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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have had the pleasure in owning Totem Arro's for about 6 months now. I have them in a 2 channel audio setup. They are located about 8 feet apart in a room measuring approx. 15' X 25'. The room is completely open to 15 foot ceilings. I am driving these off of my Denon 2805 (using the zone 2 of the amplifiers - I know, 4 ohm speakers with low sensitivity need more juice; I'm on a budget here). The speakers themselves are about 3" from the wall and they are on either side of a fireplace. As of yet I have not purchased biwire for the speakers. I am using gold jumpers that were supplied with the speakers.


The speakers overall fit and finish is beyond what is expected from a $1500.00 floorstander. All joints are seamless. Wood veneer - in my case mahogany - is top quality. In my house I consider them more of a furniture piece, then a speaker. Personally I love that they don't come with speaker grilles. Overall, the WAF (wife approval factor), has bose running back to the labs regreting plastic.


My initial sound impressions were somewhat grey. These speakers sounded a little bright, with bass seeming to lack in the lower range. However, the speakers provided an enormous sound stage and disappeared into the walls. One can pinpoint instuments locations as if they were played by the band right in front of you.


After break-in, this is very important for these speakers (as opposed to my Energy C3's in my HT downstairs), the bass opened up and was very impressive for the single 4" driver in the Arro. Now I am not claiming chest thumping, nose tickling, kick you in the head bass. But notes from pipe organs, bass guitars don't sound at all empty.


The speakers still did not provide me with the depth of bass I wanted. I have since filled them with sand, and placed them extremely close to the wall (about 2-3"). Again this has made a drastic improvement to the lower end. Thus the overall sound had rounded off and my speakers now, to me, sound right. The wide soundstage these speakers create allow for an enjoyable wide listening area. With my current amplification, sound level will not go beyond -10db on my amp. Above this the speakers will pop and distort. If you listening levels are primarily below this, you will be rewarded with pinpoint soundstaging, accurate vocals, and a midrange that will make you shiver with the emotion it can evoke.


By no means do the Totems sound like any other speaker. For midrange to highs they have been the best speaker I've auditioned under $2500. For low end they are sub par with most competing models. Not that this is important for me. Simple fix is a 2.1 setup. I would still prefer to have clear voices and soundstaging then gut wrenching bass. Audio should be enjoyed like a red wine; tasted, not shotgunned.


If you are looking for a compact, sexy, tower this one is worthy of at least an audition. A side note, with increased amplification, and biwire, the lower end and overall volume would yield an even greater improvement.


Performance: 8.5/10

Build: 10/10

WAF: 10/10

Value: 9/10
 

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Hey, thanks for the review.


It just so happens that this Friday or Saturday I will be taking a trip to Chicago to listen to some Totems. There are 2 shops there that sell them. Totems are a bit tough to find. I'm curious to find out what they sound like. I've heard good things.


What other speakers did you consider before buying these?


Like you, I'm mostly into music, but do want to watch a movie now and then. So far I've listened to Sonus Faber, Paradigm, Thiel, Dynaudio, and Linn. To my ears, the Linns are winning out. Like you said with the Arro, the Linns also lack bass, so I'll add a sub (maybe even a home built infinite baffle). I'd like to hear speakers by Totem, JM Labs, Vienna Acoustics, Energy, Klipsch, and Gallo before making any decisions. Maybe I can get all those in this weekend. We'll see.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
In my quest for speakers I've auditioned B&W, Energy Veritas, Polks, JBL, Boston Acoustics, and Dynaudio. To me it was an easy purchase as these babies stood out (of course the veritas we very nice but quite a bit more money). Now, that being said I do believe that these are a very specific speaker. Not for everyone. To me, these have an attitude about them that makes you want to listen to you favorite songs over and over. When I was listening to Don Henley's "Heart of the matter" a guitar is plucked in three seperate strings, these came so clearly from about 5 feet from either speaker. Never have I heard such seperation and soundstaging. Give them a go and let me know what you think!

Taylor
 

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Totem owner checking in.


Hehe, nice review :)


Totems really deserve an audition when looking for musical speakers! In my case, auditionned Paradigms, B&W, Monitor Audio, Magnepans, JMLabs, Energy, Polk, Odyssey (sp?), Kef, Quads, Bostons, Klipsh, and probably a few that I'm forgetting :) In the end took home Arros! Recently upgraded to Sttafs, but thats another story ;)


Few things, 1) You have to listen to Arros with sick electronics! They sound great with humble electronics, but when you listen to them with repulsively expensive electronics, only then do you get an idea of their true potential!

2) Placement and room accoustics! I can't stress enough how critical placement is! In my 9x14 dedicated room, placement can drastically change the sound, room aside, Arros do like to be close to the rear wall, but you do have to spend some time finicking to 'tweak' them with the room... At a dealer, if you see that he's setting them up 3+ feet, don't be shy to move them or ask to move them closer to rear wall, totem recommends 0.5 to a maximum of 3 feet for Arro!


Taylor: Question: how far do you sit away from the speakers when they're 8 feet apart? One thing I noticed with the Arros, is that they really don't mind being closer together than speakers usually do.. I actually got better results not having them in equilateral triangle, but rather having them closer together.


Oh, and with a room 15x25x15, you'd be asking a heck of a lot of the 4.5 inch drivers to fill the room with bass :p Its actually a pretty large room!
 

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Taylor and Grandarf-


Thanks for the thoughts. Yeah, this can be very subjective. I listened to $5,000 Sonus Farber Domus Grand Pianos. They were fine, but didn't grab me in any way. Then I listened to the much less expensive $2,200 Linn Ninkas and was blown away. For highs and mids, that is just the magic sound I'm looking for (with an added sub)- very crisp, very clear, won't let you go. So these different speakers really do have very different flavors. I'm curious to see what the Totems sound like.
 

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Hey Grandorf


Just curious, how do you like your Staffs? They don't seem to get much press or review. When I was considering totems I listened to Arros and Hawks, but could not find dealer with Staffs. I've since gone on to NHT Evolutions, best solution IMHO for combination of music and hometheater, but I've just recently purchased some Arcam gear (AVP700 and P1000) and am considering upgrading my Epos in my bedroom, and of course Totem came to mind.
 

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Very nice review, Taylor.

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Originally Posted by Taylor Assen
WAF: 10/10
I couldn't agree more with that assesment. They're the sexiest speakers (Totem in general) I've seen. My wife said that she'd take them home any day if money wasn't an issue!
 

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I agree that the Arros benefit from being closer to the wall and a little closer together than suggested. When I auditioned mine the sound changed alot depending on placement. I found by moving them within 6 inches of the wall and spaced at 7-8 ft the sound was more transparent at the lower end, particularly with sand. While they are rated down to 40hz I found they would only reach that low withclose wall placement. The clarity of the midrange and tweeter was amazing. I currently use them as side surround speakers in my HT up close to the wall and elevated 2 feet off the floor without sand. They timbre match well the Shamans up front, the model 1 signature centre and the model 1 rear surrounds. Everyone's jaw seems to drop when they hear the transparency and holography of the sound in the room. I recently bought these speakers after much auditioning and highly reccomend the Totem line.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Gandarf,


I am about 10 feet away from my speakers. I have an oversized fireplace so that is as close as they can go.


Jakeman,


You are my hero. Shamans would be my dream speaker. They are not speakers at all but 2 naked ladies singing for you. They are sexy. Damn sexy.
 

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Taylor. They are a beautiful sexy piece of furniture to boot as are all the totems. Needless to say I was also a big hero with my wife when she saw how well they matched our other mahogony furniture. I was awarded appropriately later that evening because she doesn't like me staring too long at naked ladies.
 

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Jstrng7: Sure I upgraded to them ;) The Sttafs are actually very different from the Arros. They still have the totem sound, laid back, disapearing, involving, musical, etc..


(I suck at teh audio talk description thing.. So bare with me :p)


Basically, Sttafs vs Arro. The presentation changes. I found the Arros to be fairly neutral with maybe a hint of brightness, the Sttafs in contrast have a warmer presentation. Both are laid back, but Arros are almost forward sounding compared to the Sttafs.


What improves with the Sttafs, is that they're:

- less demanding for electronics.

- Bass. The Arro bass is impressive for such small drivers and speakers, the Sttaf's bass is impressive period. :) Definite improvement in that department, these really don't need a sub, bass is really tight, and goes lower than Arros.

- On the same electronics, Sttafs will give a more lifelike presentation, mainly because of the detail. Not that the Arros aren't detailed, the Sttafs just brings it to another level. Ex: Guitar, you'll hear more of the case resonnance, strings vibrating on frets, vs Arro you'll basically hear the same sounds, but, just little less coherence, Arror you'll hear say case/vibrations, Sttafs will give a better sens of all these coming together to form a 'real' guitar..

- more dynamic range


What the Arro has on the Sttafs IMHO:

- presentation. I find that the Arros had great sound. They have that kind of natural sound to them, just loved their tone.

- Imaging. All the Totems I've heard had great imaging, but imaging is the raison d'être of the Arros. (reason of existance/being)


I compared both to the Hawk @ the dealer, and in terms of detail, the Sttafs were much more close to the Hawks than the Arros were to the Sttafs. The Sttafs were actually extremely close, as I didn't really notice any difference.. (though didn't listen a lot, very quick compare) Both Sttaf and Hawk had similar level of detail, but, in terms of presentation, the Hawk and Arro were closer together, the Sttafss really were very different because of their warmth.


I had the chance to upgrade to (brand new) Sttafs after owning Arros for a ridiculous amount of $, so jumped on the chance, for me detail sealed the deal :)


In my room, listening position and placement can 'tune' the Sttafs to a more neutral sound. It will still have a different presentation than the Hawk or Arros, but, nowhere near as close to what I heard at the dealer.. Imaging, I've had close results to what I had with Arros, not quite exactly there yet though :)


I'm still moving things around, and placement plays a huge role in end sound...


Retail is something like 1400$cdn for Arro, 1800$ Sttaf and 3500$+ Hawks.


IMHO, with Sttafs you 'lose' a bit on the tone of the Arros, but gain the defintion/detail of the Hawks, but gain a bit of warmth, at half the Hawk price.


If you compared Arros vs Sttaf on very very expensive electronics, you might find that the detail difference would not be as big as it is with more affordably priced gear. Arros just become different beasts with thousands of dollars behind them.. Although maybe Sttafs scale up as well, but I don't know haven't heard themon the same sick gear as with the Arros...


Oh, and as far as I know, there's two version of Sttafs around, old/new, totem identified them with a blue dot on top of tweeter, two dots on the side for old version. From what the dealer told me, new version is much improved, never heard the old version but I guess for purchasing used that info could be useful :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Great review Gandarf! It was in my opinion (when I auditioned totem), that the sttaf's were very laid back. Warmth speaker lovers would be in audio bliss if they had an extended listen to these. As I am a bright, or forward sounding speaker lover, I much enjoyed the sound of the Arro's.


That being said. I did listen to the hawks for a brief time. IMO, they blew both away (at almost 2.5x the price mind you). They went deeper and had that detail every instrument just sounded, "right."


Gand, did you purchase the claw upgrade for your speakers yet? Any pref with the totem beak? I listened to them (on the sttaf's I wouldn't hesistate to buy them as they did help the higher end come alive). On the Arro's if found it made them bright (er). I personally don't use them. If I had the Sttaf though.......


Just my 2 cents! Thanks for the review Gand.
 

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 http://www.totemacoustic.com/english/index_eng.htm are one of the best kept secrets in audio. I have Forests in my 2 channel rig and, with the right material, they can give you goosebumps! I would love to hear some of their higher end stuff - the Wind, Shaman and Model 1 Sigs - but have never had the chance. As others have said, hard to believe the bass quality that comes from the smaller drivers they use...


John
 

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I have tested the beaks on all my speakers but have left the claws only on the Shamans. I spoke to Vince Bruzzese a couple of months ago about positioning the beaks and he suggested placing a beak behind the supertweeter and one halfway down one side of the upper cabinet. Frankly, I found they don't make much of a difference on the Shaman upper cabinet drivers though everyone thinks they look very cool. They do make a sonic difference however on the signature centre and on the arros. The centre seems to sound tighter on the bass and surprisingly more detailed and smoother on the high frequency response. On the Arros the beaks dampen the brightness somewhat which I actually prefer in a surround speaker. I also didn't hear much difference on the model ones in the rear. Currently I have 2 beaks on the centre behind the woofers and one each behind the supertweeters on the Shamans.


As for the claws I noticed a more detailed bass response with 4 claws on each Shaman. They seemed to tighten up the bass on those 10" woofers in the lower cabinets. Both the claws and the beaks do their job of minimizing resonances nicely but their effectiveness is very much speaker dependent.
 

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Always likd Totem speakers. If I were in the market for new speakers Dynaudio Audience and Totem would be at the top. If my local dealer hadn't been such a jerk I probably would own some Totems(Community Audio). Another dealer that I liked picked up the line after I had purchased other speakers.


I actually have a friend just getting into HT/Audio and I have recommended the above. Anyone know if Totem has a published MSRP for their speakers?? I can't find it. I am trying to recommend some systems for him at various price points.


Regards,


Charlie
 

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I listened to Totems yesterday (Arro $1100, Sttaf $1600, Hawk 3500, Wind 7100). I swear to god I thought the band was in the room with the wind. Granted my home setup is Bose acoustimass driven by a 1998 Sony HTIB receiver from costco, and I am two weeks of reading this board away from knowing nothing about audio.


Also thanks to this board, I'm in the market for fronts and a center, and Totem and Martin Logan (the 2k Mosaics, not the electrostatics) are my favorite right now. I'm not much of a rocker and wife-appeal is super important to me, so there you have it. I love the way all the Totems and the ML Mosaics sounded, and they are gorgeous.


My question around these - what kind of electronics does one need to make these babies sing?


I had planned on a 1 - 1.5k receiver, likely the Denon 3806 unless I get convinced a NAD or Marantz would make me happier. My dealer says the Denon can be a little harsh, and the NAD or Marantz would be a good step up. Then again he's got an agenda I'm sure, so it tough for me to know. I couldn't tell the difference.


If I decide to take the step up to the Hawks (which sounds like it combines the best of the Arros and the Sttafs), will that Denon 3806 still do the trick? Will any receiver do the trick?


I'm not completely against going with separates, but I don't think I can step up to the Hawks AND separates right now.


Any thoughts?
 

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The Hawk is a terrific speaker, definitely a smoother more revealing sound compared to the Arros and Staff. At that price point I would take a close look at the Totem Mani-2 which is one of the finest speakers ever made. Some people can't undestand why a speaker that isn't a floorstander is so expensive but once they hear its sound they usually have puzzled looks wondering how such a small speaker can be generating so much deep bass and detailed highs and midranges.


Your question on proper electronics is critical. The Hawks are rated at 120w and 6 ohms. The Denon 3806 is rated at [email protected] 8ohms so you should be fine since they will probably put out around 150w at 6ohms. Denon builds nice amps into its avrs which would match well with the Hawks.



TotemAcoustics always recommends bi-wiring their products but I have gotten much better performance bi-amping them so that may be a future consideration for you. All the totem speakers are power hungry and the more watts you feed them the better they sound and the more they seem too want, especially with their lower rated impedance. It's another one of there characteristics which makes them somewhat unique. The posted ratings are bare minimums and they can go much higher.


One of the big advantages of a nice avr over separates is the extra amp already built into the receiver so if a good deal on an amp comes along later you could buy one and then supply even more power into the totems. It still amazes me how they open right up the more power you supply them. For example until recently I was bi-amping the arros with 300w into the LF terminals and 125w into the HF terminals and they were responding with an even more open airy detail. That from a speaker rated 80w at 4 ohms.
 

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JR: Didn't know you owned Forests :D How do these sound? I never heard them! :(

Quote:
Great review Gandarf! It was in my opinion (when I auditioned totem), that the sttaf's were very laid back. Warmth speaker lovers would be in audio bliss if they had an extended listen to these. As I am a bright, or forward sounding speaker lover, I much enjoyed the sound of the Arro's.


That being said. I did listen to the hawks for a brief time. IMO, they blew both away (at almost 2.5x the price mind you). They went deeper and had that detail every instrument just sounded, "right."
Heh thx, yep, Sttaf are much warmer than Arro/Hawk, but the Hawk is really in a different price category.. The upgrade to Sttaf cost me like 175$cdn after owning Arros for two years, going Hawk would have cost me probably 1600$+, price of another pair of sttaf! :eek:).


I'm REALLY eying the Behringer deq 2496 (digital EQ) right now ( right here ) with an ECM8000 measurement mic, with some EQ and measurement, I might be able to add the little % of tweak I'm trying to accomplish, maybe remove some of the remaining warmth since I'm not too crazy about warmth. I was actually a bit worried about it during the demo (new type of sound sometime takes time adjusting), but in the end, in my room, warmth not as bad as at the dealer, well either that or I've grown accustomed to it :p


Quote:
Gand, did you purchase the claw upgrade for your speakers yet? Any pref with the totem beak? I listened to them (on the sttaf's I wouldn't hesistate to buy them as they did help the higher end come alive). On the Arro's if found it made them bright (er). I personally don't use them. If I had the Sttaf though.......
yet? :p well my floor is hardwood, and I'm sitting the Sttafs directly on the floor on their base (without spikes, just with somekind of very slim rubber napperon thing). I haven't tried with the spikes, but I doubt it would make a significant difference... That said, I'm a bit wary about claws and beaks... Sounds a little too much voodooish to me. Also I think new, the beaks are like 100$ for a pair, and claws, again, probably at least 300$ for 6? Anyhow, I think my next step is the digital EQ, for 400$ I think that will make the biggest difference in sound overall ;) Hehe


Its just that the placebo thing is strong in audio... One time another dealer was tell me about power cables making a difference, of course, I didn't believe him because I know it makes no sens, then he changed the cable, and I thought I heard a difference... Which truly surprised me, since it can't possibly make any difference... So the lesson: The placebo effect is very real and very strong, so what seems a bit like voodoo (cables, interconnects, power supplies, power cables, beaks, claws, etc..) I tend to try to steer clear of...



The only explanation about how beaks could make a difference IMHO is reducing cabinet resonnance.. For that, I guess any chunk of heavy metal on top of the speaker might do the trick? I guess I'll try one time to add a heavy chunk of something on top of the cabinets, maybe I'll hear a difference?

:confused:


So Janibrewski: What were your impressions of Arro/Sttaf/Hawk? :)
 

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Totem speakers are still on my list to audition. Are these speakers equally at home with any kind of music (it sounds like this may depend on the model) and how do they perform in an HT setup? Can anyone comment on Totem center channels for dialog.


I found a dealer in Las Vegas that carries both Totem and PMC which will allow me to hear both and decide which of the two I prefer.


Other speakers on my shortlist are ProAc Studio 140s and Vienna Acoustic Mozarts. These would be L/R for a 5-channel setup.


Bob
 

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Quote:
I'm REALLY eying the Behringer deq 2496 (digital EQ) right now (right here) with an ECM8000 measurement mic, with some EQ and measurement, I might be able to add the little % of tweak I'm trying to accomplish, maybe remove some of the remaining warmth since I'm not too crazy about warmth.
I've been reading about that EQ at Audio Asylum. Apparently, people are buying it just for the DACs, too. Seems like a nice box to have, whether you use the EQ, DACs, or both.
 
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