Is it possible to recreate a live event with a pair of loudspeakers? Responding with a firm no and a cheeky smile is Jürgen Reis, MBL’s Chief Engineer of 35 years. A recent visit to the German manufacturer’s headquarters in Berlin saw yours truly sit down with Reis to get a beginner’s introduction to the MBL 101 Radialstrahler loudspeaker, their range of electronics, their customer base, how music has changed over the decades and – more importantly for this commentator – to pull back the curtain on the product design process.
Specifically, how does Reis use measurements to bring a product from drawing board to shipping container? The answer will be surprising for some: a measurement kit only carries him ~95% of the way. Final voicing – the last ~5% – is done by ear. Why? Because any audible changes brought about by smaller component changes can be heard but, once fitted inside a loudspeaker or pre-amplifier, cannot be measured. Reis then confirms the next logical step: that two pre-amplifiers (for example) can measure the same but sound different.
Those are the headlines. The more detailed responses that properly flesh out Reis’ thinking can be seen/heard in our two-part video interview:
Further information: MBL