Naim Mu-so Qb (2019) review

Meet the hands-down boss of wireless speakers

Naim Mu-so Qb 2nd Generation
(Image: © TechRadar)

TechRadar Verdict

Bigger price, more power – but the same desirable item as always. The Mu-so Qb 2nd Generation (2019) has substance, solidity and variation in terms of audio quality, a great design, and lovely physical interface. Still, it's extremely pricey, and that might put off all but the most dedicated audiophiles.


  • +

    Lovely physical interface

  • +

    Robust, balanced and informative sound

  • +

    Capable of startling volume


  • -

    Frustrating control app

  • -

    Not the biggest audio presentation around

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When Naim launched its original Mu-so wireless speaker (a little over eight years ago now), it set new standards of performance, finish and – let’s not pretend otherwise – price, in what had been a generally pretty cheap ’n’ cheerful part of the market until then.

Then in January 2016, Naim whipped the covers off Mu-so Qb. It took much of what everyone loved about Mu-so and stuck it in a more affordable, smaller and more... cube-like package. It wasn’t the ground-breaking best wireless speaker the Mu-so was, but it was a covetable and high-performance wireless speaker – which is the bulk of what’s important.

Towards the end of 2019, Naim turned Mu-so into the (rather self-importantly named) Mu-so (2019). Everyone loved its ergonomic improvements and the extraordinary potency of its sound. No one was transported by the price-hike or the same-again, if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it styling.

And then, in a move that surprised precisely no one, Naim gave the Mu-so Qb the ‘2nd Generation’ treatment, in September 2019. But is Mu-so Qb 2nd Generation, like the Mu-so (2019), a case of ‘the same, but more so’?  

Well, yes and then some. Naim's second generation Mu-so Qb wireless speaker is quite simply a stunning piece of hi-fi kit. The previous iteration was good, but this version is even better.

[Update: The Naim Music Qb now comes with support for Hi-Res Audio streaming service Qobuz. The service starts at $14.99 / £14.99 per month, however 30-day free trials are available via the Naim app.]

Price and availability

Costing $899 / £749 (around AU£1300), the increase in price over the original – a touch over 15 percent – is easier to stomach than Mu-so 2’s dead-eyed 30 percent hike over the first Mu-so, certainly.

It's still a very pricey wireless speaker, though – for comparison, our current favorite model, the Sonos One, cost $199 / £199 / AU$299 at launch.

Naim Mu-so Qb

(Image credit: TechRadar)


Did you like the look of the original Mu-so Qb? Yes? Well then, you’re going to love the appearance of Mu-so Qb 2nd Generation – because unless you put them side-by-side under a microscope, it is difficult-going-on-impossible to tell the difference. 

Either Naim is unshakably confident in the perfection of its four-year-old industrial design vocabulary, or its styling team has quite badly run out of steam.  

That’s not to say there isn’t plenty to like about the way the Mu-so Qb 2nd Generation looks – it’s just that we’ve seen it all before. It’s a crisp-edged cube (well, 210 x 218 x 212mm, which is close enough) with some gently tumorous bulges in its three-sided grille, standing on a flawless chunk of Perspex. This clear plinth has a nicely understated ‘Naim’ logo off to the side, which can be illuminated using the control app.

The rear panel is occupied by heatsinks and a few physical connections. These run to mains power, Ethernet, digital optical and 3.5mm analogue audio. There’s also a tiny reset button here - you’ll perform your initial set-up using this.

The Qb’s big design feature, though, remains the oversized control dial occupying the bulk of the burnished aluminum top panel. As with Mu-so 2, it’s been reengineered – a proximity sensor wakes it as you approach, it’s illuminated around the edge, and there are no fewer than 15 touch-controls on the top. As with Mu-so 2, it remains a tactile, smooth-scrolling delight to use – no rival wireless speaker has anything approaching as pleasant an interface. 

Naim Mu-so Qb 2nd Generation

(Image credit: TechRadar)


While the Mu-so Qb 2nd Generation has a smattering of physical inputs, the point of a wireless speaker is to keep the wire count down to a minimum. 

Consequently there are numerous ways of getting music into, and sound out of, the Mu-so Qb 2nd Generation without the inconvenience of wires. The obvious highlights are Spotify Connect, Apple AirPlay 2, Chromecast built-in, Tidal, Bluetooth 4.2 (the first of a couple of ho-hum numbers in Qb 2’s specification) and UPnP. The Naim is Roon-ready too, and there’s access to internet radio via vTuner.

All of the most popular digital audio formats are supported, including WAV, FLAC, AIFF and ALAC (up to 24bit/384kHz file size), MP3, OGG, AAC and WMA (up to 16bit/48kHz) and DSD (64 and 128). 

It's worth noting, though, that the Naim’s digital-to-analogue conversion (which is embedded into the 300 watts-worth of Class D amplification in a direct digital amplification arrangement) processes at 24bit/88.2kHz - which is the second and final ho-hum number. Any hi-res audio files worthy of the description will be downscaled - which looks a bit retrograde compared to quite a few comparably priced rivals. 

The speaker array has been redesigned in conjunction with Naim’s sister company Focal. So at each side there’s a passive radiator, while up front is a five-driver array, comprising two angled tweeters, a pair of similarly angled midrange drivers and a forward-facing ‘racetrack’ bass driver. The first four drivers each get a 50-watt share of the total amplification, while the remaining 100 watts powers the bass driver.

Running the whole show is a digital signal processor that’s been upgraded mightily over the original Qb. This new unit is capable of processing up to 2000m instructions per second, which makes the previous processor’s best of 150m instructions p/s look pedestrian in the extreme. 

Naim Mu-so Qb 2nd Generation

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Integrating the Mu-so Qb 2nd Generation into a multi-room set-up is simplicity itself. The updated Naim control app (which is better than it used to be, though that’s not the same as being authentically good) allows you to organize any Naim products into a multi-room system.

There’s Google Home compatibility, so it can join in with Chromecast products; there’s Apple Home compatibility, so it can join in with AirPlay 2 products. If you want to involve Qb 2nd Gen. in a multi-room arrangement, go right ahead.

The control app is logical enough, and stable for most of the time – which is another way of saying the user is, subconsciously, constantly waiting for it to crash. It’s particularly flakey where Tidal is concerned, sometimes even attempting to search for one song while listening to another is enough to give it the vapors. This isn't a routine occurrence, to be sure, but once it’s happened a couple of times, you’re always primed for it to happen again – and good luck trying to get Tidal to shut up should you attempt to switch inputs to, say, Spotify.

The remote control handset, on the other hand, works flawlessly and has all the controls you need for straightforward operation. It feels a little ordinary when compared to the opulence of the Qb 2’s other physical control, though.

Like Mu-so 2, Qb 2nd Generation has a few nice colorful grille options should the black/grey standard option not match your decor – you'll need to pay  extra for a ‘terracotta’, ‘peacock’ or ‘olive’ grille, which could be annoying when you consider the size of your initial outlay.   

Naim Mu-so Qb

(Image credit: TechRadar)


Setting up the Naim Mu-so Qb 2nd Generation is the work of a moment – use the app to confirm its position (near a rear wall, in a corner or out in some free space), dial in the amount of illumination you’d like for the logo and rotary control, and you’re good to go.

And it’s obvious from the off that Qb 2 has plenty going for it. With Kanye West’s 808s & Heartbreak playing via Tidal, the Naim controls the strangely chilly low frequencies well; there’s substance, solidity and variation to bass sounds, if not the sort of implacable punch its Mu-so 2 big brother is capable of. 

This album has plenty to answer for where auto-tune is concerned, but the Qb is detailed and insightful enough to make the midrange (where Kanye’s treated vocals sit) communicative and explicit. At the top end there’s sufficient bite and shine, but none of the coarseness lesser speakers can introduce when volume levels become significant. 

The frequency range is nicely balanced, with no area given undue prominence nor too little power. The Naim is equally accomplished where tonality is concerned, too – there’s an agreeably neutral attitude to the way the Qb 2nd Generation describes the texture and tonality of voices and instruments. In these respects it’s a very convincing listen – Beck’s reverential version of Daniel Johnston’s True Love Will Find You In The End makes the Naim’s talents plain in this respect.

Naim Mu-so Qb 2nd Generation

(Image credit: TechRadar)

 Switching to something just a little less self-regarding (Mogwai’s Come On Die Young) allows the Qb 2nd Gen. to demonstrate its facility with dynamics, both great and small. Year 2000 Non-Compliant Cardia is nothing but an exercise in low-level dynamics, and the Naim describes the nuanced variations in the textural elements of the electronics, and percussive and stringed instruments, obvious without drawing undue attention. It’s an accomplished listen, the Qb 2, but it’s less of a show-off than perhaps it looks. 

Timing is good, too: there’s a sense of unity and interaction in Dexy’s She Got a Wiggle that’s by no means a given when multiple drivers are crammed into a reasonably compact enclosure like this. The loping tempo and rhythm is handled confidently, and the Naim rolls along very naturally where lesser designs can sound relatively club-footed.

Like its recently reimagined big brother, Qb 2nd Generation is capable is genuinely oppressive volume without getting in any way shouty or confused. Everything remains composed, everything remains balanced – it simply gets louder. It’s a valuable trait and not to be sniffed at.

What the Qb 2 can’t do, when compared to both its big brother and some other rivals, is escape the confines of its cabinet all that convincingly. The sound it generates is substantial and reasonably expansive – but there’s an absolute point-source. You’re never under any illusion as to where the music is coming from, and the Naim’s soundstage isn’t all that much wider than Qb 2nd Gen. itself.  

Final verdict

The Naim Mu-so Qb 2nd Generation isn’t quite the no-brainer its predecessor was, in large part because of the other brands it inspired to turn out optimistically priced wireless speakers of their own – B&W, to name but one.

It looks great and sounds mind-blowingly good, all while being easy to set up and control.

 It’s nevertheless an impressive performer and a covetable item, though, even if its slightly higher price point makes it even more ‘aspirational’ than before.

Also consider…


Sonos Five
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Sonus Faber Omnia
Not to be confused with Sonos, the Sonus Faber Omnia sounds every milimeter as good as it looks, oozing luxury from every pore. Yes, it’s expensive, but if you have the money and want an all-in-one hi-fi system from which you can stream music and hook up a turntable, the Omnia is probably still the best-sounding model out there – but you'll have to pay for it. 


Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin
Ignore its claim to deliver ‘true’ stereo sound and the latest Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin is the best yet, offering a balanced, detailed sound, an array of wireless streaming options, and a decent control app. The aesthetic you'll either love or loathe, but then, that's also true of the Naim Mu-so Qb 2nd Generation… 

Simon Lucas

Simon Lucas is a senior editorial professional with deep experience of print/digital publishing and the consumer electronics landscape. Based in Brighton, Simon worked at TechRadar's sister site What HiFi? for a number of years, as both a features editor and a digital editor, before embarking on a career in freelance consultancy, content creation, and journalism for some of the biggest brands and publications in the world. 

With enormous expertise in all things home entertainment, Simon reviews everything from turntables to soundbars for TechRadar, and also likes to dip his toes into longform features and buying guides. His bylines include GQ, The Guardian, Hi-Fi+, Metro, The Observer, Pocket Lint, Shortlist, Stuff T3, Tom's Guide, Trusted Reviews, and more.