MBL 101e Speakers
The Absolute Sound
Product of the year 2005
The MBL 101E Radialstrahler
Lots of cable, theTara Labs Omega speaker cables.
There wasn't a genre of music or a favorite recording that didn't yield spectacular results through the mbl 101Es, or, in many cases, reveal heretofore hidden information—the resolving power of these speakers was astonishing. But more than revealing new information, the mbls delivered what I already knew was there with an unforced ease and grace that are unrivaled by any speaker I've heard. When finally set up correctly and surrounded by the right associated gear, they were positively addicting.
mbl 101 E Radialstrahler loudspeaker
When they and all of the associated equipment were right, the sound-and it's a big sound-floated effortlessly in three-dimensional space as with no other speaker in my experience. More important, they created a believable musical reality.
Live music is incomparable: direct, nuances, complex, but harmonic as a whole. Music sounds like it is – real. No matter if you are listening to the filigree play of violins in a concert hall or if you really feel the powerful bass at a rock music event, you always experience music as tangible part of your environment, as element of the senses coming from all sides. To experience music at the moment of its creation is a cultural and sensuous event and will therefore always have an important position in our society. And that is good.
But unfortunately, you cannot always give yourself over to music in a concert hall, you do not always have the time for row 12, seat 17 in the “Gro§e Symphonie” (large concert hall in Berlin). You would rather like to permit yourself the luxury of experiencing music, enjoying music at home in your own living space, and that as natural and harmonic as in the concert hall. This is, however, not easy – even with the most advanced reproduction technology – since this high demand poses a serious problem even for very good conventional speaker systems: In contrast to the instruments of the live event, those speakers radiate the sound only in one direction – to the front. For this reason, they can only insufficiently reproduce such round harmony, that is produced by an orchestra radiating to all sides. The ratio of direct sound (from the boxes) and indirect sound (reflected by the walls and other objects) is not balanced. This is an obvious drawback.
For us at MBL this drawback in speaker construction was a challenge 20 years ago: How must a new speaker be in order to radiate the sound – of an instrument or a voice – as it is the case in reality? In which way a balanced ratio between direct and indirect sound and thus a harmonic and real, i.e. perfect musical pleasure can be achieved?
During many years of acoustic research in cooperation with Professor Dr. Josef Sternberg and Professor Dr. Herbert Fritz (among others) of the Institut für Luft- und Raumfahrt an der Technischen Universität Berlin (institute for aeronautics and aerospace at the technical university of Berlin, Germany) we have finally developed a speaker concept that breaks through the physical limits of conventional speakers – the Radialstrahler, which we now present in its most advanced version, the mbl 101 E.
Due to its revolutionary construction the Radialstrahler is able to produce three-dimensional sound in the living room at home that corresponds to that of a concert hall. In theory, this concept is simple, but brilliant: Like a musical instrument, the Radialstrahler radiates the sound waves in all directions – and not only in one direction like other speakers.
In practice, the concept is not as easy, of course. We had to develop and process the components and the materials that create such a totally new sound adventure.
The Radialstrahler concept includes a circular vertical arrangement of lamellas around an axis for each frequency range (tweeter, midrange driver and subwoofer). On the upper side, these lamellas are firmly glued in a thrust bearing and on the lower side, they are connected to a moving coil. If a pulse of music is now transmitted from the amplifier to the speaker, these slightly bent lamellas (therefore the Radialstrahler is also called “Biegeschwinger”) are oscillated – they radiate sound waves, in this case music. The result is a sound of unusual acoustic space and realism that is absolutely free from coloring, that is neutral and homogenous.
In order to meet the high demands, especially concerning realism, the numerous lamellas being arranged around the axis in the tweeter and midrange driver are made from one of the highest-quality materials: they are manually made from carbon fiber, pressed under a high pressure and hardened at an exact temperature. The assembly of the exactly controlled components requires absolute precision in fine mechanics.
The same applies for the lamellas of the woofer, which show the lowest sound distortion, when they are manufactured from an aluminum/magnesium alloy.
With other procedures that are not less complex we optimize the sound of all three systems in order to avoid distortions, vibrations and other undesired modifications of the sound. Thus, we attach importance to a highly effective system for cooling the moving coils, so that the coils only convert a very small part of the fed energy into heat that may have an influence on the sound. For such a high pulse power like that of the Radialstrahler (2200 W), this influence may be important. The mbl 101 E still reproduces the most fast musical pulses like that of an orchestra neutrally and without any distortions, when many other speaker systems already have to give up.
In order to create a solid basis for the homogenous realism of the three Radialstrahler systems, we integrated a subwoofer into the mbl 101 E that has also been carefully developed and that substantiates the precise play in the subwoofer range. Like the tweeter, the midrange driver and the woofer the subwoofer is submitted to the objective of the overall system as a whole: the natural sound. Accordingly, it is perfectly integrated in this 4-way speaker system which is unique – not only with regard to technology.
The sound of the Radialstrahler should be just perfect, but its appearance should not be less: Our acoustical showpiece should not only be just beautiful; it should be an esthetical pleasure, making the avant-garde design justified by its functioning a statement of the senses. And we have been confirmed from many sides that we got very close to our objective.
The mbl 101 E simply lights up with natural elegance: It is modern and timeless in one, it differs in every respect from conventional speakers, but it is discreetly beautiful. It is a harmonic complement to every stylish living space without making a negative impression as musical furniture (especially as the Radialstrahler really sounds brilliantly everywhere). But whoever regards it deliberately – and which visitor would not like to do that? – will be bewitched by its appearance: even when looking at it, the manually selected materials make you feel like touching, feeling the brilliant workmanship.
The colors are perfectly harmonized. The satin-finish black color of the covering that has been manually deposited in several layers shows an interesting contrast to the corpus inside showing through; the accentuating cap underlines the value and the beauty of the speaker, thus raising the living space to nobility, also with regard to architecture.
Thus, we make high-end technology a product of classically good style, and great sound articulates with such a seducing elegance that the Radialstrahler technically and optically becomes the new version of modern pleasure, that the delight in uncompromisingly good sound becomes the way of life of most sophisticated standard.
“This type of spatial illusion cannot be conveyed by conventional speakers – no classic speaker releases airy sound so naturally. The speakers reproduce strong pulses precisely, they lead symphonic attacks brilliantly and vivaciously and impart clear outlines to complicated bass courses.”HiFi Vision
“The speakers reproduce such a multi-dimensional sound panorama that no other speaker could reproduce in AUDIO–s audition room. When moving through the room, the acoustic pattern is not constant, but the individual instruments move always having the correct ratio to one another as if an orchestra would play between the speakers. No other speaker tested until now provides such a phenomenal all-round radiation and can be placed without any problems.”
“Up to now, no other speaker could reproduce such a nature-related sound pattern. The definition and airiness of the speaker are really so amazing that one can find new sounds on well-known CDs again and again.”
“Amazing was how easy the sound was released from the speaker and that the position of the speakers could hardly be found out. A standard was set.”
“… No smearing, no delaying tactics, blurring of the edges. With dangerous percussion, check out the musically barren but sonically thrilling Sheffield Labs drum extravaganza. The MBL handles every thwack, smack and crack with utter, nay, Germanic control. From bass drum through to frenzied Zildjians, you get thump and splash in the correct proportions. And you’ll marvel at hyperactive guitar plucking, which suggests that Joe Satriani is faster than yer average domed tweeter.”
Hi-Fi News by Ken Kessler