The Naim Audio Mu-so all-in-one speaker/music system (buy from Amazon) is one of the biggest beneficiaries of the merger between electronics firm Naim Audio and French speaker juggernaut Focal. The second generation of the Naim Mu-so is a very slick wireless audio system that is designed to bring audiophile sound to spaces where a full stereo system wouldn’t fit or make sense, such as my office. The fit and finish is beyond gorgeous and the number of upgrades to this $1,399 speaker are so numerous that it might be hard to keep up with. After weeks of enjoying the Mu-so 2nd Generation sitting on my desk, serenading me with my vast iTunes music collection, it’s time to talk about what this system can do for you – and it is a lot.
What Makes the Naim Mu-so 2nd Generation Wireless Speaker Special?
- This rectangular speaker is flat-out gorgeous looking. Focal speakers, even at their entry level, boast this type of good looks, and now Naim has inherited the Focal DNA for the Mu-so. The curved fabric grill makes the Mu-so 2nd Generation look more organic than just a rectangular box. The oak finish matched my custom-made desk perfectly. The heatsinks in the rear are as nice as you would expect on perhaps a Krell or Mark Levinson amp. This is a nice piece of audio gear as well as a luxury goods product.
- In Gen 2, there are a ton of upgrades making the Mu-so even more tempting. There are new drivers with much bigger magnets thanks to the growing influence of Focal. There is a 450-watt internal amp and a processor/chipset that is 13 times more powerful than before. The Naim Mu-so’s cabinet is a little larger now, which gives it better bass and a little more volume output. There is even a new way to access the internal parts that makes any possible repair (assuming you ever need one) easier.
- The inlayed round control on the top of the unit defines what “audiophile cool” means. I raved about the circular remote for Cabasse’s The Pearl Keshi system, which is a 2.1 speaker system that is a competitor in a way but is more traditional in form factor. The Naim Mu-so has a very similar round control built into the top of the unit that can do anything and everything on the Naim Mu-so, be it adjust volume, change sources, waking up from sleep, or setting a sleep timer. The movement on this round controller is super-smooth. I just love it.
- For a one-box speaker system, the imaging of the Naim Mu-so 2nd Generation is better than you might expect. No, the Mu-so isn’t going to compete with a traditional pair of speakers for imaging, but Naim has adjusted the driver baffles in Gen 2 so that the speaker images a little bit better. Not a bad thing coming from a one-box speaker design.
- There is all manner of connectivity available on the Naim Mu-so, often through the Naim-Focal app. Tidal – check. Qobuz – check. Airplay for Apple Music – check. Naim seems to have thought of it all with this speaker.
- There are more expensvive finish options that price out to about $1,399. You additionally can an optional speaker grill for $99 to change the color to olive, terracotta or peacock. Fancy.
Why Should You Care About the Naim Mu-so 2nd Generation?
I don’t care where you live – if you rent, own, or squat in your home – you have a place for a speaker such as the Naim Mu-so. For about the cost of an entry level audiophile system, you get a one-box solution that can bring some pretty engaging sound to smaller rooms in an ultra-stylish package. The Naim Mu-so 2nd Generation reminds me of products of the past like a Proton or Nakamichi alarm clock, but with a very high-end audiophile update for the 2020s. You could put a music system like the Mu-so 2nd Generation in a bedroom and use it as an alarm clock or for white noise when you sleep. You could put one in your office as I did. The kitchen? Why not? This kind of sound wrapped up with these good looks goes anywhere.
Some Things You Might Not Like About the Naim Mu-so 2nd Generation Music System
- The Naim Mu-so 2nd Generation connects via Bluetooth and Airplay but it is best using the Naim app on one of your devices. The connection from your musical sources is just more solid. The app is well done and needed for a starting firmware update (and likely ones in the future) but stick with the app versus trying to connect it via Bluetooth or Airplay. It just sounds better and connects better.
- I can’t rave enough about the round controller built into the top of the unit but the plastic, non-backlit remote that comes with the unit is pretty lame. Chintzy would be a fair descriptor, especially considering how all of the other details of this work of art audiophile product work. With that said, I never really needed to use the remote, so it wasn’t that much of an issue and I am glad the price wasn’t higher to deliver a fancier remote that I wasn’t going to use anyway.
- The bass is improved in the Naim Mu-so Gen 2, but an optional sub would help quite a bit. I like the Naim Mu-so at $1,799 over Cabasse’s The Pearl Keshi at $3,000 in every respect except for the bass.
Listening to the Naim Mu-so 2nd Generation Wireless Music System
In the spirit of getting funky, I cued up Silk Sonic’s “Fly As Me” from An Evening With Silk Sonic ripped from a Compact Disc at 1440-AIFF/CD resolution (buy at Amazon on CD or vinyl). Booty Collins’ (wiki) bass sounds groovy as hell and inspires volume increases, which I absolutely partook in each time I played this track. The vocal harmonies via Bruno Mars (wiki) sounded rich and layered on the Naim Mu-so 2nd Generation. The Anderson Paak–powered (wiki) beats sounded catchy and were accompanied nicely by the organ parts. I’ve played this track for a number of people that stopped by my desk and they were impressed. Nobody asked for more bass. They just rocked out as they should have.
Another song that the Naim Mu-so 2nd Generation thrived on was pretty much a college era theme song for me in Stone Temple Pilots “Interstate Love Song” (again from CD at 1440-AIFF ripped) from their 1994 Purple album (buy at Amazon). The somewhat acoustic intro is a good precursor for how well the Mu-so 2nd Generation can handle a grungier 1990s rock song. By the first verse, you hear very stable imaging, resolute electric guitars, with an appealing but not-at-all bright twang to them. The bass, again, is pretty damn good considering the somewhat diminutive size of the Naim Mu-so 2nd Generation’s physical box.
Get into more detail on the Naim Mu-so 2nd Generation at the Naim Audio website (site).
Check out some other competing, small speakers in our review category page (category).
Does the Naim Mu-so 2nd Generation Music System Have Any Resale Value?
This all-in-one speaker system should have some good resale value, but who the hell would sell it? There is always going to be a room to put a speaker system like this into. It has a ton of connectivity and even more features so you aren’t going to get sick of it any time soon. The Naim Mu-so 2nd Generation isn’t going anywhere once you pop for one. It just isn’t.
Who is the Competition for the Naim Mu-So 2nd Generation Music System?
One could argue that you could build a small, traditional audiophile system for $1,799 and there would be advantages to that, but all of the little goodies like a Loudness feature, an alarm clock, Airplay, Qobuz, Tidal, and the uber-slick form factor make the better comparisons to be made with other all-in-one systems.
The Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin comes to mind at $799 (buy at Amazon) as a less-powerful but very good-sounding lifestyle speaker. I spent four months with a Zeppelin between selling my last house and moving into my new one, and I enjoyed the hell out of it. The Bowers & Wilkins has a cool modern look but the Naim Mu-so 2nd Generation is at the next level of good looks. The Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin might image a notch better but much like the Mu-so, not as well as an entry-level pair of Focal or Bowers & Wilkins speakers. The Mu-so 2nd Generation has better bass from a one-box solution.
Cabasse’s The Pearl Keshi at $3,000 is another player in the audiophile/lifestyle speaker market – albeit close to twice as expensive than the Mu-so 2nd Generation system. The French-made (as opposed to French-inspired with the Mu-so) Cabasse System is physically gorgeous. The small, round speakers image better than that Naim Mu-so, but the cables have a more cluttered look that you don’t get with the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin of the Naim Mu-so options. I love the room correction and the round bass of The Pearl Keshi, as that is where this system really shines, but if I needed an audiophile system in an ancillary room, perhaps on a shelf or sitting on a credenza, the Naim solution is really tempting.
Final Thoughts on the Naim Mu-so 2nd Generation Wireless Music System
A lot of audio gear has been making its way through my front door these days. The Naim Mu-so 2nd Generation (buy from Amazon) has been one of the most fun products that I have had the chance to play with. I could easily put the Mu-so on my office file cabinet and have it provide a great sounding, audiophile approved, one-box solution that meets the standards of my modern interior design. The Mu-so 2nd Gen could also go into my master bedroom as an audiophile grade alarm clock/sound system for our nighttime ocean sounds (or sometimes rain sounds as it never rains in Southern California – the song was right) in a pretty full-range but unobtrusive solution.
Normally, packing up products is a reality for any audio reviewer but I am not sure that I am going to be allowed to do that with the Naim Mu-so sounds as it has so much utility that it is hard to imagine that there isn’t a place for it in my home. I wouldn’t argue with you if you felt the same way.
Other than taking your word for it, is there a technical reason for the claim that the Naim app sounds better than the other alternatives mentioned? Does it connect using a proprietary interface that enhances the sound quality or is it something else? Or not really, it just sounds better to your ears?
Inquiring minds want to know.
I’ve reviewed Naim gear.
I’ve owned Naim gear.
The stuff is very premium.
For this – it is a press release from CES that I am sure as hell not going to.
We like Focal Naim. Maybe we will bring the products in for review? Not sure. THEY JUST announced it – like today