LA Audio Show Report #8, Optimal Enchantment and MBL; Two $100K Plus Rooms that Impressed

There were many rooms at the LA Show that impressed, but Optimal Enchantment and MBL are certainly two that deserve to be mentioned in my last article on systems that were at or over the $100K price point.

Optimal Enchantment

Optimal Enchantment is more than just a name; it’s a reality with sound to die for. This Santa Monica retailer who carries Vandersteen, Audio Research, and Audioquest, was showing in one of the hotel’s big ballrooms. Their system was the Vandersteen Audio Model Seven Mk.II, with a pair of Vandersteen’s SUB NINEs operating below 100Hz, and M7-HPA amplifiers. The rest of the system consisted of an  Audio Research phonostage and preamp. This room also debuted the Basis Transcendence turntable sitting on an HRS rack with a Lyra Atlas cartridge, all the cabling was by AudioQuest.

I have heard a lot of Vandersteen speakers over the years, but I’ve never heard them in a setup that sounded like this. The system had a totally natural ease that made them more musical than spectacular with an effortless sound yet still precise. Voices and instruments were palpable and natural with nicely detailed highs. The system also did a great job of letting you hear the air around and within drums and standup basses. Without a doubt this was one of the very best rooms at the show.

MBL

If you’ve never been to an audio show and you get to one day, don’t miss the MBL room. You may not like how the speakers from this German manufacturer look, and you might be put off by what they cost, but don’t let these things keep you from enjoying them.  I wish every audiophile could hear them just once. I have heard them sound better at a few other shows, but I don’t want to make a big deal out of that. In LA, the company presented their new Noble Line N15 Mono Amps and N11 Stereo Preamplifier driving their Radialstrahler mvl 101 E MKII loudspeakers.

What these loudspeakers can do with air, space and three-dimensionality just has to be heard to be believed. No, they are not perfect, and they might not be your choice even if you can afford them. Yet, I know of no other loudspeaker that can come close to what they do well.

This post concludes my LA Audio Show reports on $100K systems. I went to the LA show with hopes of spending more time looking at and listening to affordable gear, and I wanted to do more reports on affordable gear, but the truth is there just wasn’t that much affordable gear there. As I’ve mentioned, the new normal was systems over $100,000, and they have great sound. There’s definitely a market for the $100K systems, but for the majority of audiophiles I’ll close out my show reports with a wrap-up of the few inexpensive systems that were at the show and finish with announcing the remaining Beatnik Bongo Awards.

Additional Coverage of the LA Audio Show:

Getting Ready for the Los Angeles Audio Show
LA Audio Show Day 1, Part 1
LA Audio Show Day 1, Part 2
Pictures from the LA Audio Show, Day 1, Part 3
LA Audio Show Day Two, Part 1
LA Audio Show Day Two, Part 2
LA Audio Show Day Two, Part 3
LA Audio Show, Headphones and Other Stuff
LA Audio Show Report #1 – Both Ends of the Price Spectrum
Turntable Eye Candy from LA Audio Show, Part 1
LA Audio Show #2 – Jaw-Dropping Sound at the LA Audio Show
Turntable Eye Candy from LA Audio Show, Part 2
LA Audio Show Report #3 – Rooms That Impressed
LA Audio Show, #4, Best Speaker Under $20,000
LA Audio Show Report #5, The British Sound Still Sounds Like Music
LA Audio Show Report #6, Is $100,000 the New Normal? – System 1
LA Audio Show Report #7, High Water Sound wins Beatnik Bongo Award for Best Room Under $100K
LA Audio Show Report #9, Audio Vista Points You Have to See
LA Audio Show Report #10, Systems from $14,000 Down to $400
LA Audio Show Report #11, The Vinnie Rossi/Spatial Audio/Anticables Room Wins the Beatnik Bongo Award for Best Room Under $50,000
LA Audio Show Report #12, VAC/Von Schweikert Audio Wins the Beatnik Bongo Award for Best Room Over $100,000