T.H.E. Show 2019: MBL is Fatigue-Free

Fatigue is something you have to be mindful of at a show, like, well, T.H.E. Show.

There’s a lot of listening rooms on multiple floors and as a reviewer you’re constantly hustling around from room to room and floor to floor, so you need to be mindful to pace yourself, otherwise you’ll suffer the consequences of fatigue.

I’m not talking about being tired or sore feet, no, I mean sonic fatigue from multiple systems. Not everyone likes the same type of sound from their hi-fi (thank god, it would be awfully boring if we did), so at an event like a high-fidelity trade show where one encounters a lot of disparate sound signatures ranging from tubey euphonic third-order harmonics to hyper-accurate, lean and peaky – and everything in between, it is great because it allows you to tune-in to the sound that is on your own personal frequency and to take note of those systems that are of a different vibrational makeup.

While there were a number of rooms that I vibed with, the MBL room stood out to me because it was able to straddle the line between tonal/timbral richness and accuracy, texture/detail – without straying into extremes either way, which is not always an easy proposition with propulsive, dynamic tracks, but one where the MBL gear shined for me. There was palpable weight and depth to the music playing that allowed the system to really scale on instruments like piano and standup bass which presented as life-size images on the soundstage – belying the standmount Radialstrahler’s smaller driver size – despite the small room dimensions and rather close-together spacing of the speakers (I think another two feet of separation that a larger room could have allowed would have been ideal).

This setup consisted of the N31 DAC/CD Player ($15,400 USD), N11 Stereo Preamplifier ($14,600 USD), N15 Mono Power Amplifier ($17,800 USD/ch), 120 Radialstrahler Hybrid Loudspeaker ($21,400 USD/pair) and all cabling was the Wireworld Eclipse Series 8.

While certainly not a budget system, this MBL setup was nonetheless far more pocketbook friendly than every other MBL spread I’ve encountered at shows over the years and I feel it showed off real value for money at these price points with genuine insight into the recorded event. This is a system which allows you to learn about music and that’s something that I found not only refreshing, but also not in the least fatiguing.


Anton's picture

Ah, if only.

The room looked lovely, as well.