CES 2013: MBL











Saying that MBL makes audio equipment almost misses the point. Even in the rarefied air of audio’s high-end, MBL is something different again. Said another way, there are good speakers, there are great speakers, there are supercalifragilisticexpialidocious speakers. And then, beyond that, there’s MBL. It’s a thing apart. And no, I’m not saying that MBL makes the best sounding speakers. That’s absurd. They do sound very good (on average), and their top-line models sound fantastic. It’s just that there is simply no good way to compare what you hear out of an MBL with … well … any other kind of speaker. It’s different. Altogether so.

Of course, speakers are only part of what some of these top shelf European audio companies are putting together these days — MBL makes amps, preamps, tuners, CD players, and more. It’s a lifestyle package, if you will, where everything matches and everything is made to work optimally with everything else. In an industry where mixing and matching vendors can result in … unexpected … results, well, let’s say that there’s definitely a market for a company that sells “the everything bagel”.

Speaking of which, MBL introduced a pair of new amplifiers into their entry-level Corona line — say hello to the C15 monoblock amplifiers ($25,000/pair).

The C15’s beauty runs far below its smooth aluminum surface. MBL has implemented their LASA-technology (Linear Analog Switching Amplifier) and as a result has a homogeneous characteristic of THD throughout the frequency range and also the frequency response is load independent. The output power range is totally unaffected by distortion therefore each instrument at each volume level will be played genuinely. Thus, a perfectly balanced sound in quiet passages is guaranteed as well as then, when turning up the volume. The new amp always remains calm and confident, and with its 500 W (4 ohms) it can comfortably drive any loudspeaker load.

To get to the big room, you had to step through the Looking Glass, pass the thing with the hookah and somewhere before you get to the Red Queen’s Court, you found yourself seated between a pair of flux capacitors. Whoops, sparked a literary buffer overflow error, there. Anyway, the 101 X-Treme ($263k/pair) was calmly opening a Stargate to a Land Before Time.

Crap. Looks like I’m gonna have to reboot this thing. Suffice it to say this: I’ve never head anything like this before. If I had a house the size of Downton Abbey (and could afford the servants to run it), I’d have a pair of these, fully kitted out. Of course, I’d also have a home theater room set up like the bridge of the Enterprise, but that’s another story.