RMAF12: Where I fell in love with MBL

There are times in your life, when you look back on it, that you can point to where something actually definitive happened. “That was the day”, you’ll say to yourself because, let’s face it, by then you’ll have bored everyone you know to tears by repeating the same story, endlessly. Ahem. Been spending some time with the family, have I? Yeah. Lemme try that again.

I loved this room.

Over the years, I’ve heard a lot of rooms with MBL gear. In fact, I’ve heard this gear in several rooms at different shows. And been unimpressed. And been mildly impressed. And now, here, I was very impressed. Why? What changed? Certainly not the price tag. The whole suite will set you back $260k. Was it the room? Well, maybe.

The room was different. How? Well, it was empty — I was it, in terms of show-goers. That was awesome. These speakers sound great from a lot of different positions in any room they’re put in, but if you want to have your skull lifted off your spine (cue the voice-over with the eerie, deep pronouncement of “awesome”), there is precisely one seat you might need to kill to sit in, and yes, I was in it. Lording it. Loving it. Two, the music was played at a normal level. This was entirely novel! Every other single time I’ve ever heard or seen this MBL system demoed, it was being done so by a set of entirely deaf young men. This time, a couple of very nice and entirely unobtrusive women were running the room, and the entire thing was … different. It was music, not an assault. It was for music, not a demo of capability with that weird pacing, off-putting cadence and canned jokes. It was about music, not some weird gladiatorial cage match I accidentally stumbled into while the blood-spattered winner screamed defiance over the roaring of the crowd. No, this was great. And in this room, on this day, at this moment, was great.

“Die now, Diagoras, for no greater happiness can possibly await you!” — Cicero.

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  1. The “magic hour” that you sometimes get from sound systems that often otherwise eludes you is usually the result of plain old AC power. If you are plugged straight into the wall, you’re at the mercy of the power company, your neighbors, and maybe even a dimmer switch or compressor somewhere that’s doing untold damage to the sound.

    Try putting an Audience, Running Springs, Silver Circle, or PI Audio conditioner in between your gear and the wall, see what happens. Obviously these have to be demoed at home, a showroom might be fine for amps and CD players and arguably even speakers, but a home audition is the only way to test an AC conditioner.

  2. Also, everytime I see photos of MBL speakers I have this feeling that Barbara Eden is going to materialize from vapor into the photo:)

  3. Yeah but, $260,000? My system(s) have all had those rare nights when it all just came together. I absolutely know the feeling, but now I know that my system will do that too, occasionally. I know that they it will just happen at random, and waiting for those magical evenings makes it all the more special. But, it is wonderful when it does happen.

    • As to the price — I have nothing for you. It’s crazy, for sure. But if I had the duckets, I’d be building a house so I could put one of these systems in it.

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