Suncoast Audio on the Tampa Terrance: MBL's New Cadenza C41 Network Player

MBL is best known for its striking Radialstahler omnidirectional speaker systems, first introduced in 1979, but the company has made electronics to accompany its speakers since 1986. On the Tampa Terrace at the Florida International Audio Expo, MBL showed off a system featuring the new Cadenza C41 network player ($11,100).

The C41's DAC incorporates the company's TruePeak technology, which fixes the problem of intersample overs in music that's recorded (or mastered) overly loud. The C41 is compatible with UPNP/DLNA, Airplay, Roon, and various streaming services including Audirvāna, Qobuz, Spotify, and Tidal.

I like the MBL sound, which is big and dramatic when it needs to be but capable of incredible nuance. I recall hearing "Thriller" on a MBL system maybe seven or eight years ago, and I still get goosebumps thinking about it.

MBL's FLAX system comprised the C41, a pair of MBL 9011 mono amplifiers ($64,100/channel), and a pair of MBL 101 E MKII loudspeakers ($91,000/pair), all connected with Wireworld Platinum Eclipse Series 8 cable. The system put on a powerful, precise performance.

Before the demo wrapped, MBL's Jeremy Bryan made a point of showing off the dynamic range of its speakers. Switching sources to a UHA Ultima Apollo tape player, I heard "Jim Keltner: Basic Drummer Free Improvisation" and had to lower the levels on my mic by 20dB relative to any other demo at the show. The sense of a drummer being in the room with you and playing the kit full force is as convincing as it gets (footnote 1).

(1) This also makes a strong case that dynamic-range compression is a, if not the, main reason that reproduced music so rarely resembles live.—Jim Austin

otaku's picture

Jim, that is a fascinating comment about distinguishing live from recorded music. Has anyone done a study on this?

Jim Austin's picture

Has anyone done a study on this?

I don't know. Will need to research it. Haven't.

Jim Austin, Editor

John Atkinson's picture
Jim Austin wrote:
"Has anyone done a study on this?"

I don't know. Will need to research it.

Louis Fielder's 1982 AES paper is the only one that comes to mind:

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

Ortofan's picture

... some live versus recorded demonstrations with the drummer Neil Grover and using AR 10pi speakers driven by a Luxman M-6000 power amp.
Wonder if MH would have found the sound reproduction via that equipment to be sufficiently convincing.

JA2's footnote comment makes a strong case for every Stereophile reviewer to have a basic oscilloscope so that they can see whether or not the amplifier in use is ever being driven into peak clipping.