Thank You for the Mu-So: Why Apple Stores are Stocking a Clever Little British Audio System
While Apple’s global success is a definitively American story where can-do business spirit tessellates perfectly with a counterculture-derived human intuition, it’s the sensual nous of their British-born design supremo, Jonathan Ives, that has ensured nearly two decades of continuing success. This is a familiar story. In booming unified Germany, where those born in the east were deprived of art and design education for 50 years, British talent has often been lured to marry engineering expertise with visual and tactile flair.
One name now consistently delivering both is a British high-end audio company – Naim. Happily making some of the world’s best solid-state separates (amps, speakers and CD players) since 1973, the Salisbury-based company have a deeply loyal, if niche, following of those golden-eared hi-fi nuts that implore you to “LISTEN TO THAT HI-HAT!” as they breathlessly place a £3,000 needle on a £200 Donald Fagen record spinning on a £5,000 turntable. Their stock-in-trade is a sonic perfection unavailable to most mortals.
Bentley owners have also been benefiting from a sonic luxury that matches their vehicles since 2008, thanks to Naim’s Digital Signal Processing system installed in the Mulsanne and the Continental.
Then, Nottinghamshire-born Simon Matthews, once a boyhood Naim fanatic and now their director of design, received a radical brief – an integrated home-based domestic system, codenamed “Project Eagle”, which should offer incredible, class-leading sound quality to everyone. All this while being beautiful and elegant, using premium quality materials for not a huge amount of money. It had to be simple to install and control, while creating that intense and emotive musical experience on which the company had built its reputation. Simon, along with their exceptional audio engineers, answered the brief.
Mu-so is an elegant little beast. Featuring 450 watts from six 75-watt digital amplifiers driving six custom-designed Naim speaker drivers, it’s an integrated wireless music system that delivers a beautifully “musical” performance. It could change your life, delivering “better than CD” quality music from Apple and Android smartphones and tablets as well as laptops and other storage devices. Advanced connectivity includes AirPlay, Universal Plug ‘n’ Play, Bluetooth, internet radio and native support for popular streaming services, like Spotify. It can also boost the sound of your TV, set-top box or games console through a digital input or take audio from and charge an MP3 player or iPod/iPhone via USB or a 3.5mm analogue input. Bosh, job done. A magical box of tricks that also blends into any home interior, the black speaker grille can be changed to a Vibrant Red, Burnt Orange or Deep Blue.
In Britain, John Lewis see it as the very highest end of domestic bliss, now stocking it in numbers, while Palo Alto certainly thinks this is the future, with Mu-so now taking pride of place in Apple Stores across the world. Mr Ives may well start taking (iPad) notes very soon.
Mu-so retails at £895 ($1,400) inc VAT. www.naimaudio.com/mu-so.