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Naim Audio Mu-so wireless speaker review: Expensive? Very. Worth it? Oh yeah.

Michael Brown | May 27, 2015
The more enthusiastic you are about high-end audio system, the less you're bothered by the law of diminishing returns. But I guess you could say that about hardcore fans of any type of hardware, be it automobiles or bicycles. So whether you agree with my opinion of the Naim Mu-So wireless speaker or think I'm a blithering idiot with no concept of value for lavishing praise on a $1500 soundbar will likely depend on just how passionate about music reproduction you are. luxuriously

The Mu-so is equipped with a 10/100 Ethernet port, for those who prefer the reliability of wired connections, but it can also operate on your Wi-Fi network (802.11b/g on the 2.4GHz frequency band). The box supports Apple's AirPlay technology, Universal Plug and Play (UPnP), and Bluetooth (including support for the higher-quality AptX codec). Multi-room setups will depend on either AirPlay (with music sourced from a computer, iPod, or NAS box), or something from Naim's line of networked-streaming players acting as a master device that can support up to four additional clients. The Mu-so does not support DTS Play-Fi, Qualcomm AllPlay, or Google Cast for Audio.

In addition to networked sources, the Mu-so also has a 1/8-inch analog audio input; a TOSlink connector for digital sources, such as a TV (HDMI would have been an even better choice); and a USB port, so you can connect a storage device — or an iPod — directly to the speaker. The Mu-so app (Android and iOS) will index the contents of an attached drive, so you can choose which music you wish to listen to. You'll want to use the app over the Mu-so's surprisingly cheap-looking plastic remote control.

Wherever your source your music from, the Mu-so supports most of the important audio formats, including WAV, FLAC, and AIFF up to 24-bit resolution with maximum sampling rates of 192kHz; Apple Lossless up to 24-bit resolution with a 96kHz maximum sampling rate; and up to 16-bit/48kHz AAC, MP3, Ogg Vorbis, and WMA files.

Six amps for six speakers

Pull off the Mu-so's fabric grill and you'll see a three-way speaker system consisting of paper-cone woofers and mid-ranges and silk-dome tweeters. Each 8-ohm speaker is driven by a discrete 75-watt Class D amplifier, so the Mu-so had had no problem filling my kitchen and adjoining great room (roughly 700 square feet) with enough quality sound for a raucous party. Bass response was particularly impressive (aided in part by the presence of a large vent on the bottom of the cabinet) and a room-position switch that reduces bass response if the speaker is placed close to a rear wall and boosts it if the speaker is in a more free-standing location.

To evaluate the Mu-so's musical performance, I streamed a number of tracks over my home Wi-Fi network (using both UPnP and AirPlay), and I connected a USB hard drive with a collection of albums encoded in Apple Lossless (16-bit resolution and a sampling rate of 44.1kHz) and FLAC (16-bit/44.1kHz, 16-bit/48kHz, and 24-bit/96kHz). "Alleluia," from Eric Whitacre's album Water Night, was the first track I played. This composition for a cappella choir sounded appropriately divine, with every voice presented in perfect balance.

 

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