Pedrillo, MBL's like any other speaker will be a personal flavour some will appreciate what they do and others will prefer others and that's life. I am a MBL 101E owner, I have owned many speakers in the past such as panels, electrostatics, dynamic box speakers, sub-satellite combo's and I have to say after hearing the MBL's nothing else I have heard satisfies me as these do. I currently have them hooked-up with Convergent "CAT" JL3 Signature MK2 mono blocks and this sound is to die for. Absolutely the most satisfying sound that I have ever personally experience in my own set-up. I went through recently having allot of top contender solid state amplifiers and nothing, I mean nothing came even close.
Pedrillo you know the experience that you are having hearing the speakers and comparing to others and how you feel well put it this way you haven't heard them yet until you hear them hooked-up with CAT amps so if you are impressed now just wait and you will be in awe.
Dev which mbl's do you own?
Pedrillo MBL 101E's, oh and just to let you know I use to own Avalon Isis and prefer these.
I think the richness and liveliness you hear from a well set-up pair of MBLs is due in large measure to the unusually well-energized, spectrally correct reverberant field they generate. In this area, the MBLs replicate the soundfield characteristics of a live performance better than most speakers do; most speakers generate a reverberant field that is much weaker (relative to the direct sound) than one would find at a live performance, and that weak reverberant field is often spectrally dissimilar to the first-arrival sound. MBL isn't the only manuracturer who gives these characteristic high priority.
Which speaker are you a dealer for that competes with the mbl's?
I belive he sells SoundLabs that he would say competes with MBL. With all due respect though, they don't. MBL's are the only speaker IMO that just do it. If money is no concern, they are the way to go.
Also, I will say that Duke's speaker (Dream Maker) that I heard at RMAF 2007 is great. I was VERY impressed. I personally thought with certain music they suck you in. I played blues and they reproduced just ammazing. They have a certain tone that you will either like or not. Interesting and worth a listen. Very good sound at a moderate price ($9k I think).
MBL isn't the only manuracturer who gives these characteristic high priority.
Yes this wide even dispersion charateristic was demonstrated by Dr. Floyd Toole in listening tests in the 70's as sounding most pleasing, natural and life-like convincing.
MBL's will work well placed well out into a room. They won't work as well up against a wall because of the strong rear radiation - so be careful about placing them in a small room without treatments -if you have the space then these are a great choice. There are a great many good conventional speakers with wide dispersion although sadily most two ways will "beam" in the upper midrange and therefore fail to sound convincing there you can somewhat overcome this by listening in a close near-field position).
Revel Studio 2 and Dynaudio Sapphire lare extremely good. Kharma's and other speakers with the accution mids and Dunlavy's Iv and V's are also worth checking out.
My guess is that "dynamics' may have something to do with your observations too. Real instrunents are actually very loud but they don't sound loud.
Good Luck in your search.
Ohm Walsh series can be had for much less than MBL and may share some of the unique qualities many admire with MBLs and other omni-oriented designs.
One of your questions concerns the "why", and that I cannot answer without getting into speculation about the engineering that I am not qualified to discuss.
However, about a year ago I replaced most of my system with MBL 111E, MBL 8011AM mono amps, and MBL 5011 line stage preamp. All at once, I retired Vandersteen 5 speakers powered by Ayre V1 amp and Ayre K1 preamp. I felt it was important to pair the MBL speakers with MBL amplification, since the speakers are power hungry.
I mostly listen to classical orchestral music and some jazz, and I attend live concerts often. The sound of live music is my reference, and attaining realistic reproduction of a full orchestra is quite a bit more difficult than reproducing a small jazz ensemble. In my experience, this MBL based system has made me truly happy. Prior to this, I had spent much time and money attempting to reduce the level of my un-happiness. The improvement is not incremental, it is a qualitative leap. This system now has a sense of life and energy that I experienced only once before, when my speakers were Martin-Logan Quest, but those speakers had a serious lack of coherent bass. I have been told that Martin-Logan's latest models are much improved in bass response, and they certainly are less costly. However, if you like their sound, do not skimp on amplification as electrostatic speakers are power hungry as well. I recommend at least 100 wpc and be certain the amp can deal with the speaker's wide impedance swings.
However, the MBL combination has no significant faults that I have found in a year of listening, and I am likely to gain additional realism by improving the front end (turntable). For the first time ever, I can come home after a live concert, put on an LP, and not hate the comparison. Most highly recommended.
Jtwrace, you know me all too well. Yup I like the SoundLabs a lot. My bipolars actually copy the radiation pattern of the A-1 over much of the spectrum, at least in the horizontal plane: 90 degrees, front and back.
Assuming the upper end of our hypothetical price ballpark is the MBL 116, others contenders include the Wolcott Omnisphere, Duevels, big Shanihians, Genesis 5 series, and in my opinion even big Maggies.
I agree with Shadorne that the MBLS (as well as other omnis, dipoles, and bipoles) should be placed far enough away from walls to give an adequate time delay before the additional reflected energy starts to arrive. If such placement isn't possible, you're probably better served by monopoles. The tiltback of the Shahinian's drivers helps to delay the arrival of the reflected energy by bouncing it off the walls at an upwards angle, so these are probably the most small-room-friendly speakers in this general category.
Maybe I am on the only one on the planet who is not crazy about MBL?
I took on an assignment in Singapore 2 years ago and have listened to MBL 116 & 101E several times since I was seriously considering 116 back when Euro was weaker. I do like the enveloping soundstage, the "ease" & "relax" presentation with tremendous amount of detail, and ample bass. But it's the "ample" bass when coupled with MBL amps that stopped me from getting a pair. I found the bass not catching up to the rest of the spectrum, was slow and muddy at times. This was true for both 116 and 101E in medium and large room, respectively. Dealer mentioned MBL amps are tuned to sound fuller and warmer unlike American amps which are fast and quick. I could not do any A/B comparison, so I have no way to validate his claim.
Also, the lower efficiency does "restrict" the jump factor that makes horn speakers attractive to many audiophiles. I used to own Dynaudio Confidence 5, a superb sounding speaker with midrange to die for. Though it has very low effciency, it has slightly better micro dynamic than Sonus Faber Extrema which I owned for years. Either one lacks the "jump factor" unless you feed them 300+ watts and 300+ tube watts are hard to come by not to mention the operating cost.
I believe MBL can be made to sound good or excellent but at the cost of very expensive gears behind them and more. To me, that's a very expensive investment just to make 2 speakers sound good while there are other approaches that can equal or surpass the end result at fraction of the cost.
Hi Semi if you refer to my first response to this thread you will see I said "MBL speakers like any other speaker will be a personal flavour, some will appreciate what they do and others will not and prefer other speakers and that's life."
I will say after reading your response you obviously have never heard a proper MBL set-up or possibly you might just fit into this category of not liking them which is okay but the issues that you mentioned defiantly don't exist in my MBL 101E set-up.
I don't use MBL electronics with my set-up, I did try the MBL 9008 mono blocks within my set-up but most definitely prefer the CAT mono blocks.
No doubt, the magic of the MBL omnidirectional models is the dispersion patternthe linear polar response and power response. Dipole speakers also do this well with the advantage of less room interaction at the sides where the front and back wave cancel. I find either superior to conventional speakers, all other things being equal. Still, all speakers do benefit from breathing room. It's best to keep first reflections delayed by several milliseconds.
Not to surprised about the disappointing bass. I believe they use a bandpass configuration for the bass unit.
I believe they use a bandpass configuration for the bass unit.
Bose does this...the famous "acoustimass" bandpass design which they pretend to have invented and patented! Amazing amounts of bass from a very very small enclosure but often and particularly in the case of Bose - a recipe for one note bass. You rarely see this in high end and MBL's implementation is, of course, absolutely superb.
Never heard MBL so cannot comment on how they compare to other designs.
HAving owned Maggies and now Ohm's, which are fairly omnidirectional (though not totally) in design, and also various more conventional designs, like Dynaudio monitors, I can say with confidence that one almost has to learn how to listen to the performance and recording differently with an omni design compared to more conventional designs. The sound dispersion patterns and queues delivered to your ear are totally different and more like those you would receive at a live performance, in my opinion.
If you are used to listening to traditional dynamic box speaker designs only, your ears may be trained to listen a certain way and not be tuned in properly at first to the omnis.
Once you tune in properly and your ears adjust, then the magic occurs.
Even my Dynaudios, which deliver the goods extremely well in most every way for a pair of tiny monitors, leave me a bit dissatisfied in that I know I am listening to a (very good) reproduction on a pair of speakers when listening.
The Ohms leave me more convinced that what I'm hearing is much like what I would hear at a live performance.
I would expect similar characteristics from other good omni designs as well, like MBL, German Physiks, and Duevel. Unfortunately, I have ever had the pleasure to hear any of these, but I would love to, even though they may be out of my price range.
Hi Pedrillo I seem to be the only one so far responding to your thread who is an actual owner of MBL's. There seems to be some reference regarding the bass etc. Pedrillo anyone who actually owns these (101E's that is) speakers knows that they can change the over all sound easily which includes the bass so there is no issue here.
I would suggest anyone with this issue look elsewhere within the set-up they are listening to and not faulting the speakers, possibly set-up issues, room issues, associated electronics etc. I have found most only speculate from set-ups they have heard which is either at shows or dealers locations which is not a ideal situation nor the proper way to evaluate any product but to only get a flavour for it. All I can tell you that I have no bass issues and I'm driving them with tube amps, well not just any tube amps but CAT JL3's and they produce more realistic bass than the actual MBL amps I had tried and Pass X600.5's. I preferred the Pass bass over the MBL amp bass also. If you like what you are hearing now just wait until you get them into your place and get them dialed in, you will be in for a real treat and your speaker journey will come to a end. I will say that these speakers have been the easiest to set-up and a pleasure to listen to from any seat in the house.
The over all sound is so realistic and the stage presence is "scary real" holographic.
I only own and MBL 5011 preamp but I am very happy with what I am hearing. I am not sure what mbl is doing is but the sound of the 5011 is simply so engaging and musical. I have absolutely no complaints.