Before taking a deeper dive, let's mention that I tried them with several amplifiers. That's one of many highly desirable qualities of semi-active very sensitive speakers. The wattage of the amp driving them becomes far less important. I am a SET aficionado so gladly took full advantage with my modified 8wpc Art Audio Symphony II 300B SET, Felix Audio Dual 7-watt 2x2A3 monos, my trusty 37wpc class A GrandiNote Shinai transistor integrated, hybrid LampizatOr Metamorphosis class AB 300-watt monos and others. That's key intel for potential Robin users. They can focus solely on their sonic preferences when choosing an amp. Whether they pick transistors, tubes or a hybrid, whether 5 or 500 watts, Robin won't stand in the way to prove its worth. While with each amplifier Robin displayed a constant set of qualities, the overall performance depended largely on the quality and character of the signal I fed them.
One of the main reasons for choosing semi-active speakers is their bass performance. But it's not about the most visceral power. Whatever the music or amp, there was no doubt that the bass was fabulously convincing yet in support of the midrange and treble so not dominant. Even though I started my assessment with my 8-watt 300B SET, I loved Ron Carter's Complete Stockholm Tapes or Ray Brown's Soular Energy as musical double-bass tales. The combination of amazingly colorful, tuneful, rich and resolving 300B with active class D bass was spectacular. The texture, timbre, richness, resolution and effortlessness of my favorite triodes combined with fantastic bass control and definition for a quite live-like presentation which only trailed Pirol's even higher level of energy and 'being there'. Yet Robin did a fantastic job of immersing me in the event. They brought said event to me rather than taking me to its venue. That was about energy and scale where the bigger model had been more effortless still, hence more true and real. Robin did a fabulous job filling the room with powerful rich energetic sound. Pirol had simply done even better as it should by costing almost twice. While their energy level might have been a bit lower, the 'little' speakers still used many acoustic cues of live recordings. They just tended to project the soundstage closer to me so partially in front of their baffles. That's why their presentation seemed more intimate, more here now than there and then. This difference was most noticeable with live recordings. With studio productions, it didn't factor as much.
Following in the footsteps of the bigger siblings, Robin wasn't particularly analytical yet quite revealing. During my lengthy assessment period, I purchased new vinyl including a highly sought-after double 45 Impex of Friday night in San Francisco. Instead of listening to it that day, I saved it for the final Robin session. I know this album by heart. I've listened to it more than a hundred times over vinyl, CD and hi-res files. Yet the new release played by Robin driven by the GrandiNote Shinai proved that there were still elements I hadn't heard before or perhaps not paid attention to. Part of the credit had to go to this fantastic reissue but then it was Robin which took up the job of conveying the newly discovered abundance of information read by my J.Sikora from the groove. Those who know this album realize it's not about bass—it's just three acoustic guitars after all —yet now there was a new level of live energy, even better differentiation between three brilliant musicians and more lively interactions between them and the fans. Robin allowed this wannabe guitarist to study the style and technique of each and the sound, timbre and texture of their quite different instruments. Yet the presentation was so natural and immersive that the deep dive into individual performance tech was just an optional choice. It was actually much easier to get carried away.
I spent considerable time playing favorite operas, symphonies by Mozart, Beethoven, Mahler and some chamber music. Time and again the review speakers proved remarkable at going with the flow. They seemed highly entertaining on joyful music by Wolfgang Amadeus then dead serious on Mahler. Powerful, dynamic, refined, sophisticated, highly resolved, detailed but focused on musical flow and coherence, these performances revealed their dramatic sides more than recorded quality although the latter was nicely differentiated. They resolved even the most complex passages, created vast multi-layered soundstages to focus me on soloists when needed or striking with the collective power of a mighty orchestra. Dynamics on the macro and micro level were breathtaking particularly when I pushed the volume way past what I usually do. Just as the manufacturer claimed, these speakers handle high levels very well. There was no compression, distortion of any kind, just the same clarity, coherence and enjoyment as playing quietly.
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