The best I ever heard the Hawks sound was with Totem's own amp. It's an ugly thing, shaped like a half-cylinder, and I want to say it cost around $5000, but it had a rich yet delicate sound. I also understand that it's a relatively rare amp.
I heard it at that same dealer with a DK integrated, which was OK but not exceptional. I found an NAD integrated to be surprisingly good. I currently use a Jolida 302b with my Hawks to good effect. You might also want to try a Plinius 8100 or 8200.
The only amp that I've listed thus far that's European, though, is the NAD. (I forget which model, but it was one of their better integrateds.) I haven't heard the combination, but perhaps one of the Electrocompaniet or Musical Fidelity (such as A3cr or A3.2cr) integrateds would serve you.
What have you tried so far? That info may keep us from making unneeded recommendations.
Nothing stale about the Portal Panache. I drove the Totem model 1s with it and it was sweet with plenty of punch. Can't speak to the hawks as I've never heard them.
I am using Thule audio IA 100 right now but It's having trouble. here are the specs for it...Thule IA 100 Integrated...
IA100 is a 2x 100W integrated amplifier. IA100 has the same features as IA60, but has a twice as big power supply and twice the number of output transistors:
8 Sanken high-current power transistors and a 500VA / 40,000uF power supply gives you sufficient output even with so-called difficult speaker loads.
Frequency Range 20-20-khz + 0db/-1db
s/n odb 90dBA
Current peak capacity 1ohm, 1ms +/- 30A
Power output 1Khz, 8ohm 2 x100W
We have had great success with Simaudio I5.3, Linn Majik-i, and Naim Nait -5
Bobrock, what is your budget for this project? G.
Naim has 3 integrated amps, all of which have great synergy with Totem. I personally have the Supernait and Totem's The ONE (20th Anniversary model).
What do you mean by - the Thule is having "trouble" driving the speakers? Last time I saw them at THE show, Vincent was using an Ayre integrated and CD and the power was adequate. Maybe you're just driving those small drivers past their capability?
I use a BAT VK-300xSE with my Hawks. It has no issues driving them and sounds very nice.
I use a BAT VK-300xSE with my Hawks. It has no issues driving them and sounds very nice.
I have owned Totem Hawks and I second the BAT VK-300. This hyrid amp sounds a treat with the Hawks. Personally, I used another amp, the Unison Research Unico Secondo (120w) with some success.
I don't understand the Naim Supernait recommendations and i wonder whether these folk actually own the Hawk? The Supernait is only good for 80 watts (8 ohms) and the Hawks lowish sensitivity and impedance mean on paper (and as experienced in practise) it really benefits from more power than this.
Another higher powered amplifier recommendation would be the Plinius 9200 integrated from New Zealand.
Look for an amp with at least 125 watts per side and doubles down into 4 ohms. This is why the BAT works so well - lots of power and unconcerned by drops in impedance.
Some other suggestions:
1. Musical Fidelity A5.5 Integrated amplifier or used A5
2. NAD M3 Dual Mono integrated amplifier or the new C375BEE - basically plain Jane version of the M3
3. Plinius 9100 or 9200 Integrated Amplifier
4. Naim Nait XS Integrated Amplifier - lower power compared to these others, but lots of apparent current on tap when needed - a musical over achiever (I think the Super Nait while more powerful is a bit over priced)
5. New Cambridge Audio Azur 840W amplifier paired with Cambridge's new 840E preamp, not an integrated but terrific sounding pair.
Thanks for all your responses I am looking at Atoll IN200, Linn Majik-I and New NAD C375 BEE as a budget alternative.
With the Atoll and NAD you get a lot for your money. The Linn, typically not so much. But if it sounds really good with the Hawks to you, much better than what you have now, then that may be the ticket. Its all about finding the right match.
If you have the chance to check them out in your area, i I am certain the Plinius, and fairly sure the Nait XS and big Cambridge pair would work very well with the Hawks.
I will check it out someone also said the Musical Fidelity A5.5 integrated is a powerhouse...Never heard a Plinius but if its like a Bryston I dont want it.
Yes, the A5.5 is good - lots of power to take control of woofers and air in the Hawk cabinets. I have heard it's precursor the A5 with some small B&W floor standers and some Revel stand mounts and it was wonderful in both cases. I have heard the A3.5 with Totem Arro's and it was outstanding - so am thinking the A5.5 might be the ticket with the Hawks, but haven't heard that particular combination.
I have heard the Naim Nait 5i with the Hawks and it was very good, but was actually a better match for the larger Forest (actually a match made in Heaven!). The Nait XS is a little more powerful and MUCH more refined than the Nait 5i - so am thinking it might make the Hawks really sing...
I think the Plinius will be warmer than the Bryson FWIW. Read about here:
I never thought of the Plinius 9100...It's cheaper than The musical Fidelity A5.5 too. I will try to find one.
I never heard so I would have to audition....as long as it was musical that's the important thing. I have listened to many Bryston amps and I hate them all.
last one...anyone try Primare? either integrated or separate..they seem to get great reviews for the $$$$
They are outstanding - weigh a ton. Very neutral and lots of current. Haven't heard them with the Hawks but they sure sound great with Vienna Acoustic floor standers.
I talked to some more people and I am still leaning towards the Linn-Majik-I. They guarantee lots of stable power into all ohms 8,6 or 2 without ever clipping.
I don't know why this is difficult to do at all frequencies but the Linn can.
If you like the way it sounds, that is all that really matters.
I am currently searching for an integrated for my Totem Arros. In my research, the following companies have been recommended for Totem gear:
Last week, I auditioned Atoll, Musical Fidelity and Rega integrates w/ Arros. The Atoll was my personal favorite. Unforunately, the dealers in my area do not carry many of the above lines so it makes it hard to audition.
When I contacted Totem directly, they suggested the following camps mate well w/ Totem gear:
Naim, Arcam, Plinius & Ayre
Hope this is helpful.
If you would consider tubes, audition a Rogue Cronos. I've heard the combination and it was jaw dropping.
Hearing that little integrated with the Arros had me rethinking my combo of Rogue Zeus and Thiels. It was a very engaging, musical set up and very attractive in terms of price and physical space.
A friend is absolutely in love with his Cronos driving a pair of Hawks.
This one's easy.
On the affordable side: you'll want to get into either the Rega Mira 3 or the Vista Audio i34.On the more expensive side of town, the BAT VK300x or the Blue Circle FtTH integrated amplifiers will get the job done well.
The key is finding a warm sounding piece with low damping factor that mixes a unique combo of speed and linearity with a slight pinch of 'warmth'. The above amps form a great synergy with your Hawks - a speaker that is quite picky about what it'll play nice with.
I drove my totem arros to perfection with my unison UNICO integrated. I will just bet its eighty watts or the one forty of its younger bigger brother, the UNICO SE, would be amazing with hawks. Slightly less quick than the naim gear I used to own ( so is everything else except densen) but with fuller and more present mids. Sam tellig has to be right occasionally- and with the unico he was! Terrific.
Last amp I need to check out is Musical Fidelity A5.5....the price to performance looks unbeatable. Lot's of power for a great price.
If it sounds as good as it looks I will take it.
Bobrock - read here for one critic's comments about the A5 - predecessor to the A5.5.
I couldn't agree more.
Had the A5 amp in house for a time. Listened via a Modwright SE preamp. In comparison to Bel Canto Ref 1000's, a Unico SE integrated, a Bel Canto S300 and an ARC 100.2, it sounded rather mechanical-- kind of like Thiel speakers have always sounded to me.
It produced a lot of sound and went loud easily. Good solid bass and imaging. Excellent at dissecting orchestral works and choruses into parts to be listened to at your leisure-- But little joy. This is the very definition of what many feel the high end is about; so for them- perfect amp. On the plus side, it seemed build to military spec and was silent in operation and happy to go about its business.
Unfortunately its 'business' was frequently to bore me into changing amps so I could get on listening to music.
You thought the A5 was boring with Totem speakers? Funny, that's the same way I felt about listening to the Bel Canto S300i driving the Usher Be-718 - Ho Hum, didn't ring my "Bel" so to speak. Which is also funny because that's the same brand of separates the reviewer used for his glowing account of the Be-718's on 6moons - WIERD! ARC is nice... Never thought the A5 integrated was boring - muscular yes - boring, no. Maybe the A5 integrated has a better internal pre-power match than the Modwright-A5 power set up you had? Surprising.
And while we are at it, you really think the Unico can drive the Hawks to their happy place? They seem to crave power in a way the other Totem columns both larger and smaller don't - why I suggested something with at least 120 musical watts into 8 ohms, and doubling that into 4.
Although I like Musical Fidelity products, I personally feel they do not make a great match with Totem gear. As always, each persons take will vary. I'll stand by my Blue Circle / BAT recommendation though. :)
I agree with Rumadian - the key is low damping factor. Hawks love amps with low damping factor. It just lets them open-up and gives them a huge amount of body.
IMO you need a stable damp, but the watts aren't hugely critical.
I've run Bryston (3B-ST: plenty of power, plenty stable) with Hawks and it sounded good, but honestly a vintage Sherwood S-8900 (top-of-the-line vintage receiver from the days when a top-of-the-line Sherwood was as good as Mac) with 60 watts and a much lower damping factor than the 3B-ST sounded amazingly superior. Anyone could hear the difference immediately.
Not really BORING per se-- as in slow and pokey or something. Just-- mechanical. Like "here is your music sir. Will that be all?" No-- please give me a bit of humanity will ya? "I cant do that Dave-- I can only reproduce what I am fed." Bryston (at least older bryston) was somewhat this way for me- but my little B60 and later my BP 20 pre both had more humanity in them than the big A5 did. Feel free to call it 'coloration'- I prefer to think of it as sonic engagement.
I only paired the A5 briefly with totem ones and the setup could have been better, so I speak primarily based on my experience with that amp paired with Proac response 1.5's (which incidentally I always preferred to the 2.5's I upgraded to-- I felt the 1.5's had more of a reach-out-and-touch-it midrange than the 2.5's-- which were balanced but not quite as present and at the same time invisible in terms of staging).
I am not saying the Bel Canto was a wonderfully warm and human piece of gear-- No - that for me at a budget price anyway is the original Unico- what a midrange on the totem arros I used to have (Audio Note front end didnt hurt either!) but the Bel Canto was certainly preferable to the A5 and sounded more dynamic at lower listening levels than about any 'normal' amp I've ever owned to boot (an especial selling point of Icepower amps apparently). By comparison, I enjoy the sound of Mccormack gear, but at lower levels the older stuff didnt quite come to life on my proacs.
Again- synergy with the proacs may have been at work here as the A5 is certainly not rolled off on top and the proacs are a touch tipped up. The Bel Canto amps were slightly soft on top- slightly tube like- and this no doubt contributed to their seductive symmetry.
As for power-- lemme tell ya- unless you're a man who loves big rooms and driving guitars, a unico SE will punch the hell out of any totem up to say, a mani. Those you'll need a blow torch or a small honda generator to play loud and long. Or a Krell.
But if the man is in say, a 14 by 18 room (reasonable) and values his hearing, I am quite sure 140 a side on the Hawks is plentiful.
Especially once you check out the Unico SE power supply- that thing is heavy!! Incidentally, I forgot to mention that via my arros, I did prefer the pace and rhythm of my Sim audio Moon I-5 - that thing was as fast and funky as my Nait 2 (and thats fast!!!) but it wasnt as tonally fleshed out and present.
Perhaps some of the new Sims, particularly the I-3 SE, with their supposed increased warmth without sacrifice of pace might be another option. (Brit press loves them to death).
Even if the man had said Forests instead of Hawks-- then maybe in a big room with hardcore heavy metal or Mahler-- the Unico SE wouldnt cut it. Hawks are about the easiest to drive though in the line and do the best at lowish levels as well, at least in terms of dynamics.
But how do I know? Talked to Vince Bruzzese about that one on the phone cause I had similar questions! For lower to med. levels particularly with amps under 100 a side or so, his choice is Hawks.
Bobrock initiated this threat by saying his 100W per channel SS amp was having trouble "driving" his Totem Hawks. Rumadian suggested among others the BAT VK300x and the Blue Circle FtTH integrateds. Mallardducks says they agree with Rumadian and that you need an amp with low damping factor to make them sing, and mentions success with an old Sherwood tube amp.
1. The Blue Circle and especially the BAT VK300x are not particularly "low dampening factor" pieces - and
2. while not sterile sounding by any stretch - these amps are not as bloomy or loose as an old Sherwood.
Mallardducks, you would have me believe that Bobrock's current amp (sic) has too much dampening vs not enough???
I have to accept on face value that neither of you particularly like the MF A5.5-Hawk combination, but I don't think you are recommending the same type of solutions???
I would heartily recommend pretty much any Blue Circle amp and the VK300x is also a great amp - both high quality hand crafted products but also both would be many bucks more than the A5.5, yes?
Not sure you can readily find an old Sherwood, but a used Mac like an old (or new) MC275 might fit the bill - then you need a preamp... or how about a pair of PrimaLuna ProLogue seven monoblocs?
I still like the A5.5-Hawk combination, at least I would give it a try and see for yourself. The MF is a pretty well balanced mix of authority and nuance for the money asked. Have you had a chance to hear it yet?
Since bobrock's sound preference makes him think of Bryston and Krell as stale, I'm guessing that he would really prefer some bloom/body/tone, which from my experience he can get from Hawks by using an amp with a relatively low damping factor.
Bobrock's description of the Thule having "trouble" could actually be the amp having too much control, and not allowing the speakers to open-up enough for his sound preference. I bet if we could go over to bobrock's place with a Bryston 4B-SST (way more than enough power, way stable amp) we'd get the same listening impression from him of the amp having trouble.
Almost all vintage solid-state receivers from the late 60s, early 70s are going to have a low damping factor. If bobrock can find someone in his area with a high-quality, properly maintained high-end old receiver from that era, he could try out Rumadian's and my theory about damping factor with Hawks.
Maybe something like a Sony STR-6055, STR-7055, STR-7065; Sherwood S7900, S8900; late 60s/early 70s Marantz etc. But it would have to be something with sufficient power.
Interesting perspective - will be curious to see where this story ends up? Hopefully it is a happy ending:-)
Mcintosh is another brand I need to hear, I was told they are good at lowest impedance and Very musical.
Mcintosh integrated 6300 i think.
For tubes I could try Rogue tempest II or Jolida...Thats an interesting option.
It looks like you're going in circles here. Time to find a good deal and take a chance! Garnering opinions from a group of audiophiles will just have you endlessly chasing your tail.
That said, I'd like to share some of mine on the gear you just listed. hah!
I owned the MA6300 integrate for awhile. It's a good piece and actually matches very well with Totem products, to include the Hawk. The MA6300 is a solid all-around piece. It's powerful,sounds polar opposite of Bryston,and is built to last longer than anything out there. However, is it the best thing money can buy at 4k? The short answer is no. At its price-point, including MSRP and used, you can do better for the dinero in terms of raw sonic performance. This isn't to say its a bad piece, its just an affordable way to step into the McIntosh culture.
As for Rogue and Jolida.. eh.. it's not in my nature to throw brands under the bus. After all, both Rogue and Jolida make a fine product and subsequently have a loyal following. However... I will say that provided you can live with 35wpc, the Vista Audio piece I mentioned above makes very quick work of them in terms of raw performance.
Anyways, enough of this. Pick something and go for it and after you've tried a few situations out - let us know how things went!
Thanks to all I will let you know what I decide. I have narrowed things down considerably. As the last person mentioned Price at some point is an issue.
Unfortunately for many, bad economic times can lead to significant opportunities for a few. Keep your eyes on the Agon listings - there have been a lot of good integrated amps for sale there lately at reasonable prices. Perhaps one on your short list will pop up soon.
I've been driving my Hawks with the Musical Fidelity A3.2cr amp and have been very happy with it. It's not the 5.5 integrated, but it's good a good amount of power. I wanted a hybrid system, so I have a TAD-150 tube pre-amp leading to the MF. Feels very neutral, not too bright. Good luck!
How did you decide on the Hawks over the Forest? Seems like the Hawks with lower sensitivity and impedance are more suited to SS. Is that your take?
I currently have a Plinius 9200 driving my Forests. Great synergy! A dealer has also recommended Naim as an excellent match with Totem gear.
Thanks to everyone I have settled on The Linn Akurate 2200.
Take care !!!
Thanks for the update. It's always good to see the results of the original question.
I am also a big fan of Linn amps and am considering the 2250 for the balanced inputs.
I just listened to both The Linn Majik-I integrated and the Akurate 2200 this weekend. Amazingly I could not detect a big difference in sound because they use the same amplification technology, the 2200 just has more power. Both stunning amps. You would not believe the little Majik-I could pack such a punch!! I am also going to sell my CDP now and get the Majik CD for an all Linn system. World Class gear (and they don't take up any room) or run hot. No more looking for me!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks again everyone.
One with and excellent tone adjustments to tame the highs-
ouch- did I just hear that
I just spent 2 days demoing the Forests with a Parasound 275 amp and a 2100 pre. I was really surprised how well it made the Forests perform. Even Vince from Totem was impressed.
Currently with my Hawks: Lyngdorf TDAi 2200.
Previously: Plinius 8150.
Both lovely, the Plinius is a bit more lush and lively, the Lyngdorf more neutral. I could live with either. Either way, the Hawk is a superb piece of work.