MBL Noble Line N11 Preamplifier $14,600 and N15 Monoblock Amplifier$35,200

January 28, 2019 § Leave a comment

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“The Noble Line N11 and N15 certainly bring out the 101s’ virtues without being hamstrung by their peculiarities. You might think that a speaker with a sensitivity of 81dB (or less), like the 101 E Mk.II, would be a challenge for any amp short of a behemoth, but the N15 (like the even more powerful MBL Reference 9011) never seemed fazed by the Radialstrahlers’ hunger for watts, volts, and amps. While I wouldn’t say that the N15s had quite the overall resolution or sensational treble snap and extension of the 9011s, they effortlessly reproduced hard-hitting bar-band rock ’n’ roll like Lake Street Dive’s “Shame, Shame, Shame” from Free Yourself Up [Nonesuch] at lifelike levels (ca. 95–96dB average SPLs), and they did this without sacrificing one of the very things that makes Radialstrahlers such a pleasure to listen to—their ability to play at very very high volumes without turning the slightest bit rough, bright, or annoying. (According to MBL’s literature, the N15 has a “soft-clipping” feature that, I assume, makes it sound even less rough and bright at very high levels, though this feature may also be partly responsible for the amp’s slight reduction in treble-range brilliance).”

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