New York 2014: MBL goes deep and wide


Legacy_at_NY_Audio_Show_2014MBL-North America was showing their $259,000 “Combination D” at the New York Audio Show, and the crowd was very appreciative.

Combo D is fronted by the 101E MkII Radialstrahler loudspeakers, the 1621A CD Transport, the 1611F D/A converter, a 6010D pre, and a pair of giant 9011 mono block amplifiers. Clear diffusors and a whole lot of ferns added both visual and acoustic ambiance.

It’s really hard to fault these setups — MBL has gone a long way to ensure proper synergy with their lineup, so there really aren’t any surprises when the system gets home. What you hear at a show like this one is a sound stage taken to the nth degree. This is, in broad terms, what that phrase “sound stage” means. When done right, there really isn’t anything like it. And this was done very well. Kudos to Jeremy and Tara for yet another breathtaking sojourn.

It still baffles me (har har) how this speaker can generate a clean, precise stereo image with sound firing every which way. I mean, I know it has everything to do with managing the reflections. That’s just acoustics — you want side reflections here. And front-wall reflections. And ceiling reflections. So long as they don’t arrive at the same time as the direct-firing sound waves, what you end up with is space, not smear. The most successful demos I’ve heard — with the “pack it up, I’ll take it” sound were in large rooms.

The flip side of that is, perhaps not obviously, is that there is a huge sweet spot. Sitting hard-right, you still get a stereo image. Pretty nifty trick, that.

The fit and finish is pretty much what you’d expect for this price level — that is, spotless and luscious.

Frankly, the space-age look of the exposed drivers kinda works for me. These Radialstrahlers look like absolutely nothing else on the market, and that’s also nifty. Vibrating pineapples to the rescue!

A year or two ago, this team had run a similar system, but expanded to a multi-channel setup and thrown some super-high-def video on a screen. That demo pretty much ruined me for “home theater”, but the sound here was every bit as tactile.

Like I said, nice work.





About Scot Hull 1039 Articles
Scot started all this back in 2009. He is currently the Publisher here at PTA, the Publisher at The Occasional Magazine, and the Executive Producer at The Occasional Podcast. There are way too many words about him over on the Contributors page.


  1. Where was the UHA tape deck?
    I drove all the way from Chicago to hear the Reference MBL with tape and there was no tape deck. The sound at the Chicago show with the small MBL speakers was the best, wanted to hear tape on the big MBL rig. Oh well.

    • You’re right! This might have been the first time I’ve seen an MBL system without a tape system from UHA.

Comments are closed.