From Pipedream to MBL 101e, any thought?

Hi everybody, I have just decided to buy a pair of MBL 101e, used of course. I'm looking for a more holographic image and sit anywhere sound stage. What I'm not so sure is the matching with my Mark Levinson NO. 33 I'm using with the Pipedreams. Actually I'm using 2 pairs of them to drive the Pipes so I can do the same with 101e for passive biamping.
I learned from a few post in Audiogon who successfully use amps other than MBL own with great success so I hope my 33s can do the job as well. Any comments would be appreciated.
Suchtan congrats! on your purchase. Marvelous speakers and you will hear what ever you put in front of them, it's been a journey for me.

I have learned allot along the way, pairing them up with different pces. I have owned a few different designs of speakers over the years and found some show off right from the get go and then you get tired of them but with the MBL's I find not so, they actually don't really show off at the beginning but just sound real and you will find they will pull you into the music more and more over time, then it's really hard to listen to anything else because they just don't sound right in comparision.

Are they the best, no but then again there is no best.

You will be the first person whom I'm aware of pairing up such amps with these speakers so it will be interesting, unfortuantely the only way you will be able to really compare is once you have had them in your set-up for a while and if you are intrigued enough would be to try other manufactures and compare.

It's really going to come down to personal taste still but associated gear, room, set-up, volumn you listen at etc. will also have an effect.

Enjoy it will be fun.

I have lost count on how many different combos I have personally tried, I have ended up with something I feel is very special and personally never heard before, not even close and has got me off the merry-go-round.

My system curently consist of;

MBL 101E
Vac Statement 450 mono blocks
Vac Sig. MK2a pre w/phono
TW Acustic Black Knight table
Reed 12" arm with MSL Ulra BC cart
TW 10.5 arm with A90 cart
Stealth cables through out, double runs for the speakers.

I will say one thing;

You wanted holographic imaging - you will get holographic imaging from the 101s. For your stated goal, I think you have made (IME, anyway) the best possible purchase.

My only advice is that bigger (as in the size of your listening room) tends to better with the big MBLs.

BTW, I'd be very surprised if you have any problems powering 101s with your ML amps.

Congrats on the purchase and enjoy!

This is the dream question...sort of who'd you rather date, Julia Roberts or Sandra Bullock, or even Jen Anniston?

The Pipedreams are marvelous speakers...really, IMHO, one of the best, even with the so called 'comb-filter' issues that they supposedly have. Very dynamic, life size (if a bit overbig, NEVER A PROB for me).
The MBL's set up correctly, offer that last dimension that even the Pipedreams don't...360 degree dispersion.

The MBL's are terrific speakers and the Levinson will do fine with them. The question is, is that amp as good as the MBL?
While I haven't done an A/B/A comparison, I'd have to say no. But, as good as, is not as important as, will it work for this purpose? Yes.

The final step then, would be, to move to the MBL eventually--unless of course, you're different than almost all audiophiles (including me) and you're actually 'satisfied', lol.

Great choices, great post, and great reading.

Good listening,

Lrsky [...]The MBL's are terrific speakers and the Levinson will do fine with them. The question is, is that amp as good as the MBL?
While I haven't done an A/B/A comparison, I'd have to say no. But, as good as, is not as important as, will it work for this purpose? Yes.

Have to agree with Lrsky. A friend of mine is the local MBL dealer and I've spent hours in front of different versions of the MBL speaker. You don't mention room size or typical preferred listening levels but in general the 101 needs bags of current and I'm not sure you will maximize the potential of the speakers with your current amplification. The 101e would usually be paired with a pair of MBL 9011 amps at the shop (several kW or power!)
I have listen the Mbl e mk2 speaker . I had try the pass lad xa100.5 and the xa160.5 . The sound very good . BUT the mbl amp the matching a lot better from top to bottom . The top end a lot smoother and the bottom more power full and control the better than all the other amp . I hope it's help you . Thank
Hi guys, appreciate all your comments.

Dev, I'm especially excited about your opinion since you actually owned the 101e and matching them with amps other than MBL. It would have been too predictable and unchallenging if we are limited to an all MBL system in order to achieve MBL holographic sound.

As an audiophile, I love the challenge of setting up a new speakers without knowing the whole results in advance. That wouldn't be fun, would it? I'm totally with you when you said it may take some time and effort to get the 101 to sound right. That's what I'm planning to do.

For those who doubt that the ML 33s will be a match with the 101, I also share your skepticism, which I posted in my original threat. However, if you compare side by side the specification of ML 33 vs MBL 9011, the numbers can be much closer than you thought.

MBL 9011 Rated continuous power at 8/4/2 ohm 440/840/1390
Mark Levinson No.33 rated power at 8/4/2 ohm 300/600/1200

Not to be overlooked, I am going to use TWO ML33s to drive each of the 101e so the effective power will be double and considerably more than just one pair of 9011. The ML33s may or may not suit the 101e, but lacking of power or current definitely is not the reason, in my humble opinion.

Dev have made the point that I may be the first to drive the 101e with such amplification and it's very interesting to see the outcome. I can hardly wait.

By the way, my room size is 18x27x10 ft.
My front end consist of Boulder 1010 pre, Dcs Verdi/Purcell/Elgar Plus with Big Ben sync clock. Tw acoustics Raven Two, Orthofon arms and Zyx Airies3 cartridge with ASR Basis Exclusive Phono stage.

Many thanks again for all your kind comments and looking forward to any further discussions or questions about this subject.

Happy Listening.
Whow how great!
ONE pair of ML-33's should be more than enough especially if you have a 220V
outlet feeding them. but would the "tonality" of ML amps affect the speaker in a negative way? one can only try the combination out IN YOUR ROOM to see
if it works out or not. i heard great sound at a stereophile show years ago from the 101's in a "motel room" without any EQ as far as i could tell. I seem to recall M.Fremer did a review of the speakers (awhile back) and did alot of tweaking to get them to sound good to HIS ears. so his conclusion was that they were "fussy" but great if you could "tame" them. i was impressed WAY in the OTHER direction at the show. yes, the MBL amps were in use, but with wire everywhere and people standing around everywhere it sounded really quite excellent, and i was standing off to one side. laugh all you want, but EMPIRE used to make a gorgeous 360 speaker with a marble top that sounded that way too (on a smaller scale). it might have been mid-fi but the Beatles' White Alblum sounded incredible anyway...
Hi guys, I know it's been over a year since I last posted but I just want to give you all some updates. First, The 4 ML 33s are performing great with the 101e, but it's certainly not easy or simple to bring out the best from this speaker. Secondly, After an optimum setup is achieved, I must say the 101e surpasses the Pipes in almost every aspects. And I have been living with the Pipes for more than 5 years. Lastly, I can definitely say that while a pair of ML33s may be just enough for the 101es, two pairs are definitely better. Much better such that once you heard the latter you don't want to go back.
More details later.
Suchtan, the Pipedream people have a new speaker that is really amazing. The high end is much more defined, smoother and faster than the 101. They have a new tweeter that is nearly omnidirectional and one of the fastest made. They have a couple of patents on it. It seems like the speaker is easier to drive too.
Hi Ralph, great to hear from you. I always respect your comments on audiogon forums and your products. By the way, are you talking about the newer version of Pipedreams speakers or the Scaena speakers which is the new brand altogether? I have heard the Scaena and agreed that they are way ahead of my Pipes which is more than 10 years old now. But that's not my point.
When I started this thread I wasn't sure that my decision to switch to MBL was an upgrade or just merely a change per se. I was a bit worried that my ML 33s would be working well with the 101e, especially their tonal characteristics. As I mentioned before, I may be the first who's pairing the 101e with the 33s. Some famous MBL owner like Dev has successfully driven the 101s with amps other than their own. He even mentioned he tried the MBl 9011 and didn't like the sound. So I was hoping I could get the sound I was looking for from my 33s. It turned out that I could obtain that sound and even more than I expected. I have one thing to clarify though. My 33s are not typical. I bought them used and found out that most of the small caps were due for replacement. Instead of replacing the same brand I was lucky enough to upgrade them with blackgate caps which are almost impossible to find now. I also upgraded the opamps but I couldn't remember the exact model. The result was a much better transparency and more body and density to the sound but retain the silky smoothness of the Levinson house sound.

I have a lot to share with other audiogon members in this thread but I will take my time and keep my story long and interesting, I hope.

See u later and happy listening.

Suchart, the speaker I am thinking of is made by the same company that made the Pipedreams 15 years ago. Its not Scaena.
Ralph, I would love to learn how much improvement the latest Pipedreams over my model 18. Is there any way to upgrade the older model like mine to get closer to the new one? I am relocating the Pipes into my new conference room and theater. The size of this room is very large, approximately 18x30 sq. meter.
If I can do the upgrade at a reasonable cost I might be interested.

All I wanted to report is the sound from the MBL 101e is so real, so life like with all the macro and micro dynamics I could ask for. They also are very sensitive to any changes upstream you don't have to go back and forth several times to distinguish the differences.

Originally, I was planning on adding a pair of subs in case the bass wasn't sufficient, given that I was used to the big subs from the Pipedreams. The 101e later show me they have bass and a very good quality bass indeed. I must emphasize that my room is not ideal for reproducing bass. There is room mode at 60-70hz and a dip at around 40hz that I can't get rid of without an extra help. When I was using my Pipes, I can fiddle with the electronic crossover that came with the Pipes and choose the best combination of bass equalization and cut off frequency. No such luxury for the 101e. I did a lot of thinking and came up with a wonderful tool just for my application. I bought a pair of Velodyne sms-1 equalizer, each one for each channel because the velodyne was designed for one sub only. It worked like a charm and I now can keep the bass peak in my room down to an acceptable degree.
With the bass eq in effect, I find the bass of the 101e outstanding. The leading notes of an acoustic bass or even electric bass, for that matter, is realisticly sharp and without trailing overhang. The drums has power and texture I was not clearly aware of before. Admittedly, the ultra low frequency from piped organ may be not vibrating the room as much as the Pipes' subs but I would gladly trade that for the quality of the bass I get from the 101e.

Later for more report, I will.
Suchtan, I think you cam contact the Pipedream people about updates through
Ralph, I saw in youtube the making of the Pipes, very impressive. I am sure they are much improved from my model 18 but I could say the same for the 101e. The reality is I now own the 101e and have no need to upgrade further especially for speakers.
Since I have got no other members who want to share their interest in this thread, I will stop my posting as of now.
Happy Listening.