Where do Totem speakers rank with other high end speakers? [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums

PDA

View Full Version : Where do Totem speakers rank with other high end speakers?



ken88
12-31-2010, 08:11 AM
Based on reviews and users' comments, Totem speakers are excellent and are highly respected among audiophiles. I am wondering how do they compare with other high end speakers, like B&W, Tannoy, Definitive Technology, etc? Has anybody tried to rank them in terms of value and quality? Thanks for all your comments.

Mr Peabody
12-31-2010, 08:37 AM
Totem recently has a dealer in my area but I haven't heard them yet. I have the same question. I plan to give them a listen in the near future.

Geoffcin
12-31-2010, 10:16 AM
Based on reviews and users' comments, Totem speakers are excellent and are highly respected among audiophiles. I am wondering how do they compare with other high end speakers, like B&W, Tannoy, Definitive Technology, etc? Has anybody tried to rank them in terms of value and quality? Thanks for all your comments.

I would say they rank well in their respective categories and price points. Certainly their monitors, the Rainmaker, and Mani-2 get my recommendation.

The Mani-2 rates in my book as one of those speakers you can buy and feel comfortable in the knowledge that it really doesn't get much better than this, at least in a modest sized room. Be prepared to shell out for good amplification with these speakers though. You will need a quality amp to make all of Totem's products sing.

bobsticks
12-31-2010, 10:40 AM
A thing that can be definetely said about Totem is that throughout the various lines they have a house sound. Of the three or four different configurations that I've heard it would be fair to say that I like that sound but, like anything else, there are caveats...that is, your particular application.

I agree with Geoff that the Mani is very, very nice. I heard one of the old Rokk line that I thought was absolutely fantastic for a standmount and if you can find one represents a great value on the used market.

The Sttaf is also a nice smaller speaker (though a floorstander). Again, with sufficient amplification I could be happy with them in a small setup.

My problems with Totem arise as when goes up the line. The Wind designs have the usual lovely fit and finish that one can expect from Totem and, indeed, the familiar sonic character. For upwards of US13k, however, I found the bass to be woefully insufficient.

Direct comparisons against other brands can be tough but I will say that I found the pacing and dynamics of the Totems to best the B&Ws on the lower lines. Totems have a very fast response which, to these ears, left some of the 6 series Beemers seem befudled.
All of this would be room and setup dependent of course.

I am not familiar enough with Tannoys to make any reasonable comment.

I don't like the Def Tech sound at all. That said, I'm not sure I wouldn't give them a serious audition anyway. I can't imagine that the Totems would have the bloom and resonances to make superior home theater speakers, especially considering the price differences. (In other words, for a home theater-mostly application my money would go elsewhere).

Geoffcin
12-31-2010, 11:46 AM
A thing that can be definetely said about Totem is that throughout the various lines they have a house sound. Of the three or four different configurations that I've heard it would be fair to say that I like that sound but, like anything else, there are caveats...that is, your particular application.

I agree with Geoff that the Mani is very, very nice. I heard one of the old Rokk line that I thought was absolutely fantastic for a standmount and if you can find one represents a great value on the used market.

Yes, I agree with Sticks. There's a "house sound" to Totem, most easily noticed in the smaller models like the Rainmaker with it's obvious midbass "hump". Still, the sound is clean and punchy and doesn't compress until you get to a remarkably loud level, providing your amp has the cojones to get you there.

Totem like any manufacturer runs into some stiff competition when it gets into the 5 figure range. Also just about all of their floorstanders have competition that is up to the challenge, where as their standmount speakers stand out from the pack. Rokk you say? I'm going to have to put that one on the radar!

RGA
12-31-2010, 12:28 PM
Frankly the only reason to buy Totem is if space is coming at a premium for you or looks are critical. You generally overpay for these things. They sound good mind you but not at the price points.

For example for around $2k there is the Model One which gets a lot of press - but the Magnepan 1.7 frankly kills it. The Magnepan 1.7 is larger and takes up a lot of space and is rather ugly. On the flip side it is light and you can move them out of the way when you're not listening. Apparently you can also buy a bunch of different cloths for it so you don't need to be stuck with black or white.

Also, while the Totem's are small they still take up floor space since they do have to be positioned well away from walls which reduces the floor space around them.

Some speakers I like under $2k:

Magnepan 1.7. Much better than the previous model. Can be run with lower powered amps.

Pros: Good bass (not deep but excellent quality). Clear, Open, no box resonances, excellent transient response (with the right amp) and excellent on fundamentals. Soundstage and imaging are first rate regardless of price. Speaking of Price - bang for the dollar excellent. Also excellent on female and make vocals and no harshness in the treble (choose front end carefully though - better with Single Ended amplifiers and rather not with a number of SS amps). This is a desirable thing though because a good speaker should tell you how bad the front end gear is. Garbage in garbage out. Positioning requirements not as bad as earlier models. Listening window a lot better - not as much shifting of sound with the movement of the head. Relatively easy to find a dealer. They're around $1700 which is pretty great for the money.

Cons: decay and 2nd and third harmonics not really present as they are in life, limited dynamics. Third dimension not fully realized. On this I agree with the dealer who has sold them for decades. Can't have everything but overall it's not a bad trade. Size -

Easily one of the 5 best speakers under $2k. Use a Single Ended amplifier or something from the levinson school of design such as Classe rather than the Crown school of design - Bryston. But only if you can't use a Single Ended tube amp. Sugden and pass labs like amps and possibly a good class D amp which sometimes sound a little more SET like would be better options. http://www.magnepan.com/model_MG_16

Audio Note AZ Three. Floorstander that can be placed in corners. Must be placed in corners to avoid problems.

Pros: Fast tight sound in the midband up. Pressurizes instruments so they seem like they're in the room. Solid bass to 35hz. Very easy to drive 5 watts is enough. Good unfatiguing treble. Excellent soundstage which is panoramic since they're corner loaded you have a huge presentation. Cohesive sound - sounds like a single driver but with bass. Good decay, transient attack is clean though slightly soft, Dynamics are excellent. Organic 3D sound (though it depends on the rcording and positioning and with price factored in - it's not the last word here), excellent all rounder - will play all music very well. A sit back and let the music wash over you rather than the lead forward in the chair listening for sonic feats(you can relax easily with them). Price. Inexpensive for what you get.

Cons: some colouration, box noise evident (less so in the corner position though and not obtrusive). Softer transients. Imaging not up to other speakers in this price range. They're in the right general locations but not as specific. A Totem would do a better job here but that's about it. Small manufacturer. Hard to find a place to audition, few dealers. Ugly and somwhat cheap looking.

(alternative would be the AX Two standmount) - less of the cons - less box interference and images better, easier to position - free standing or near walls. Easy to drive and is about half the price. Better transients. But less decay, not as refined in the treble and doesn't have the bass or dynamics.

Very low distortion is a hallmark of all their speakers and they're pair matched to exceedingly tight tolerances. http://www.audionote.co.uk/articles/reviews/stereoaz3.shtml

Sonist Recital 3 - a bit of a between the above two speakers.

Pros: Open clear treble. Excellent transients on mid treble based instruments. Fast and articulate. Fatigue free. Solid bass, good decay and second third harmonics present. Can use very low and generally superior sounding low powered amps like the AZ/AX though good ones can power the 1.7. Good dynamics, 3D presentation.

Cons: some box colouration, difficult to find to audition as they're a tiny company - even smaller than AN. Not completely cohesive. Sounds like drivers in a box a little more than I like.

Still $1800ish and is relaxing but has some drive. Easier to position than the AZ. Gets along with all sorts of amps. A hybrid of the bass dynamics and drive of the AZ two and the open high quality transients of the 1.7. But it's also not as cohesive as the other two so it's one of those - get the advantages of both but take a few hits in other areas. So a best of both worlds in a sense but a few drawbacks.
http://www.sonist.com/SONIST_REVIEWS_SHOWREPORTS.html

Wharfedale Diamon 10.4 (but may apply to other Diamond speakers).

Pros: nicely balanced. Can be made part of a home theater system. Less expensive than the above. More dealers. Reasonable efficiency. Solid bass to around 40hz. Not a lot of box resonances (not enough to be tiresome anyway). Fuller slightly richer sound. Nice treble - reassonably well integrated. Very nice and under $1k. Easier to find dealers - relatively big company.

Cons: can get unruly at louder levels. Not as refined as the others but much better than most at the price. A little 2d flat sounding, Not steller in the transients or the decay departments but also not fatiguing.

(Also look at the Quad boxed speakers in this price range - both are owned by the same parent company - Quad is generally viewed as the upper end of the two). But then more expensive. http://www.wharfedale.co.uk/Products/Product/tabid/78/PID/166/CID/174/language/en-GB/Default.aspx#detail

Check out some others - I heard the upper models but have heard good things about the entry level stuff. Usher Speakers spring to mind. The Grant Fidelity remake of the LS3-5A is also very popular for the type of sound it offers and is relatively inexpensive. I prefer it to the Model One and it costs less than half the price. Lookspretty good too. http://www.grantfidelity.com/site/LS3-5A_Speakers

Dynaudio also has a newish line in the DM series and they offer a lot of bass and drive (with enough appropriate power) and a pretty good treble. They're a little underrated for a bigger company and I find them generally better than some of the bigger name competition. Incidentally they used to make the drivers for Totem (and IMO Totem was better when they used Dynaudio drivers). Some Dynaudios sound a lot like the Totems but generally fo considerably less money - but they don't look anywhere near as nice as Totem. http://www.dynaudio.com/relaunch1/home_loudspeaker_systems/dm/dm_27.php

Before I get dumped on these are my opinions and should not be taken as fact. This is just for fun.

Magnepan 1.7 (out of 5)

Transients/attack/fundamentals........................4.5
Soundstage........................................ ............4.5
Imaging........................................... ...............4.5
Clarity/openness.......................................... ...4
Decay/2nd and 3rd harmonics..........................2.5
3d Organic presnetation...................................2.5
Instrument pressure (scale/visceral quality)........2.5
Lack of various colourations..............................4
Bass depth and quality.....................................3
cohesiveness - top to bottom............................4
Tonal/timbral accuracy (which includes transients and decay as an overall balance).......................................... ................3
bang for dollar............................................ ......5

Magnepan 1.7 Total score 44/60

Audio Note AZ Three (out of 5)

Transients/attack/fundamentals........................3.5
Soundstage........................................ ............3.5
Imaging........................................... ...............2.5
Clarity/openness.......................................... ...3
Decay/2nd and 3rd harmonics..........................4
3d Organic presnetation...................................4
Instrument pressure (scale/visceral quality)........4
Lack of various colourations..............................3
Bass depth and quality.....................................4
cohesiveness - top to bottom............................4
Tonal/timbral accuracy (which includes transients and decay as an overall balance).......................................... ................4
bang for dollar............................................ ......4.5

AZ Three Total score 44/60

Depending what you like I suppose here. I liked them both.

Sonist - I have not heard it enough to be fair it to it but it would likely be in the same ballpark. Interestingly it might get the higher overall score.

Totem Arro

Transients/attack/fundamentals........................3
Soundstage........................................ ............3.5
Imaging........................................... ...............3.5
Clarity/openness.......................................... ...2.5
Decay/2nd and 3rd harmonics..........................2.5
3d Organic presnetation...................................2.5
Instrument pressure (scale/visceral quality)........2.5
Lack of various colourations..............................3.5
Bass depth and quality.....................................2.5
cohesiveness - top to bottom............................2
Tonal/timbral accuracy (which includes transients and decay as an overall balance).......................................... ................2.5
bang for dollar............................................ ......2.5

Totem Arro total score 33/60

basite
12-31-2010, 04:55 PM
Wharfedale Diamon 10.4 (but may apply to other Diamond speakers).

Pros: nicely balanced. Can be made part of a home theater system. Less expensive than the above. More dealers. Reasonable efficiency. Solid bass to around 40hz. Not a lot of box resonances (not enough to be tiresome anyway). Fuller slightly richer sound. Nice treble - reassonably well integrated. Very nice and under $1k. Easier to find dealers - relatively big company.

Cons: can get unruly at louder levels. Not as refined as the others but much better than most at the price. A little 2d flat sounding, Not steller in the transients or the decay departments but also not fatiguing.


I bought a pair of Diamond 10.2's last week...

I was truly impressed with them when I heard them for the first time. My dealer constantly had to remind me that a pair retails for 300 only. They look pretty good for the price too. I'm going to use them in a home theatre system, but I wouldn't mind living with them at all for stereo music, when on a budget.

I was impressed with Totem speakers too, especially for their size, but then again, as RGA already said: other, larger speakers do outperform them. If I had a small room though, and a gf that didn't like speakers, and several other reasons why a person would go for a small speaker, I'd definitely consider them...

Keep them spinning,
Bert.

RGA
12-31-2010, 07:50 PM
I bought a pair of Diamond 10.2's last week...

I was truly impressed with them when I heard them for the first time. My dealer constantly had to remind me that a pair retails for 300 only. They look pretty good for the price too. I'm going to use them in a home theatre system, but I wouldn't mind living with them at all for stereo music, when on a budget.

I was impressed with Totem speakers too, especially for their size, but then again, as RGA already said: other, larger speakers do outperform them. If I had a small room though, and a gf that didn't like speakers, and several other reasons why a person would go for a small speaker, I'd definitely consider them...

Keep them spinning,
Bert.

I don't want to be viewed as an anti-Totem guy. I actually don't mind them. It's just that every time I happen to audition them I also audition something else that is usually less money that sounds better to me. The Arro I had up against an Energy at about half the price that sounded better. I auditioned the Model One directly against the B&W CD 2SE years back which was 2/3 the price and sounded better. It also doesn't help that all three dealers that carried them dropped them. The sound is not poor it's just that when you look at the price and the sound - you have to simply accept that you're paying a premium for the looks and the size.

I also think people get too concerned with size. Once the Totem is on the stands and sitting in the room - is it "truly" taking up less space than a Maggie 1.7? i don't relaly think that it is. The speaker itself is gigantic in comparison but the actual space it takes up is not a whole lot bigger. And the 1.7 is easy to shove over and put up against the wall when not in use.

Ajani
01-01-2011, 05:49 AM
I'm not really a Totem fan... They sounded fine in the auditions I've had of them, but I really think of them more as lifestyle speakers... And constantly reading things like "they have amazing bass for their size", etc only reinforces that notion... I'd rank them behind the other major brands I've heard...

However, Totem has a loyal fan following and has received a lot of good press from the HiFi mags (and some not so good press a few months ago from Stereophile)... I'd strongly suggest auditioning them and deciding for yourself....

Feanor
01-01-2011, 06:44 AM
Frankly the only reason to buy Totem is if space is coming at a premium for you or looks are critical. You generally overpay for these things. They sound good mind you but not at the price points.

For example for around $2k there is the Model One which gets a lot of press - but the Magnepan 1.7 frankly kills it. The Magnepan 1.7 is larger and takes up a lot of space and is rather ugly. On the flip side it is light and you can move them out of the way when you're not listening. Apparently you can also buy a bunch of different cloths for it so you don't need to be stuck with black or white.

Also, while the Totem's are small they still take up floor space since they do have to be positioned well away from walls which reduces the floor space around them.

Some speakers I like under $2k:

Magnepan 1.7. ..
WTF?? RGA gives the nod to a Magneplanar. Who says there's nothing new under the sun.
:16:

ken88
01-01-2011, 07:00 AM
I finally took the plunge and bought a pair of Totem Sttaf after auditioning them at the store. Man, what can I say!!!! They far exceeded my expectations and I am just blown away by their superb unrivalled musicality, excellent soundstage and accurate imaging when I compared them to my Energy CF 30. The bass sounds just right and the music is so detailed and clear. I feel being absorbed by their unmatched musical reproduction. I don't need to sit directly in front of them as I can move around the room and still hear the music coming from all the directions. This is the best speakers I heard so far after replacing my previous Energy, Nuance, Bose and Polk Audio. The Sttaf is matched with Totem Mite T for the centre speaker and the combination is simply amazing. I cannot say enough how good these speakers are and I just enjoy listening to the Sttaf.

Geoffcin
01-01-2011, 07:43 AM
I finally took the plunge and bought a pair of Totem Sttaf after auditioning them at the store. Man, what can I say!!!! They far exceeded my expectations and I am just blown away by their superb unrivalled musicality, excellent soundstage and accurate imaging when I compared them to my Energy CF 30. The bass sounds just right and the music is so detailed and clear. I feel being absorbed by their unmatched musical reproduction. I don't need to sit directly in front of them as I can move around the room and still hear the music coming from all the directions. This is the best speakers I heard so far after replacing my previous Energy, Nuance, Bose and Polk Audio. The Sttaf is matched with Totem Mite T for the centre speaker and the combination is simply amazing. I cannot say enough how good these speakers are and I just enjoy listening to the Sttaf.

Congratulation! I wish you many years of enjoyment with your new speakers.

GMichael
01-01-2011, 08:11 AM
I finally took the plunge and bought a pair of Totem Sttaf after auditioning them at the store. Man, what can I say!!!! They far exceeded my expectations and I am just blown away by their superb unrivalled musicality, excellent soundstage and accurate imaging when I compared them to my Energy CF 30. The bass sounds just right and the music is so detailed and clear. I feel being absorbed by their unmatched musical reproduction. I don't need to sit directly in front of them as I can move around the room and still hear the music coming from all the directions. This is the best speakers I heard so far after replacing my previous Energy, Nuance, Bose and Polk Audio. The Sttaf is matched with Totem Mite T for the centre speaker and the combination is simply amazing. I cannot say enough how good these speakers are and I just enjoy listening to the Sttaf.

Congrats. Enjoy them for many years.

I heard a few Totem models a few years ago. They were mated with some Moon equipment. I was impressed with everything but the base. They were very small floor standers though.

GMichael
01-01-2011, 08:13 AM
WTF?? RGA gives the nod to a Magneplanar. Who says there's nothing new under the sun.
:16:
I was taken back a little too. I liked the reviews though. Very well thought out.

Ajani
01-01-2011, 09:29 AM
I was taken back a little too. I liked the reviews though. Very well thought out.

Come on guys... For all the harassment we give RGA, I suspect he makes far more effort to audition new gear than any of us...

We never audition the stuff he recommends, yet he actually makes the effort to check out a lot of the stuff we talk about it...

Note: I still don't think that a show is good enough to judge whether you like a piece of equipment, but he at least auditions new gear...

Feanor
01-01-2011, 10:36 AM
Come on guys... For all the harassment we give RGA, I suspect he makes far more effort to audition new gear than any of us...

We never audition the stuff he recommends, yet he actually makes the effort to check out a lot of the stuff we talk about it...

Note: I still don't think that a show is good enough to judge whether you like a piece of equipment, but he at least auditions new gear...
Yes, absolutely. We must concede that he "goes out of his way" to audition gear. Kudos to RGA on that score.

RGA
01-01-2011, 12:05 PM
WTF?? RGA gives the nod to a Magneplanar. Who says there's nothing new under the sun.
:16:

It's simply a matter of a few people pointing out that the stuff that is ALWAYS connected to Magnepan is stuff that I have never liked with other boxed speakers. The CES show for instance was again using high negative feedback amplification that can certain power low sensitive speakers and stable to an ohm. But if a speaker is good it will show up the weaknesses of such amplifiers. So perhaps the maggies were just doing that. I am extreemely sensitive to the washed out sound (an thinness and brittleness and a lack of subtlety) that amps from the Crown school of design (Bryston) which is basically a crown on steroids.

Soundhounds has been selling panels since the 1970s and they are actually a full magnepan/Quad repair facility and can also do all of the modifications that are somewhat popular. They had them in a smaller room (a little too small for the 1.7 perhaps but the good thing is the very high ceilings and not overdamped room. Using a Soro Integrated (with a real power supply) and entry level one box player from them. The quality of sound was vastly superior to what was shown at CES. Granted the Soro would run out of oomph in a bigger room at louder levels but it is a VERY robust amplifier despite the watt rating. I never got it past 11 O'Clock and AN amps are all full turn variety. So there was plenty of power left and it was playing to levels that would be more satisfactory to me. Still amps from Rogue and Mystere and certainly the Shengya PM 150 monoblocks might be more attractive with the Maggie because they sound nice enough and have plenty of power. I didn't mind the Rotel power amps either for SS and considering they're about 1/10th the price of the Audio Notes - not as good but not horrible. The dealer also noted that it can be surprising which combination will sound better. Especially when you look at the sensitiviy numbers and the watt ratings. Still I think more power would be required in a larger room to achieve the Dynamic peaks and still maintain control. I don't knwo how far down the impedance drops. But if they're relatively stable the Soro does produce spec at 1khz the same as 20hz and 20khz and all through the band. Some amps have higher watt ratings at 1khz and fall off the table at 20hz. Us the 4ohm taps and provided the speaker doesn't dip down to low the match can be quite good.

Based on that audition - would I buy a pair of them under $2k - the answer is a resounding yes. Now I know the Maggie and Bryston ower are friends and share expenses but IMO it does a disservice to the loudspeaker. That thin brittle nature doesn't go away and I think it may actually bully the ribbins which for me creates an overly analytical hard sound to the things. At least throw some sort of high end tube preamp in there - something!

RGA
01-01-2011, 12:15 PM
Congrats on the Staff - I liked it a lot better than the ARRO I mentioned above. But didn't hear it enough to pick that one to compare. Your dealer probably mentined that these speaker can be filled - mass loaded with silica or non odour kitty litter. Try it without the mass loading first - if the sound is overly boomy fill it. I believe Wharfedale was the first company to create speakers with mass loading - back when Wharfedale was gaining a solid reputation for quality.

Didin't know you were looking for home theater - that would have crossed both the AZ Three and Sonist off the list immediately and the Maggie surrouns system would arguably take up a lot of room.

The Totems have rock solid build so I would expect at least two decades out of them. Hope you got one of their sexy finishes. I'm kind of amazed they even make black ones.

Ajani
01-01-2011, 12:43 PM
I didn't mind the Rotel power amps either for SS and considering they're about 1/10th the price of the Audio Notes - not as good but not horrible.

Interesting that you like Rotel... Rotel has been my pick for affordable SS amplification for quite a few years now... The only other amps I recommend (generally popular among Rotel fans) are from Emotiva (I can't say I recommend their other stuff I own, though)...

Feanor
01-01-2011, 01:30 PM
...
Based on that audition - would I buy a pair of them [MG 1.7] under $2k - the answer is a resounding yes. Now I know the Maggie and Bryston ower are friends and share expenses but IMO it does a disservice to the loudspeaker. That thin brittle nature doesn't go away and I think it may actually bully the ribbins which for me creates an overly analytical hard sound to the things. At least throw some sort of high end tube preamp in there - something!
I'll bet you'd like the Monarchy SM-70 Pro's I still own with the Maggies. I dare say you'd like the Class-D-Audio SDS-258 I'm currently using less well, (though maybe better than a Bryston).

ken88
01-01-2011, 01:44 PM
I recently came across some ads boasting about 3D sound? Does such thing exist or just a marketing ploy? I am not aware of any good speaker manufacturers coming out with 3D sound and this makes me suspicious of the claim. If 3D sound does truly exist, how does it sound different compared to the conventional sound? What does it take to make 3D sound, if it is true? If 3D sound is"invented" some day, does that mean all existing speakers, including high-end ones are obsolete? Thanks for all comments.

ken88
01-01-2011, 01:58 PM
RGA, if you don't mind me asking are you an accoustic engineer or or some kind of audio expert!!!! Based on your reviews and comments, you truly come across as an audio expert with excellent technical knowledge. Do you write for some hi-fi magazines or are you some kind of audio judge!!!!!Anyway, thanks for all your valuable input and opinions. Keep up the good work and share your technical savvy with us.

Ajani
01-01-2011, 02:13 PM
RGA, if you don't mind me asking are you an accoustic engineer or or some kind of audio expert!!!! Based on your reviews and comments, you truly come across as an audio expert with excellent technical knowledge. Do you write for some hi-fi magazines or are you some kind of audio judge!!!!!Anyway, thanks for all your valuable input and opinions. Keep up the good work and share your technical savvy with us.

RGA is a reviewer for Dagogo:

http://www.dagogo.com/

http://www.dagogo.com/View-Staff.asp?hStaff=10

RGA
01-01-2011, 03:08 PM
Interesting that you like Rotel... Rotel has been my pick for affordable SS amplification for quite a few years now... The only other amps I recommend (generally popular among Rotel fans) are from Emotiva (I can't say I recommend their other stuff I own, though)...

Ajani what is interesting is that a NAD integrated (that gets TONS of good press) sounded broken on the AN E. Terry at Soundhounds usually tests everything that comes in the door on the AN E first because it will show up very fast the warts (which is why Hi-Fi Choice uses them). This does not necessarily the mean the speaker is perfectly accurate but that it is of high resolution which is not exactly the same thing.

Anyway, he demoed the NAD for me and I agreed 100%. We even switched the wires to make sure it wasn't out of phase. The Rotel RA-02 which is the same price and IMO even looks a bit better was vastly better. And you know I never make vastly better comments on $500 integrated amps because while better than a receiver receivers offer a lto of features value. But he was trying to put together a budget system with the cheapest AN E and the RA-02 wasn't bad actually. Wasn't bright, had decent bass, and for the money really impressed me. That is why a long while later when the RC 1082 was in the store I bothered to give it a more serious try. It did quite fine against a used highly regarded ARC preamp (the Rotel was actually quite a lot better - yes better than an ARC), and it was in line with a Sim Audio and Classe for similar money. The Rotel is a little lighter weight but also seems a little more strait up. The power amps were usually the strength of Rotel. I picked up a demo Rotel Power amp - still have not hooked it up - busy with the holidays. So I'll see how it goes. Basically the power amps tend to sound virtually the same - it's a power output upgrade as you move up the line. It should be good enough to not get in the way of the up stream and downstream gear too much. Though it still is SS so I'm nto expecting the world :)

JoeE SP9
01-01-2011, 03:41 PM
I recently came across some ads boasting about 3D sound? Does such thing exist or just a marketing ploy? I am not aware of any good speaker manufacturers coming out with 3D sound and this makes me suspicious of the claim. If 3D sound does truly exist, how does it sound different compared to the conventional sound? What does it take to make 3D sound, if it is true? If 3D sound is"invented" some day, does that mean all existing speakers, including high-end ones are obsolete? Thanks for all comments.

I don't know about "3D sound". However, if you have your system and speakers set up properly you should have a reasonable soundstage. A sound stage is three dimensional. It has depth to go along with a left right spread. A good soundstage will usually be wider than the speakers positions. A very good one will also have some height cues. All good soundstages will also extend beyond the wall behind the speakers.

In other words a good soundstage is wider deeper and can be higher than the room the speakers are in. I think that qualifies as 3D.

To answer your question, 3D sound is a marketing ploy and "Bovine Feces"!

RGA
01-01-2011, 03:46 PM
I recently came across some ads boasting about 3D sound? Does such thing exist or just a marketing ploy? I am not aware of any good speaker manufacturers coming out with 3D sound and this makes me suspicious of the claim. If 3D sound does truly exist, how does it sound different compared to the conventional sound? What does it take to make 3D sound, if it is true? If 3D sound is"invented" some day, does that mean all existing speakers, including high-end ones are obsolete? Thanks for all comments.

No I am no engineer (or as I call them failed scientists - this is a reference to the Big Bang Thery Show so please don't take offense resident engineers).

3D sound is what is heard in the room. Until it is heard you don't really know what is missing and very little out there IME has done it. I didn't hear it for the first 15 years of auditioning gear. I also think many audiophiles and many reviewers have yet to really experience it. So reviewers feebly attempt to create words on page to try and describe what it is we're hearing and we use words like organic, 3 dimensional, whole, right. The problem is that these words get whored out and thrown around for stereos and products that are not doing these things. Many speakers/systems will create a wall of sound pretty much regardless of the music or recording played. You could make the case that this should be called soundstage depth or front to back staging rather than side to side staging. But I think it has more to do with dynamics, micro, midi, macrodynamics.

Fred Crowder of dagogo uses the following to describe what I describe as pressurization of instruments for a speaker to "create pressure gradients within the listening room which were noted as density changes in the air of the room." He notes that very few even large systems that he has heard have the ability to do this. And to me that is what creates a sense of 3 dimensionality to what we're hearing - the actual presence of an instrument that is standing right in front of you so that "live" and in the room.

This is different than "air" around instruments which IMO is an artifcat generate by the equipment - usually tweeters I suspect and it to me is a form of grain because in real life listening to real acoustic bands/symphonies there is no "air around the instruments."

It is also somewhat disc related because even those systems can't do it all the time, but they can do it some of the time with the recordings. Most systems never do regardless of the quality of recording. I have not heard many systems do it and they tend to cost quite a bit of money. There are so many attributes of sound and in the end what I most prize is a system that can differentiate recording qualities and ancillary gear, that doesn't sound fatiguing that covers most of the frequency spectrum, sounds very balanced not overdoing any one trait while also allowing you to sit back in the chair and let the music wash over you and be completely relaxed for say 5-6 hours day in and day out without drawing attention away from the listening to notice treble, midrange or bass issues. Many speakers tend to sound terrific in short auditions but after about 3 months they often get tiresome. The one that stands out from the crowd on the wall-o-speakers may end up being the most irritating down the line.

Ajani
01-01-2011, 04:02 PM
Ajani what is interesting is that a NAD integrated (that gets TONS of good press) sounded broken on the AN E. Terry at Soundhounds usually tests everything that comes in the door on the AN E first because it will show up very fast the warts (which is why Hi-Fi Choice uses them). This does not necessarily the mean the speaker is perfectly accurate but that it is of high resolution which is not exactly the same thing.

Anyway, he demoed the NAD for me and I agreed 100%. We even switched the wires to make sure it wasn't out of phase. The Rotel RA-02 which is the same price and IMO even looks a bit better was vastly better. And you know I never make vastly better comments on $500 integrated amps because while better than a receiver receivers offer a lto of features value. But he was trying to put together a budget system with the cheapest AN E and the RA-02 wasn't bad actually. Wasn't bright, had decent bass, and for the money really impressed me. That is why a long while later when the RC 1082 was in the store I bothered to give it a more serious try. It did quite fine against a used highly regarded ARC preamp (the Rotel was actually quite a lot better - yes better than an ARC), and it was in line with a Sim Audio and Classe for similar money. The Rotel is a little lighter weight but also seems a little more strait up. The power amps were usually the strength of Rotel. I picked up a demo Rotel Power amp - still have not hooked it up - busy with the holidays. So I'll see how it goes. Basically the power amps tend to sound virtually the same - it's a power output upgrade as you move up the line. It should be good enough to not get in the way of the up stream and downstream gear too much. Though it still is SS so I'm nto expecting the world :)

My first "serious" HiFi was a NAD C352 Amp, NAD C521 CDP and Mission V63 Towers... Bought based really on excellent reviews of the individual components and a quick dealer demo... Eventually I found that I lost any desire to turn on my stereo (just dull as dishwater - very HiFi sounding, but didn't move or excite me in any way)... A quick change from the NAD to Rotel amplification and my Missions were singing like never before... I've had nothing but respect for Rotel since then...

JoeE SP9
01-01-2011, 04:11 PM
Sorry RGA. You can have a soundstage (3D) with little or no dynamics, macro micro or (sic) "maestro".:prrr:

A soundsatage is not related to or dependant on dynamics. Good dynamics, macro and micro will enhance a soundstage but neither is necessary.:ihih:

A well recorded version of Pachelbel's Cannon is a perfect example. This piece has virtually no dynamics macro or micro. Nevertheless, a good recording of it demonstrates a good soundstage.:)

Of course all three together will provide a better listening experience.:yesnod:

GMichael
01-01-2011, 05:27 PM
Come on guys... For all the harassment we give RGA, I suspect he makes far more effort to audition new gear than any of us...

We never audition the stuff he recommends, yet he actually makes the effort to check out a lot of the stuff we talk about it...

Note: I still don't think that a show is good enough to judge whether you like a piece of equipment, but he at least auditions new gear...
Hey, I like RGA and his posts. You may have missed some of the pro/anti-panel debates that went on here a few years back. Guess who was on the anti side most of the time.

RGA you like the Classe amps paired with Maggies?

RGA
01-01-2011, 05:31 PM
Sorry RGA. You can have a soundstage (3D) with little or no dynamics, macro micro or (sic) "maestro".:prrr:

A soundsatage is not related to or dependant on dynamics. Good dynamics, macro and micro will enhance a soundstage but neither is necessary.:ihih:

Of course all three together will provide a better listening experience.:yesnod:

This is the problems with the words they're limited to definitions on a page. And relating an experience to the word is not easy to do. Some speakers will get the left to right thing down great. Others may get the layering front to back thing down but the "live" factor is a difficult one to express in words. Fred tried to relate it and it's not bad articulation but I'll have to continue to try and isolate what is and how to express it.

RGA
01-01-2011, 05:38 PM
My first "serious" HiFi was a NAD C352 Amp, NAD C521 CDP and Mission V63 Towers... Bought based really on excellent reviews of the individual components and a quick dealer demo... Eventually I found that I lost any desire to turn on my stereo (just dull as dishwater - very HiFi sounding, but didn't move or excite me in any way)... A quick change from the NAD to Rotel amplification and my Missions were singing like never before... I've had nothing but respect for Rotel since then...

I have long felt Rotel was underrated - since the early 1990s because they were not "expensive enough" to be taken seriously. People had their Rotel stuff for over 30 years and they always seemed to offer more for less. It may be why they have survived longer than most competitors for the same money.

And it was never from the Crown school of amplifier design - a lot of other amps seem to me to be of that school.




GMichael
Classe is pretty decent with everything I have tried. Sim Audio as well. For Solid State.

GMichael
01-01-2011, 05:40 PM
Joe? :sad: :sad:



:incazzato:


Thanks for the update..:biggrin5:

Feanor
01-01-2011, 06:19 PM
...
Fred Crowder of dagogo uses the following to describe what I describe as pressurization of instruments for a speaker to "create pressure gradients within the listening room which were noted as density changes in the air of the room." He notes that very few even large systems that he has heard have the ability to do this. And to me that is what creates a sense of 3 dimensionality to what we're hearing - the actual presence of an instrument that is standing right in front of you so that "live" and in the room.

This "pressure gradiaents" stuff as the source of "3D: sound like BS. How ridiculously loud to you have to play to get pressure gradients? How come some "large systems" can do it and others not? I think this is a crock.


...
This is different than "air" around instruments which IMO is an artifcat generate by the equipment - usually tweeters I suspect and it to me is a form of grain because in real life listening to real acoustic bands/symphonies there is no "air around the instruments."
...
"Air" around the instruments is mainly just good resolution, not an artifact. Also, you need a good speaker certainly, but differences in "air" vary very much with the amplfier.

RGA
01-01-2011, 10:27 PM
This "pressure gradiaents" stuff as the source of "3D: sound like BS. How ridiculously loud to you have to play to get pressure gradients? How come some "large systems" can do it and others not? I think this is a crock.

No it's not at loud levels - it's there regardless of level.



"Air" around the instruments is mainly just good resolution, not an artifact. Also, you need a good speaker certainly, but differences in "air" vary very much with the amplfier.

I believe it's an artificat of many systems - it's not heard in any live music and with high resolution systems that signature isn't present yet everything else is - it's seamless. The best argument Ihave read for this originated in Positive Feedback...

"Many listeners speak of a playback system's resolving power in terms of its ability to articulate detail, i.e. previous unnoticed phenomena [noticing more air for example]. However, it is more likely that what these listeners are responding to when they say such-and-such has more "detail" is: unconnected micro-events in the frequency and time domains. (These are events that, if they were properly connected, would have realized the correct presentation of harmonic structure, attack, and legato.)

Because these events are of incredibly short duration and because there is absolutely no analog to such events in the natural world and are now being revealed to them by the sheer excellence of their audio, these listeners believe that they are hearing something for the first time, which they are! And largely because of this, they are more easily misled into a belief that what they are hearing is relevant and correct. The matter is aided and abetted by the apparentness of the perception. These "details" are undeniably there; it is only their meaning which has become subverted. The truth is that we only perceive such "detail" from an audio playback system; but never in a live musical performance.../...Grain creates the perception of more events, particularly in the treble region, because they are made to stand out from the musical texture in an unnaturally highlighted form. In true high-resolution audio systems, grain disappears and is replaced by a seamless flow of connected musical happenings. [cf. "As Time Goes By" Positive Feedback Magazine, Vol. 4, No. 4-5, Fall '93]."

And I think you can see where this is in the market. Many speaker makers have have several lines. Not to pick on B&W but their entry speakers with Tweeter on top have a similar/same design as the next model up - but I remember readin their literature where it would talk about the superior tube tapering to reduce ringing. In other words if you buy the more expensive model it will reduce the ringing (which is tweeter induced grain). Reduced not cured I might add. So you keep going up the lines. Then in a few years there will be another fix with an entirely different technology that will be fixable from one line to the next. I don't know if that's how they still word things but it was there and it explained much to me. I would rather a tweeter design that doesn't create ringing in the first place. Why creat a problem and then a solution to fix the problem when it's not better than most of the plain jane silk dome. They have "air" as well. and that goes away in their upper models with better electronics. The micro events are less detached. So I agree with the above quotes for the most part.

ken88
01-02-2011, 04:45 AM
I have come across a lot about this term " sound coloration". My understanding is the sound is not 100% "pure" (kind of distorted), if you know what I mean. Am I right in my assumption? My other question is: is it possible to obtain a good sound imaging and accurate soundstaging when you play the music in "surround sound mode" Thanks.

Ajani
01-02-2011, 07:36 AM
Hey, I like RGA and his posts. You may have missed some of the pro/anti-panel debates that went on here a few years back. Guess who was on the anti side most of the time.

I remember RGA's extreme stance on panels and SS amps as well... But clearly he has come a long way... The last several months he has been raving about the Kingsound Electrostats and now has added the Maggie 1.7s... Even more interesting is that he now likes Rotel for cheap amplification, considering that Rotel makes very powerful SS amps - so essentially the opposite of the SET amplification he is fond of....

IMO, the more that persons really audition different gear, the less likely they will take a hard-line stance on any one technology... I suspect we could all find several examples of alternate tech that sounds great to us....

JoeE SP9
01-02-2011, 10:22 AM
I have come across a lot about this term " sound coloration". My understanding is the sound is not 100% "pure" (kind of distorted), if you know what I mean. Am I right in my assumption? My other question is: is it possible to obtain a good sound imaging and accurate soundstaging when you play the music in "surround sound mode" Thanks.

Anything that's not 100% "pure" is by definition distorted. It's my understanding that sound coloration as a term is used to describe small deviations from the pure. Whereas bloated bass or strident highs are coloration their grossness makes "sound coloration" inadequate as a description.

IMO: An extra "shimmer" (probably tweeter resonance nodes ie:ringing) in a trumpet's tone is an example of what's meant when "coloration" is used as a descriptive term. When a trumpet sounds like a cornet that's "coloration". There are undoubtedly other and better explanations. That's all I've got right now.

Although it's late, I wish everyone a happy and prosperous year.

Mr Peabody
01-02-2011, 02:17 PM
Coloration is typically thought of as a negative thing but I've come to realize that everyone does it, we in most instances will find it pleasing and the extent will never be known since we don't have the original performance as a reference. Coloration is to vary from the way the original signal should sound. A speaker or amp may introduce a bass hump or softer mids etc. with an attempt to please a potential buyer or just the way the manufacturer wants their gear to sound. The term "house sound" is applied to describe a sound character of a certain brand. I perceive coloration as just a varied response from neutral and not to do with distortion. In order to properly measure or define coloration we'd have to have a definite point of reference.

I have heard surround music sound good. Mostly from Blu-ray. The mix has to use the surrounds as merely ambience and spacial cues. I used to be dead against 5.1 music but have heard some mixes that have been fun, using surround and swirling effects. I can't accept this for serious listening but it's occasionally fun.

There is air around live instruments, especially, acoustic live. When listening to electronics I suspect when there isn't air, it's due to noise floor and the veiling effect that happens. What makes me say this is from my experience with power cords. One is not aware of their noise floor until it is reduced. The effect of the lower noise floor is a better since of ease and openness to the music. My interpretation of "air" is a presentation free of any sense of veiling or strain to what you hear. This may sound crazy to any one who hasn't had experience with hearing various brands and high quality gear.

eisforelectronic
01-02-2011, 04:45 PM
I've gotten close to 10 years of listening pleasure from a pair of Totem Dreamcatchers.

Geoffcin
01-02-2011, 05:48 PM
I've gotten close to 10 years of listening pleasure from a pair of Totem Dreamcatchers.

There ya go!

At the Home Entertainment show I remember Vince showing these off in possibly the worst way, and they STILL impressed!.

We were listening to the Forest & Rainmakers and he said "we shouldn't forget about the Dreamcatchers" I was a bit taken aback by that, as every demo I've ever seen done was going UP in price point. Nope, he was certain that it wasn't going to be a problem and it wasn't, as they sure displayed the Totem ethos of a big sound in modest sized speaker. In addition they have the same Totem quality build. Some would say that you pay a premium for that, but in my opinion buying quality is a frugal decision. If you amortize it over a decade of enjoyment then it was a good decision for sure!

ken88
01-03-2011, 06:31 AM
Since I purchased the Sttaf, I am thoroughly enjoying the excellent sound quality coming out of these speakers. The more I listen the better it sounds!!! The soundstage is simply outstanding and the vocal is second to none when I compared to my previous speakers. As I said before, I feel being enveloped by the incredible superb musical reproduction coming from all directions. I am proud these speakers are being manufactured right here in Canada and persoanlly I feel they can match the best there is in the world.

GMichael
01-03-2011, 06:58 AM
Since I purchased the Sttaf, I am thoroughly enjoying the excellent sound quality coming out of these speakers. The more I listen the better it sounds!!! The soundstage is simply outstanding and the vocal is second to none when I compared to my previous speakers. As I said before, I feel being enveloped by the incredible superb musical reproduction coming from all directions. I am proud these speakers are being manufactured right here in Canada and persoanlly I feel they can match the best there is in the world.
The Staff is one of the models I got to hear. They were very impressive. I could live with those for a long time.

Ajani
01-03-2011, 07:22 AM
Since I purchased the Sttaf, I am thoroughly enjoying the excellent sound quality coming out of these speakers. The more I listen the better it sounds!!! The soundstage is simply outstanding and the vocal is second to none when I compared to my previous speakers. As I said before, I feel being enveloped by the incredible superb musical reproduction coming from all directions. I am proud these speakers are being manufactured right here in Canada and persoanlly I feel they can match the best there is in the world.

Excellent... Enjoy!

What gear are you using with the Totems?

I hope I'll get another chance to audition some Totems... I've heard them a few times with NAD and Arcam gear (neither of which are my choice of electronics) in Toronto and I wasn't exactly moved... I think my current gear would be a much better match for Totem...

ken88
01-03-2011, 07:59 AM
I am using a Sony receiver 7.1 that can output 110 watt/channel (forgot the model #) which is adequate to power the Sttaf. My centre channel speaker is a Totem Mite T which is just as good as the Sttaf.

ken88
01-04-2011, 07:51 AM
I recently came across a newly coined term called "high definition sound". Is there such a thing or another marketing ploy? Thanks for all your comments.

GMichael
01-04-2011, 08:05 AM
I recently came across a newly coined term called "high definition sound". Is there such a thing or another marketing ploy? Thanks for all your comments.
Sounds a lot like the HD paint that Lowes sells.:lol:

ken88
01-07-2011, 07:13 AM
I have seen some audio enthusiasts have 4 front speakers; are there any advantages other than having louder sound? Can you mix and match different brands to this kind of set-up or it is better to go with the same brand for the 4 front speakers? Thanks.