mbl Loudspeakers and Memory Lane | T.H.E. Show 2019

Walking into the mbl loudspeakers room at T.H.E. Show 2019 did bring back a lot of memories, back to the days when I first started exhibiting at high-end audio shows with Colleen Cardas for our erstwhile distribution company, CCI. We’d always find a reason to sneak away from our room so we could visit Jeremy Bryan, the president of mbl North America, and listen to one of his awesome systems. We always envied Jeremy–mbl gave him a large enough show budget to do justice to these extraordinary German products. He always exhibited in big and beautiful rooms, and he brought a truckload of amazing mbl gear with him. The icing on the cake was the fact that Jeremy had extraordinary taste in music, and Colleen and I would always hear something new that we found totally amazing.

Many years have passed since I’ve seen Jeremy and heard one of his all-mbl systems. At T.H.E. Show, Jeremy was showing a rather compact system, at least by mbl standards, consisting of the N31 DAC-CD player ($15,400), the N11 stereo preamplifier ($14,600), the N15 monoblock power amplifiers ($17,800 each) and the 120 Radialstrahler Hybrid loudspeakers ($21,400/pair), all hooked up with Wireworld Eclipse, Series 8 cabling. If you’re not familiar with mbl loudspeakers you might think this system is anything but modestly priced, but a big mbl system can go into the six figure and even seven figure range.

I’ve always loved the sound of mbl loudspeakers, and of course I’ve always loved the looks. I dig, in a secular way, how the tweeter assembly sticks out of the top of the smaller speakers in the line and casts the shadow of a cross on the wall if lit properly–something Jeremy always seems to achieve with his meticulous room lighting. It’s like you’re going to church, the Church of Sound. It’s something that’s always added to the mystique of these rooms with mbl loudspeakers, a peaceful ambience that most audiophiles would love having in their own homes.

This latest mbl loudspeakers system, however, revealed a new direction in sound for this manufacturer. This system sounded more intimate than I’ve heard before. Instead of a big, propulsive and seemingly unlimited sound, I was treated to a warmth that drew me in and mesmerized me after just a few minutes. I was also completely amazed by the depth of the soundstage created by the 120s–this might have been the most three-dimensional sound I enjoyed at T.H.E. Show 2019. All of this was enhanced, of course, by Jeremy’s incredible taste in music, something that hasn’t changed in all these years.