I heard the Totem Forests with McCormack electronics, and with ARC. Both sounded great.
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I've had ARROs and FORRESTs
One common theme that you will see in many posts and that I also personally experienced: is that they are power hungry.In fact, the FORESTS only performed at their peak when I bi-amped them with hi-current and Hi watts amps
My audiophile buddy test drove the FORRESTS with his CARY pre-amp and tube power amp system ....they sounded flat until he juiced them to a 2 o'clock position on the volume dial... noy exactly a comfortable listening level long-term.
THE POINT: they are not the ideal tube mates in our experience
Take a look at what TOTEM uses to drive them at trade shows: PLINIUS, SIM AUDIO and a select few others. All hi-current hi-watts solid state gear.
SIM are ideal, in fact they are both in Montreal and voiced with each other's kit.
Silly me, been using Forests for over ten years on 15 watts of tube power. This speaker doesn't dip below 6 ohms impedance which makes it very tube friendly. Totem has demoed the much less efficient Model One with a 35 watt tube amp and the sound was wonderful. What you need is a simpatico amp regardless of power output, or tube/transistor. Also, don't over damp your room and soak up all the life in the music. That WILL sound flat. Think diffusion as opposed to absorbtion. Now, you may be a solid state guy and thats OK, but don't be afraid of trying them with tubes because it can be done with great results. Nothing about this speaker that requires SS only.
How large a listening space you have and how loud you listen are definitely relevant. FWIW - I've owned Forests for years now. While not perfect - I very much enjoy how they sound. They aren't the most efficient speakers and do benefit from more power BUT don't rule out tubes. I originally ran them with a JoLida 502B, things sounded good. Got the factory mod for the JoLida and things sounded better. But always wished for a little more "loud" without having to crank the volume control to 2AM (sound was NOT fatiguing in this position, peak dBs maybe only low - md 80s)but I did worry about pushing the amp to get them to that level. Subsequently, got a pair of Cyber 800SE monoblocks. The nominal power rating isn't all that much more than the JoLida (78WPC VS ~60??) but something is definitely different. I've got all the volume I need in my small (13' x 15') listening space. Easy 85dB+ if I want it with 9-10 o'clock volume control setting. I know volume pot settings aren't apples to apples but the point is tubes can work very well. I've always been amazed at the imaging and soundstage from the Forests and with the better amplification, bass is really impressive. I'm not anti-solid state at all. Have heard very good things about Plinius + Forests. Have fun. Hope you find something great that works for you.
I'll be interested in what other owners have to say in reply. Not sure I think about them in the terms you have provided. I will say, compared to some Von Schweikert VR4 Jrs that I heard, the Forests are probably not as neutral or linear. The VR4s were very good...great extension low and hi end. The Forest's sound seems a little more "fleshed out" so probably more colored with a warmer mid-range...maybe more b & d vs t & p???
I used a 200w/ch Krell amp with the Forest's and they suckked up every last ounce I could give them. When lesser power was used, they still sounded ok, but they will absolutely come alive and thrill you when fed alot of good clean power. For tube magic use a tube preamp or tube buffer i.e...Yaquin makes a killer for about $185!