We've had several customers using our MA-2s. To use them with the speaker, you need a small ZOBEL network in parallel with the speaker but that is easy to do.
IMO/IME the speaker is not really all that hard to drive. The fact that it is omnidirectional means that the measurements on it don't show its true efficiency.
As a result most 200-watt tube amps will do fine in an average size room.
We always use CAT mono amps with Mbl 101 mkii. In fact, they were shown at CES at the CAT room couple of years ago. On another hand, I have heard some 300 watt tube amps sound flimsy with MBL. It is not that they could not play them loud, they simply did not have any weight and woofer control. 101e need lots of current, and most tube amps fail to deliver enough of it.
Dealer disclaimer .
I'm currently a 101e MKII owner and I have been use MBL 9008 amps with my 101 and very happy with the result. I don't think any solid state amps can do better then the MBL amps. As for tube amps, I have listen with the CAT amps and I like it a lot.
I have MBL 111b speakers which are also fairly hard to drive. Have tried a few different amps and settled on the MBL 9007s. Hands down the best. Stick with MBL. Get the biggest pair of mono Amps you can afford.
I really don't have any more money to throw into the system, so changing the amp to MBL amps won't happen. I am getting the speakers for free, so if they don't sound good with my system, they will go back to the owners son.
Currently using a Gryphon Antilean Signature amplifier to drive the MBL's and I'm extremely happy. Fantastic sound stage, low frequency control and wonderful "tube like" mid and highs. I have listened to MBL amplifiers driving these great speakers but prefer the Gryphon.
I couldn't get the MBL's to sound good in my room so I gave them back to my friend. Still hungry for speakers, I purchased a pair of Golden Ear Triton Ones and am very happy. I have heard Gryphon before and always came away impressed. How large is your room that the MBL's are in? I tried them in my 16 by 18 living room. The sound was extremely compromised.
The big MBLs require a special larger room to sound their best. I've heard them sound that way at a dealers optimized for mbl showroom and then heard the same setup sound just average or worse at a show.
There are other omnidirectional or wide dispersion design speakers that should work better in most rooms. The good news is that they will likely not set you back nearly as much financially as mbl also.
I used Merrill Audio Veritas amps (Hypex NC1200) for 2 years and am currently using Pass Labs XA-160.5 amps. Much more wallet-friendly and both setups sound superb, with the MBLs displaying the character of each.
Stereo 5, you're friend is awesome; I need some friends like that :)
I love MBL but have only heard them at RMAF two times, in two different rooms. The 101 and the 116... loved them both and till this day have not heard better than the 101, in my opinion. I like the dynamics and room filling sound provided by MBL, and the Man and Woman (shame on me for not remembering their names, I believe they are the us distributor and live in NY) in charge of the room were first class, and all about the music!
MBL made a lifelong lasting impact on me.
I'm surprised you gave them back but at the same time, you did well with the Golden Ear Triton 1, as that is a great sounding speaker as well!
PS, I'm surprised Mapman didn't plug OHM's here as he loves them and their omnidirectional sound! One day I will definitely try some OHM's as I can't afford MBL.
Golden ear is an interesting option to Mbl. I very much like the aon3s. If the tritons sound similar but bigger those are big hitters for the money as well.
If I had the room and money for big Mbls I would strongly consider them. But I don't so I will settle with what I have. I would not count the ohms out without a fight though even in that Mbl sized room in that I would love to save the 💰💰💰 .
I was obsessed with the MBL 101s for quite a while, and almost bought a pair (a great deal that slipped away from my fingers, years ago).
The best I ever heard them was actually in Michael Gindi's notoriously tiny room, driven by tube amps. He'd treated the room just right, but it certainly put to rest the notion for me that a large room was required to get great sound out of those speakers. (I've had similar success with full range speakers in a fairly small room at my place as well).
I ultimately ended up scoring a pair of the MBL 121 monitors
a few years ago, and it's so gratifying to have access to the MBL sound at home. (And as anomalous as it sounds, though the 121s have essentially the same brutal low sensitivity/impedance as the big 101s, they actually sound gorgeous driven by an old 14W/side Eico HF 81 tube amp).
I still envy those with the 101s!
A large room is not necessarily required, but 101s would probably be overkill in most smaller rooms and heavy treatment would likely be needed in lieu of distance to walls. I can also see where a good tube amp might work pretty well in a smaller room.
All I am saying is that it would be like driving a Lamborghini through town at 30 mph. No problem, and its still a very nice car, but not demonstrating its true potential.
In my living room, I had to place the 101's close to the rear wall and the sound was very closed in. I had plenty of power with my Stratos Extreme amp, but the sound just didn't gel in my room. Since it is the living room that I share with my wife and TV, I couldn't put the speakers out into the room as I would have liked.
My friend was indeed very kind. They were his dads speakers who had passed away. My friend knew I would appreciate the speakers and that is why they were offered to me for free. I could have sold them here and made a tidy profit, but I could have never of gone against his dad's wishes that they be GIVEN to a good home.
I love the Triton Ones and my wife likes that they don't dominate the living room.