MBL's Extreme Journey with Concerto Köln

MBL's Chief Engineer, Jürgen Reis (below), also records Cologne's famed period-instrument ensemble, Concerto Köln. It was thus only fitting that two musicians from the ensemble, bassist Jean-Michel Forêt and violoncellist Alexander Scherf (who is also music director of Concerto Köln), visited the MBL room at Munich High End to play some music, talk music history, and enable comparison of live vs. reproduced sound.

Given the damped nature of MBL's large room and the live acoustic favored for the ensemble's CD, however, comparison wasn't in the least bit fair. Nonetheless, thanks to Reis's superlative engineering, it was possible to appreciate how well the system granted huge presence to the ensemble's gut-stringed violins. Those strings also had a natural liquidity and uncanny breadth of expression. Transparency was supreme.

Doing the honors was MBL's RX-02 Extreme System (base price $754,400): A 101 X-Treme MkII Radialstrahler system ($389,000/pair in black chrome finish) that consists of a huge pair of speakers and matching sub towers; four 9011 mono power amplifiers ($64,100/each), 1621 A CD transport ($33,400), 1611 F D/A processor ($34,200), and 6010 D preamplifier ($32,400).

alparls's picture

I have been going to the High End in Munich for almost a decade, more for enjoying the spectacle rather than seriously listening, since most rooms tend to be challenging, from the endless chatting to the bleed through from the neighboring rooms.
With that being said, the mbl room is always, from my own subjective perspective, the highlight.
My wife (non Audiophile), who decided to join me for the first time this year, stated that after hearing the mbl system, almost every other system she heard sounded „closed in“, boxy, limited and somewhat artificial.
Runners up for me were Alsyvox, Clarisys, Qualio, IO Audio. My wife mostly agreed. Omnis and dipoles. Hmm.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

I didn't have time to hear any of those other systems. Nor did I have time to return to MBL.

You're also killing me because your wife came. I can't begin to count the number of people who said to me, "Where's David?" Answer: David, whom I don't think can handle more than one audio show per year, was home walking the dogs, working in the hair salon, painting his art studio, and having a grand time listening to music on his (gasp) iPad. And there you have it.

Thanks so much for your post.


alparls's picture

Then next time take David with you and while you run around the halls of the MOC he can explore Munich, which is a gem of a city, with endless cultural offerings, great museums, excellent public transportation and much more.

I know that many are on a tight schedule, but I’ve read many posts/reviews of people hopping from airport to hotel to the MOC then back to hotel then eventually back to the airport. I would recommend to all who visit High End to set aside an additional day or two to explore Munich - it’s a fantastic city.