Following within the footsteps of the Mu-so, the Mu-so Qb has obtained a refresh within the Mu-so Qb 2 – however that is greater than only a fast tidy up – with all new driver items, the illuminated dial that graced the Mu-so 2 and AirPlay 2 performance.
The Qb 2 finds itself competing in a market that’s been expanded and emboldened by the roaring success of its predecessor. The premium wi-fi speaker isn’t the rarity it was when the unique Qb launched in 2016 – so does this discreetly fettled replace have what it takes to go up towards among the greatest alternate options the unique Qb impressed?
Associated: Naim unleashes Mu-so Qb 2nd gen wi-fi speaker
Naim Mu-so Qb 2 design — An understated and enticing speaker
Did I say ‘discreetly’ fettled? That’s to understate the subtlety of the design adjustments Mu-so Qb 2 has undergone – if I didn’t know higher I’d recommend it appears to be like like no design work has been undertaken by any means.
As a consequence, Qb 2 is likely one of the extra understated and enticing premium wi-fi audio system on the market. Its three-sided grille options a couple of fascinating protuberances, its Perspex plinth is jewel-like, and its heatsinks on the rear of the cupboard look as purposeful because the burnished aluminium of the highest panel appears to be like costly.
Plus, in fact, it retains the one nicest bodily management of any electrical merchandise you should buy. The outsized management wheel on the highest panel has been tricked out with an illuminated edge and a complete of 15 touch-sensitive controls in its centre, however before everything it appears to be like and feels nice. No different product has such an satisfying tactile management (aside from the opposite Naim merchandise that use this wheel of enjoyment too).
It’s legitimate to query why Naim hasn’t chosen to replicate the arduous work that’s gone on underneath the pores and skin of Qb 2 in a minimum of a gentle improve of its aesthetic. However then it’s most likely equally legitimate to recommend the unique Qb was a good-looking and ornamental merchandise, and if it ain’t broke why attempt to repair it?
Associated: Naim Mu-so Qb evaluation
Naim Mu-so Qb 2 options — A radical set of streaming options
Clearly the Mu-so Qb 2 has a couple of bodily inputs – there’s a mains socket, Ethernet connection, digital optical enter and three.5mm analogue socket, all organized beneath the heatsinks on the rear. However what’s rather more essential in a product of this kind is getting music into it with out wires.
On this respect the Naim is difficult to argue with. It’s Roon-ready, and has Spotify Join, Chromecast built-in, Apple AirPlay 2, UPnP, Tidal and Bluetooth (though ‘solely’ four.2). Web radio is handled by way of vTuner.
All of the worthwhile file codecs are supported – they embrace WAV, FLAC, AIFF and ALAC (as much as 24bit/384kHz decision), OGG, MP3, AAC and WMA (to 16bit/48kHz) and DSD (64 and 128). Keep in mind, although, that Qb 2 is both upscaling or downscaling nearly all of the music you place into it – its direct digital amplification association contains processing of digital audio information at a local 24bit/88.2kHz.
Some will argue that something above 16bit/44.1kHz legitimately counts as ‘hi-res’; others would possibly recommend that anybody dropping £749 on a wi-fi speaker is entitled to anticipate an even bigger and extra spectacular quantity than 24bit/88.2kHz.
Associated: What’s Hello-Res Audio?
Nonetheless, ‘300’ is an enormous, spectacular quantity when it refers back to the quantity of Class D energy inside this comparatively small (218 x 212 x 210mm, so not strictly talking a) dice. This energy is split between a five-strong driver array on the entrance panel: two angled tweeters get 50 watts every, two midrange drivers get 50 watts every too, and the ultimate 100 watts energy a ‘racetrack’ bass driver firing lifeless forward. On both sides panel lined by the grille there’s a big passive radiator providing low-end reinforcement.
(As regards the grille, it’s obtainable as customary within the black/gray end of those photographs – a number of altogether extra full of life grille colors can be found. They’re £50 every, which appears miserly – £749 actually ought to purchase my alternative of grille color.)
Associated: Greatest Bluetooth audio system
There’s additionally an indecently massive quantity connected to the brand new digital sign processor that runs the Qb 2. It’s able to coping with 2000m directions per second – which we will all agree is speedy. To assume we had been all impressed by the unique Qb’s skill to deal with 150m directions per second…
There are a satisfying variety of multi-room choices too. Google Dwelling compatibility means Qb 2 can take part with Chromecast merchandise in a full-room set-up, and Apple Dwelling compatibility means it’s equally snug in an Apple-centric multi-room system. And Naim’s management app permits anybody acceptable Naim merchandise may be corralled right into a multi-room association.
Associated: Greatest Multi-Room Audio system
Naim Mu-so Qb 2 interface — The distant management (or management wheel) is the popular methodology of controlling the Qb 2
Utilizing that management app isn’t maybe as free from frustration because it is perhaps, although. It’s been not too long ago refreshed, and there’s little doubt it’s extra secure than it was – however that’s not fairly the identical factor as being secure.
It’s not proof against crashing, and regardless that it is a pretty uncommon prevalence it’s nonetheless sufficient to sow the seeds of doubt each time you fireplace it up. It has a very fraught relationship with Tidal, which appears to be concerned in each app glitch or malfunction.
The distant management handset, however, is (naturally sufficient) utterly dependable. It has all the most important features too, together with the management for the extent of illumination loved by the management wheel and the emblem set into the Perspex plinth. Its usefulness isn’t matched by its tactility, thoughts you – it feels slightly matter-of-fact the place Qb 2 itself is kind of opulent.
In reality, essentially the most satisfying approach to work together with Qb 2 is by way of that luxurious management wheel. However it is a wi-fi speaker, constructed to be handy (in addition to to sound nice) – and the place’s the comfort in having to face over it each time you need to give it an instruction?
Naim Mu-so Qb 2 sound high quality — Loads of energy, but additionally able to producing a nuanced sound
There’s a tiny little bit of set-up to be accomplished: inform the app about the place your Qb 2 is positioned (in free house; towards a rear wall; in a nook) and also you’re good to go.
It doesn’t take a lot listening for the Naim Mu-so Qb 2 to ascertain its credentials. That driver array (finessed with assist from Naim’s sister firm Focal), allied to the ample reserves of energy, presents the kind of low-level authority and dynamic prowess that lesser audio system would kill for.
The soundstage is broad and nicely outlined, stereo imaging is outstanding from a fairly compact enclosure, and there’s precisely the kind of punch and assault obtainable that the giddy energy output determine guarantees.
Nick Cave & The Dangerous Seeds’ Push The Sky Away album permits the Qb 2 to indicate off fairly a couple of of these skills. Except for the mildly unhinged crescendos of Jubilee Road and Higgs Boson Blues, that is – broadly talking – a low-temperature recording that simmers fairly than shouts. The Naim understands this stance fully, giving the low-level harmonic dynamics and implicit menace of We No Who U R actual expression.
The Qb 2 stays completely poised because the music orbits Cave’s close-mic’d vocal, loading his imprecations with element and character. Mermaids sounds virtually able to collapse underneath the burden of its keening strings and brushed percussion, however the Naim retains it on the straight and slender with a mild however insistent hand.
Switching to the extra sturdy, however much less refined, problem of So… How’s Your Lady? by Good-looking Boy Modeling Faculty lets the Qb 2 exhibit its skill to dig deep into the low frequencies, and hit with power and management because it does so.
There’s actual power and momentum to The Initiatives (P Jays) but it surely’s nicely managed and by no means threatens to swamp the voices instantly above it. Treble sounds assault crisply however by no means recommend they may get coarse, even at appreciable quantity (and the Naim is most actually able to appreciable quantity).
The general tonal steadiness is cleverly judged, and the quantity of element the Qb 2 dredges out from even dense and murky mixes makes it sound open and, as a consequence, fully achieved.
It’s an impression that’s helped no finish by the Naim’s facility with timing – for a small enclosure that’s just about crammed with drivers, it manages to imbue Rock n’ Roll (Might By no means Hip Hop Like This) with admirable unity and coherence.
Ought to I purchase the Naim Mu-so Qb 2?
The truth that Qb 2 is an effective 15 p.c costlier than the outgoing Qb is noteworthy. Maybe I’m extra exercised than I ought to be by the thought of a colored grille being a price choice, however nonetheless you’re taking a look at very shut certainly to £800 for a Qb 2 that isn’t black. That’s some huge cash for a wi-fi speaker, even one as fantastically made, comprehensively specified and completely satisfying to take heed to as this one.
Maybe its most blatant competitors comes from Bowers & Wilkins’ Formation Wedge speaker. It appears to be like like a berserk lampshade, true, and it doesn’t have something just like the design kudos of the Naim (particularly the place bodily management is anxious). However it sounds, if something, even wider and higher targeted than the Naim and is able to equally startling quantity ranges. At £899, although, it’s an much more important funding than the Qb 2.
Harman Kardon’s £579 Quotation 500 usefully undercuts the Naim when it comes to value, and has the audio expertise to make it worthy of great consideration. No, it’s nothing a lot to take a look at (until you’re a fan of acres of acoustic fabric) but it surely’s bought out-and-out quantity, low-frequency presence and Google Assistant voice management on its aspect. It’s true that Qb 2 is extra observant to midrange element, and sounds much less harassed at actually delinquent volumes. However whether or not or not it’s price one other £200 or so is a completely legitimate query.