MBL’s headquarters sits just down the road from me here in Berlin but at AXPONA 2022, taking place last weekend near Chicago, the German manufacturer was represented by MBL North America. Just like AURALIC, two systems from two different price points could be found on active display.
System One showed off what’s possible with the very best hardware MBL has to offer. Let’s work backward from the loudspeaker. The 101 E MKII could easily be the visual work of HR Giger instead of its actual designer Jürgen Reis. This loudspeaker is what MBL refers to as a Radialstrahler, which translates from the German to ‘radius radiating’ before mapping to audiophile parlance as omnidirectional. In other words, the 101 E MKII fires sound in all directions, sells for US$84,500/pair, and was powered at AXPONA 2022 by a pair of MBL’s 9011 monoblock amplifiers (US$120,000/pair), each capable of delivering 840wpc into 4 Ohms with 50 Amps of current. Pre-amplification came from MBL’s 6010 D unit (US$30,000), D/A conversion from the 1611 F (US$32,250) and CD transportation from the 1621 A (US$31,500). Wanna buy the whole lot? That’ll be a cool US$190,250.
More down-to-earth (but not still not at ground control, Major Tom) was System Two. This saw MBL’s 3-way hybrid omnidirectional standmount loudspeaker – the 4-Ohm nominal 126 (US$12,900/pair) – powered by the German company’s N51 integrated amplifier (US$19,900) which offers “unity gain functionality for improved transparency” and 380wpc into 4 Ohms with 28 Amps of current. Fronting this system was MBL’s N31 CD-DAC (US$17,400) which spins silver discs, decodes USB streams and offers “psycho-acoustically optimized digital and analog filters”. Total system cost: twenty bucks over fifty grand.
Hi-fi shows like AXPONA might not be good places for auditioning gear but they sure are great places for appreciating the sumptuous build quality of MBL products. You can see and feel where your money might go.
Don’t be fooled by the plants though: they might look terrific but they only do 1/100th of the work of a wall-mounted absorption-diffuser panel.
Further information: MBL