MBL Radialstrahler 101E Mk.II loudspeaker Associated Equipment

Sidebar 2: Associated Equipment

Analog Sources: Continuum Audio Labs Caliburn turntable & Cobra tonearm & Castellon stand; Graham Phantom II tonearm; Miyajima Labs Premium BE (mono), Ortofon A90, Soundsmith Sussurro cartridges.
Digital Sources: Simaudio Moon Evolution 650D DAC & CD transport, BPT-modified Alesis Masterlink hard-disk recorder, Meridian Sooloos music server, Pure Music software.
Preamplification: Ypsilon VPS-100 phono preamplifier; darTZeel NHB-18ns, MBL 6010D, Ypsilon PST-100 Mk.II preamplifiers.
Power Amplifiers: MBL Reference 9011 monoblocks, Musical Fidelity Titan.
Loudspeakers: Wilson Audio Specialties MAXX 3.
Cables: Phono: Hovland/Graham MG2 Music Groove. Interconnect: Stealth Sakra, TARA Labs Zero Gold, Wireworld Platinum Eclipse, ZenSati. Speaker: TARA Labs Omega Gold, ZenSati. AC: Shunyata Research King Cobra Helix CX & Anaconda CX, TARA Labs Cobalt.
Accessories: Shunyata Research Triton power conditioners; Oyaide AC wall box & receptacles; ASC Tube Traps, RPG BAD & Skyline & Abffusor room treatments; Finite Elemente Pagode, HRS SXR stands; Symposium Rollerblocks; Audiodharma Cable Cooker; Furutech DeMag & deStat LP treatments; VPI HW-17F, Loricraft PRC4 Deluxe record-cleaning machines.—Michael Fremer

MBL Akustukgerate GmbH & Co.
US distributor: MBL North America, Inc.
263 West End Avenue, Suite 2F
New York, NY 10023
(212) 724-4870

soulful.terrain's picture


In my humble opinion, I have never heard a more 'perfect' loudspeaker than the MBL 101's. The 111's are no slouch either.

Great review Michael.

Jeff0000's picture


It would have been helpful to me if you had included your listening room size as a referent given the importance placed on listening room size in the review.


John Atkinson's picture

It would have been helpful to me if you had included your listening room size as a referent given the importance placed on listening room size in the review.

IIRC, Mikey's room is approximately 25' by 18' by 8'.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

K.Reid's picture

The MBL 101E MK II and it's big brother the X-Treme comes closer than any other speakers I can think of to bringing the live performance to the listener. The power, scale, and effortless, room-filling sound really transport the listener to the artist. It cannot be emphasized enough how these speakers can convey the emotion of music. 

I heard them at AXPONA last year and at CES this year. Each time it is really an experience. I can't wait to hear the them again at the New York AV show.

370lbgorilla's picture

Hello Michael.

Can you give your thoughts on whether or not a higher measured efficiency rating for the 101E Mk IIs would improve the sound/performance?  Is it even possible to appreciably increase efficiency with this type of design?  I am in the "High Efficiency" camp for speakers, for the most part, and find the very low 81 dB(B) measured spec of the MBLs to be somewhat of a turn-off for me.  I'm trying to imagine how this speaker would perform if it had a sensitivity rating of 90 dB or higher.

Thanks, and take care.





drblank's picture

they can change the efficiency rating of those speakers. They are what they are, just like planer speakers typically have low efficiency ratings as well. it's the nature of the way the drivers are designed with their stave design. It's more of a matter of what type of power you need to drive them more than sound quality. That's why MBL has relatively high wattage power amps to drive them and the amps have to be of decent quality, which unfortunately are typically more expensive.

MBL would have to use traditional cone drivers to get something in the 90dB efficiency level, but as you can see, they only use traditional cone drivers for their subwoofers and not their other drivers.

JRT's picture

drblank commented, "...as you can see, they only use traditional cone drivers for their subwoofers and not their other drivers."

Each of these loudspeakers includes a single twelve inch woofer in bandpass alignment in the lower enclosure. There are no separate subwoofers in the system under review.

The larger and much more expensive MBL 101 X-Treme MKII Radialstrahler System (half of it shown below) includes a pair of separate subwoofers, each is six feet tall with six twelve inch woofers, for a full dozen twelve inch woofers in total. And it does not use bandpass alignment on the woofers, as you can see.

remlab's picture

Snatch them up while you can!

mrplankton2u's picture

Despite Fremer's foray into cable silliness, this was a well written, hard hitting review. The speaker's unique design and the few aspects that were measured beckon for more detailed measurements. I suspect that distortion measurements conducted at different drive levels would be more revealing of the significant challenges posed by the design of the drivers in this speaker.

Stereophile should also be putting more of its limited financial resources into supplying ancillary equipment to support reviews like this. Instead of flying more "journalists" to the next social gathering trade show, why not invest in a few hundred square feet of room treatment panels to outfit the listening room of a reviewer who intends to audition a pair of omnidirectional speakers? This exercise was a little like test driving a Bugatti Veyron in a Piggly Wiggly parking lot full of aging Floridians pushing their Ensure and Depends laden shopping carts...