With a reputation that’s equally enviable in audiophile circles as Bentley has in classic car clubs, Naim needs no introduction to digital audio nerds. The first-gen Mu-So was a runaway success and even spawned the smaller Mu-So Qb, but it’s time to move on and Naim has certainly shifted gears to overdrive with the second generation of Mu-So. Quite literally in this case with the Bentley edition.
So, the already accomplished single-piece speaker now gets upgraded drivers, more powerful DSP, and a reworked cabinet that frees up more internal volume to aid in deeper low-frequency extension. But if you aren’t just satiated with fundamental changes, you can now opt for the luxuriously indulgent Bentley Special Edition. Yes, it is essentially the Naim Mu-So 2 but with a little special sauce from Crewe, England.
Luxury without wheels
Distinctive even in its “regular” version, the flat-topped but substantially built Mu-So 2 is a hefty bit of kit. The 450W of combined power means the entire back is draped in heat sinks, but used as a piece of art instead of just its thermal properties. Especially in this Bentley Edition, the use of unique colourways and materials just enhances its appeal even more. Copper coloured heatsinks look more dramatic than the usual aluminium, take our word for it, or check out the pics!
Naim has also shown ingenuity and integrated the Wi-Fi antennas into the heatsinks! There are other Bentley touches too, like the bespoke copper accents woven into the grille fabric and moulded in a wave-like shape, the intricate lattice pattern around the already gorgeous control dial, and an illuminated logo in a smoked glass plinth. Sitting on a coffee table or under a TV, it won’t go unnoticed.
From the African Ayous hardwood top that is stained and lacquered for a dark yet finely textured finish to the proximity sensor that promptly lights up the control dial with comprehensive functionality, the Mu-So 2 is apparently as smart as it is beautiful. The weight and smoothness of the dial that also serves as a tactile volume control is perfect and the illumination is bright enough to pierce even the brightest of rooms.
Perhaps the most obvious area of the Mu-So 2 that hasn’t received the attention that a Bentley product deserves is the remote control, which is plasticky and totally out of place in this package. Sure, it works well and mimics the functions of the control dial on the main unit, but the feel is just too ordinary for something that exudes exclusivity in every other area. It could also be Naim’s way of making you interact with the gorgeous control dial more often, enabling you to make a personal connection and appreciate the craftsmanship.
Five presets let you customise any playlist or online radio station which you can get to in a tap, or change sources from Bluetooth to USB to Aux to HDMI or even to a Roon server. Built-in support for AirPlay 2 and Google Chromecast joins Spotify, Qobuz and Tidal, all of which can connect directly through the Naim app. Apple Music is conspicuous by its absence but that’s true for every brand in the world currently barring Sonos, the only ones to have Apple Music natively baked into their own app.
Sound of luxury
All the connections are hidden deep under the chassis in a recessed cove that is hard to reach, but it’s more of a one-time thing so it doesn’t take away from the experience. Thanks to its form factor though, the Mu-So 2 makes for an ideal soundbar under a large-screen television and certainly takes the experience up several notches.
The Naim app allows for location-dependent EQ, so you can choose from different room compensation settings like Near Wall, Near Corner or No Compensation. These should be treated with a pinch of salt though, not as governing modes based on actual location. In our room, even 6in from the wall, the No Compensation mode proved to be the more balanced sounding. There isn’t more you get in terms of sound tuning but thankfully the Mu-So 2 has good bones to begin with.
The heavy, rigid cabinet has been reworked to free up 13% more internal volume for deeper bass, while the bass drivers have both bigger magnets and longer voice coils to aid in the process. Digital processing gets more powerful and tidier too, maintaining better timing and resampling all digital signals to a 24bit/88kHz output.
In terms of lushness and clarity, the Mu-So 2 is up there with the best of the breed and can easily keep up with the equally luxurious Bang & Olufsen Beosound 2 we reviewed last month. It even betters the Beosound 2 when it comes to dispersion with an even wider sweet spot, so regardless of where you walk around in the room, there is a consistency in the tonal balance that doesn’t shift too much.
Weeknd’s Take My Breath with its classic disco and R&B fusion vibe maintains fine rhythm and propulsiveness, etching out the bass lines well enough to make it a fun listen. Playing the Classic FM online radio station was finely resolved too, even though the transmission was capped at 256kbps! Strings had delicacy and horns were played back with the scale and gravitas that the music deserved. Via its side-mounted USB, you can unlock Lossless straight from your iPhone and Apple Music and the results are impressive. Taut bass, a treble free of grain and with a slightly rolled off signature, the Mu-So 2 never felt like it was being pressed too hard, even at 80% of its max volume.
Voices are anchored solidly and while it could do with a bit more openness, by single speaker standards, it’s one of the best there is. Add multiroom and multi-speaker capabilities, voice control, brilliantly simple and effective app and integration with a wide range of streaming apps and the Mu-So 2 is a superb package that may be premium in pricing, but also delivers on the promise of Naim’s legendary expertise with all things digital.
There’s no doubt about how accomplished the Mu-So 2 is, but the Bentley edition adds a considerable premium to the price tag. The philosophy is similar to someone extending for a Bentley Continental GT over a Porsche Panamera, for example.
For your additional money, you do get something that reeks of exclusive materials, unquestionable craftsmanship and the sense of being a part of an elite club. If there’s one thing you’d have on your coffee table and nothing else, the Mu-So 2 is very capable of being the one!