration Platforms: Acoustic Revive RAF-48H, review HERE/digital sources | Pro Audio Bono [Custom Version]/headphone amplifier/integrated amplifier, review HERE | Acoustic Revive RST-38H/loudspeakers under review/stands for loudspeakers under review
- Anti-vibration Feets: Franc Audio Accessories Ceramic Disc/ CD Player/Ayon Polaris II Power Supply /products under review, review HERE | Finite Elemente CeraPuc/ products under review, review HERE | Audio Replas OPT-30HG-SC/PL HR Quartz, review HERE
- Anti-vibration accsories: Audio Replas CNS-7000SZ/power cable, review HERE
- Quartz Isolators: Acoustic Revive RIQ-5010/CP-4

- FM Radio: Tivoli Audio Model One