Back in the 1970’s Naim Audio was the outsider; the hair-shirt amplifier manufacturer so beloved of the then nascent ‘Flat Earth’ school of audio. Today, despite some fairly considerable changes to both the company and the entire audio world, arguably Naim Audio has stayed truer to its original goals than many of its contemporaries. However, in 2014 Naim announced a couple of left-field products that unseated the mainstream view of the company, held by fans and critics alike. First came The Statement: £130,000 worth of pre/power amplification exotica that gave the middle finger to those who had questioned both the direction and the confidence of the company, and who suggested Naim Audio would lose its identity in the wake of its well-publicised hook-up with French loudspeaker brand, Focal. The Statement was followed by mu-so, a self-contained network music centre that was the company’s first product available both within and without the ardent Naim dealership network.
At first glance, Naim Audio making a wireless music centre might seem as out of place as Rolex making a Swatch watch. The terminology itself makes it sound stranger than it actually is in reality but, at the press launch earlier in the year, the three products on show did appear incongruous to the traditional view of the company. A couple of fully fitted Bentleys, The Statement, and a huddle of the little mu-so machines perhaps show why it’s more an expression of the traditional company reaching out to a far wider audience. A press launch for a new Naim power amplifier will draw in members of the audio press and a few hi-fi bloggers at most; the launch of mu-so saw Naim Audio appear on the radar of a wider range of tech magazines and TV programmes like The Gadget Show. Unless we want hi-fi to stay an ever-diminishing clique of aging audiophiles, we need more Naim Audios making more products like mu-so. It’s as simple as that!