Next I shifted to streaming digital via an older MacBook Pro (running Qobuz and Tidal), USB-connected to an MBL N31 DAC/CD player. Another great demonstration of the Bobby M’s ability to sort and convey realistic microdynamic details burst forth on Violent Femmes’ “Black Girls,” a gritty, dirty, and rather un-PC ditty. Amid snappy snare, throbbing upright bass, and honking horns, the trio cuts loose in a raucous cacophony of unhinged percussion midway through—an agogo bell, a mouth harp, etc. This section has the potential to sound like a muddled mess, but the Bobby M with N51 took it all in stride, scaling and resolving each instrument convincingly.
After disconnecting the Bass Extension units, I played the two-way Bobby S monitors alone. Compared to the bi-wired setup, it seemed as if some low-end extension was traded off for slightly more focus, higher resolution, lusher textures, and a touch more liveliness. The frenetic Violent Femmes track described above unleashed more exciting energy and air along with increased clarity and dimensionality of the instruments.
On the Deutsche Grammophon LP of the Labèque sisters playing Bryce Dessner’s new Concerto for Two Pianos with the Orchestre de Paris, the scale of the orchestra was reasonably approximated, with fairly good depth of field. Thinking that maybe more could be done for the soundstaging, I tried adjusting the speakers to have a little less toe-in and the soundstage opened up and widened some. Additionally, a clearer, more distinct image emerged of two pianos along with the placement of the various orchestral sections that pop into and out of the piece.
All told, there’s plenty to adore here, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention some minor shortcomings. Leading-edge transients were quick, but there were a few occasions when I might have wished for slightly harder-hitting attacks, such as at the opening of the Concerto for Two Pianos with the Labèque sisters where the initial strikes of percussion (flat wooden sticks) and the piano attacks should be startling.
There were a few other musical occasions where more slam would have been desirable, but obviously these are smallish speakers—even with the Bass Extensions in place—so there’s only so much one can expect given their driver complement and enclosure dimensions. That said, with their horns and other clever design elements, the Bobby Ms deliver more immediacy and nimble speed of attack than you might expect from speakers of this size. Reasonably powerful amplification benefits them, too.
The SteinMusic High Line Bobby M offered such pleasing and smoothly natural musicality and impressive dispersion that at times it was easy to forget I was listening to loudspeakers—a rare event. Nothing felt forced or aggressive. Any type of music I threw at the system just came through full of detail, with microdynamics galore, but without sterility, artificial spotlighting, or emphases in certain frequency ranges. I just wanted to keep on listening. Time seemed to pass as ephemerally as the soundwaves. No fatigue, either.
While the Bobby M setup (or its S monitor as a standalone) might not be the least expensive speaker around—and certainly faces some competition in its price category—it is special, indeed, offering beautifully pure and natural, airy sound in a unique and versatile modular package. SteinMusic’s passion for music shows, and the High Line Bobby M comes recommended, especially for those who appreciate artisanally made speakers that offer something outside the ordinary in both style and sound…with colorful horns, to boot.
Specs & Pricing
Type: Two-way monitor plus separate reflex-loaded bass extension module
Driver complement: Horn-loaded tweeter, 6" cone midrange (monitor); 2x 6" cone bass drivers (bass extension module)
Frequency response: 34Hz–24.8kHz
Impedance: 4 ohms
Dimensions: 230mm (front)/280mm (rear) x 1015mm x 290mm
Weight: Set, 66 lbs.; Bobby S monitor, 29 lbs.
Price: $14,000/pr. for the set; $7000/pr. for Bobby S monitors
STEINMUSIC Pro GmbH
+49 (0)208 32089
FIDELIS (U.S. Distributor)
460 Amhurst St.
Nashua, NH 03063