Naim’s Mu-So was a hit from the moment it was launched. Now in its 2nd generation, it offers a superb specification, great sound and excellent control interface. It is however, rather big or at least rather long. The Qb arrived in the first generation to give you the Mu-So experience without having to give over as much space to do so. It too has been updated to Generation spec, adding some useful extra functionality.
The result is a speaker that gets an awful lot done in a small box. The Naim has UPnP streaming with native Qobuz, Tidal and Spotify support, AirPlay2, Chromecast and Bluetooth. Not content with this, you also get an optical input and an analogue connection on a 3.5mm socket. What you don’t get is an HDMI ARC connection, for which you’ll still need the big Mu-So. While some rivals can match this spec, what really sets the Qb2 apart is the brilliant control interface. Naim’s control app has been evolving for years and it is a pleasure to use as well as allowing a house of Naim products to be tied together.
Internally, the Qb2 is similar to the original, with 300 watts of on board power and a driver complement that gives stereo upper frequencies, underpinned by mono bass. Where Naim has put some time in is the DSP software that controls how the 300 watts of power is presented to the drivers. Something that they have left alone- and with good reason- is the overall shape and design. This is a truly great looking device, with excellent proportions and use of materials that combine to create a product that arguably has better proportions than its bigger brother. It is also a great deal easier to find space for and the app has settings for placement near walls and corners.
The original Qb looked absolutely sensational but the sound didn’t quite hit the same heights. Some people might find it surprising that a device that looks so similar is radically better but the work that Naim has put into improving the DSP has resulted a speaker that sounds altogether more convincing. The Qb2 is small but the sound it produces is anything but. The means by which any single box device produces a convincing stereo image is almost entirely down to software trickery. What the Naim does so brilliantly is create a spacious and believable sound without every really giving any clue to the processing at work to create it.
Something else that is readily apparent is that, considering the relatively small size of the Naim, it can go impressively loud and do without any sign of congestion or strain. When you combine it with the ability of the Qb2 to respond to where you have placed and adjust its output accordingly, you can achieve a big and spacious sound that never feels like it is coming from an obviously single point in the room.
The final piece of this rather enticing package is that, while it may not look much like the company’s Classic products, the Qb2 has a strong element of their performance in what it does. As well as sounding tonally convincing; giving both voices and instruments the qualities they need to be believable, there is a consistent element of fun to what it does. Give the Naim a tempo and it will deliver it with the precision of an atomic clock. When you play something that shouldn’t fly along though, the Naim effortlessly backs off and lets the music flow as it should. This impressive consistency is delivered across the various inputs too making this an extremely competent all rounder.
The Qb2 might look like a gentle refresh but, even more than its bigger brother, the second generation really unlocks the performance that the basic design had, giving you an attractive and flexible product that sounds the business however you choose to use it.
Emily King: Scenery
The opening track Remind Me; in the hands of the Naim has the speed, punch and outright joy that it needs to sound absolutely fantastic. The complex bass line in particular is beautifully handled.
The Comet is Coming: Channel the Spirits.
The fact that the diminutive Naim can make any sense of this ballistic but brilliant modern jazz is a testament to how good it is. More than simply ‘make sense’ it captures the energy and sensational musicianship brilliantly.
Sheryl Crow: Tuesday Night Music Club
The Naim is able to take this fantastic suite of songs and ensure that they have the space and tonal balance to sound right while all the time giving them the vibrancy they deserve.
Put simply, unless you really, really need HDMI ARC, this is the best one box wireless speaker you can buy for less than a grand and it will work like a charm in a variety of locations.