Best amps for MBL101e's?

I took the plunge and bought 101e's and restarting the upgrade bug. These speakers are not very efficient and in a large room. I have the EMM labs combo, and probably am going to buy the 6010d preamp that I am demoing right now (great phono section, has the ability to match levels for 4 different output channels). My bias in the past has been tubes (MC2000, VT100mkII)...any suggestions?

I heard the Radialstrahlor with the MBL monos and Thor linestage awhile back and were unbelievable! Effortless,musical and balls to spare. If I had the green the MBL Radialstrahlors and there ( MBL ) monos would be my first choice. They need a whole bunch of clean power to do them justice,but if you have the cash flow its worth it in the end.........
Thorman, thanks! I have two biases, a:, they are so bloody expensive, and b:, if I get them with the preamp, the whole system will look like an expensive Fisher All-in-One:) Seriously think I will have to demo the 9008's though, afterall the speakers are voiced with the amps, or vice versa
I strongly recommend you the CAT JL2 of JL3, please not the MBL amplifiers.
I'm speaking as an MBL 101e owner. I love the combo of a ballsy solid-state amp and a tube preamp. I really didn't like the way the MBL 6010D pre mated with the 9011 amps. Unbelievably dynamic but with a steely or ringing sound at the upper frequencies. Having said all that, I am currently using a Boulder 2060 amp and an Audio research Ref 3 preamp, to extremely good effect. Incredible layering, soundstaging etc. But what really knocks my socks off is the "you are there" sense of dynamics. I'm also using a Rives PARC ettenuator, which really tames the bass in my room.

David Shapiro
Thanks for your feedback. I have pretty much always in the past had one solid state and one tube preamp/amp combo. I have the Ref 2, and didn't try it yet with the Accuphase monos I borrowed, good thing to spend tonite on!

David, Are saying a single Boulder 2060 will drive the 101E's?
Incredibly well.
Well I tried mc2000 on top, and VT100 on bottom, that sounded like doodoo. My whole family is apparently tubeophiles, as all of us preferred the mc2000 by itself over the Accuphase monos, although they had plenty of power.
Do you like the ref3 better than the boulder preamp with the boulder amp?
Chris, I have the 111e's with 101e's on my wish list. I have tried a number of amps with the 111's. The best solid state amps I heard in my system were the 9011 MBL mono blocks. Very very nice but they just did not have that magic, lack of grain and realism that I need. I wound up talking David Berning into building a custom set of mono blocks that would drive MBL 101s or any other speaker on the market. They are quite amazing in what they have done to my rig. I now have the bass slam of the MBL amps and the finesse, richness and smoothness of smaller tube amps. They sound so good, David decided to build around 24 pairs of these amps to help recoupe some of his investment. You are welcome to email off thread if you want more info.
gRYPHON aNTILEON sIGNATURE stereo, Boulder 2060, CAT name a few.
Louis2859 never tried the Boulder stuff... Its a different owner of MBLs who has... can't remember who though, sorry :(
vertterone... too late, damnbit! I bought the 9011's. They are dynamic as all getout, but no, they don't have the tube happiness. The longer I have had them (2 months) the more I wish for tubes. I just ran out of patience. But then again, I might change a wire or something, and be blissfully happy again:) I can say this, the dynamics of these amps cannot be believed, it is just incredible.
Chrisla, you might want to try with some cables that has a bit more soul (as opposed to Valhalla). That could do the trick for you! :) I seriously doubt you'll find anything better suited to your 101E's than the MBL gear you already have, so now it's time to tune them a bit to your liking I think.

Try the Synergistic Research Apex wires for example (or Acoustic Reference for a much cheaper option), and by all means the various gold hybrid cables like Gabriel Gold, Jade Audio, Audio Metallurgy and so on. I would try IC from pre to power and speaker wires first. :)
Osgorth, yup, supposed to try the apex whenever they actually let me know they have wires to try. I only live like 5 miles from their factory. Right now I am using (and I know sounds counterintuitive) Acoustic Zen Satori on the highs and Nordost Tyre on the bass. Not bad, but not "perfect". I am using synergist resolution for the pre-amp to amp connector, but I just got some info that said because the 6010d starts single-ended, not balanced, that I should really try the single-ended ICs first. I'll be done with this about the time I have to sell the system for a retirement apartment:)
Chris, let's hope you get some wires soon then. I think you're in for a treat. :)

I do not agree with going single-ended from pre-amp to amp. I have the 6010D and 8011AM's myself, and I find that a balanced connection is quite beneficial. The noise floor is even lower and I find the overall presentation a bit more relaxed. Perhaps subtle to many, but having tried both I for one can't go back to RCAs.

I'm currently running a Precision Reference XLR between preamp and amps, and that's a brilliant cable indeed. Be careful with Apex between preamp and amp - Synergistic says many people find the Precision better here so you might want to borrow both if you can, and compare.

Waiting for the Apex speaker wires myself, hoping to get them soon so I can give them a good workout! I've tried both Acoustic and Precision Reference speaker wires and they are both very good but not balanced enough for me. Since the Apex is in fact both these cables in one, it might be what I'm looking for. I find the tone of Acoustic superb, but compared to Precision it is lacking in speed and detail. Precision on the other hand is very detailed, extremely fast and airy, but also a bit too bright and lacks the warmth of the Acoustic. The combo should be perfect, I hope.. ;)
Osgorth, trying Tara cables today, gonna see what they do. I tried single ended yesterday, I do think that the balanced are more relaxed, but then again it was old transparent musicwave ultras against Synergistic balanced. I think the single ended was a little more defined though, at any rate, today will be fun!
Ah, Tara cables, interesting.. Which model is it? I'd love to hear how they work in your system. I'm interested in Tara myself but I've found no dealer over here that I can borrow them from.
Osgorth Tara 1's.. and I bought them.. bi-wired speaker cables. I did not want to try any of the better ones for fear I might want to buy them. I have a great sound now, defined, crisp bass, organice mids and highs. I also bought a Tara 1 power cable for the preamp. I was very surprised at the difference it made, the bass came into focus, and the soundstage widened. I had a guy over who is a neophyte, and he was really shocked at how that cable made a difference. I now highly recommend messing with power cords on the 6010d. I had never spent much money on them, I was using Essence and Acoustic Zen cables.

Adding the Tara cables ended up making the whole system sound more like tubes, except for the bass. I imagine they are very colored, because I had to switch the back of the MBLs to "attack" which only previously was good for tube amps. However I now get the deepness and bass definition of solid state with a pretty damn glorious midrange. I also had to change the tweeter setting, but once I did all of that, the rig be jammin'. :)

This may surprise you but I would suggest that you try the Spectron Musician III Signature before investing in Amplifiers in the $20000+ range. I currently own MBL 111E's and the Spectron after attempted pairing with almost a dozen more expensive amplifiers.

Many audiophiles speak about "giant killer" amplifiers in a lower pricing tier that dwarf reference amps in the $20k+ range. Typically those forum reviewers #1) either work for the company -OR- #2) cannot afford the giant amps and want to make themselves believe that the less expensive "giant killer du jour" sound as good, or better, than amps they cannot afford.

"I" am neither #1 nor #2. Audio, like many other passsions, is subjective and also can involve ego.

Unsatisfied with the pairing of many amplifiers to my 111E's I finally discovered the Spectron through an Audiophile friend who is passionate about tube amps, especially CARY Monos.

At that time, I could not imagine owning a less than 60lb. class D stereo amplifier vs. my 304lb. Monblocks.

I like to think that I am an open minded individual. For for less than $6000, I ordered the Musician III signature amplifier.

I figured that spending an evening with my neighbor who is a reknowned Cellist doing amplifier A/B/X amplifier comparisons should at least, be educational.

I never returned the Musician III Signature and all of my Monoblocks have been sold.

I have spoken to a few other audiophiles who have experienced this same magic with Spectron amps and MBL Speakers. It is my understanding that someone recently upgraded from 111E's to 101E's and ordered 2 Spectron's with the intent to BIAMP. Apparently he decided that the 1 Spectron amplifier had plently of power and so he sold the other one. If this person happens to read this forum, I would enjoy seeing comments.

After searching for years and trying many Speakers, I arrived at MBL. The company is rock solid and Jeremy (their rep) is a really great guy. I also had the pleasure of meeting John Ulrick, Spectron's founder and engineer. After reading the John Ulrick BIO on the website, I assumed that John is a guy who knows what he is doing. After purchasing one of his amplifiers, I now KNOW that he knows what he is doing.

Happy Listening!

I believe that I am the person in question. Yes, I did pair the Spectron Musician III Signature with the MBL 111B and the results were excellent. That was a short-lived experience as I quickly purchased a pair of 101Es. I ordered a second Spectron with the intent to vertically bi-amp the MBLs, but in the two weeks it took for Spectron to produce the second amp, it became clear that one Spectron was enough to handle all of the dynamic and power requirements that I could throw at the speakers.

Like you, I was almost embarrased to be so satisfied with a modestly priced class D amplifier. My last 2 amps were the $30k Tron (7 watt 300B) and the 130 watt Silicone Arts, a state-of-the-art solid state design if ever there was one. Granted, neither had the power to bring the MBLs to life, but they sure offered the most wonderful pallet of sonics to use as a basis of comparison. Believe me, the Spectron does not take a back seat to either technology and in addition to fantastic treble, bass, dynamics and transparency, it is exceptionally musical and a joy to listen to.

I was lucky enough to be turned on to the new BAT REX tube line stage which is a PERFECT mate to the Spectron and together I have discovered a wonderful synergy with the MBL 101s.
A customer of ours swears that the MA-2 is the best map he's heard on his system. From his reports, we've been able to determine that the MBL 101s are not nearly has hard to drive as they have the reputation for!
I cannot speak for their ability to drive your specific speakers, but I have Ayre MX-Rs on another very difficult load - Sound Lab A-1s. The Sound Labs have never sounded better, in my opinion. Great amps. I too used tube gear for many, many years. I don't miss them.
to all.. thanks for your great posts, as I mentioned earlier, I bought the 9011's and right now am trying to search for best speaker cables. Curriemt11... that is a bold statement that you don't miss tube amps at all. I have previously found both Ayre and Pass to come close to tubes, but not quite having the magic, while losing the bass slam of solid state and the highs of solid state. Maybe the mxr's are better.

If I end up really not being able to live with the 9011s I would loveto try the atmasphere.
To Athmaspere:
Thank you immensely. Its always nice then manufacturer come to us and explain things. My question to you is that one report is adenoidal i.e. the user (whose opinion I should fully trust) may use the amp/speaker combo for small scale music, could have small listening room, could.....
I know that there is a group, almost a club, of Spectron/MBL owners whose group opinion is NOT anecdotal. I myself do not own MBL but I listed it with Spectron and Einstein preamp in front. The sound was "to die for".
Thanks you very, very much again. - just last question if I may, the MSRP of Spectron is $6.5k and your amp is..?
Hi Dob, FWIW our customer found that the MA-2 ($32,000) ran the speaker so well that he became quite curious as to what our preamps did, and bought one of those (MP-1, $10,300) so his system is all-tube. Apparently he had done solid state, and then went to tubes in short order, and after about a year of trying different amps, found us about a year ago. He still has the equipment now so I guess it does what he was looking for. He says he likes to play things loud, but what that means to one person is something else to another.
When I started reading this thread tonight my first reaction was MA-2.

My older MA1's seem to drive anything I throw at them, even impedances which are supposed to be mismatched for OTL's.

I have heard the MBL101 a number of times over the years, and have enjoyed their evolution in quality.

This past show in NYC I thought the 101's were clearly being overdriven in the large room they were in. I mentioned that to the MBL rep, that the sound had a hard quality on louder passages I had never head in the speakers before.

I wonder if anyone else noticed the same?

The purity of OTL I think would make a great sonic partner to such a revealing, holographic and musical speaker, and the MA2's should clearly have enough muscle to do that.

I wouldn't doubt one of Ralph's customers has found a fantastic match. I'd even be curious to hear MA2 (or 1's) up top and SS on the bottom.

I recently went to a system like this and love the flexibilty of an ajdustable gain remote amp on the bottom to tailor the amount of bass needed from cut to cut help complete the illusion of live music at the current listening level.
Very late response but the Gryphon Antileon Signature amp is a great match for the MBL 101E speakers. Ample power and control. I have had this combination for a year now with Burmester source and it is simply awesome.
I've heard them with Burmester 911 Mk3 monos sounded very
refined and much better compared to Mbl 9011 monos.
CAT amplifiers proven to be excellent match with MBL.
If you really want to hear what the MBL's can do get your self a pair of VAC Statement 450 mono blocks, match made in heaven.

P.S. have owned numerous mentioned above, Burmester - MBL 9011's - CAT JL3 Sig MK2's along with others.
"If you really want to hear what the MBL's can do get your self a pair of VAC Statement 450 mono blocks, match made in heaven."

A match made in heaven if your view of heaven is heavily compressed and dead. Of course heaven is for the dead so you may have a point there.
07-01-15: Malcolmmonfort

A match made in heaven if your view of heaven is heavily compressed and dead. Of course heaven is for the dead so you may have a point there.

Have you ever owned a pair of MBL 101E speakers?
Have you ever owned a pair of Vac Statement 450 mono amps?

Your answer will be no because you are just babbling and have no clue, your reply clearly demonstrates such.
Thank you for asking Dev. Let me clarify the points I made. Make no mistake, the VAC is a wonderful amplifier. It just can't drive the mbls with any degree of conviction. I got a chance to listen to this combination over the course of several hours and really had enough after a few minutes. To me it was amazing that an amplifier with so much power could sound like it had so little. Moreover, I had an email exchange with someone who had the good fortune to audition your system both with the CAT and VAC. He said the mbls sounded "amazing" with the CAT and "dull and boring" with the VAC. He also noted that "David seemed unaware of the sonic compromises he had made with the VAC in his system but it seemed to make him happy and in the end that is what really matters." I enthusiastically agree!
Pass 350.8 plenty of power great sound.
moderators either are slow or won't post my response so I'll try again.

It just can't drive the mbls with any degree of conviction.

not true! - you obviously have never owned either the MBL's or a pair of the Vac's - otherwise you would not be making such nonsense statements or you just can't hear :)

I got a chance to listen to this combination over the course of several hours and really had enough after a few minutes.

Really! I don't believe you - what did the system consist of and where did you hear it - I believe you are just pushing those keys and blowing hot air.

Did you actually hear my system - nope so please your comments are useless.

Moreover, I had an email exchange with someone who had the good fortune to audition your system both with the CAT and VAC. He said the mbls sounded "amazing" with the CAT and "dull and boring" with the VAC. He also noted that "David seemed unaware of the sonic compromises he had made with the VAC in his system but it seemed to make him happy and in the end that is what really matters."

You are so full of bs - only a few heard the CAT's and none of those individuals heard that VAC's and it was years apart - total BS. Say who is the person that you are making reference too.

You are just swatting at the air with your nonsense remarks and have nothing to base it on.

Unless you have exactly ALL the same gear and with cables and same room then and only at that time would you be able to make a proper comparison.

I get tired of reading the bs guys like you write, just push those keys and are clueless - go back to listening to your old focal's please. I see you have made friends on other forums too with your nonsense postings also.
Hi Dev. Please help me to understand what you wrote. You're insisting these auditions never happened? Hmm...for a guy who never visited your house and auditioned your system, he sure did a great job of describing both to me. How your place looked--right down to the miniature clown near the front door, the carved stone walrus on the glass coffee table and the knee-high wooden viking sculpture in the listening room. How the CAT sounded with the mbl--lifelike, transparent, dynamic. How the VAC sounded with the mbl--compressed, veiled, stressed. Of course that was exactly my experience too when I got a chance to audition the VAC/mbl combination for myself. So what you're saying then is we're both deaf in exactly the same way? Hmm...
Malcolmmonfort, anyone can describe the look of my space - dah! that's just too simple, there are numerous pics on the net for years now showing such which you likely even looked at and described from so again you are just blowing smoke.

You still have not answered my questions - why?

1. who is the mystery person you keep referring too because it's BS.

2. It's easy for anyone to say they heard this or that, again you appear not to want to answer my question of where you heard the VAC's and MBL's and what the system consisted of.

I just don't believe you so proof yourself or move on with your nonsense.
Dev, you seem angry. Why? Is it because two different people independently auditioned the VAC/mbl combo and came to exactly the opposite conclusion you did? Is it because one of them reached that conclusion after hearing your system? Or do you just prefer ad hominem attacks to rational discussion. Hey, maybe it's just easier to call everybody who disagrees with you "deaf."

Now that I see you will never let the facts get in the way of your agenda, I will leave you with this parting thought: "Denial is not just a river in Egypt."

I'm not angry - I'm challenging you because you are just a bs'er and why when confronted you like to dance around the simple questions asked - reasons for this are because your posting above are not true.

Anyone reading these posts can clearly see you are full of hot air!!!!!