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Old 11-20-2015, 11:51 AM - Thread Starter
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Totem Acoustic ARC Amplifier Kickstarter Campaign

The ARC digital amplifier by Totem Acoustic represents the speaker maker's first foray into connected amplification. The company recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the initial production of its new ARC amplifier, which is priced at $350 per unit retail but is available for $250 to backers on Kickstarter.

The ARC campaign is currently well on its way to being funded, with $23,461 pledged as of this writing (update - $74,324 pledged with 17 days to go). The campaign's goal is to raise $100,000, and at this pace it should meet its goal. A pledge of $25 only gets you a T-shirt, but a pledge of $250 gets you one of the first ARCs and a T-shirt. That option already has 36 backers, with a limit of 100. A $750 pledge gets you an ARC plus a pair of KIN Mini speakers, and a pledge of $1200 adds a KIN Mini Sub to the package.

According to Totem, the ARC is the "likely to be the first in a series of new-school digital amps designed to offer high-fidelity sound reproduction," that are designed to be attached to passive speakers. Totem is betting it'll be a popular option for music lovers seeking simplicity—you can stream CD-quality sound directly to the ARC from a smart device using Bluetooth with aptX audio technology.

The ARC connects to sources with USB; its DAC can handle up to 24-bit/192 kHz audio, and it provides 60 watts per channel of power for 8-ohm stereo speaker systems. THD at that power rating is quite low at 0.05%—perfect for critical listening—and it works with 4-ohm speakers.

“All you need is a set of nice speakers and the ARC. Done.” says Robert Valtierra, the inventor of the ARC. The ARC amp uses Class D amplification, which allows it to stay cool in a compact enclosure. An app for iOS and Android allows you to select or customize the system EQ. The ARC also includes dual subwoofer outputs.

Mark Henninger

Last edited by imagic; 12-07-2015 at 11:33 AM.
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Old 11-20-2015, 12:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post
The ARC digital amplifier by Totem Acoustic represent the speaker maker's first foray into connected amplification. The company recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to help the fund the initial production of its new ARC amplifier, which is priced at $350 per unit.

The ARC campaign is currently well on its way to being funded, with $23,461 pledged as of this writing. The campaign's goal is $100,000, and at this pace it should meet its goal. A pledge of $25 only gets you a T-shirt, but a pledge of $250 gets you one of the first ARCs and a T-shirt. That option already has 36 backers, with a limit of 100. A $750 pledge gets you an ARC plus a pair of KIN Mini speakers, and a pledge of $1200 adds a KIN Mini Sub to the package. Finally, if you are a dealer you can order a KIN 10-pack for a $2400 pledge.

According to Totem, the ARC is the "likely to be the first in a series of new-school digital amps designed to offer high-fidelity sound reproduction," that are designed to be attached to passive speakers. Totem is betting it'll be a popular option for music lovers seeking simplicity—you can stream CD-quality sound directly to the ARC from a smart device using Bluetooth with aptX audio technology.

The ARC connects to sources with USB; its DAC can handle up to 24-bit/192 kHz audio, and it provides 60 watts per channel of power for 8-ohm stereo speaker systems. THD at that power rating is quite low at 0.05%—perfect for critical listening—and it works with 4-ohm speakers.

“All you need is a set of nice speakers and the ARC. Done.” says Robert Valtierra, the inventor of the ARC. The ARC amp uses Class D amplification, which allows it to stay cool in a compact enclosure. An app for iOS and Android allows you to select or customize the system EQ. The ARC also includes dual subwoofer outputs.
Why does this NuForce amp need a Kickstarter campaign?
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Old 11-20-2015, 03:59 PM
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Originally Posted by DeuceNine View Post
Why does this NuForce amp need a Kickstarter campaign?
Well at $350 ($250 for backers) this amp is more than $100 less than the cheapest nuforce amp and a fraction of the price of a nuforce amp/dac combo. Still, I agree this isn't the type of thing you'd expect to have a kickstarter.


I'll keep an eye on this. Right now I have a full size amp partially hidden below my desk but it cuts into my leg room. It also requires me to route hdmi through it which is a pain.

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Old 11-21-2015, 06:31 AM
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It's an odd thing to do for a Kickstarter campaign but I like that they are offering an actual amplifier for a $250 pledge. My only question is, what would happen to your pledge money if Totem can't get the startup money to mass produce these things? Is Totem struggling right now? I know they aren't Klipsch and Paradigm's size, but I wonder if this Kickstarter campaign is due to cash flow issues or if they are just being creative with their marketing.
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Old 11-21-2015, 11:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DeuceNine View Post
Why does this NuForce amp need a Kickstarter campaign?
What makes you think it's a NuForce amp? (You may well be right, I have no idea one way or the other.)

Also, assuming you're right, has anyone published Kantor load measurements of a NuForce design? The big problem with Class D amps is the same one most tube amps have: they don't maintain flat frequency response into non-resistive loads (i.e. speakers). There are exceptions: Class D amps that use feedback after the high-pass filter to maintain flat frequency response into real speakers.

If this amp maintains flat FR into real speakers, then it's potentially a pretty neat little product.

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Old 11-21-2015, 09:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JVoth View Post
It's an odd thing to do for a Kickstarter campaign but I like that they are offering an actual amplifier for a $250 pledge. My only question is, what would happen to your pledge money if Totem can't get the startup money to mass produce these things? Is Totem struggling right now? I know they aren't Klipsch and Paradigm's size, but I wonder if this Kickstarter campaign is due to cash flow issues or if they are just being creative with their marketing.
If the kickstarter amount isn't met, nothing happens. No pledges are collected unless the amount pledged meets or exceeds the required amount (plus, they only collect at the very end). Whether this means they continue mass production or not, is up to them - if it fails, they don't get the money.

And it's probably a marketing thing - manufacturing it for $100k is on the low end, so unless they're really small, it probably
Y won't affect cash flow that much.
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Old 11-23-2015, 02:30 PM
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350 for D-class amps is my kind of deal, but wish they had taken advantage and fund something more innovative tech than the same old same old amps.


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Old 11-23-2015, 02:48 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Djoel View Post
350 for D-class amps is my kind of deal, but wish they had taken advantage and fund something more innovative tech than the same old same old amps.


Djoel
Actually, the Kickstarter deal has been (and is) $250 for just the amp, but it is limited to 100, and half of those are gone now.

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Old 11-23-2015, 03:22 PM
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Wow...they really blew it by not having a headphone output...
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Old 11-23-2015, 10:00 PM
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Hi this is Rob Valtierra from the Totem Kickstarter,

Thanks for constructive criticism all. I honestly have to admit I was a bit nervous about reading the comments....

I just wanted to confirm some of your speculation.

The amplifier does use feedback and has a pretty flat frequency response. I'd love to give you a spec but our final production layout is still in process and being an engineer I hate spitting out number without a measurement to back it up.

Nope, it's not a NuForce amp. It's our own custom design completely from scratch. It also has some pretty unique features like a dedicated DAC for the sub output so you can adjust the low-pass filter's Fc, order &c. using DSP. I don't want to hit you guys with a commercial though so I'll leave it at that.

Admittedly, we have not done a good enough job about pointing out what's different about our amp.

Nope, no headphone outputs, there are plenty of good headphone amps out there already, why compete?

And about the Kickstarter, well you're all correct in a way. Totem isn't strapped for cash but it's still a small business so they are a bit conservative about jumping into a new category of products. The Kickstarter gives us an idea of how popular it will be, will the Totem brand work for amps and yes, a lot of free marketing. We're still working our but off for that "free" marketing, but hey, times are changing and no one wants to be left behind. It's sort of like how every business has to have a Facebook account now.

$100k will break even for us (well, not counting engineering labor). It's a brave new world with lots of new-fangeled rapid-prototyping/small-lot services available at the click of a button, so we can do most of the high end (PCB) manufacturing domestically in the USA quickly and cheaply at the volumes we require.

Rob.
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Old 11-23-2015, 10:26 PM
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Is there a problem with feedback in an amplifier? Practically every amplifier design used for any purpose (not just audio) employs feedback - feedback improves frequency response (flattens it), increases amplifier stability, increases bandwidth, improves SNR and many other reasons. It's why it's basically a universal design. Granted, feedback reduces gain, but open loop gain is usually so ridiculously high that it's really unusable.
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Old 11-24-2015, 07:41 AM
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Hello Robval, welcome aboard.


If all goes as plan, meaning surpassing expectation regarding the amp business will there be more models, 5 channels etc.?


Thanks


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Old 11-24-2015, 07:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post
Actually, the Kickstarter deal has been (and is) $250 for just the amp, but it is limited to 100, and half of those are gone now.


Yeah I know but I'm a wait on the sidelines kind of guy, so it will be 350 for me.


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Old 11-24-2015, 06:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Worf View Post
Is there a problem with feedback in an amplifier? Practically every amplifier design used for any purpose (not just audio) employs feedback - feedback improves frequency response (flattens it), increases amplifier stability, increases bandwidth, improves SNR and many other reasons. It's why it's basically a universal design. Granted, feedback reduces gain, but open loop gain is usually so ridiculously high that it's really unusable.
I don't think anyone was doubting the benefits of feedback, I was just saying yes, we use it.
@Djoel : There are plans to expand to other models but right now we are trying to keep ourselves focused on getting this one right, so nothing in the immediate future.
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Old 12-02-2015, 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by DS-21 View Post
What makes you think it's a NuForce amp? (You may well be right, I have no idea one way or the other.)

Also, assuming you're right, has anyone published Kantor load measurements of a NuForce design? The big problem with Class D amps is the same one most tube amps have: they don't maintain flat frequency response into non-resistive loads (i.e. speakers). There are exceptions: Class D amps that use feedback after the high-pass filter to maintain flat frequency response into real speakers.

If this amp maintains flat FR into real speakers, then it's potentially a pretty neat little product.
IDK, they look really similar.
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Old 01-09-2016, 08:56 AM
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Well, that didn't last very long:

Quote:
Funding Canceled
Funding for this project was canceled by the project creator on December 10.
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Old 01-15-2016, 07:46 PM
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Well, that didn't last very long:
Wonder what happened? It looked like a great little office system hub.

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