High End 2014: A High End must, the MBL room


By Dr. Panagiotis Karavitis

It is inconceivable, visiting the Hi End show in Munich and not visiting the MBL room. First of all, there is something like half a million good reasons ($) and just for that, one should give it a listen. Then there is the sound. I am not saying this is the best of the show, but it is unique.

First things first, we are talking for the MBL reference system. Meaning the Radialstrahler mbl 101 X-treme speaker system, complete with subwoofer towers. Then some BIG amplification from a pair of MBL 9008-A power amplifiers and another pair of 9011 power amps. Yes, that is correct, four humongous amps are necessary in order to get these beasts up n running. Consider that the woofer towers have six 12” woofers each. Okay, big is not always better and the size alone would not lure me in any room. But these are not just big, they are also unique. In fact each speaker has two Radial TT100 woofers, two Radial MT50/E midranges, two HT37/E Radial tweeters and one “ambience” dome tweeter, all of which are omnidirectional.

Big, omnidirectional, with huge woofers on a second tower. This could be the perfect recipe for disaster. These are not ordinary speakers and unless someone from the MBL team does not tune them in properly, the sound could be deleterious. And no one is more qualified than Jurgen Reis, designer of the Radialstahlers. 

In his presentation, Jurgen explained that the X-tremes do not behave like any other speaker, as they don’t have the classic “sweet spot” limited to a seat or two. That is the merit of the omni tower with the unique 360 degree dispersion pattern.

Then he touched the iPad screen and Hotel California manifested inside the room. Big with acoustic guitars following me around; the sweat spot was always focused on me as I moved from one corner to the other. After the Eagles it was the turn of Lila Downs in “Mi Corazon Me Recuerda”. She sung “… el tiempo que passa..” but I doubt I will be forgetting this system’s involving presentation and theater-wide soundstage, no matter how much time will pass.