Remarkable MBL Speaker Review by Breuninger. Is the speaker as good as the review?

DEV

New Member
Oct 20, 2011
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I encountered at T.H.E. Show this weekend the MBL 101E Mk. II -- a speaker materially more dynamic and realistic than anything I have ever heard before. Somewhat embarrassingly I spent over 4 hours listening to them over the three days of the show. Discovering these speakers was a fascinating and unsettling experience. (My first thought was: "I have been listening to the wrong speakers for the last 28 years?")

After the initial first couple of hours of shock and disbelief about the tangibility of the music and the holographic venue recreated by the speakers my power of rationality and analysis slowly came back into operation. I began contemplating seriously how I could rearrange my dedicated Martin-Logan / VTL listening room to put the the MBL speakers on my long wall.

By the third hour of auditioning I could no longer ignore the fact that I find the speakers bright-sounding. The tweeter simply produces too much treble energy for me to enjoy these speakers on a prolonged basis. I know from the measurements section of Michael Fremer's review of the 101E Mk. ii that there is no significant spike in the treble region, but there simply is too much treble energy there for me.

Yesterday and today I have been walking around my listening room trying to figure out how much damping material I could put everywhere to try to tame the tweeter. I know about the natural vs. smooth crossover wire switching on the speaker, but, unfortunately, what I need is a simple attenuator which lets me reduce the output of the tweeter by a couple of dB. Many "statement" speakers (e.g., Genesis Technologies 1.2, Evolution Acoustics MM7, Wilson XLF) have such output adjustments to match the tweeter output to the listening room and to the owner's subjective preference.

I wonder if Jurgen, the designer at MBL, would be willing to insert a resistor or two or three in the signal path of the tweeter to calm down what I believe even Peter Brueninger described in his review of the 101E Mk. ii as a "[still] hot tweeter"?

This weekend I had a thrilling, brief, hot affair with a passionate German. But in the cold light of Monday morning, I am not divorcing my Martin-Logans.
I have heard several set-ups and most sounded mediocre at most and I have heard a tipped up tweeter but this isn't the actual speakers nature - it has to do with what's feeding them or how they are set-up. There are controls on the back and they are just pins, if you happen to hear again check to see what the configuration is because making these changes is clearly heard and there are numerous. see attached partial pic - not the best but you get an idea.

Paired up with the Vac Statement 450 mono blocks is a match made in heaven with no tweeter issues, absolutely amazing!

20141029_130225.jpg
 

edorr

WBF Founding Member
May 11, 2010
3,146
3
36
Smyrna, GA
Apparently a very finicky speaker to set up and get to sound right. They sounded phenomenal to me at Axpona in Atlanta a few years ago, and sucked at Axpona Chicago.
 

DEV

New Member
Oct 20, 2011
547
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I don't believe they are any more finicky than most other speaker designs out there "that I have owned" but due to their design and energizing the room I have found it's more critical that the room has mirror image of layout - higher ceilings - you will most defiantly clearly hear what ever is feeding them or how the controls are set-up on the back. Pick your poison but most defiantly do things that no other speaker does - like it or not.

One of their weaknesses I have always found was their bass - well actually not just with these speakers but with numerous out there.

Edorr your comment above "They sounded phenomenal to me at Axpona in Atlanta a few years ago, and sucked at Axpona Chicago." this goes to say with any speaker in general or product out there when hearing at shows and you should never have a final opinion unless heard in some ones set-up - shows are far from optimal. People have been in awe when hearing my set-up ;)
 
Aug 6, 2012
1,470
30
48
Milford, Michigan
Apparently a very finicky speaker to set up and get to sound right. They sounded phenomenal to me at Axpona in Atlanta a few years ago, and sucked at Axpona Chicago.
I am not sure if they are any more finicky that most speakers. I have previously owned both 111e's and 111F's and by following the set-up suggestions that came with the speakers I enjoyed outstanding SQ in my room. MBL's like a bit of space between the speaker and the side-walls so I found they worked best on the long wall. As suggested in the manual I placed two fake trees behind the speakers to disburse the rear refections. (See the attached photo to see the placement of the trees)
MBLFinal1.JPG

I can understand where some will never like the soundstage created by MBL's. If you are looking for that pinpoint image locked between the two speakers you should probably look elsewhere. I enjoyed them because the sound is closer to what one hears at a live event than any other speakers I have heard. Who knows someday some 101e V2 or Extremes may find a home here if I ever decide to move my gear into a larger room.
 
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edorr

WBF Founding Member
May 11, 2010
3,146
3
36
Smyrna, GA
I don't believe they are any more finicky than most other speaker designs out there "that I have owned" but due to their design and energizing the room I have found it's more critical that the room has mirror image of layout - higher ceilings - you will most defiantly clearly hear what ever is feeding them or how the controls are set-up on the back. Pick your poison but most defiantly do things that no other speaker does - like it or not.
The room in Axpona Atlanta had very high ceiling

Edorr your comment above "They sounded phenomenal to me at Axpona in Atlanta a few years ago, and sucked at Axpona Chicago." this goes to say with any speaker in general or product out there when hearing at shows and you should never have a final opinion unless heard in some ones set-up - shows are far from optimal. People have been in awe when hearing my set-up ;)
True words. I never take mediocre sounding speakers at shows as proof they are mediocre speakers.
 
Aug 5, 2013
165
13
18
Stockholm Sweden
Hello everyone! I have listened to MBL speakers in different rooms with and without acoustic treatments. This is a picture from Sweden I have listened to but only as a 2 channel, with the MBL 101. Nowadays he play multichannel to, see picture. He uses the wings from SMT all around the room in the same height as the "Melons" from MBL. With these wings in place you can go as close as 30cm from wall and still have the wide soundstage. You get more focus on voices, voices in naturuall size. You also get more punch forward due to the wings, its a big difference with or without these wings. image.jpg


My friend Tommy also have MBL, I think its the model 121. As you can see on the picture he also uses these wings but bigger, he uses 2 subs too. He bought some more wings after this picture Was taken. Im really impressed how these small speakers sounds like big ones. Without acoustic treatment is not My cup of tea with MBL speakers, to laidback for me. But in the right room They can really deliver!! image.jpg

Best regards Krelle
 
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LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
10,935
143
63
Smokes! Cool looking room! Thanks for posting. BTW, i note the Entreq Vibb on the 2nd photo on top of the sub...i have 2 on each of my Wilsons plus 1 on each of my TA Ref XL speaker cable network boxes. Very few people talk about them, but i've found them to be very good.

Hello everyone! I have listened to MBL speakers in different rooms with and without acoustic treatments. This is a picture from Sweden I have listened to but only as a 2 channel, with the MBL 101. Nowadays he play multichannel to, see picture. He uses the wings from SMT all around the room in the same height as the "Melons" from MBL. With these wings in place you can go as close as 30cm from wall and still have the wide soundstage. You get more focus on voices, voices in naturuall size. You also get more punch forward due to the wings, its a big difference with or without these wings. View attachment 20792


My friend Tommy also have MBL, I think its the model 121. As you can see on the picture he also uses these wings but bigger, he uses 2 subs too. He bought some more wings after this picture Was taken. Im really impressed how these small speakers sounds like big ones. Without acoustic treatment is not My cup of tea with MBL speakers, to laidback for me. But in the right room They can really deliver!! View attachment 20793

Best regards Krelle
 

Peter Breuninger

[Industry Expert] Member Sponsor
Jul 20, 2010
1,231
0
0
That is a nifty room, the top one. MBLs are like your own personal concert.
 
Aug 5, 2013
165
13
18
Stockholm Sweden
Yesterday I visited My friend Tommy again. He has a kind of room in the room with the wings.Because of the 360 degrees spreading, the wings really works well like this with these speakers. A very nice visit and this is the best MBL speaker-system i have heard! Kind regards Krelle image.jpg
 
Jul 25, 2012
2,541
5
38
NY
A friend of mine has the 101's powered by Spectral electronics in a room about 20 x 30 x 12.

Like others, I find the 101's to be bright, but what really bothers me is that they just don't play with "majesty".
 
Aug 6, 2012
1,470
30
48
Milford, Michigan
The full MBL set-up is still the best sound I have ever heard. An audio epiphany.
 

adyc

VIP/Donor
Jan 6, 2013
423
31
28
Sounding bright maybe because of room acoustics. MBL requires different room treatment from box speakers. They require a lot of diffusion around side and back. Just like dipole speakers require diffusion at their back otherwise they will sound bright as well.
 

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
6,675
1,068
113
Beverly Hills, CA
A friend of mine has the 101's powered by Spectral electronics in a room about 20 x 30 x 12.

Like others, I find the 101's to be bright, but what really bothers me is that they just don't play with "majesty".
As much as I respect Spectral components, for my personal taste I would not want to drive MBL 101E Mk IIs with Spectral. After quite a bit of soul-searching (ah, ear-searching?) I, too, found the 101E Mk II to be bright, even with tube electronics and vinyl.

Gary, have you ever heard the 101E Mk IIs driven by tubes? If so, to what extent did tubes ameliorate the brightness problem for you?
 

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
6,675
1,068
113
Beverly Hills, CA
Sounding bright maybe because of room acoustics. MBL requires different room treatment from box speakers. They require a lot of diffusion around side and back. Just like dipole speakers require diffusion at their back otherwise they will sound bright as well.
I agree that many people feel that MBLs like a lot of diffusion around them.

Respectfully, I think it is inaccurate to generalize. There is quite a large difference of opinion as to whether the back wave of an electrostatic speaker should be absorbed, diffused or allowed to reflect. The correct answer for a particular situation often is driven by how far from the front wall the electrostatic speakers can be located to optimize the time delay of the rear wave.

I do not care for brightness, and I have never felt that I had a brightness problem by allowing the back wave of my dipole speakers to reflect.
 

adyc

VIP/Donor
Jan 6, 2013
423
31
28
I am MBL 101 MKII owner. I had 9011 and now am using Passlabs X600.8 to drive them. I never find them bright and fatigue. I can listen to them 10 hours straight without headache. I do have a lot of diffusors around them. Without diffuse their sound, it can certainly sound bright.
 

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