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  • MBL speakers what do you think about their sound?

    I was wondering what others thought in general of the sound of MBL speakers? I heard them again at AXPONA 2016, well first time for the Extremes. I thought were pretty unique in their sound, seeming to coming a very large space but not so much from a specific place. I liked them a lot but not sure they would be my choice if I had the funds and a dedicated room to fit them in. Of course this was a show setting and I did not get a chance to play my own music. I thought the sweet spot was rather small, as I think of omni's as having the ability to sound good far off axis. While they sound good off axis, the sweet spot bought everything more into focus. Also I noticed some harshness, which was echoed by another person at the show.

    I rather liked the imaging soundstage of the KEF Blade Two's better, seemed more focused but still wide soundstage. Would have liked to have more time with them also.

    However I did find the After Hours UHA Tape demo, with the MBL Extremes's the highlight of the show for me. I really liked the selection of music, from Stevie Wonder, Styx, Mark Knopfler. To having the lights turned off with only the light of the electronics and one candle center stage to see with, really created a fun and surreal atmosphere for Hi-Fi listening.

  • #2
    After the 2015 T.H.E. Show in Irvine I wrote that the MBL 101E Mk. II, is "materially more dynamic and realistic than anything I have ever heard before.” I also wrote that: “After the initial first couple of hours of shock and disbelief about the tangibility of the music and the holographic venue recreated by the speakers my power of rationality and analysis slowly came back into operation. . . . By the third hour of auditioning I could no longer ignore the fact that I find the speakers bright-sounding.”

    After the show I canvassed pretty much every audiophile I know to see whether I was crazy or whether brightness is a relatively common criticism of the MBL 101E Mk. IIs. Approximately half of the ten or so people I spoke with who had heard the MBLs also found them to be on the bright side.

    However, I learned from a subsequent listening session at the house of a friend that much of this brightness can be ameliorated by tubes.

    I just arrived in Munich and I'm looking forward to hearing the MBLs again this week.
    Last edited by RonR; 05-05-2016, 12:44 AM.

    Comment


    • #3
      i think that the brightness is exaggerated by the high levels and barren rooms that i have heard the 101 (in various stages of development) in usually manned by the factory guys. at newport 2015 the extremes were exemplary and could be played to ANY level without apparent distortion. the master tapes played in newport were mostly good, relevant enjoyment music capable of revealing the integrity of the playback system. i could have stayed all night.

      on another set of notes, i also have heard the magico line demoed with constellation electronics to wonderful effect. and then to the ridiculously sublime ELAC B5s as presented by andrew jones. who'd a thunk it?

      Comment


      • #4
        I have heard the Extremes a couple of times at shows and various other MBL speakers many times always with their electronics. They are fantastic and are unique in what they do. To hear them with Greg Beron's fantastic tapes and decks after hours is always a show highlight for me. That said, like all speakers and perhaps more so because of their 360 degree radiating design, they are heavily affected by the room. Sometimes bright, sometimes boomy, depending on the room. Still and all, a show stopper in terms of air, dynamics, imaging,etc. would I buy them provided I had the right room and bank account? I'm not sure because I have never heard them with other electronics and I don't know if I would want to be anchored into their electronics alone. Besides, there are so many great sounding loudspeakers in that price category I really like. Vandy 7s with matching amps and Tidals just to name two. But what they do is amazing under the right circumstances.
        TW Acustic TT with Ref motor & controller; Tri-Planar Arm; Ortofon Windfeld-Ti Cartridge, Harmonix-Combak platter mat & weight; PS Audio Stellar Phono Preamp; KLAudio Ultrasonic Record Cleaner.

        Bluesound Vault-2 Music Server & Streamer

        VTL 6.5 preamp Series II
        Pass Labs 150.8 Amp

        Piega C711 Loudspeakers

        Symposium Osiris Rack; Symposium Platforms and Roller Blocks plus grade 2.5 Balls

        Acoustic Revive RR-888 Low Frequency Pulse Generator, Synergistic Research 12 UEF SE Line Conditioner, Level 3 HC AC Cord and Level 3 power cords, Synergistic Carbon fiber wall plates, Synergistic Research Orange Outlet, Furutech NCF Booster Braces, Audio Art Ref IC, MIT Oracle IC, synergistic Research Atmosphere X Euphoria Level 3 Balanced ICs, Synergistic Research Euphoria Level 3 Speaker Cables, Synergistic Research Cable Risers.

        Sennheiser HDV 650 Headphone Amp; Sennheiser HD800s Headphones.

        Comment


        • #5
          I have heard the MBL 101 E MKII in a dedicated listening room with all MBL electronics and a UHA R2R tape front end and must say this system sets my standard for high end audio. The Extremes sounded very nice at Axpona but in a dedicated room with proper setup I have not heard a more palpable midrange than the 101 E MkII.
          Marty

          Comment


          • #6
            Never heard the big "X-Streme" setup. I did hear a set up with the older 101s a few years back.

            Given the price of the speakers, let alone the entire system, I was singularly unimpressed. As occasionally happens, just had to smile and say gee, that's great and bow out gracefully. Chalk it up to entirely dissimilar tastes.

            Comment


            • #7
              I said a part of my piece in my Axpona write up.

              In my experience, I think the MBLs are very, no make that extremely demanding of ancillary equipment (and I'll primarily restrict my discussion to the 101 series). I also think they are extremely room sensitive. I've heard the 101s in homes and at shows to sound anywhere from very impressive to downright dismal. The best I heard the 101s sound was years ago at Dr. Michael Gindis in a relatively large room with high ceilings.

              That said, MBLs don't like thin or bright gear or front-ends (But what good speaker does?) Over the years, MBL has reduced both the upper mid glare (most in the A-series) and the discontinuity between the "Invasion of the Body Snatcher" drivers and bass drivers. Greg Beron has developed a unique solution that involves lifting the 101s slightly higher off the floor to good effect I hear. Maybe if Greg reads this when he is back from Munich, he can comment.

              There used to be someone on WBF (Priaptor perhaps?) who drove his MBL 101 with the big VAC amps. Gindi drove his with the Jadis 500s and the early CAT amp too. But I think it's safe to say they like and crave power.

              The 101s do when properly set up things that elude most other speakers, those being resolution, speed, transparency, effortlessness and size of the soundstage. Few speakers ever did something like Friday Night in San Francisco like the MBL 101s.
              Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
              Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
              ________________________________________

              -Zellaton Plural Evo speakers
              -Goldmund Telos 300 stereo amp
              -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
              -Doshi EVO and Goldmund PH3.8 phonostage
              -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
              -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
              -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga Mk. 2, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
              -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
              -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 6, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
              -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz 3 racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA OHIO Class 2.1+ platforms.

              Comment


              • nc42acc
                nc42acc commented
                Editing a comment
                Gregs system is what I referred to above Myles. Whatever he did to his 101s make them sound fabulous.

              • allenh
                allenh commented
                Editing a comment
                One of the best demos to my ears was Greg's room at CAF a few years ago. Played Steely Dan Aja on tape. Wow! But all other demos I've heard didn't have the same magic.

            • #8
              Originally posted by Rust View Post
              Never heard the big "X-Streme" setup. I did hear a set up with the older 101s a few years back.

              Given the price of the speakers, let alone the entire system, I was singularly unimpressed. As occasionally happens, just had to smile and say gee, that's great and bow out gracefully. Chalk it up to entirely dissimilar tastes.
              With a digital or analog source? Like I said, they ruthlessly reveal lesser components.
              Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
              Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
              ________________________________________

              -Zellaton Plural Evo speakers
              -Goldmund Telos 300 stereo amp
              -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
              -Doshi EVO and Goldmund PH3.8 phonostage
              -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
              -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
              -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga Mk. 2, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
              -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
              -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 6, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
              -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz 3 racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA OHIO Class 2.1+ platforms.

              Comment


              • #9
                Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post

                With a digital or analog source? Like I said, they ruthlessly reveal lesser components.
                Actually the more I think about it, I'm of the opinion that it's only Greg Beron's deck and tapes that make me like the MBLs. Left to even their own digital front end, I think they sound decidedly less appealing. So ruthlessly revealing of an inferior front end even if it's an MBL front end.
                TW Acustic TT with Ref motor & controller; Tri-Planar Arm; Ortofon Windfeld-Ti Cartridge, Harmonix-Combak platter mat & weight; PS Audio Stellar Phono Preamp; KLAudio Ultrasonic Record Cleaner.

                Bluesound Vault-2 Music Server & Streamer

                VTL 6.5 preamp Series II
                Pass Labs 150.8 Amp

                Piega C711 Loudspeakers

                Symposium Osiris Rack; Symposium Platforms and Roller Blocks plus grade 2.5 Balls

                Acoustic Revive RR-888 Low Frequency Pulse Generator, Synergistic Research 12 UEF SE Line Conditioner, Level 3 HC AC Cord and Level 3 power cords, Synergistic Carbon fiber wall plates, Synergistic Research Orange Outlet, Furutech NCF Booster Braces, Audio Art Ref IC, MIT Oracle IC, synergistic Research Atmosphere X Euphoria Level 3 Balanced ICs, Synergistic Research Euphoria Level 3 Speaker Cables, Synergistic Research Cable Risers.

                Sennheiser HDV 650 Headphone Amp; Sennheiser HD800s Headphones.

                Comment


                • nc42acc
                  nc42acc commented
                  Editing a comment
                  I like this attribute of the MBL speakers of being ruthlessly revealing. My Von Scheikert VR5 Anni MKII are like that to a certain extent. I think the speaker is the absolutely worst location to add a veiled character. Agreed it makes front end selection more difficult but also reveals how bad some well known brands really do sound. Just my opinion.

              • #10
                Originally posted by 1morerecord2clean View Post

                Actually the more I think about it, I'm of the opinion that it's only Greg Beron's deck and tapes that make me like the MBLs. Left to even their own digital front end, I think they sound decidedly less appealing. So ruthlessly revealing of an inferior front end even if it's an MBL front end.

                I also would love to hear the MBLs with an analog front-end too like at the Gindians. Greg showed the smaller MBLs one year at CAF with the Clearaudio table but it was hard to tell anything in that room.
                Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
                Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
                ________________________________________

                -Zellaton Plural Evo speakers
                -Goldmund Telos 300 stereo amp
                -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
                -Doshi EVO and Goldmund PH3.8 phonostage
                -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
                -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
                -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga Mk. 2, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
                -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
                -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 6, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
                -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz 3 racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA OHIO Class 2.1+ platforms.

                Comment


                • #11
                  I heard the small ones for about half a song never even got to sit down all I can tell you is there were a lot of people in that room. No idea if they were good , bad or ugly

                  Comment


                  • #12
                    Myles - It was an earlier single box RBCD/SACD source, everything solid state so there was no "tube glow" which might have helped things. The system sounded thin and flat, it didn't float the sound into the room, that is disappear as a source. Most the folks listening thought it sounded just fine. Chalk it up to my preferences.

                    Comment


                    • #13
                      "let alone the entire system, I was singularly unimpressed"

                      well, that may just be a great recommendation. when nothing GRABS you, it may mean that everything is going right. you are right, there was nothing that stood out for me EXCEPT the loudness never bothered me, even at very high levels. most other speakers' sound falls apart in some way or another when pushed to the limits as i have heard the exSTREMEs in demo.

                      Comment


                      • #14
                        MBL speakers are not everyones cup of tea, they are unique in how they image and present the sound field. They just happen to push my buttons.
                        Marty

                        Comment


                        • #15
                          Originally posted by nc42acc View Post
                          MBL speakers are not everyones cup of tea, they are unique in how they image and present the sound field. They just happen to push my buttons.
                          Isn't that true of many speakers? As HP once said a couple of decades ago in a speaker review, "some are allergic to the sound of Magnepans." (note: Harry wasn't.)
                          Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
                          Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
                          ________________________________________

                          -Zellaton Plural Evo speakers
                          -Goldmund Telos 300 stereo amp
                          -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
                          -Doshi EVO and Goldmund PH3.8 phonostage
                          -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
                          -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
                          -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga Mk. 2, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
                          -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
                          -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 6, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
                          -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz 3 racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA OHIO Class 2.1+ platforms.

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