MBL: That says it all

There were no surprises in the two adjacent MBL rooms jointly presented with Kyomi Audio. Sitting in the sweet spot before the big system, spaciousness and transparency were superb on an older modern instrument recording of Bach's Concerto for Oboe and other instruments. Ditto for Dolly Parton's adorable "Love is Like a Butterfly," which sounded simply and utterly beautiful.

The equipment has been the same that MBL has presented at numerous shows: the MBL 1621 A CD transport ($33,400), 1611 F D/A converter ($34,200), 6010 D preamplifier ($32,400), 9011 mono amplifiers ($128,200/pair), and 101E MkII Radialstrahler omnidirectional loudspeakers ($91,000/pair). The prices are high, and the Red Book playback technology is dated in comparison to hi-rez streaming, but the sound remains fresh, new and, from an ideal seat, unique. As I always expect it to be, given the set-up wizardry of MBL North America's Jeremy Bryan.

The smaller and far more affordable system maintained MBL's virtually unequalled capacity for spaciousness. It was hard to believe that the Scala & Kolacny Brothers' "Nothing Else Matters" and Carol Bach-y-Rita's "Nature Boy" were sourced from CD. Singing wonderfully: MBL C31 CD-DAC with 24/96 playback ($9600), C51 integrated amplifier ($11,600), which outputs 300Wpc into 4 ohms, and the 126 loudspeaker ($14,800/pair in standard finish) with a nominal impedance of 4 ohms. Cabling in both rooms was Wireworld Eclipse, Series 8.