Naim, a British audio company born in 1973 from an ex-racecar driver Julian Vereker MBE, hosted an event at Openhouse Mulberry in SoHo boasting its car audio systems, and introducing its new HiFi system Mu-so to America. The evening was presented by its in car audio partner Bentley Motors.
Naim is a company focused on clarity and bass in their sound. Their goal with all of their audio systems is to optimize the space and design a stage within the given area and create an audible visualization of sound as if you were sitting front row at a concert. For Naim presentation is everything, and audio should not be something you hear, but something you experience.
As we entered the event, a Bentley Mulsanne was on display. Inside this $400,000 luxury beast was Naim’s pride and joy, a car audio system known to be the best in the world. Naim audio is exclusively reserved for Bentley, and a different system is designed and created to fit each model specifically. For those who don’t know, some Bentley’s can cost as much as, if not even more than, most homes. It is a symbol of luxury and status. Many owners of the 4-door Bentleys hire chauffeurs to drive them around. So the fact that Bentley sought out Naim, a company which had never done car audio for them before, to design an audio system for them, meant that they saw something spectacular. According to a Naim engineer, who was kind enough to give us a tour of the Mulsanne, Bentley was seeking a British company. However they wanted the best of the best. And when Bentley came to Naim, according to the same engineer, “well, who would refuse the offer to play with a few, hundred thousand dollar cars?.” The featured Bentley Mulsanne contained the $8000, 20-speakers, 2200-watt, Naim audio system designed specifically for that model.
Upon entering the back seat of Mulsanne, luxury surrounded us. We felt as if we were sitting in a half a million dollar living room. Well, we were. Just a half a million dollar living room on wheels. But then the engineer, and self-proclaimed chauffeur, pressed a button, causing an insert in the dash to fold up and in, and a touch screen head unit came out, as effortless and classy as it could. Something was about to happen. The chauffeur then turned on the radio and proceeded to play different selections of music, which were meant to show the versatility of the system, show the concert hall created by Naim within the car, and boast to America that this was what a small British company could do. Something had happened. Naim had taken the crown away from anything we thought was the best. It felt as if there was a person before me with a microphone in hand, a band behind them, and we were in a private hall being entertained. As we sat there in awe, speechless, surrounded by the music, by the crisp highs, amazingly deep lows, and the range of the mids that we were hearing, we could only understand why England’s Queen had such respect for Naim.
In America, everyone knows what Bose is. Bose audio is extremely clear and a favorite for car and home audio as well as headphones. Until now, Bose’s car audio seems to be as close to perfect as anything we’ve ever heard. However, after hearing Naim we realized that Bose was lacking something. Something that Naim seemed to hand to you on a silver platter. The system was sophisticated, complex yet simple, felt right, enjoyable and loud, yet not intrusive. No matter how high it was turned, no matter how much it got in our faces, we never felt like it invaded our space. We never felt uncomfortable. We craved more.
After leaving the Mulsanne, we decided to learn a little more about the other audio system on display, Naim’s new HiFi Mu-so system. The Mu-so system is Naim’s wireless soundbar; Naim’s equivalent of Bose’s Soundlink, or Sony’s SRS line. The Mu-so can be controlled via Naim’s app for iPhone and Android, and multiple Mu-so systems can be controlled to play at once, with each volume being individually controlled, for multi-room streaming. The app is very user friendly and the interface can be learned within 5 minutes, even for the most illiterate users. The speakers can be played via USB, auxiliary, Bluetooth, Airplay, digital Input (for television connection), UPnP (Universal Plug ‘n’ Play), and also features Spotify.
Naim’s Mu-so comes with 4 different mesh color options, black, blue, red, and orange, each one elegant and subtle so as to not stand out too much. Each of the colors was displayed in connection within a single room. The speakers seemed to have an incredibly deep bass and very descriptive mids, however, they seemed to lack precision in the highs. The Mu-so system seemed to have the exact opposite characteristics of the Bose Soundlink, with the Bose focusing on the crisp highs and mids while lacking in the bass department, and the Mu-so focusing on the deepness of the bass and clarity of the mids, yet not reaching upwards into the highs of the sound. Overall, the system sounded and felt better than most of its competition, including the Soundlink and the Sony SRS line. Naim’s current goal is to bring their audio to the United States. With the sound quality that Naim brings to the table, it shouldn’t be long before Naim becomes as famous as Bose or BeatsbyDre.