From Los Angeles Audio Society's monthly meeting: Introducing a potential candidate for Atmos ceiling speaker
: the $200,000 MBL X-treme
. I am kidding of course, Atmos is hot, hot, hot, and I just have to drag it in :-), but if one is looking for a wide dispersion ceiling speaker? How about the 360 degree MBL?
I mentioned previously how shocked I was at the sheer dollar value of equipments in this unassuming store in Torrance that LAAS held its last meeting, and above one is one reason - imagine speakers that out-cost a Porsche Turbo by $50,000, encroaching on Ferrari territory. What about the sound? As typical of MBL systems: unspeakably-open
soundstage WITHOUT clear boundary, 3D reach out and touch imaging, and a disappearing act
like you have never experienced before in your life. The system has 2 towers on each side; in picture below you could see the 360 degree MBL driver, and to the right faint outline of the positively huge subwoofer tower. Yes they are huge and yes, they totally disappear when you are in the hot seat.
I've owned (and still have) a few panel speakers, including Apogee Diva - full system with subwoofer, quad amped
IIRC, Martin Logan, Magnaplanar - that is playing in the background as I type this, but I have to tell you that with respect to an open and airy soundstage, the MBL's out-airy them all. (Well maybe except for my beloved Apogee Diva.) It is an experience that any seeker of all-out audiophile systems should listen to once in his life.
The negatives? Any audio reviewer worth his salt should always be able to find a negative, right? Nothing is perfect in life, let alone a speaker. The bass of MBL systems to my ears tends to be ponderous and slow. Coupled with the very fast, airy, "ribbon type" mid and high drivers (not exactly ribbon, but similar looking metallic petals) of the MBL, and now one has to deal with an integration problem. Speakers that combine conventional cone drivers for low frequency with fast panel type higher frequency drivers nearly always have an integration problem, to my ears anyway, and the MBL doesn't escape this truism :-). Also I don't want to be critical but the Torrance demo sounds overly dark and slow, probably the worst demo of MBL I have heard; I believe had I stayed for longer and had a more personal demo with some higher quality music, the result would have been better.