A Noble Sound from MBL

Jon Iverson already reported on MBL’s new Noble Line N31 DAC/CD player, and for me, one of the best sounds at the 2015 CES was listening to MBL’s system, based on this digital source feeding signal to the preamp section of the MBL N51 stereo integrated amplifier, with the amplifier section of the integrated and a N21 stereo amplifier (which have the same gain) to bi-amp the unique MBL 101E Mk.II omnidirectional speakers.

As I did at several other rooms, I used my Astell&Kern AK100 portable player to play some of my own stereo hi-rez recordings, this time plugging its TosLink output into the N31. I played the 24/88.2k master files for my recording of the Portland State Chamber Choir’s new CD Into Unknown Worlds, specifically “Amazing Grace” and “Northern Lights.” I was transported back into the warm, enveloping acoustic of St. Stephen’s Church in Portland.

These recordings sound surprisingly different on the various systems on which I listened to them at CES, but other than the unique presentation offered by Edgar Choueiri’s Bacch-SP system, the MBL system got closest to the original event.