Just as you should never believe people who say they don’t give a moment’s thought to what they wear – that mismatched, just-got-out-of-bed look takes a lot of achieving – you should be suspicious of technology fans who claim not to be affected by what a product looks like.
Hifi manufacturers can get it stupendously wrong in their attempts to create aesthetically as well as sonically pleasing objects. One of my favourite finds at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas one year was a Chinese company exhibiting hifi speakers built into dummy cellos. As an exercise in kitsch it was Olympic-standard; it also sounded like a bag of miaowing cats.
When the esteemed Salisbury hifi maker Naim gave an early preview of this wireless stereo speaker last summer it was called Muso, which wasn’t un-peculiar unless it was targeting old Italian fascisti, which I doubt. Naim’s products, the automotive version of which are fitted in Bentleys, are good‑looking as well as sounding rather better than bags of cats. The company later saw sense, releasing it as Mu-so, which is still a bit odd but inoffensive.
Mu-so is startlingly beautiful. The heavy brushed-metal surround, with those sexy fins at the back, floats on a block of clear Perspex lit up by white light and with the talismanic brand name in just the right font. Then there’s the subtle curl in the front grille – and the fact that it’s available in many fetching shades. And who couldn’t love the huge ship’s‑wheel control? The Mu-so is probably the most attractive product of its kind I’ve seen.
How does it sound? Exactly as it looks – refined, assured, cool. It’s quite conservative: the bass is grand and imposing and it handles opera almost as well as pop, though it was actually at its most magnificent with Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor.
It’s rare, in a world overpopulated with ugly black boxes doing a similar job, to find something you can just look at and enjoy, let alone listen to. The Mu-so blew my head off and my mind away, if that’s even possible.