Anyone heard the MBL 116F?

thedudeabides

Well-Known Member
Jan 16, 2011
1,291
51
48
Alto, NM
#21
caesar,

Sorry for the delay in responding.

Two issues I believe.

The first being that my amp was apparently not up to the task, or at least not very "happy", which surprised the heck out of me. With the 116's, my 250.5 would peak at noon or so on the "voltage draw" needle. With the YG's, I need another 7 to 10 clicks on my ET5 (+ 5 - 8 db or so) to drive the YG's to a similar volume. I wasn't overdriving the amp but the needle was moving into the 3 o'clock range and I simply wasn't comfortable "stressing" my amp in that manner.

The second issue, related to the first, is that the MBL's "energize" my room in a way that the YG's simply could not. This would be consistent with the additional power required from my 250.5 as well as my "bias" of having had four different Martin Logan models for some 25 years and now the 116's for some 3.5 years.

Appears my ear is pretty addicted to a transducer that projects sound in multiple directions versus a "single cone / source" forward firing driver.

You are correct regarding the "big, open, transparent" omni sound that the MBL's have in spades.

Personal request. I understand you have the 101's and have touched on the amplifier synergy issue required to drive the "big melon". I'd really appreciate more insight on your experience in this regard since the 101 is my next and likely last speaker that I will ever buy, which will require purchasing new amplification.

Best,

GG
 

caesar

Well-Known Member
May 31, 2010
3,188
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#22
Dude,

I am completely, head over heels in love with the MBL 101. As you know, the essence of the MBL 101 is that "jump factor" in the bass that makes live music sound like live music, realistic drive and richness in the midbass, electrostatic clarity in the midrage, and realistically sweet highs that most speakers can only dream of.

The big differentiator of the 101 from the rest of the MBL line, and pretty much most speakers out there, is the melon on 101. But it is a real bitch to get to sound right. There is something about moving that MBL melon from 105 to 600 Hz that a lot of excellent amplifiers just cannot do.

I'm not sure if you are into tubes, but unfortunately, tube amps cannot drive the MBL woofers. Even those monster tube amps that I have tried, like VTL, sound worse than a 1 year old playing with his toy drum. They just don't have the dynamics nor the right richness on the midbass that quality SS does. And sadly, large powered solid state amps don't always do better. I have tried several, some rated 900 to 1,000 watts a channel into the 4 ohm load and supposedly have a lot of current. Those high powered ones have do a great job with drums and dynamics that make you jump out of your chair, but many of those SS amps make the midbass sound so threadbare that Frank Sinatra sounds like a eunuch.

Here are some of my additional reflections on the amps for 101:

http://www.whatsbestforum.com/showt...miss-a-thing-!&p=255148&viewfull=1#post255148

So when you are planning to purchase a pair, you will need to plan on getting a new amp. Some of my friends are so crazy about the 101, they have literally tried dozens of amps. And unfortunately, Pass doesn't make for good synergy. (Although the new, incredibly expensive XS 300 may be a different story). And when you change your amp, you may need to change your pre-amp, source, cables, etc., as despite the marketing hype, the 101 may be the most transparent speaker on earth today...

If you can swing it, you will not regret it! (Heck, if you are still working, just retire 2 or 3 years later. It's that good!)
 

thedudeabides

Well-Known Member
Jan 16, 2011
1,291
51
48
Alto, NM
#23
Thank you Caesar.

I have no doubt about the capabilities of the 101.

Another option is to buy some used MBL amps.

Have you heard them with the matching amps? And if so, how do they sound?

Bryston and the high powered Sanders amps also come to mind.

GG
 

caesar

Well-Known Member
May 31, 2010
3,188
80
48
#24
Thank you Caesar.

I have no doubt about the capabilities of the 101.

Another option is to buy some used MBL amps.

Have you heard them with the matching amps? And if so, how do they sound?

Bryston and the high powered Sanders amps also come to mind.

GG
I think MBL amps are an obvious choice. They have new class D amps that are "fairly affordable" at $25K that should be able to drive the 101. The 9011's can be had for $30K used, so if you want MBL amps and are willling to go used, I would wait out for the 9011's. However, I think there are better amps than MBL's own amps. I like the Krafts. The Great Peter Breuninger loves the AVM amps.

I have heard both Bryston and Sanders. Sanders is a great amp for electrostats. But people who are recommending his amps to drive anything are full of it. As much as we would all love to get a great deal, and despite the engineering claims, the Sanders unfortunately can't drive the MBL with a proper tonal balance. Sanders has very fast, explosive dynamics, but the 101 melon just doesn't grunt with the Sanders; it can't reproduce the barritone sax, making it sound like a soprano sax, and any male voices sound very angelic, kind of like in this famous castrato recording:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLjvfqnD0ws

I think the problem with the Sanders is that it only weighs 40 pounds, or so, and the power supply is too wimpy to get enough current to the speaker, whereas it works great for voltage electrostatic or planar speakers. The Bryston, however, definitely gets the bass, midbass, and dynamics right. But the speaker is so transparent, it reveals that the Bryston does have some grain in mids and highs, compared to other pricier amplifiers- if you want to get picky. Nevertheless, it is a very good option. If you see a pair of used 28B SST ^ 2 for $10K, you will be in good shape unless you want to spend a bit more for used Krafts, used AVMs, or used MBL 9011's. And, of course, you can always resell the Brystons with no depreciation once you find something that you really want.
 

caesar

Well-Known Member
May 31, 2010
3,188
80
48
#27
Eichenbaum, great system!!! How big is your room? Long wall or short wall? And how close are speakers positioned to the walls?
 

caesar

Well-Known Member
May 31, 2010
3,188
80
48
#28
Thank you so much caesar for the excellent input.

Sounds like the Bryston is a serious contender and a good starting point given my budget limitations.

GG
Yes, it's all about synergy in this hobby, as you know well, and Bryston has it with MBL. Another option that came to mind are the more powerful Musical Fidelity amps. I think Fremer has been using Musical Fidelity for the last 10-15 years. He reviewed both the 101 E I and II with Musical Fidelity. If you are budget constrained and find them cheap, it could be a good option. But Musical Fidelity doesn't have the brand recognition that Bryston does, and reselling Bryston is about as a sure of a thing you can find in this hobby.

Another good option, for about the same price as the Bryston, could be Classe M600 that John Atkinson raved about a few years ago. Should be no problem reselling the Classe either.
 

caesar

Well-Known Member
May 31, 2010
3,188
80
48
#30
1300sqf, short wall, 40ft from the walls, It's not a dedicated room but it works very well.
Wow!!! That is one huge room! I can just feel the MBL's fill that room with music....

If I'm understanding correctly, your speakers are no where near a wall or any other surface. Is this correct? Or do you have some kind of a reflective or diffusive panel nearby?

Do you ever think of getting the 9011's?
 
Sep 29, 2013
39
2
8
#31
Wow!!! That is one huge room! I can just feel the MBL's fill that room with music....

If I'm understanding correctly, your speakers are no where near a wall or any other surface. Is this correct? Or do you have some kind of a reflective or diffusive panel nearby?

Do you ever think of getting the 9011's?
My room is actually asimmetrical and the 101s are at least 40ft from any wall and 50ft from each other. No panels at all. Rugs on the floor, paintings on the walls, sofas, a grand piano and thats it.
I've never heard the 9011s but I don't miss anything right now. I'd rather listening to the music.
 
Sep 29, 2013
39
2
8
#33
My room is actually asimmetrical and the 101s are at least 40ft from any wall and 50ft from each other. No panels at all. Rugs on the floor, paintings on the walls, sofas, a grand piano and thats it.
I've never heard the 9011s but I don't miss anything right now. I'd rather listening to the music.
I'd like to correct the distancies in feet, 12ft from the walls and from each other. The size is correct 1300sqft.
 

caesar

Well-Known Member
May 31, 2010
3,188
80
48
#35
Thank you so much caesar for the excellent input.

Sounds like the Bryston is a serious contender and a good starting point given my budget limitations.

GG
Yes, it is. But I currently have a pair of Classes M600's, and they are very, very, very good. I know many in this hobby come down on gear made in China , either for reasons of bigotry (I hope not!!!!) or due to elitism, but the Classes are the real deal. (The Classe engineers are in Canada.)

You can probably find them slightly cheaper than the Brystons, and I would recommend them over the Brystons, due to their superior capabilities with higher frequencies. MBL 101 has arguably the best tweeter in the world, and the Classes do highs better than the Brystons. I also believe they are faster than the Brystons. They are also surprisingly very cool to the touch, even when played at around 90 db for a few hours, with just warm air coming out of the fans in the back.

You only notice them when you plug in a much more expensive amp. They pretty much get out of the way and do what the speaker designer intended the speaker to do. Hard to get more for the money.
 

DEV

New Member
Oct 20, 2011
547
0
0
#37
Congrats guys, you need to post some pics. Have any of you installed Still Point Ultra 5's for footers? if so what were your thoughts, if not you should.

I'm still loven my 101E's with Vac Statement 450 mono's - and yes Ceasar there are tube amps that will drive these speakers very nicely indeed. This is coming from someone who has most likely tried more amplification than anyone else with them. I had Boulder 2050's, Karan 1200's, MBL 9011's, Cat Sig MK2 JL3's, Bryston 28 SQ, Pass - just to name a few.

My preference is the Vac's by far, out of all of the amps when I was evaluating bass the Vac's produced the most realistic.
 

adyc

VIP/Donor
Jan 6, 2013
423
31
28
#38
Congrats guys, you need to post some pics. Have any of you installed Still Point Ultra 5's for footers? if so what were your thoughts, if not you should.

I'm still loven my 101E's with Vac Statement 450 mono's - and yes Ceasar there are tube amps that will drive these speakers very nicely indeed. This is coming from someone who has most likely tried more amplification than anyone else with them. I had Boulder 2050's, Karan 1200's, MBL 9011's, Cat Sig MK2 JL3's, Bryston 28 SQ, Pass - just to name a few.

My preference is the Vac's by far, out of all of the amps when I was evaluating bass the Vac's produced the most realistic.
Does VAC has enough power to drive MBL 101E to high sound level? How often you do require to change the tubes in VAC power amps?
 

DEV

New Member
Oct 20, 2011
547
0
0
#39
Does VAC has enough power to drive MBL 101E to high sound level? How often you do require to change the tubes in VAC power amps?
Hi adyc,

yes they do
suppose it would depend on how many hours you have them on, I have had mine for a few years now and tubes are still great. The latest "Q" series amps self bias the tubes along with doing other things, Kevin says the tubes will last even longer. You could always contact Vac direct to discuss.

I know of two others with MBL 101E's both using the same Statement mono blocks after my recommendations along with Vac pre and are both very happy, both have also tried allot of different amps.

One uses the identical IC's and SC's as I do, both have their speakers on Ultra 5's - I read you liked the SS but this may change due to items I just wrote. I have tried numerous cables also and using these Stealth Audio cables has ended my search, not cheap but well worth it.

What does your set-up consist of along with size of room. Would be great if you would share some pics too. Also what are your variables set at on the back.

So back to your question about playing at high levels - I live in a bungalow style home "3000 sq ft" on one floor with various ceiling heights, my norm listening levels are anywhere from 9 o'clock to 12 o'clock and at 12 o'clock it's REALLY loud - going past that is at concert levels. I was listening to Enya today and the low bass notes had my whole house vibrating, sitting approx. 12ft away my paint legs were moving along with everything else but it was so smooth and realistic - absolutely exhilarating! Thanks to my Air Force One table and Burmester 100 combo - amazing sources!

Then I put on some ACDC, then Dire Straits, then some big band music followed by some classical pces - levels varied up too 2-3 o'clock on my Vac dial - that's just crazy high levels. Not sitting 12ft anymore - I can go anywhere in the house and it sounds like I have a live band playing within :)
 

adyc

VIP/Donor
Jan 6, 2013
423
31
28
#40
Hi adyc,

yes they do
suppose it would depend on how many hours you have them on, I have had mine for a few years now and tubes are still great. The latest "Q" series amps self bias the tubes along with doing other things, Kevin says the tubes will last even longer. You could always contact Vac direct to discuss.

I know of two others with MBL 101E's both using the same Statement mono blocks after my recommendations along with Vac pre and are both very happy, both have also tried allot of different amps.

One uses the identical IC's and SC's as I do, both have their speakers on Ultra 5's - I read you liked the SS but this may change due to items I just wrote. I have tried numerous cables also and using these Stealth Audio cables has ended my search, not cheap but well worth it.

What does your set-up consist of along with size of room. Would be great if you would share some pics too. Also what are your variables set at on the back.

So back to your question about playing at high levels - I live in a bungalow style home "3000 sq ft" on one floor with various ceiling heights, my norm listening levels are anywhere from 9 o'clock to 12 o'clock and at 12 o'clock it's REALLY loud - going past that is at concert levels. I was listening to Enya today and the low bass notes had my whole house vibrating, sitting approx. 12ft away my paint legs were moving along with everything else but it was so smooth and realistic - absolutely exhilarating! Thanks to my Air Force One table and Burmester 100 combo - amazing sources!

Then I put on some ACDC, then Dire Straits, then some big band music followed by some classical pces - levels varied up too 2-3 o'clock on my Vac dial - that's just crazy high levels. Not sitting 12ft anymore - I can go anywhere in the house and it sounds like I have a live band playing within :)
I have 9011 but always interested in learning from fellow MBL 101 owners their experience of different amps. In general, I am wary of tube amps. I have ARC Ref 40 and Ref 10 before. Both sound greats in the beginning but performance goes downhill very quickly due to tubes ageing. I have now Passlabs Xs. It is great and very happy with it.
 

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