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The Genesis of Radial Sound


A Humble Beginning


In the mid ʼ70s, a devoted admirer of famed Austrian composer Gustave Mahler had a problem. Wolfgang Meletzky found he could only lose himself in the emotional sweep of Mahler’s works by attending live concert performances in his native Berlin. The hi-fi equipment in his living room simply couldn’t replicate the color, range and emotional flight of the music that he experienced in the presence of the Berlin Philharmonic.

As a young electronics engineer, this contradiction puzzled Meletzky. Why couldn’t a home audio system deliver the soul-searing power of a live orchestra, instead of flat, uninspired notes pushed out of a wooden box with little emotional “oomph” or intensity?

The Challenge


Meletzky recognized that while sitting in a concert hall, the delicate notes of a weeping violin moved outward in all directions as the bow was drawn across the strings. Those sonic vibrations, when combined with the brass, wind, percussion and string instruments of 100 other musicians, bathed concertgoers in a complete immersive experience.

In Meletzky’s living room the music was unidirectional, pushed outward through cones and domes using air compression, magnetic coils and paper diaphragms. All were mounted in a geometric housing designed to transform an amplified electrical signal into sound pressure waves for the ears to detect. The result was shrill high frequencies, a hollow midrange, and a tubby bass striving for depth.

Making matters worse was the need for a listener to sit at the apex of a “stereo triangle” to hear the optimum results from two speakers beaming at a single sweet spot. Why, Meletzky wondered, couldn’t he move around his living room and enjoy the exact same sound experience from a different angle. And what if there was more than one listener in the room? Shouldn’t they all be able to enjoy the same aural experience from any location in the room? There had to be a better way.

Proof of Concept


There was, indeed, a better way. But it took months of trial and error and countless disappointments to find it. Meletzky’s personal hours were consumed by volumes of audio research papers, meetings with experts in the field of acoustics, and investigating the ideal structural and material inputs needed to design the ultimate speaker which, to that point, existed only in his mind.

It was during a moment of builder’s frustration that Meletzky had a Thomas Edison “ah-ha” moment. He suddenly visualized a loudspeaker without the hard lines of a rectangle, but rather in the form of an elongated sphere, evenly radiating music outward in all directions, much like a light bulb emits light. It took many more months of trial, error, setbacks and additional failures before Meletzky, with the help of two audiophile friends, created a never-before-seen loudspeaker that delivered the concert experience of his dreams.

He called it the Radialstrahler, a revolutionary transducer that spread concert hall sound throughout his living room, delivering the same raw, emotional shivers he felt at a live performance. Determined to promote his revolutionary design, Meletzky, along with his friends and future partners, Bienecke, and Lehnhardt, founded the company MBL to share their newly invented Radialstrahler with the world.

Publicly introduced in 1979 at IFA Berlin, the largest global trade fair for consumer electronics at the time, the Radialstrahler completely disrupted the audio scene with an entrance and reception like no other. It truly delivered on the promise of quality, craftsmanship, and sterling sound expected from a product stamped with the words – Made in Germany.

And, as the saying goes, the rest is history!

Continually improved, enhanced and enriched since its inception, the Radialstrahler’s show-stopping presence and exquisite sound reproduction remain to this day. Recognized worldwide for its ability to produce what Leonard Bernstein described as an “ethereal constellation” of notes, MBL’s most recognizable and sought-after loudspeaker stands at the forefront of audio excellence.


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