“By any standards, the Noble series from Berlin-based MBL is a looker,” write Andrew Everard and Paul Miller. “And the sound more than lives up to the style.”
German hi-fi brand MBL is best known for its omnidirectional Radialstrahler loudspeakers, and justifiably so. “Few loudspeakers are as instantly recognisable,” wrote Hi-Fi News in an earlier review. “At every international hi-fi show their appearance draws crowds while the all-encompassing sound of those iconic ‘melons’ keeps visitors rooted to their seats.”
Perhaps less well-known, at least in the UK, are MBL’s three series of electronic components. However the Reference, Noble and Cadenza lines are equally deserving of our focused attention, offering a similar balance of arrestingly elegant looks and serious sound quality.
Being auditioned here are the N11 and N15 preamp and mono power amps from the Noble line, which is positioned in the middle of the range. Neither component is massive in size – “in place of slabby high-end units wearing their audio prowess on their sleeve,” these are relatively slender units, all “immaculately finished” and “suitably luxurious”, making the N11/N15 trio “a statement piece.”
The N15 power amps’ specification is impressive: it is rated at 560W/4ohn with a 36A peak current, thanks to its second-generation LASA (Linear Analogue Switching Amplifier) technology, a development of Class D technology that delivers “a frequency response completely speaker-load independent, and low distortion that’s independent of frequency.”
The N11 preamp is an all-analogue design principally controlled via a large colour display with six ‘smart keys’ which change their function according to the mode being accessed. There are seven inputs and five outputs, both with a range of flexible options, including the ability to switch off unused options in the set-up menu to enable faster scrolling between those in use.
Sound-wise these are “prodigious performers”. “In board terms the amplifiers offer a fine combination of low-end drive with a sweet, clean and informative midband and treble… creating a fine soundstage that wraps the listener in the music.”
In conclusion, “This MBL preamp/monoblock trio majors on the finer points of music-making – a sound blending weight and richness with all the niceties of focus, soundstaging and instrumental and vocal timbres.”
“With a lavish low-end comes agility, whether carrying the impact of solo piano or driving a rock or jazz track.”
Read the review, from the February 2022 issue of Hi-Fi News, at www.hifinews.com/content/mbl-noble-line-n11n15-preamp-monoblock-power-amps
Discover more and locate your nearest dealer at www.mbl.de