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  1. #1

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    Default Totem Arro: First Impressions/Review

    After nearly a week of listening to these speakers, I am absolutely floored by their performance. There are just so many things that the Arros do right... and many more that they do almost perfectly. Their ability to produce a nearly three-dimensional soundstage is uncanny, and imaging has to be heard to be believed.

    One preconception of mine in this regard has been totally reshaped, however, in that I suppose I always assumed that a forward, etched out presentation would be the byproduct of a speaker which imaged like crazy. Not the case here. In fact, it's odd to hear the soundstage actually begin somewhere behind the speakers. And whereas, some might find this to be recessed and laid back, I find that it actually makes my room seem larger by extending past the back wall. Amazing...

    Of course, I tossed in selections that I knew the Arros would adore -- Stop Making Sense by the Talking Heads (remastered), which always had a way of making my system sound a whole lot better than it really was. The results, of course, were magical. Without going into, I heard *this* or *that* when I had never heard *that* or *this* before, suffice it to say that I forgot I was even listening to the Arros, critical listening placed gently aside for an hour of just listening to and enjoying good music.

    How about something not generally so "agreeable"? Like for instance, the Ramones... The Ramones Jesus, high-fidelity and the DIY punk aesthetic aren't generally the best of bedfellows. Critical listening sessions while sniffing glue and what have you... but my goodness, did the music come alive!!! One 4 1/2" driver should not have been able to reproduce the utter bombast of drums and guitar that is a typical Ramone's two-minute ditty, but did it ever. I cannot believe how far these speakers dig in the bass department. And of course, it's articulate and quick out the wazoo... lending even more urgency to each of these songs. If you like quick, snappy, and tempo tempo tempo, than the Arros are your darlings. No sub here -- the slug couldn't keep pace.

    There is a caveat to all of these gushings, however. My equipment has been humbled, as I am overwhelmed with a sense of how limiting my equipment might be. Totem suggests 40+ integrated watts to feed the Arros.... As 4 Ohm speaks, they take the 220 into 4 ohms that my Rotel RB980Bx dishes out and suck it dry. Not that the amp is necessarily straining (though it runs a tad hotter than usual), but I get the feeling, not just from research, but from experience, that these speakers would immensely benefit from more quality and quantity. As such, I've probably only hit the tip of the iceberg with the Totems.

    Other owners have warned of this... you may think you're getting the deal of the century with 'em, but wait until you're selling your home to place an order with Halcro. But I guess this make them an even better investment -- no rolling speakers -- thoroughly enjoying what I have, but knowing that every step up in power and source will yield an even better product. I've heard they never plateau... though I doubt I will ever be in a position to confirm this unless I win the lottery.

    Finally, good luck pinpointing them. All sounds seem to exist outside of the Arros, and as a result and maybe luckily, I have had absolutely no problems setting them up. They're beautiful, but skittish... and enough jibber jabber.. How 'bout some pics?
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    Last edited by zombie boy 2000; 07-25-2006 at 03:30 PM.
    I never had it like this where I grew up. But I send my kids here because the fact is you go to one of the best schools in the country: Rushmore. Now, for some of you it doesn't matter. You were born rich and you're going to stay rich. But here's my advice to the rest of you: Take dead aim on the rich boys. Get them in the crosshairs and take them down. Just remember, they can buy anything but they can't buy backbone. Don't let them forget it. Thank you.Herman Blume - Rushmore

  2. #2

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    ...and some more
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  3. #3

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    Beautiful system.

  4. #4

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    Nicely written/conveyed. I'd be interested to hear all of that sound coming from relatively small drivers. Obviously the Totems have a very nice reputation.

    Two Channel Setup:

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  5. #5

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    Great! Glad to hear you're enjoy them. How low do they go? Are you using a sub?

    BTW, never set anything on top of your beautiful speakers!!!
    HT/2-channel Rig: Sony 50 LCD TV; Toshiba HD-A2 DVD player; Emotiva LMC-1 pre/pro; Rogue Audio M-120 monoblocks (modded); Placette RVC; Emotiva LPA-1 amp; Bada HD-22 tube CDP (modded); VMPS Tower II SE (fronts); DIY Clearwave Dynamic 4CC (center); Wharfedale Opus Tri-Surrounds (rear); and VMPS 215 sub

    "God grooves with tubes."

  6. #6

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    Cool, glad you're digging them.

    Transport: Oppo BDP-103/USB HDD (flac)
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  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Early B.
    Great! Glad to hear you're enjoy them. How low do they go? Are you using a sub?

    BTW, never set anything on top of your beautiful speakers!!!
    I hear you Early:) Actually, they're serving as weights. The Arros weigh in at a hefty 12lbs apiece, and I'm afraid they might tip over if I didn't place something on top of 'em. If you look closely, you can actually see the left speaker leaning a little (carpet spikes non-withstanding....). I might have to look into getting the beaks, not for any sonic improvement, but to anchor them to the floor.

    As for a sub, I have the speakers set to large and feel they provide all the bass I need... they actually go quite deep (down to 40hz), though it won't rattle your windows... It's just a quick, defined, and articulate sort of bass that I find really pleasing. As you can imagine, the PSW10's punk-ass is always lagging at least 3 notes behind:D So it stays off..

  8. #8

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    Huh? Only 12 lbs? I got a pair of nuts that weigh more than those speakers.
    (just kidding -- they only weigh 10 lbs.)

    OK, yeah, 40 Hz is cool with most music if you're not a basshead. That's impressive for a 4.5" driver.
    HT/2-channel Rig: Sony 50 LCD TV; Toshiba HD-A2 DVD player; Emotiva LMC-1 pre/pro; Rogue Audio M-120 monoblocks (modded); Placette RVC; Emotiva LPA-1 amp; Bada HD-22 tube CDP (modded); VMPS Tower II SE (fronts); DIY Clearwave Dynamic 4CC (center); Wharfedale Opus Tri-Surrounds (rear); and VMPS 215 sub

    "God grooves with tubes."

  9. #9

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    That... and they can be mass loaded, which would help them to dig deeper. But this would sacrifice a little in the imaging and midrange departments, so I'm leaving well enough alone.

    btw my speakers are scared of your nuts:D

  10. #10

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    Glad to hear you're enjoying the new speakers. They're real nice looking. Maybe you could construct some small, level, but heavy stands to place the speakers on
    Better to have and not need than to need and not have!

  11. #11

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    If those are the Totems that are made right here in Montreal, the company is about half a mile from my current location right now. I heard they don't sell direct though.

    I was talking to a customer who has a pair of Totems and he told me about the disigner...apparently he is a maniac for perfection. You got some good speakers there!!!
    Last edited by joeparaski; 07-25-2006 at 07:22 PM.
    Amplifiers: 1-SAE Mark IV, 4-SAE 2400, 1-SAE 2500, 2-SAE 2600, 1-Buttkicker BKA 1000N w/2-tactile transducers. Sources: Sony BDP CX7000es, Sony CX300/CX400/CX450/CX455, SAE 8000 tuner, Akai 4000D R2R, Technics 1100A TT, Epson 8500UB with Carada 100". Speakers:Polk SDA SRS, 3.1TL, FXi5, FXi3, 2-SVS 20-29, Yamaha, SVS center sub. Power:2-Monster HTS3500, Furman M-8D & RR16 Plus. 2-SAE 4000 X-overs, SAE 5000a noise reduction, MSB Link DAC III, MSB Powerbase, Behringer 2496, Monarchy DIP 24/96.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by zombie boy 2000
    That... and they can be mass loaded, which would help them to dig deeper. But this would sacrifice a little in the imaging and midrange departments, so I'm leaving well enough alone.
    When I mounted and mass loaded my Dyn speakers to the matching stands, imaging and midrange improved. I would suspect your speakers may improve in these areas with mass loading or Totem would not have given you this option.

    Is the speaker weight listed in kg as Totem is a Canadian company. 12 lbs looks to be too lite for a speaker of this size.
    Last edited by jm1; 07-25-2006 at 07:26 PM.

  13. #13

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    Nice review and well written. They are an elegant looking speaker.
    Sharp Elite 70
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    Polk Atrium 7s on the patio just to keep my foot in the door.

  14. #14

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    The Arrows are a freak in speakers. You look at them and think "no bass and they probably suck" but then you play them and BAM they kick you in the face with awesome bass response and alot of depth. I really think these speakers are fantastic. I have listened to them many times and one time I almost just took them home. They are one of my little gems I will pick up one day for a nice office 2 channel rig.

    You should try them on Rotel gear. They sing beautiful there. I listened to them a few times with McIntosh and Integra Research and man how good they souned.

    Congrads on them man, they look as good if not sound better.

    Dan
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  15. #15
    Stronzo
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    Zombie Boy,

    Coolness. There is something special about most Totem floor-standers. As we discussed previously - the room you are in is really ideal for the Arro. All the clutter around them isn't that great, but they are still surprisingly adept with large objects within close proximity.

    I'm real glad to see you are enjoying them. You are right, this is just the tip of the ice-burg. I've owned my speakers for years now, and still haven't reached full potential. That should change by the end of the year... fingers and toes crossed of course.

    A good match for the Arro on solid state, would be upper tier Arcam or Plinius electronics. For affordable tube, go McIntosh or the BAT VAK-60 amp. The funny thing about the Arro is that despite its size and price, it is alright right at home with LAMM electronics as well..

    Meanwhile... enjoy..


    edit: looking at those pics, man, toe those suckers in a bit more... you're missing out on lots of that magic.

  16. #16

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    Yay! Pics are always a great treat!
    Joey's College Gear:
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    Old Gear:
    Martin Logan Vantage (4.75/5)-ML Mosaic (4.25/5)-Onix Ref1 (3.7/5)-Sonus Faber Concerto (3.5/5)-SF Concertino (3/5)-Axiom M22ti (2.75/5)-Polk LSi9 (3.75/5)-LSi7 (3.25/5)-HK AVR330-Rotel RC1070/RB1070/RB1090-SVS 25-31PC+ sub
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  17. #17

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    Thanks Zero.... gave 'em the toe-in treatment last night, and that actually opened them up even more. It's funny how doing this widens the soundstage:)

    JM1 -- it's hard to actually find the weight specs on these speakers, so this "estimate" was taken from another forum. They may actually be closer to 18lbs apiece. I'd put them on a scale, but the wife might actually have me committed at that point:D As for mass loading adversely effecting the speakers ability to image, that's per Vince from Totem. But I won't know until I try, so I'll probably experiment with it this weekend. No sand though:p

    Halo -- I think you're on to something there, as the plinths/floor spikes just aren't cutting it (though I like the way they look).

    Mantis -- you nailed it. I think it has something to do with how quick that lil' driver is. The only way I know how to describe it is as a steady, articulate "thwak" as opposed to a loud, booming "thud". If anything, this at least gives the illusion of more bass... Plus, up-tempo bass lines (such as those played by groups like Interpol) are just as detailed and snappy as anything in the upper frequencies...

    Joey -- glad to oblige:) Now can I borrow your RB1090?:D
    Last edited by zombie boy 2000; 07-26-2006 at 10:23 AM.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by zombie boy 2000
    As for mass loading adversely effecting the speakers ability to image, that's per Vince from Totem. But I won't know until I try, so I'll probably experiment with it this weekend. No sand though
    Interesting Totem would say that. I have seen these speakers many times but never stoped to look or listen. Next time, I will have a listen. Enjoy the speakers.

  19. #19

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    So how do these speakers compare to the Polk line? Do they sound better than monitors? Better than RTis? Better than LSis?

    Do they compare to bookshelves or other floorstanders?

    I am just curious how a 12lb speaker compares with the Polks.
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  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Holydoc
    So how do these speakers compare to the Polk line? Do they sound better than monitors? Better than RTis? Better than LSis?

    Do they compare to bookshelves or other floorstanders?

    I am just curious how a 12lb speaker compares with the Polks.
    I'm sorry, but I just don't have any experience with the Rti or Lsi line-ups. However, I can say quite definitively that the Totem Arro and the newer Monitors are miles apart from each other in both quality of sound and build. About the only edge I can give to the Monitor 70's is that they go louder....

    Maybe someone else who has more experience with all of these speakers can chime in?

  21. #21

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    I owned Rti150/Csi5/Fxi3. For music, in my experience, Rti150 sound signature is bright and inaccute. Midrange and bass are suffered from losing the details, and they are hard to drive. However, they are still very good speakers for HT/Music with good sub. I sold them all to upgrade to Lsi15/Lsic/Lsi9. Lsi sound signature is warmer (a bit dark sound to my taste) and detail with high/midrange and lot amount of untighted and boomy bass. Bass somewhat does not blend well with high/midrange. However, Lsi15 speakers are very good for music without sub and high value for the price. Hard to drive and speaker placement is important. I still keep the Lsi series for HT/Music system. I also have a pair of Totem Forest speakers, and their sound signature is crispy clear, full, accurate, and wide soundstage. High/Mid are crispy clear and detail, but smooth. Bass is tight and blend well with high/mid. It is very hard to find the right interconnect cables for the speakers. Because the speaker sound is so detail, they might sound a bit dry, so interconnect cables play important role in my system to smooth them out and still keep the detail/dynamics. Must try different high power amps to find the right sound for your taste. Hope this helps.
    Last edited by haimoc; 07-27-2006 at 09:06 PM.

  22. #22

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    Thanks for helping out with that one Haimoc:)

    As an aside, last night I got my "tweak on" with speaker placement by moving the Arros about 3 inches forward and toeing them in by another 1 1/2".

    Freakin' A!! --- listening to Bright Eyes I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning, and I swear the soundstage has officially expanded to about three feet from either side of the speakers. And though (as I mentioned previously) depthwise, the soundstage is extended well behind the Arros, it actually came forward enough to break the speakers' plane. Sheesh... all while imaging like a rabid dog. I cannot believe these things... they are utterly amazing:D

    I'm serious... I can only imagine what they do with some high-end amplification.

  23. #23

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    If you are looking for an amp, try audition them first with your speakers if possible the following brand amps: Ayre, Plinius, Krell, Arcam, or BAT to pick one that matches your taste and budget the most. Plinius or Arcam is recommended by Totem.
    Last edited by haimoc; 07-27-2006 at 10:01 AM.

  24. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by haimoc
    If you are looking for an amp, try audition them first with your speakers if possible the following brand amps: Ayre, Plinius, Krell, Arcam, or BAT to pick one that matches your taste the most. Plinius or Arcam is recommended by Totem.
    LOL! Not looking yet.... the wife would have my head on a platter, so the Rotel will have to do the noble job it's doing. I've read that Arcam, Plinius, and Ayre are the way to go -- and have actually heard of some mating issues with the Krell's. But you know how audio opinions are:)

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