All I Want for Xmas is an MBL
Oh, Santa. Santa Baby. Dear Santa Baby. Please make that a Reference Line Combination D ($259,700 total). I won't even ask you to sit on my lap, if only you and Rudolph bring me a pair of MBL 101E Mk.II Radialstrahler speakers, along with an MBL 1621 A CD transport, 1611 F D/A converter, 6010 D preamplifier, and 9011 power amplifier. In snow white, please, just as in the photo.
This same Combo platter received my hands up and down "Best of Show" at AXPONA 2012 in Jacksonville. Here it sounded almost as good. The music on a recording of Shelley Manne was lusciously warm and well-extended on bottom. Elvis' recording of "Fever" on Elvis is Back was even more so. The detail was delicious, the ability to feel up and personal with the great one a rare experience.
No matter what we played, sound staging was breathtaking, and the tonality warm. The only drawback was due to what MBL's Jeremy Bryan had to do to tame the room. When I mentioned that I was missing the lowest undertones on Lorraine Hunt Lieberson's mezzo-soprano, Jeremy brought my attention to the mattresses that he had used to fill the rear alcoves in the room. Without them, the sound would have been boomy; with them, just a bit too much bass was absorbed. I wonder what would have happened if the mattresses had been extra firm.
When all is said and done, I feel blessed to have had another opportunity to enjoy the sound of MBL. Hopefully a better room awaits when MBL comes to the California Audio Show in Burlingame August 13. Last year, I could hardly get through the door, it was so packed. And deservedly so. This year, I'm heading there early on the first day.