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  1. #1

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    Default The thrill of the hunt...

    Posted posted in a fit of enthusiasm as I see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnelÖ Don't get me wrong. I love the hunt as much as the next guy, but I'm getting anxious to be relaxing at home enjoying the music.:D

    I'm the sort of guy who searches far and wide (and long & hard) before making a significant purchase. Then I enjoy the product for many years. After we moved back to upstate NY from Philly a few years back, we bought a smaller house (cape style.) My rather large RTR-280 DR (vintage 1974) speakers (6 tweeters and four 10" woofers per speaker) never found a comfortable place in our new home. Meanwhile, our daughter and her husband had purchased a large four bedroom home and needed to furnish it. They aren't much into audio, but were wishing they had something better in their family room. Long story short: I put the RTRs on 'long term loan' to the kids & began searching for new speakers to fit our space and return me to sonic nirvana.

    I rediscovered Magnapan. Spent a pleasant afternoon last summer auditioning the MG 1.6 at Oasis Audio. I brought with me a CD I made containing a wide variety of the music I listen to: classical (from large orchestral works to solo piano and solo guitar); folk; country; jazz; pop; oldies. Can't say enough nice things about the owners--Kevin & Al. No pressure, no hurry, they love music & want to help you find the sound you're looking for. And the MG 1.6s offer what I'm looking for: open, airy, boxless sound; detailed, but not etched; huge sound stage & great imaging. And a bargain to boot! Spent the next several months trying to figure out how they could fit our space. No luck. Not going to work. Crap! Start searching again.

    Listened to Martin Login elesctrostats. Everything good you may have heard about ML is true. They have all the qualities I like in the Maggies, but w/ a better bottom end. Unfortunately, the ones I liked were $10K, and probably would have required another $10K in electronics. No way that's happening. :(

    Listened to Paradigm Studio Reference 100 v.4. Sounded like my Rti6s: a bit bright, detailed, decent sound stage and imaging (but with a great bottom end that the 6s of course don't have.) Just not the magic I want.

    Checked out Polk Lsi 15. I was somewhat reluctant about this, as I had auditioned Lsi 9 a couple years back (when I bought the Rti 6) and found the 9s to be totally unacceptable due to bloated mid-range. After hearing the Lsi 15, I suspect that the 9s I heard must have been defective. The 15s were quite nice: smooth highs, well balanced tonally, good detail and imaging; good sound stage. They were a little shy on the low end--both in terms of extension and lack of 'slam'. That might be due to running off a Yamaha AVR. The Pioneer unit that normally would have been driving the 15s was out of service (and I'm not sure how great the Pioneer would have been anyway.) Bottom line: the Lsi 15 was OK, but didn't have the magic I want.

    Back to Oasis Audio where, besides the Maggies, they also carry Totem. Spent another pleasant afternoon with Kevin & AL listening to Totem Hawks. Now the room where the Hawks are is probably close to 1500 square feet. WAY big I thought for those little speakers (1" dome tweeter and 5.5" woofer.) Those Hawks really sang! Filled the room w/ no trouble. Very much like the boxless sound I want. I could walk around and the highs didn't show the positional sensitivity I expect of a driver in a box. The Hawks don't draw attention to themselves--they just put the music out there for you, so you're involved w/ the music, not thinking about the speakers. Wonderful sound stage, good imaging, very detailed (but not hyper detailed.) And the bottom end! It had extension and slam. From a 5.5" driver! And one more thing: they sound great playing softly too. Very important, as I don't (and can't) always crank the volume up. Yes indeed, the Hawks have the magic! :D

    I still have some others to listen to, just to be certain; since these will be the last set of high-end speakers I ever buy. The RTRs served me for more than 30 years, and I don't expect to be alive in another 30 years. I plan to check out PMC FB-1 and Ariel Acoustics Model 6. Wish I could hear the Zu Druid and Ohlm's Micro Walsh Tall to round things out, but they are only sold direct--no dealer show rooms.

    Cheers, Jim

  2. #2

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    Thanks for very detailed reviews. Totem Hawk speakers are excelent for small listening room. Let us know what you decide after trying Aerial Acoustics.

  3. #3

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    Jim... did you get a chance to audition any others in the Totem line-up?
    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

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by zombie boy 2000
    Jim... did you get a chance to audition any others in the Totem line-up?
    I only listened to the Totem Hawk. After researching speakers on-line, I chose a to audition several that looked promising. In the Totem line, the Hawk seemed most likely to meet my needs/wants. When we went to Oasis, Kevin asked what I was looking for and what I hoped to accomplish. Then he suggested the Hawk. Since we were on the same wavelength, I didn't bother to audition any of the other speakers. This is due to the above reasons, and the fact that I brought my wife along. She has a limited tolerance for this sort of thing, so I don't want to push it.

    Along those lines, let me mention that Kevin & Al directed conversation at her as well as myself. This shows that they are not trying to just get your money & hustle you out the door. Both Oasis and Totem have very positive WAF in this case. Marian likes to buy from local merchants rather than chains whenever possible. She was also strongly biased by the philosophy of Totem and the fact that the speakers are lovingly hand-crafted--NOT made by low cost labor in a foreign shop. If we had money in our account, she would have been writing a check on the spot.:D

    Cheers, Jim

  5. #5

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    Sona,

    The magic is whatever works for YOU. Not necessarily for me or some reviewer at Stereophile or Positive Feedback or some other site. As with movie reviews you need to have some background (listening to different set-ups) to develope your own sense of what sparks your interest. Then you compare your reactions to various systems w/ what different reviewers are saying. For example, one way I judged whether a speaker might be worth listening to is that I know I like the boxless sound of panel style speakers like Magnapan and Martin Logan. If a reviewer say he/she owned Maggies, but bought the speaker under review, then that tells me the speaker has qualities I want to check out. My search for new speakers will probably end up being about 2 years long. And that's with already knowing what gets the juices flowing for me.

    Hope this helps!
    Jim

  6. #6

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    Gotta love Totem... I agree Vince's approach to making speakers is right up my alley as well. One unique thing to consider in regard to their product line is that they're not aligned in the more traditional "good, better, best" fashion. Each of their speakers has its own unique sound and whereas one person might find themselves gravitating toward the Forest or Shaman line, another might find something like the Sttaf (at a far lower pricepoint) better suits their needs.

  7. #7

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    Zombie,

    I just downloaded the March issue of Affordable Audio and said: Hey! Look what's on the cover!

    Really fine lookin' system you got!

    Cheers, Jim

  8. #8

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    Thanks:)
    Too bad I'm having to do a bit of an overhaul due to a change of venue...

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Shearer
    Listened to Martin Login elesctrostats. Everything good you may have heard about ML is true. They have all the qualities I like in the Maggies, but w/ a better bottom end. Unfortunately, the ones I liked were $10K, and probably would have required another $10K in electronics. No way that's happening. :(


    Cheers, Jim
    Jim,

    If I'm not mistaken, I think you heard my particular speakers?
    Joey's College Gear:
    Current Gear:
    SB3 -> PS Audio DAC III -> Cary Audio SLP-98Phono Tube PreAmp w/ Sylvania NOS 6sn7 tubes -> Plinius SA102 Class A amp -> Martin Logan SUMMIT/Strata Mini -> :D
    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
    RUSH Med School 2008!!:D

  10. #10

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    The Totem line of speakers is absolutely great! If you have the room to get the placement right, they should give you everything you are looking for with the right source equipment. I have the Magnepan 1.6's, and even in a less than optimal room they sound great. I would also suggest listening to the EPOS line of speakers if you can. They have a lot of the same qualities as the Totem line. Good luck on your search!
    DKG999
    -----------------------------------------
    HT System: LSi9, LSiCx2, LSiFX, LSi7, SVS 20-39 PC+, B&K 507.s2 AVR, B&K Ref 125.2, Tripplite LCR-2400, Cambridge 650BD, Signal Cable PC/SC, BJC IC, Samsung 55" LED

    Music System: Magnepan 1.6QR, SVS SB12+, ARC pre, Parasound HCA1500 vertically bi-amped, Jolida CDP, Pro-Ject RM5.1SE TT, Pro-Ject TubeBox SE phono pre, SBT, PS Audio DLIII DAC

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joey_V
    Jim,

    If I'm not mistaken, I think you heard my particular speakers?
    I think that's correct. I understand why you bought them, but they're out of my league.:( If money were not an issue, then my choice would be different (probably.) We each must do the best we can under our circumstances. And in the end, I will thoroughly enjoy what I have, and not waste energy wishing for what I can't have. For me, it really is about the music.:)

    Cheers, Jim

  12. #12

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    My investigation is coming to an end. I tried to get my ears on a pair of Aerial Acoustics Model 6s, but the dealers are few & far between. There is one near my daughterís family, but they have shifted to home theater products and no longer stock the model 6.:(

    I did find a dealer for the Professional Monitor Company (PMC) FB-1+. Audio Classics in Vestal, NY. They seem to feature B&W and PMC speakers and McIntosh electronics. If you are interested in McIntosh, either new or vintage, thatís the place! I donít think I have even seen so many high-end amps.

    As for the PMC FB-1+, the key words are: balanced and articulate. I listened to them using a McIntosh cdp, McIntosh pre, and McIntosh 75 wpc tube amp. Canít say how much that may have influenced me, but I certainly felt that the electronics were first rate. I used the same widely varied selection of music as I did w/ the Totem Hawks. On complex orchestral music the FB-1+ set a nice sound stage w/ good imaging, all the instruments were well proportioned and clearly defined. Smooth highs, no graininess. Lows were tight & crisp with good extension, although they obviously are missing at least Ĺ octave at the very bottom. Dispersion is very good and the sweet spot is generous, but they do have a slight boxy sound. The FB-1+ does so many things well, I find it hard to explain the listening experience and why I enjoyed them so much. One of the most telling moments was w/ Ska Cubanoís Cumbia en Do Menor; on this piece they have a very large ensemble including lots of brass & percussion. Despite the complexity of the instruments, the subtle vocal lines are still very clear, articulate, and properly positioned spacially. Most impressive.

    Comparing them to the Totem Hawks: the FB-1+ seemed a bit on the analytical side, while the Hawk sounded a bit warmer & more musical. Both sound great whether they are played softly or at a roar (very important to me.) To my ears, the Hawk has many of the characteristics of a planar or electrostatic: that ariy, boxless quality, possibly because of itís exceptional dispersion, making the term sweet spot almost meaningless. Or maybe itís just the quality of the drivers, the cross-overs, and the interaction between the drivers at the cross-over point. The FB-1+, while having good dispersion still had a trace of boxy sound to it. Both had good bass extension, but the Hawk went just a bit deeper (although this is hard to judge as differences between the rooms may be a factor.) When listening to recordings that are good performances, but less than wonderful technically, I felt that the Hawks did a bit more to bring the music to life. I guess there are some types of music I would rather hear from the Hawk, while with other types, I would prefer the FB-1+. Marian seems to be leaning toward the Hawk, so that may be the deciding factor for me. Just at the moment, I wish I could have both.

    Cheers, Jim

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