The best audio system I’ve ever heard in a car also sounds amazing at home

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Matthew DeBord/BI

The Naim audio system in the new Bentley Bentayga is the best I’ve ever heard. I took it out of the running for our Audio System of the Year for 2016 because we experienced the winner, Bowers & Wilkins, in more vehicles.

But goodness, what a magnificent system Naim has developed for Bentley! I heard details in music I have never heard before – in songs and compositions I’d listened to many, many times.

Now Naim, a British company that has a stupendous reputation for high-end audio, has created a special collaboration with Bentley to introduce a sort of All-England brand mashup that you can enjoy in your home: Naim for Bentley. There are two choices, both borrowed from Naim’s pricey, but impressive Mu-so lineup.

“With a striking new design, including delicately patterned aluminum skin and a knurled volume control reminiscent of classic Bentley styling, the new Naim for Bentley Mu-so and Mu-so Qb are packed with all the features any music lover could demand,” Naim declares.

Naim let me borrow both the Mu-so and the Mu-so QB to check them out. I set them up at home and compared them with my own Sonos setup.

Here’s how it went:


The Bentley Bentayga, a long-awaited SUV from the luxury brand. We sampled it earlier this year.

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Hollis Johnson

The interior is full-on-Bentley, quite luxurious. And due to the SUV’s size and dimensions, it’s an amazing place to to listen to music piped through the specially designed Naim Audio system.

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Hollis Johnson

According to Naim, the company’s sound engineers developed the 32-bit digital signal processor (DSP) for the all-in-one home wireless speaker systems, based on the work they did for Bentley’s in-car audio setups.

This was the challenge I set out for the home systems: Would they sounds as good as the system in the Bentayga?

I’m not an audiophile, but I do listen to a lot of music, at home in the car’s we test at BI. So I felt that I was reasonably qualified to make a judgment.


So, to the homefront. The Mu-so can be had for about $1,700. Yes, that makes it a very pricey choice for multi-room home audio — you have to spend a lot to get a second speaker — not to mention a Bluetooth capable system.

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Matthew DeBord/BI

The original Mu-so is completely crammed with advanced audio technology. The total power output is 450 watts. The systems utilizes six speakers, each powered by its own 75-watt amplifier.

Managing it all it is, according to Naim, a “32-bit digital signal processor capable of millions of calculations per second.”

At base, Mu-so is a versatile unit. You can stream audio using various formats, but you can also plug straight into an aux or USB port, and you can pair up using Bluetooth. You can also establish a home wifi network with multiple Mu-so units to have Sonos-like multi-room audio.

The original system can also be customized for its aesthetics.

It’s an exquisitely crafted hunk of fiberboard and aluminum, with impeccable finishing. Yet it’s relatively compact. It fit neatly on several small tables and a cabinet in my house, and it could be located easily enough on a shelf.


Here’s the Mu-so’s little brother.

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Matthew DeBord/BI

The Mu-so Qb is a smaller unit, but just as beautifully made.

It cranks 300 watts through five speakers, and like the Mu-so, it can play audio via streaming, USB/AUX ports, and Bluetooth.

The price? $1,100.

They’re for sale here.


The Naim for Bentley partnership brings a glowing emblem of their conjoining, as well as a front grille in shimmery silver that evokes the look of Bentley cars.

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Matthew DeBord/BI

The Mu-so and Qb are so lovely that they kind of outdid my house’s decor.

I think if you’re a serious audiophile looking for an amazing wireless setup, you could design your dwelling around the Mu-so.

Car nuts will certainly adore craftsmanship, which successfully evokes being in a Bentley.


It’s a feature of both the Mu-so and the Mu-so Qb.

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Matthew DeBord/BI

I didn’t exhaustively test the system because it’s been exhaustively tested elsewhere, by professional audiophiles, who have been very impressed.

I did put it through its paces, however, listening to a variety of music over several weeks. My goal was to determine if my house could sound as good the Bentley Bentayga did, outfitted with glorious Naim-delivered tones.

I won’t beat around the bush on that one. I thought the Naim system in the Bentayga SUV sounded better. But that’s no knock on the Naim for Bentley Mu-sos. Nothing has sounded as good as the Bentley’s audio setup. It was otherworldly.


Using the Mu-so system is extremely easy.

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Matthew DeBord/BI

Both the Mu-so and the Qb have a gorgeous, knurled rotary knob that serves as both the volume control and as a touchscreen interface for the fairly simple operation of the speaker itself.

The original Mu-so design also comes with a remote, but once I got the system set up for Bluetooth and wifi, I operated it using my iPhone and an Android tablet.

Reviewers have pointed out how satisfying it it is to rotate that controller. I concur. It’s so weighty, so smooth. What a well-made piece of technology. It’s all … so … much like a Bentley!


Simple beauty was clearly what governed Naim’s design process.

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Matthew DeBord/BI

Here’s the Qb with the music-navigation controls engaged: play, pause, and forward and backward skipping. That’s it!

Plugging in a USB input or creating a Bluetooth connection is fairly easy with both the Mu-so and the Mu-so Qb.

Creating a multi-room setup using the Naim app and your wifi is trickier. As with my Sonos system and some other Bluetooth speakers, the process was more effective with a tablet running Android. Not sure why, but there you have it.

The systems did work fine with the app on my iPhone, however.

Overall, the setup process is a bit more time-consuming than with Sonos, but the Naim speakers also have additional capabilities.


The Mu-so Qb is the best Bluetooth speaker on planet Earth.

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Matthew DeBord/BI

Prior to going through a two-year long deep dive into the state of the consumers audio arts and ultimately decided on a Sonos system, I owned and tested (informally) several Bluetooth setups.

Bluetooth is OK, but what it’s really good for is portability – small grab and go units that you can take outside for parties and barbecues, or from room to room. The sound quality isn’t that great, to my ears.

The only serious exception I’ve encountered is the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin, a truly great Bluetooth speaker, as well as an expensive one.

The Mu-so Qb is a lot more expensive, and can do a lot more, but for a few weeks I kept it my bedroom and used it as a Bluetooth unit. WOW! Somehow, it takes terrible Bluetooth sounds and … just … fixes it.

The original Mu-so also plays well with Bluetooth audio, but I think $1,700 is too much to pay for Bluetooth speaker.


The Naim app pre-loads Spotify and Tidal — and the Tidal tie-in makes perfect sense.

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Matthew DeBord/BI

Tidal delivers, for a monthly fee, so-called “loss-less” streaming, which many listeners including myself (I pay for the service) think provides higher-quality music than services that stream the tuneage with less digital information.

For a system as good as the Naim Mu-so, I absolutely think Tidal is worth it.

What really distinguishes this system from advanced Bluetooth speakers and Sonos is the astonishing detail. My Sonos PLAY:5 speaker is, to my ear, louder and broader in tone than the Mu-so or the Qb. The way I describe it, Sonos creates a large “center of sound” that sits about six feet in front of the speaker. Not stereo sound, but a nice, big tone. You can crank it up.

Cranking up the Mu-so isn’t what you want to do, because it’s not designed for loudness. What you get instead is a wave of additional volume, with no loss of detail whatsoever.

Initially, this is weird. It’s actually unlike a live performance, where additional volume from a musician of group can degrade detail, depending on acoustics. It was weird in the Bentayga, it was weird at home. But it quickly grows addictive, especially when you listen to familiar music and hear stuff you never heard before.

Ultimately, the sound that the Mu-so reproduces verges on pristine. For jazz and classical fans, this system will be the all-in-one wireless they’ve been waiting for and the $1,700 will be well worth the investment. If they don’t want to spend that much, they can go for the Mu-so Qb and get something similar for $700 less.

It does come down to room size, in the end. The Mu-so is perfect for larger spaces, while the Qb makes a fantastic bedroom speaker. That’s how I set them up.


So what’s the final verdict?

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Matthew DeBord/BI

This is the best-sounding wireless speaker setup I’ve ever heard. Oddly, it didn’t sound as good at home as it did in the Bentayga, but then again, the Bentayga might just be the best physical space on the planet for music-listening. So maybe that conclusion isn’t so odd.

Otherwise, breathtaking. But at a price.

Truthfully, I think Naim has lived up to its reputation and then some here. Obviously, if you want to have music throughout your home, wireless controlled via a single app, Sonos might be your best bet.

But as great as Sonos is for that experience, the old-school hi-fi enthusiast who like to set down and close their eyes and get lost in the music for an hour are going to go ga-ga for Naim. It’s a high-end wireless setup that emulates and in some ways surpasses the traditional wired-components arrangement.