In All Directions

The omnidirectional MBL speakers, which use a unique pulsating quasi-spherical array of ribbons, make a strong argument for the benefits of this design approach. Featured in their room when I visited was the new 111F ($35,000/pair), which uses the "Radialstrahler" drivers for the treble and upper midrange, with conventional drive-units used for the lower frequencies. A big change from the earlier version I reviewed in 2002 was the use of side-firing direct radiators for the bass rather than the 111B's coupled-cavity LF enclosure. These are mechanically coupled to eliminate vibrational excitation of the enclosure.

The sound of the 111Fs, driven by MBL's superbly engineered electronics, was unforced and sweet-sounding, and with low frequencies that were better-integrated with the midrange than used to be the case with the earlier 111. The F, I was assured by the company's founder Wolfgang Meletzky, stands for "fantastic." I wouldn't disagree.