Okay, first off, I don't have personal experience with the Forests and tubes, but I do have experience with the Forests and fair range of amplification.
My first question would be: when are you planning to move to tube monoblocks? If you like the forests, and plan to move to tube monos at some point anyway, then I wouldn't personally get the Hawks in the interim. I don't think they're bad speakers at all, but the forests are that much better, and that much more noticable of a jump from the arros (which are great little speakers, btw).
I guess if you're already planning on moving to monos, then I'd go with those first, and then upgrade the speakers as funds permit, that way you're not listening to anything underpowered. I don't think the PrimaLuna would sound bad with the forests, but I doubt you'd be getting as much out of them as you could with something a bit beefier.
Mimberman, thanks for your response. Your suggestion makes a lot of sense and will probably be the way I go. What would be a minimum amount of tube power to drive the Forrests?
That question I can't answer, because I'm not a tube guy. I'd email Totem and ask; they've always been helpful with my requests.
I agree with Mimberman. I heard the Forest's next to the arrows, and although the arrows are good the Totems have a much more full bodied sound.
Thanks for the responses. I've contacted Totem for their recommendations as well.
This may help a little - you did ask for feedback from any of us tube + Totem users...
I'm running my Hawks with a 100wpc Audio Research VS110 and the sound is amazingly effortless. At 86db/6ohms for the Hawk vs 87db/8ohms for the Forest, one would think they offer very similar loads to the amplifier.
Don't discount the Hawk, as they are an absolutely excellent speaker with great speed and finesse due to the smaller driver. I (now) run mine without a sub and get a huge amount of bass from them.
I am going to give both the Hawk and the Forrest a listen next week. It's been awhile since I've heard either.
I am interested in buying the Prologue Two to drive my Totem Forests (using a very cheap Jolida for the moment).
Did you listen the Forests with your Prologue Two? What did you find out?
Al, I am currently listening to the Forests powered by the PrimaLuna Prologue Two, and am pleasantly surprised at how well the Two powers the Forests. Many say these need 200W+ to open up, but with tube power I think you can get by with less.
I heard the Forests powered by the Krell kav400xi at a local dealer and was impressed. I brought one home to hear the differences compared with the PrimaLuna. The Krell did open some things up in terms of transparency. The imaging was a little tighter and the tonal accuracy of instruments was more accurate. The upper registers of female vocals could become fatiguing after long listening sessions at high volumes.
Having said all that, the PrimaLuna was simply more emotionally involving IMO - and that is the most important thing to me. The bass was surprisingly more present with the PrimaLuna. The bass was so tight on the Krell that it was almost non-existent? There is some added 'bloom' to vocals on the PrimaLuna compared to the Krell, and in that I mean they seemed a little exaggerated in size, not in colorization. Female vocals are sublime!
The PrimaLuna was just easier to sit back and enjoy the music with. I found myself over analyzing the presentation with the Krell too often. The PrimaLuna was simply more enjoyable and sucked me into the music.
Hearing some of the benefits of added power with the Krell, a more powerful tube amplifier would probably only add more of a good thing. PrimaLuna is releasing monoblocks (rated at 60-70WPC?) in the near future and I think these would make a great pairing as well.
I did contact Totem, and they recommended the Audio Research vsi55. I also inquired about the BAT vk55 (as I am now a fan of the autobiasing feature) and Totem said that it should mate well. I could live happily ever after with the PrimaLuna Prologue Two, but I have to be honest that I am curious to see what a little more in terms of tube power will bring to the table. I am most looking forward to the Prologue monoblocks.
I now have a Simaudio i-5 in house as well to pair with the Totems and I must say I am pretty impressed with this pairing!
The Sim brings some added control while remaining 'warm' with an inviting presentation. There are also no signs of upper end shrillness that can/could cause fatigue as was present on the Krell with some material.
Please post your observations with Sim I-5 against primaluna prologue 2 as it is a comparision of one of the best system synergy SS integrated for Totem against the tube world.
I am also looking at Totem forests and this will help me go in the right dorection as well.
Grakesh, I really wouldn't have thought that the Sim could seriously having me considering replacing the PrimaLuna. I thought of it more as an experiment in curiousity as I had always heard the Sim/Totem synergy to be great.
As you know, the PrimaLuna was paired with my Arros in a much smaller space and the results were simply phenomenal! Never had an inkling to change anything. Although I loved the space and the music provided with that system, untimatley both my wife and I couldn't listen in that small room.
Ultimately, but HT and 2-channel merged, allowing extra funds to open up to upgrade! ;) The Arros, now in a room 4x+ the size of it's previous home still had the magic, but weren't full enough to flesh out the presentation in the way I would want. This led to the Forests.
I talked with Totem about the PrimaLuna/Forest pairing and they were skeptical of the 40W (even though tube watts). I was pleasantly surprised at how well the Prima handled the Forests, but was curious as to everyone suggesting 200W of SS power for them to really open up.
I brought home a Krell kav-400xi. I did hear the forest open up in terms of transparency, imaging and detail. My wife even said 'like a blanket coming off the speakers'. I chuckled, and she just looked at me odd - I had to reply to her that you are more of an audiophile than you think, but in our world it's called a 'veil'. She had never heard this phrase uttered before, as I don't really use it, but read it all the time. She highly underestimates her listening acuteness! Anyway, the problem I had with the Krell was a tinginess in the highs that could become fatiguing when listening for long periods at loud volumes.
The Sim bests the Prima in terms of transparency, bass control - I think it bests the Krell in this regard too, and imaging. You do give up a little of that 'tube magic', but the Sim has a very warm, inviting presentation that is in some ways reminiscent of tubes. Also, the Sim show no signs of tinginess in the highs at loud volumes. Very pleasant and easy to listen to.
I preferred the Prima to the Krell, because it was simply more musically involving. The Sim is just as musically involving while gaining a few notches in control, detail and transparency. I was up late last night comparing the two, and plan to again tomorrow. I will keep you posted on my final verdict.
Very interesting to me, jho2s. I have the Sim I-5 and am interested in the Totem Hawks. I heard this pairing at a dealer recently and liked it mucho. Earlier, I had emailed Totem about the pairing of an I-5 with either the Hawks or Forests, and they said they think the Hawk was a better match and that: "Although the FOREST is more demanding to drive the I-5 can still handle the load to a moderate/high level. Although it will play to satisfying levels, maximum dynamics would not be reached."
You do not seem to have any issues with your I-5 and Forest. Good one to note.
Walkman, no problems here. I don't listen at insane levels, but I have had it pretty loud with no negative side effects that I can hear.
Thanks for taking your time and patiently writing all the observations you made. I will be very eager to read your postings regarding this comparision you are making.
OK, so the winner (for me) is the Simaudio i-5 with the Forests.
Both sound great and the Prima is a little sweeter in the midrange and adds a nice juiciness to the female vocals that's hard to give up, but overall the Sim just offers a little more. A little more transparency, a little tighter imaging and focus and more accurate tonal representation. Many of the things that I found the Krell to add, but without the nasties in the highs - which to me are unforgivable.
The Sim actually attempts what seems to be some tube like qualities, but when pairing it head-to-head with the same thing, tubes do add a little more 'magic'. Although both sound great, the decision was pretty easy for me. The Sim just controls the Forests better.
While I prefer the Sim i-5, I still question if that could be the final pairing with the Forests. I think the 'perfect' pairing may lie along the lines of a PrimaLuna Prologue Three Preamp with a Simaudio i-3/5 power amp, or perhaps the BAT vk300? I think a hybrid system could be just the ticket for the Forests? The i-5 is nice, but I think a little more power could onyl go in a positive direction.
Very interesting...thanks for the verdict on this...It does not seem like you've had any concerns about the ability of the I-5 to drive the Forests...
Jh2os: it seems we have had some similar audio tastes in the recent past, I noticed you mentioned that both 2ch and HT were merged now? If this is the case, do not buy any SS amp for the Forest without first auditioning the Linar 10 5.1 integrated,. It is SS power with tube transparency and there are so many ways you can use it, it is scary (!): regular 2ch, 2*2ch (two rooms), regular 5.1 and, my favorite these days: bi-amping with ability to adjust the relative volume of one 2ch amp vs. the other...extremely useful to "tune" your speakers as a function of source, room, music, etc. I have had mine for about 9 months now and I cannot think of going anywhere else as I am about to buy some big floorstanders that will need power and also ability to "tame" down bass relative to their placement. Victor Sima was who started Simaudio, father of the I5 predecessor (a pale copy of the Sim at the time some say) and he knows what he is doing. The Linar 10 is one of those jewel that go below the radar because it is a newer brand. A bit pricey but 3 amps in one!
Beheme, that is a very interesting product, I never heard of ti before - must have skipped over the stereophile review back in January?
My combined HT is strickly 2-channel now, and I don't forsee adding anything else. Going back to 5.1 just doesn't appeal to me now, or as far as I can see anytime in the near future. I think with the Linar, I may be paying for more than what I need, but if I do find myself craving 5.1 again in the future I'll put it at the top of my list to audition. It sounds like a very interesting and great product!
It would be nice if they made a strickly 2-channel integrated at a lower price point!
I agree that if you only use 2ch you may think you are paying say 60% too much for what you use...it happened to me until I started bi-amping with variable SPL (almost as tone control). My Yaras just opened up even more and became near perfect..until i sold them for smaller first but now much bigger (!). Despite the price, it competes with the very best (read the review in Secret of HT...compared to ARC for $15,000!!!)and is not overpriced as a 2ch only. I bought it for sound (fell in love with it at a trade show) and flexibility, hoping this will be the last amp.... Anyway, you cannot go wrong with I5.
FYI, check with Totem if they still have a few units of that custom integrated made by Simaudio I believe...they use it in their office to drive Forest...
Yeah, I heard the Simaudio Amber integrated driving Winds years back at my dealer and the combo was impressive. Never heard it on the Forests but I would love to hear it or get my hands on that amp. I've only seen one come up for sale here on the 'gon, but it was when I owned the Arros and it simply would have been overkill at that point.
i have owned the totem forest for 4 years and now stiil using it in my system, in the past i had tried them with tube amp with 40w and the sound is terrible, then switch back to 120w ss amp which i currently using. my guess is that because the forest sensitivity is quite low 87db and consider not a good match with low power tube amp, if you want to go with tube try one with at least 100w
Taiquach - what amp have you been using to drive your Forests?