MBL wows once again

“MBL always sounds great at shows” is an axiom so often repeated that it could serve as an audiophile mantra, but it accurately describes the experience of hearing a full-range, air-filled presentation that, in Munich, was open, alive, and just plain fabulous. For this, no small thanks are due Jeremy Bryan of MBL-North America and Jürgen Reis, the MBL engineer praised by John Atkinson and a host of other industry people who know quality when they encounter it.

MBL’s systems at Munich and AXPONA both dared to mix the new Cadenza "entry-level," Roon Ready C41 Network Player with volume control ($11,100) with higher level products. The C41 utilizes MBL’s proprietary Core Volume Control Technology, which is designed not to touch the data stream as at least some digital volume controls are wont to. The company also claims that it has none of the noise and distortion associated with any preamp.

The C41 sent signal to a pair of 9011 mono amplifiers ($128,200/pair) and a pair of 9008 A monoblocks ($78,200/pair). Together, these monoblock pairs drove the MBL Radialstrahler 101 X-Treme MKII loudspeaker system with new active subwoofer stacks ($398,000/pair). Cabling was Wireworld Eclipse Series copper.

The C41 uses MBL “True Peak technology"—that's MBL's approach to dealing with intersample clipping (aka intersample overs)—and can play PCM files up to 24/192 and DSD to DSD64. It includes a VFD display and offers playback from Roon, UPnP/DLNA, and Audirvana and streaming from smartphone via Airplay/Shareport. The C41 will soon be able to play internet radio and stream from Tidal, Qobuz, and Spotify. In addition to its network input, the C41 offers S/PDIF, AES3, and USB-B inputs; its outputs include S/PDIF (RCA), XLR, and RCA.

Fingers are crossed that when MBL releases its Noble line streamer, I’ll have the opportunity to review it.