MBL Owners: The "Why" Behind Our Choices and the Search for the Ultimate "Wow" Factor

Today, I'm reaching out to this vibrant community with a topic that's sure to spark some fascinating discussions and share the magic we've all experienced with MBL's extraordinary audio creations. As proud owners (or admirers) of MBL products, we've each had our unique journey that led us to choose these masterpieces for our audio setups. I'm eager to dive deep into those stories, the unforgettable "wow" moments, and ponder what the future might hold if we ever decided to explore beyond MBL.

  1. The Initial Spark: What was the pivotal moment or reason that led you to choose MBL? Was it a particular review, a friend’s recommendation, or perhaps a mesmerizing listening session that left you spellbound?

  2. The Wow Factor: MBL is known for its unparalleled soundstage and immersive listening experience. Can you recall a specific track or moment when the MBL magic truly hit you? That instant when you knew there was no turning back?

  3. Future Gazing: While it might be hard to imagine, if there ever came a day to replace your MBL setup, what would be your choice? Is there another brand or system that piques your curiosity or could potentially match the awe-inspiring experience MBL delivers?

Let's turn this thread into a treasure trove of personal anecdotes, technical discussions, and perhaps even a wish list for our ultimate audio setups. Your insights not only serve as a guide for potential MBL owners but also celebrate the profound impact high-fidelity sound can have on our lives.

So, let's get this conversation started! Share your journey, your moments of audio bliss, and your dreams for the future of your sound system. Whether you're an MBL veteran or simply dreaming of one day joining the ranks, your stories are what make this community a haven for audiophiles from all walks of life.

Looking forward to reading about your sonic adventures and the paths you've traveled in the quest for the ultimate sound experience!


I just heard these for the first time at Florida Audio Expo and it was the most incredible listening experience I've ever had. Incredible sound coming out of these weird things. 

My first exposure to MBL was in early 2000s eBay.  Their classic integrated amp from this era with black and gold cursive really caught my eye, so I began researching the brand.  Their speaker design always stood out to me and was my endgame goal.  Still wish I had purchased that integrated since I learned from a dealer, they're commanding roughly 4-5x the price these days.


Went through more than a few upgrades since then and own a pair of MBL 101s now.  I have everything tuned well enough so anything I put on sounds close to a live performance.  You don't get the bass drum kick feeling in your chest as you do with an actual live performance, but everything else is on par.  I go through different moods, but have found some amazing tracks I like to show off my setup with (or just sit back and unwind to: 

  • Fleetwood Mac's live album, The Dance, is incredible.  Rhiannon and Silver Springs in particular have these chimes that seem to float around you. 
  • Stevie Nick's Leather and Lace remaster, with it's floating hardly strummed acoustic guitar and synth melody is also one of a kind. 
  • Journey's 2024 remaster of Faithfully also has this moment where the drums sneak up from the side then appear in front of you.
  • Phil Collins In the Air Tonight is a classic that takes you on quite the trip before its epic drumline kicks in.
  • For the full orchestral range, I love Afro Cuban All Stars and Buena Vista Social Club.  Afro Cuban All Stars' Los Sittio' Asere has layered vocals alongside these blaring trumpets and a blanket of instruments that really highlight MBL's magic.
  • Tom Odell's Another Love has a wide piano with focused voice that gets broken up with this intensely enveloping choir that's a really cool first listen for people that have never heard MBL before. The Lumineers do a similar thing and also great demo tracks.
  • Finally, Pumped Up Kicks by Foster The People.  They do this thing where they reverse the voice with the drums where the lead singer's voice comes from all around and the drums are actually the centered voice then the chorus comes in.

Too many others to list, but those are my current favorites.  My SO prefers stuff like Jeff Buckley's rendition of Hallelujah.  Just to add...  I'm a disabled veteran and the MBLs are my therapy.  I've had a great time and gotten lost in other speakers, but they didn't allow me to 'meditate' to the level of my MBLs.  On my bad days, I can step away, turn on my system and drown out the world.  The only thing that's come close is drugs (and I don't believe that's a viable long term option).


For alternatives, I love Michael Borresen's design and own a pair of his Scansonic's.  I was exploring his new line and almost pulled the trigger on a pair of 02.  Borresen is an excellent engineer, but his designs definitely come at a premium.  Much prefer the MBLs and my SO also thinks they "look cool" so I'm sticking with MBL for the foreseeable future.


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Mbl done well is very special. Nothing compares. I’ve commented on mbl many times over the years. Search my posts if interested. I am currently a mere Ohm Walsh owner but their designer, the late John Strohbeen, posted on his website that mbl was one of the few speakers he had heard over the years (besides his own of course, and JS had probably pretty much heard it all over the years) that sounded right to him.  He may have regarded mbl as the very best with cost not a consideration and took pride that his Ohm Walsh speakers did a lot of what mbl does but at a cost more could afford and that his speakers were designed to work well in most any room and not far from the rear wall without a lot of special setup needed. 

Well, I don't have any MBL, but my story is just what you're looking for. Many years ago at AXPONA in Jacksonville, FL I was checking out the audio rooms. I had been to quite a few as I started at the top floor and worked my way down. One room on the bottom floor said MBL. I had kind of heard of them, but never heard their stuff. So anyway, this room is packed with people. So much that I can't even see the system, but the music is loud and I'm struck with the amazement that this is a room with a live band. How nice for them to have a live jazz event to compare to all the other rooms. Well, low and behold, I make my way up front only to see these "things" making the sound. WTF?? That was it for me. I have never forgotten that experience of being fooled into thinking it was a live band. It has never happened since then, as I now know that MBL is special, and I don't look for the band when I go into their rooms any longer.

I almost bought an MBL preamp because it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I read a review and it wasn't exactly what I was looking for but I'm an impulse buyer and almost bought it.

I have a main box speaker and a flea watt box speaker. But for the general living area I was leaning towards the the omnis MBL 120/126 and maybe MBL electronics as iirc MBL speakers require ample current.  

Anyone who likes to here music realistically will love these. They are great.

I'm a long time fanboy of MBL.

First time I heard them was at an early CES - the 101D I believe.  I heard what sounded like actual live music coming from a room, entered, and saw the unbelievable looking pods-from-mars.   Some jazz piece.  I couldn't believe how live it sounded.  Specifically, I remembered noting that for the first time drum cymbals actually sounded like drum cymbals, like the big resonating metal discs they are, rather than the small "spots of bright sound" coming from most systems.  The MBLs to me made most of the regular speakers sound like woofers 'n tweeters in boxes. 

So I became besotted.  Next I was able to hear the MBLs in Absolute Sound reviewer Michael Gindi's room.  He had them in a small acoustically treated room and the demo he gave me was mind blowing.  The most realistic sound I'd ever heard.

Next I heard them a few years later at some dealers and again, like nothing I've heard - it seemed to transcend the usual breaking down of things in to "details" to just like hearing things in real life.

Then not much later I lost a heart breaking once in a lifetime deal on the MBL 101Ds on audiogon.  I was bidding for them, sent off my big bid in the last 15 seconds but a glitch stopped it from going through, and the other guy got them.  Still hurts!

A while later I happened upon another killer MBL deal: A dealer had shipped some MBL 121 stand mounts that got damaged, so he had to sell them off.  The grills were toast, and the speakers had a few nicks, but I got them for around $3,000 when they were going for $18,000 new!   And they looked from any reasonable distance brand shiny new!  That was the best audio deal of my life. 

I owned the 121s for about 10 years.   I used solid state (Bryston or Harmon Kardon) but mostly tubes - I'm a tube guy and my room wasn't big so didn't need tons of power.  I found they were just right with tubes for my taste (CJ Premier 12 monoblocks, though I also loved them with a little Eico HF-81 14W tube amp!)

They produced the most life-like sound I've had in my room.  An acoustic guitarist would just "materialize" in the room, 3 dimensionally, and with an effortless level of natural detail and timbral realism.  I love speakers that soundstage and image well and disappear, so all my speakers have had that quality (e.g. Audio Physic, Von Schweikert, Quads, Waveform, and many others).   Whenever I'd think a conventional speaker was disappearing and imaging well I'd fire up the MBLs and it would remind me:  they were in another league.

Eventually I fell in love with some Joseph Audio Perspective speakers and had to sell gear to afford those, and so I finally said goodbye to the MBLs.   I could have sold them for more than I paid, but I kept the same price figuring it would be nice for someone else who pined for MBL, but they were always out of reach, to get a chance at them.  I put them on sale and on the same day got something like 36 eager offers to buy them immediately.  Never seen that much interest in a piece of gear ever on the used market.   They went to a very happy young audiophile.

 I was ok giving up the MBLs for the Joseph speakers because the Joseph speakers came so close to the timbral realism of the MBLs, and the disappearing imaging act, but added more bass and an overall more "juicy/punchy" sound. 

Still, sometimes I wish I still had the MBLs to re-visit their unique qualities.


I love the sound. I was going to purchase the 101 MK IIs but decided I just couldn’t live with them. Same with their smaller models.

I don’t have a dedicated listening room - it’s my living room. And, they’re just too gaudy. I know some love their looks but I’m more of a sonus faber guy so that’s what I bought. But, I’d have the MBLs if I didn’t have to look at them. 

Fabulous sound.  

When I bought my ASR Emitter II Exclusive, it came with a magazine that featured MBL, T+A and ASR. Having familiarity with Industrial Design and aesthetics, I was impressed by what I saw but unfortunately, I’ve not yet had the opportunity to hear anything made by MBL. We don’t have a dealer near by and I don’t have time to visit audio conventions. Anyway, I see they have just come out with a new digital player and the price isn’t astronomical, in fact it’s fairly price competitive. Right now I’m set with regards to my digital front end but in ten or fifteen years, I’ll make sure to seek out MBL and their streamer/DAC products.