Where did it all begin for MBL?
started in 1979 with its “Radialstahler” MBL
100. There was a time when the
“Radialstrahler” was only an idea on a
sketch-pad. An idea that many people
believed would not work, was turned into
a patent. Thirty years and countless awards
later, thousands of audiophiles around the
world are now closer to their beloved music
than they had ever dreamt of.
The name MBL
is basically attributed to the initials of
the former founders and co-founders (Meletzky,
Beinecke, Lehnhardt). MBL represents
innovative high-end audio technology – Made
in Germany. Though the name
MBL stands for its own and is well
established in the market.
are most recognized by your legendary
Radialstrahler speakers. What was it that
allowed you to construct this type of
traditional drivers it is not possible to
create this homogeneous 360° radiation
pattern so we had to develop a driver system
which radiates initially with 360° degrees.
This drove us to the idea of pulsating
spheres where we have those bended segments
which are fixed on one side and mounted on
the other side and a moving coil. The
segments are arranged around a middle axis
so when the moving coil moves up the
segments bend more outwards. The segments
are over bridged with air seals when the
moving coil moves up we increase the volume
of the melon and so creating the sound
pressure. With no other type of technology
it would have been possible to create this
type of sound also with this high amount of
accuracy for linearity in frequency and for
101 is a legend. Can you describe its
history? How did it all begin and what
changed (refined) over the years?
prototype was actually made of three
pulsating spheres: a large egg-shaped design
for low frequencies, an avocado-sized unit
for the middle frequencies, and a
walnut-sized nub for the treble. Although
it’s been refined over the ensuing
quarter-century, today’s model is similarly
configured, with the exception of the more
conventional subwoofer housing on which the
spheres sit. The facts are: this type speaker
radiates sound evenly, 360 degrees—it does
not simply fire forward as a traditional
audiophiles find your speakers as made for
classical music. Why is that?
Radialstrahler can play any music you
like—from a Bach solo violin piece to a Bill
Evans piano trio to a Mahler symphony to the
pulsating hip-hop beat of OutKast—with a
staggeringly lifelike sense of scale and
volume. But it is true that classical music
will sound more life like playing the music
over our Radialstrahler. Every instrument
and every aspect of the music can be heard
as if you were sitting in the concert hall.
Therefore we can understand why audiophiles
see our speakers more for classical music.
What sets the MBL
speaker design above typical cabinet
housed with an enclosed volume of air – as
the vast majority of them are – are too
inert and inefficient to be truly capable of
transmitting a really fast signal. So with
music reproduction it’s not just the light
and rapid tweeter that has to play its part,
the heavier middle range coupled to a volume
of air has also got lots to contribute. The
drive-unit consists of two 22 cm diameter
aluminum basses which work on the push-push
principle and thus largely neutralize any
forces impacting on the enclosure. Further
decoupling from the lateral baffles is
designed to ensure that not a drop of energy
gets lost in the MDF.
MBL originate as a speaker company? Why and
when did you start manufacturing electronics
(amplifiers, pre-amps etc.)?
started as a loudspeaker company but the
sonic quality and the sonic transparency of
the system was so high that we were able to
hear every mistake or error in amplifiers
which we have used for shows. We were
thinking why not produce and develop
our own electronics to ensure the final
sound that can live up to our speakers,
matching the high
demand of quality. We first began with the
preamplifier in 1982 so it was relatively
early in the history of MBL and then about
1989 we began with power amplifiers. From
that moment on we continued to improve the
sound of our preamplifiers and of our power
amplifiers. We were actually very happy to
have such a consistent sound from our
offer solid state electronics. How do you
see the differences between tube and solid
state? What is your approach and specific
On the world
market there are some good tube electronics
and also some good solid state electronics.
The main reason why we haven’t chosen tube
electronics is that the sound is changing
when the tubes is altering. With our MBL omni-directional
speaker system we have a very consistent
system that will never change the sound
during the years so we also wanted to have
electronics which sound
consistent regardless of their age. For us it was a
clear decision to develop solid state
electronics but we will always keep in mind
that we have to focus to have a liquid sound
and not a harsh typical solid state sound.
For example, in our power amps we have Class
A output stage which delivers a very smooth
sound but this output stage would not be
powerful enough to drive the system so we
have the output stage voltage swimming on a
Class A/B output stage which moves the class
A output stage up and down with the music.
The signal always goes through the Class A
stage and the Class A/B stage only delivers
MBL 6010D preamplifier is another stand out
product and an instant classic. Can you
reveal the history behind it?
The MBL 6010D
also known as “Der Vorverstärker” is a
full-function solid-state preamplifier. One
of our most successful products with a huge
fan base. It includes a lot of features like
full remote control, first class
moving coil-capable phono section, dual
adjustable (for level and left-right
balance) single-ended and balanced outputs,
and a full bevy of line inputs that can be
adjusted so that all input levels are
similar. It weighs 77 lbs and is equipped
with two CD inputs, a tuner input, two tape
loops, and six output terminals.
build and/or manufacture everything in-house
or do you employ subcontractors?
and manufactures all components in our own
factory in Germany. That is how we are able
to warrant the strictly controlled quality
of our equipment. It also enables us to
react to innovations with great flexibility.
We exclusively use trusted high-end
technology combined with solid, high-quality
materials. Our quality is in worldwide
many people does MBL employ?
In the head
office in Berlin and in our factory in
Eberswalde there are all together 50
still believe in traditional German quality?
It’s only here
that we can find the experts we need to help
us achieve our goals. Superbly educated and
highly motivated specialists who share our
vision. This is why we research and
manufacture exclusively in our own factory.
For us our adherence to Germany as a hub of
excellence which offers us all the
opportunity to keep faith with our
philosophy is a self-evident truism.
and Burmester are some of the most
recognized German high-end brands. What is
the difference between the two?
Burmester are both highly respected
companies in the high-end audio market and
they both deliver high quality products. But
each company has their own philosophy
regarding sound and design. Please bear with
us that as a matter of principle we never
talk about our evaluation of competitor's
is it that sets MBL above the competition?
Over the last
three decades, MBL has played a major part
in breathtaking developments in the
worldwide audio sector. MBL accompanied and
influenced the birth and growth of high-end
audio equipment. Every single MBL component
is man-made, from development and design to
the manufacturing, testing and listening –
from the idea to the finished product. And
during all these years we only had the best
possible sound and the best possible quality
there a specific sonic approach or do you
tend to be neutral sounding?
Our main goal
is we want the listener to have the same
feeling as he would be having during a real
concert. Hence we do not concentrate on
specific other brands how they produce or
engineer. We just listen to real life
performances make measurements and listening
tests in order to find out how to create the
same emotional impact when listening at home
as if you were sitting in a concert hall.
companies are starting to use PWM Class D
amplifiers. What are your thoughts about it?
Nearly 95% of
all PWM Class D amps on the market are
sounding much too bright, too thin and
artificial. This would not be our target.
But similar to our different thinking about
our loudspeaker, we are working on a
different method with PWM amplifiers. So
with this Class D design concept we will
have a totally neutral distortion behavior.
We are still in the design phase, but maybe
in the future, for some of our products we
will release this new technology.
there some special and innovative approaches
that you use with your transistor designs?
Class-A output stage which I already
described in a former section we also have
direct push-pull and isolated gain cell
technology in our amplifiers. Direct push
pull means that we do not have any
differential input stages where we would
split the signal into positive and negative
waves. We are directly driving it from the
input of the transistor both phase in and
off phase so we have a much faster and much
detailed signal transfer but the main thing
is the isolated gain cell. Every transistor
has some un-linearities that change the
performance over current, over voltage, over
temperature and we have simulated and
measured all of the misbehaviors of the
transistor and we compensate all the
misbehaviors and this is the so called
isolated gain cell. The transistor that
makes the sound and the amplification in the
amplifier is held absolutely constant so the
voltage on the transistor and the current
will never really change the performance of
the transistor. This is a really unique
point you will not find this in any other
product. This is also the reason why our
power amplifiers does sound so fine and on
the other hand can deliver such high output
you see the current state of high-end?
In the former
years high-end was mostly orientated to
sound and the design aesthetics was always in the
second row. Nowadays people do not only want
the best sound they also draw more attention
to the design and that their audio equipment
fits perfectly into their living rooms.
Additionally audio systems are more and more
part of a network where computers, house
automation and other devices are connected
to each other. This asks for new interfaces
so the audio system integrates neatly into
does MBL approach designing reference
products. Cost no object?
When it comes to effectiveness in our
processes we definitely work hard to be very
cost-effective. But when it comes to the
selection of components and materials we
definitely prefer thinking about quality and
not so much about costs. The result of this
approach is that the customer can rely on
getting the best product money can buy.
much of reference DNA incorporate Noble and
The thing is
that the MBL sound is unique and it also has
a specific fingerprint so if you are an MBL
fan or a fan of the MBL sound you will also
like the other lines. The sonic signature
does shine through to all three model lines.
does the hi-fi stop and the high-end enter
in for MBL?
With MBL we
are claiming high-end sound quality and
we can definitely say that we do serve the
high-end market with all of our lines. We do
not deliver products for the typical hi-fi
is the goal of MBL audio?
Our goal is to
be the cutting edge market leader in terms
of technology, quality, design and ease of
use. Developing the most advanced speakers
and electronics worldwide.
is the future of digital audio?
If we compare
to the CD format which is now over 20 years old
(CD has only 16 bits 44.1 sampling rate) we
can see two tendencies one tendency is the
so called “loudness war." Most of the CDs
which come out nowadays are so high
compressed and dynamic that the CD format
wouldn’t even be necessary for this music.
On the other side there are some small
companies which are out of the “loudness
war” and try to produce good sounding music
but those companies are the minority. It is
very difficult to answer that question but
we are hoping that there will be sufficient
companies that will support high quality
physical mediums becoming obsolete?
We think that
the non physical medium will rise but the
physical medium will stay for the next 20
years. The reason is that there are
different kind of customers some want to buy
the physical medium maybe a CD so they can
hold something in their hands and also will
be able to play it back immediately after
its been put into a playback player. For the
download area there is a tendency of some
labels which offer high resolution downloads
but those customers are different kind of
customers than the customer who likes it to
have the hardware in his hands.
plan to introduce media server?
do you think about phono preamps. Are they
With MBL we
also have very high quality of phono modules
which can be put in our preamps. We do not
emphasize in this area because phono
playback have some similarities with the
tubes the playback format is not stable it
alders with temperature, humidity and age so
we will not invest that much in that field
in the future. We introduced a very high
quality moving coil preamp stage three years
ago so if the customer really wants vinyl
playback this is possible with an MBL preamp
and this phono stage.
haven't seen an MBL turntable yet. Any
is your reference when designing and testing
For many years
now our chief developer Jürgen Reis has been
responsible for shaping the acoustic imprint
of our audio systems. Time and again he and
his team of engineers have developed jewels
of sound whose naturalness and harmonies far
exceed those of any established standards.
He can do this because in his long
experience as a musician and sound engineer
he has found that in the world of sound,
with its multilayered sound patterns and
interwoven structures, there are dimensions
that lie beyond anything you can learn from
electrical engineering text books.
For Jürgen Reis, technical sophisticated
circuitry is just the first step in a long
journey of listening and research: the quest
for the perfect component. It takes hours,
days and weeks of painstaking work to
develop the perfect device which withstands
the test of all benchmarks over and beyond
measurable parameters. Because only when not
just the technical side of music but its
very being is reproduced, only when the act
of listening to music matures into a highly
emotional experience can a development at
MBL be concluded.
MBL has gotten stronger these past few
Yes indeed our
development is in steady growth. We are very
content with the progress we are making over
the years. In a time where – for some
companies – quality is not always as
important as turnover MBL is like a tower of
strength. Our customers and our business
partners all over the world do recognize and
appreciate the quality and passion we are
offering in our audio systems. That might be
one reason for our growth and our success.
defines high end reproduction for you?
Our aim is
that the customer really enjoys listening to
the music so we want the technical part
always behind the acoustic. We really want
to transport the feeling of the music to the
listener and to reproduce an illusion and
that the emotion that the musician is
creating shines through to our systems.
would you say are typical MBL customers?
are different kinds of customers we have.
All share their love for music and all none
accept compromises when it comes to sound quality
and build. But more and more we
see a type of customer who is not really an
audiophile but who can afford to always have
the best money can buy. He has expensive
cars, nice houses with expensive furniture
and he wants the best quality audio system
that also fits nicely into his living room.
On the other side there is the audiophile
and music lover who withdraws his savings to
bring the best possible sound into his
living room. We at MBL serve all kinds of
customers equally by caring for our products
and the quality and sound they deliver.
last thoughts for our readers?
We have told
you how we work and how we think, what
drives us and why MBL products can only
sound the way they do. Only with this unique blend of
innovative technology and craftsmanship can
we achieve our declared aim of producing
audio systems that are really the only
viable alternative to actually sitting in
the concert hall. High-end instruments that
create genuinely lifelike music in your