The MBL SmartLink is a hidden assistant that ensures convenient and intuitive operation of the devices for the music listener. This makes not only listening to music a pleasure, but also operating the devices.
To use the SmartLink, all that is required is to establish a connection between the MBL units with a standard network cable and the rest happens fully automatically, without the user having to set anything. Communication between the units is based on the CAN bus protocol, a worldwide standardised protocol for the interference-free exchange of messages between units.
The core of the SmartLink system is the software developed by MBL, which is included in the Cadenza Line and Noble Line units.
However, the use of the SmartLink is not mandatory - every MBL device works without limitation even without the use of the SmartLink. However, the additional comfort functions are then not available.
The following comfort functions are included in the MBL SmartLink:
When the standby button is pressed on a unit, all connected units switch to standby mode at the same time and do not have to be switched on or off one after the other. This is very practical, especially if the units are far apart or individual units are even located in a cabinet.
If the brightness of the display or of illuminated logos and buttons is changed on one unit, it is also changed synchronously on all connected units. This means that all displays and logos always shine with the same brightness, without having to set this manually on each unit individually.
Central input management
Every hi-fi chain consists of several units, which in turn have several inputs. To switch between inputs, you often have to change the input both on the preamplifier and on the device to which the currently desired source is connected. This means that you have to know exactly which devices are connected to each other and in which way. However, this is not really intuitive and can lead to a situation where the preamplifier's display shows "CD" as the source, but playing the CD still does not work, because the CD player may have selected the "S/P DIF" input (WAF disaster).
The SmartLink puts an end to this and makes it possible to select all inputs in the entire chain centrally on the preamplifier. This means that you no longer have to know the appropriate inputs on several devices and switch them individually, but can intuitively select the desired input on the preamplifier. The SmartLink takes care of the rest in the background and switches all inputs so that the music signal is output. And if the preamplifier display says "CD" as the source, you or your wife can be sure that the music is really from the CD.
Imagine you want to play a CD and press START on the CD player or the remote control. What do you expect now? Right, you want to hear the CD. Or imagine you want to quickly stream a piece of music from your iPhone to your network player. What do you expect? Exactly, you want to hear the track. But maybe in both cases the speakers remain mute just because the right input was not selected on the preamplifier. Of course, how is the preamplifier supposed to know which source you want to hear if no one tells it? When using the SmartLink, this is exactly what is done. When a CD is started, the SmartLink in the CD player tells the preamplifier, and then switches all inputs so that the music signal actually reaches the power amplifiers and speakers. And when the network player receives a streamed music track, it also tells the preamplifier and switches everything to output the music. Just the way you expect it.
Coordinated volume control
When several devices in your hi-fi chain each have their own volume control, things quickly get complicated. How should everything be wired and which device should then control the volume of the output signal?
Basically, there are only two possibilities. Option one: Each device is responsible for the volume of its own inputs. However, the desired device must then always be selected on the remote control before the volume can be adjusted. In addition, there are unattractive volume jumps when changing inputs. This is not optimal.
The second possibility would be to switch the two units in series so that the music signal goes through both volume controls one after the other. This would work if you follow the hi-fi principle of only using the last volume control in such cases. This is normally the preamplifier's volume control. And with the other device, the volume would have to be set to full stop. But even that could be a problem, because what if the other device is a streamer whose volume is controlled by the operating software? In such cases, one is faced with a quasi unsolvable situation.
The SmartLink also solves this problem. The situation described above exists, for example, if you have a preamplifier (C11 or C51) and at the same time a C41 network player with its own volume control in your music system. The SmartLink logic then coordinates the volume in such a way that it doesn't matter on which device you turn the volume knob or whether you control it via the remote control. And this even applies to controlling operating software (e.g. Roon), because this is also included in the coordination. So there is only one "system volume" and it does not change when you switch inputs.
As you can see, the MBL SmartLink is quite a useful helper that simplifies the operation of the hi-fi system in many places. This makes listening to music even more fun and increases the acceptance of the family members. The SmartLink is not absolutely necessary and you can also use your music system to the full without it. But with it, everything is simply much more comfortable and listening to music is even more enjoyable. And joy and enjoyment are ultimately what our passion is all about.