Fremer on the MBL

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caesar

Well-Known Member
May 31, 2010
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#41
These 2 elements go hand in hand, always. Exactly the same thing can be said for a system that is finely tuned to give a high quality of playback: if they are capable of sounding realistic they are also capable of sounding horrendously unpleasant. A system that always sounds pleasant, soothing, is not realistic; if the person listening to such is happy with it that's fine, but he is incorrect if he says his system is true to the source.

This quality of the MBLs perfectly characterises the point I keep making in this forum: top notch sound at the moment is still an extremely fine balancing act. If you can get the "you are there" feeling then the slightest "mistake" or problem with the configuration will immediately give you the "I want to get out of here!" feeling ...
Fas42, I agree with you about a live performance being truthful. Eric Clapton does not have a great night every night. Horowitz makes mistakes. It gets captured on a recorded medium and it gets experienced by those watching live. However, being there with the musicians in the room is so much more captivating compared to playback on most systems. And when you have a speaker that can emulate that experience is something audiophile words of analysis don't quite capture.
 

fas42

Addicted To Best
Jan 8, 2011
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#45
I agree. But it has to be a superb recording.
Well, that's the advantage of highly tweaking a system. For such situations, the recording can be really crappy -- I talking portable cassette recorder quality here -- but sufficient detail of the musical event has been captured for the "soul" (huuhh? ;)) to come through, if the playback system absolutely, absolutely gets out of the way. I've been amazed many times over the years, at hearing "bottom of the barrel" recordings suddenly come to life when enough things have been done right: you do connect to the performance, the acoustic clues are heard, and you "hear" real musicians doing their thing ...

Frank
 

MylesBAstor

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 20, 2010
11,223
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#46
...But some well recorded live musical jams can convey the true atmosphere of the real event. :b
And the atmosphere of many recordings is lost in the mastering, whether it be digital or analog. Yes, digital.

Listen to a well recorded Wilkie Decca on tape and the sound of hall is beautifully captured. So are some of the RR discs by KOJ.
 
Jul 1, 2010
8,677
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#47
Well, that's the advantage of highly tweaking a system. For such situations, the recording can be really crappy -- I talking portable cassette recorder quality here -- but sufficient detail of the musical event has been captured for the "soul" (huuhh? ;)) to come through, if the playback system absolutely, absolutely gets out of the way. I've been amazed many times over the years, at hearing "bottom of the barrel" recordings suddenly come to life when enough things have been done right: you do connect to the performance, the acoustic clues are heard, and you "hear" real musicians doing their thing ...

Frank
Same tired old incredible mantra.

I can only conclude that you've been "amazed, many times over the years," by your imagination, or that you've never actually recorded music live from your seat with a portable cassette recorder and you're just making this up to amuse yourself. Because when you do make such a recording, and your system "absolutely, absolutely gets out of the way," what is revealed are the extreme limitations of the media and the recording methodology you've described. I believe the soul is in the performance, not the reproduction. But this is a case in which bad recording technique onto bad media may very well create so much noise that Muddy Waters' soul may be hard to feel.

And the problems are fundamental. You cannot tweak them away.

Tim
 
Last edited:
Feb 8, 2011
21,953
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Vancouver Island, B.C. Canada
#48
And the atmosphere of many recordings is lost in the mastering, whether it be digital or analog. Yes, digital.

Listen to a well recorded Wilkie Decca on tape and the sound of hall is beautifully captured. So are some of the RR discs by KOJ.
I fully agree with you Myles.
 

fas42

Addicted To Best
Jan 8, 2011
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#49
Same tired old incredible mantra.

I can only conclude that you've been "amazed, many times over the years," by your imagination, or that you've never actually recorded music live from your seat with a portable cassette recorder and you're just making this up to amuse yourself. Because when you do make such a recording, and your system "absolutely, absolutely gets out of the way," what is revealed are the extreme limitations of the media and the recording methodology you've described. I believe the soul is in the performance, not the reproduction. But this is a case in which bad recording technique onto bad media may very well create so much noise that Muddy Waters' soul may be hard to feel.

And the problems are fundamental. You cannot tweak them away.

Tim
If you've never experienced the phenomenon, I can certainly appreciate that one would say the above. After all, your point of view makes perfect sense. Except that the human organism is not "sensible", is able to make leaps of cognition.

The point is, that even though the recording technology is primitive, that the crucial elements of the performance are still picked up by the microphone, and transferred to the media. Yes, it is buried many times under a lot of noise and distortion generated by the low quality electronics; but the the information is still there. To get it back out again you rely on the most powerful filtering mechanism in your arsenal: the human mind.

This "component" in the listening chain is the most powerful, but also the most temperamental: if it overloads, because it has insufficient information, or the layering of distortion is too great, then it gives up, the recording is unlistenable to.

You made a key point in your reply: the soul is in the performance -- exactly so! But you have to be able to "hear" that performance to appreciate it, which means pushing aside mentally all the muck contributed by the poor recording, adjusting your focus to bypass the artifacts of the recording and zooming in, so to speak, on the musical content. Hells bells, even Steve talks of this, calls it "active listening".

Now, for a "bad" recording, on a poor system, this will be hard work! Fatigue, and loss of interest will set in almost immediately. But, and this is a huge but, if you get the replay working at the highest level, then the elements of the musical performance, and the mess that is everything else become sufficiently differentiated in tonality, as good a word as any to call it, for your mind to separate the two quite easily; the focus is no big deal, and "passive" listening is sufficient to extract what your mind wants, to be aware of the "soul".

This is why I say to use "bad" recordings to test systems: the difference, subjectively, can be amazing between on song and not so ...

Frank
 

Gregadd

WBF Founding Member
Apr 20, 2010
6,606
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Metro DC
#50
No, I haven't heard the MBLs; I'd love to. I'm a fan of what really good omni-directional speakers can do when set up properly.

Tim
Don't bother.
 

DEV

New Member
Oct 20, 2011
547
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#52
Because?

The MBLs have done the best so far that I've heard a normally tuned system do. Of course, driven by the best/most expensive gear, so they should! I could hear weaknesses starting to emerge the longer they were playing, so perhaps that's what you were referring to?

Frank
What gear are you making specific refference too?

You say you could hear weaknesses starting to emerge, what are you specific making referrence too?

Curious what does your set-up comprise of?
 

Gregadd

WBF Founding Member
Apr 20, 2010
6,606
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Metro DC
#53
Because?

The MBLs have done the best so far that I've heard a normally tuned system do. Of course, driven by the best/most expensive gear, so they should! I could hear weaknesses starting to emerge the longer they were playing, so perhaps that's what you were referring to?

Frank

Despite giving the MBL numerous chances, I remain decidely unimpressed.
 

DEV

New Member
Oct 20, 2011
547
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#54
Despite giving the MBL numerous chances, I remain decidely unimpressed.
Speakers in general are very personal as any gear and as per your signature;

"Whether something is a fact or opinion is often just a matter of opinion." :) but I'm curious what specifically leaves you unimpressed?

Have you ever heard a pair in someones home?

When you have heard them what did the rest of the system consist of?

Curious what does your system consist of? Martin LoganCLS1 speakers and ...
 

KeithR

VIP/Donor
May 7, 2010
3,756
709
113
Marina del Rey, CA
#55
Hmm, I thought fremer did a better job here. I like his comparisons as a reviewer in particular and he says when stuff sounds poor (like the wireworlds in the review).

On mbls, the two people i know who have bought them have sold them. Personally, i think they sound great at first, but then dont sound like real music. That coupled with extremely low sensitivity and high price makes them a tough sell.

But to each his own.
 

DEV

New Member
Oct 20, 2011
547
0
0
#56
Hmm, I thought fremer did a better job here. I like his comparisons as a reviewer in particular and he says when stuff sounds poor (like the wireworlds in the review).
Personally, i think they sound great at first, but then dont sound like real music.
I have to disagree with your statement suggesting they don't sound like real music.

What does your system consist of? If it still consists of Zu Audio speakers and that's your reference please, I have heard them numerous times and sound terible in my opinion.

When it comes to owners of MBL 101E specific speakers I personally know many whom own these and are very happy indeed. :D

But as you wrote "but to each his own"
 

fas42

Addicted To Best
Jan 8, 2011
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#57
What gear are you making specific refference too?

You say you could hear weaknesses starting to emerge, what are you specific making referrence too?
The top of the line MBL digital and amplifier gear. And Clearaudio Statement for analogue. The weakness was not the speaker, rather that it was too good, for its own "good": it revealed the digital replay starting to display "digititus"; sometimes honesty is not the best policy ... :b

Frank
 

rbbert

Active Member
Dec 12, 2010
3,416
4
38
Reno, NV
#58
Fremer's review just went up on the Stereophile web site
 

MylesBAstor

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 20, 2010
11,223
5
38
New York City
#59
The top of the line MBL digital and amplifier gear. And Clearaudio Statement for analogue. The weakness was not the speaker, rather that it was too good, for its own "good": it revealed the digital replay starting to display "digititus"; sometimes honesty is not the best policy ... :b

Frank
To be honest, any top rank speaker worth its weight in gold should do the same thing. :) That is if you're seeking something that let's the listener know what's on the recording, warts and all, as opposed to the school of everything should sound pretty. If only it was the latter :(

I've said that for years about the MLs. You're better off upgrading all the components around the ML before going to the next up in the speaker line. That way you'll extract more of what the speaker can do.
 

treitz3

Super Moderator
#60
Gentlemen, let's try and refrain from belittling the speaker choices people make. We are better than this.
 
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