I used the NAD M3 for a year or so with my Sttafs and got "to good to be true" results. Its a bit more than your budget, but well worth the extra $$ IMO.
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This is a terrific list of amps to choose from - you don't need to look any further.
I would look first at Naim Nait 5i and the Sim Moon i-1. Next I would look at the Creek Classic 5350 SE. I think the Arcam and Cambridge units in this price range are good, but the Naim and Sim are class leaders, and the Naim has a presentation that just sucks you in when paired with the Totems.
I asked Totem to recommend an amp for the Sttaf, but apparently they don't like to name specific brands. Here's their reply:
We recommend a minimum of 50 watts SS and 20 watts TUBE. We obtain numerous inquiries about amplifier recommendations, and although superior combinations do exist personal taste does plays a large role in determining the perfect match. We recommend contacting your local Totem dealer to arrange for a personal audition of various electronics paired to our loudspeakers.Personally, I'm a fan of tubes. To my ears, they sound more realistic and tend to be smoother and less fatiguing. At 88 dB efficiency, I really think the Sttaf need more power than 20 tube watts. 50 watts is a better baseline. There are plenty of options in your price range.
Do you know what tube products your dealer carries? Primaluna? Rogue? Jolida? Cayin? Even if you decide to go with SS, I strongly recommend listening to the Sttaf with tubes. I also recommend bringing your own music to the audition. Bring something that you know intimately.
What type of music do you listen to? What size of room are you trying to fill? How loud do you like to take things?
I've owned the Sttaf for 5 years. In this time, I've matched the little speakers with at least three dozen or so integrated and pre/amp combos - ranging anywhere from a few hundred bucks, to twenty thousand dollars. Give us a little bit of a lead and we can suggest a better fit.
My music tastes have changed a little,maybe not so much changed but expanded..Jazz has been the choice of late but rock, and metal can still draw my attention.As far as volume..im on the high side of 40 and we live in a condo so i dont need to take things to 150db...Our living room and dining room are open and in line so the space is 16'X 25' with 9 ft ceiling and hardwood flooring which does make the room a little "lively"....hanging sound deadening is not an option....Its a decor thing. I have also concidered the Rainmakers to the sttafs and am still looking at both...I just refuse to spend thousands and thousands on this hobby----ive been down this road before.....Thanks again...
Thanks for providing us with a bit of insight on how you intend on using the Sttaf. First things first; the room you describe is not the most ideal space for the Sttaf. What this particular speaker needs to sound its best is a small room that is completely closed off. Unless you plan on sitting 6ft or so away from the loudspeakers and will have the space to experiment with precise placement - I would recommend you go with the Rainmakers instead.
The Rainmakers are less critical on room and associated electronics, and are, subsequently, can be a more viable option. If you wish to support your dealer, I'd ask him to show you the Sim Audio MOON CD-1 cd-player, and the accompanying MOON I-1 integrated. Or, if you have a bit more cash to burn, the NAIM CD5v2 CD player and the matching Nait5i v2 integrated.
As said many times above; Totem loudspeakers can sounds real good on tube gear. I've run through the gamut of goods on Totem.. ranging from Prima Luna, Jolida, Antique Sound Labs, etc.. so far, the best match I've found is the Vista Audio I-84. This little $730 15wpc integrated has a lot of kick, and makes for a superb match with Totem's - the Sttaf in particular.
Moving up the money chain a bit; The Unison Research Unico and the Blue Circle Audio NSCS (no longer in production) hybrid integrated amplifiers also make for a superb match.
Good luck !
Well its official...I ordered my Totem Sttaf's today.The dealer has business in the city i live in and will bring the Totems with him..Now thats customer service. As far as a new amp...well the jury is still out on that for now, but he does have a demo Sim I3 that tweeked me...Thanks again for all the opinions, so i'll let you know what comes up later..
You have made a very good choice in terms of value.
Sttaf is almost $800 more than Rainmakers. However, if accounting for stands (Totem) than your saving will get a $400-$500 haircut so saving is not much there with Rainmakers. Besides, Sttaf is not that finicky.
Totem Sttaf very good deal
Totem Hawk very good deal (Scan Speak and Dynaudio are my favorites)
Totem Rainmaker very good deal
Totem Arro very good deal
Totem Model One average deal-they were great back in the late 1980s but now there are so many better deals out there
Totem Forest great bass but high is a hair edgy for my ears. They are a poor deal-they look good but the drivers are of cheap source (Hi Vi and not Dynaudio)
Totem Mani 2 great speakers but average deal like the Forest and Model 1.
Totem The One-sounds great but at close to $5K per pair, I would be better off buying 2 pairs of Totem Hawk or 2 pairs of Sttaf and still have some extra cash for a Cambridge Audio or NAD CD players.
Sim I 7 (integrated) or Classe CA 2200 (separate power amp) are great choices if you have cash to burn. I have auditioned these amps driving Dynaudio Special 25 and B & W 800 with ease and the sound quality is simply stunning.
Brand new Sim I 3 is a good deal but if you can find a demo Sim I 5, that is even a better deal.
I like tube but you will need a power sub definitely.
With respect to Hieule, I share a few different opinions on the gear.
Although I certainly agree that towers like the Arro and Sttaf offer an advantage in terms of value when you factor in the need for high quality stands and greater lengths in wire; the Rainmakers are overall the more versatile product. The Sttaf, although designed to work with a wide variety of electronics, tends to only sound its best when paired with tube gear and placed in small, sealed off rooms. It also requires fairly precise positioning; as most Totem's do.
I completely disagree with the Forest being a bad value. In fact, it may be the best value in the Totem line. For 3.3k, you can an efficient, nearly full range two way tower that is not that particular with electronics, not that particular with room placement, and can work in rooms big and small. You get great sound quality, the holographic stuff that Totem is known for... and uses the HiVi woofer that does the same thing the Dynaudio woofer does, only its more efficient and has greater cooling dispersion. Now, I can't argue if one doesn't care for the sound of the Forest as that's the thing subjectivity is made of - but when you compare it to the Sttaf (limited to small rooms), the Hawk (insanely picky to room and electronics), and the Arro (limited bass extension and output).. the Forest is an exceptional value... and in my humble opinion, is one of the single best values Totem Acoustic has to offer.
Oh, and lastly, THE ONE is 3.5k. Expensive yes, but still a good ways away from 5k. That's Mani-2 territory!
Hieule5, if you're reading this - please understand that I'm not attempting to discredit or nit-pick you. I'm just offering up a different opinion is all. :)
I still suggest that the Naim entry level integrated is the one I would look at first - at least for solid state amp to go with the Sttaff's. The new entry level Moon is good too, perhaps more neutral but less of a toe tapper than the Naim. Tubes? Yes, but I would definitely listen first.
Some of the gear suggested by Hieule5 is going to be quite pricey - unlikely to find near the suggested budget of $1500, even used. Sim I-7? Great amp. $1500? I doubt it.
I'm gonna stick my neck out in another direction. This is such an inexpensive, safe approach it's almost risk-free.
How about an Onkyo A-9555 class D integrated amp? At its suggested list price ($799) it would be competitive, but you can get it at $500 and below almost anywhere (e.g., J&R, B&H, and Amazon, which has free shipping and a 30-day trial period). And you'll need that 30 days because it takes a good 75-100 hours to break in. I hooked up an iPod and FM tuner to break mine in 24 hrs/day. By the third day it began to astound me. It has extraordinary speed, clarity, and transparency combined with a particularly articulate and extended bass, and an overall natural sense of ease that's usually missing from inexpensive fast, detailed amps.
Can't say how it sounds against a Naim, but I like it better than what I've heard from Creek, Rega, and Cambridge, including specifically the 640A. It sounds more like a 150-200 wpc Musical Fidelity, and even there, I think its midrange is a little smoother and more natural than the MF's.
It should be an excellent match with your Totems as well. Its 85/170 wpc into 8/4 ohms fits your STtaffs' recommended power of 20-100w at 8 ohms. The Onkyo's ability to deliver current should help your STtaffs perform at their potential in bass extension and clarity, and will also bring out the best in Totem's strengths in speed and clarity.
Sorry folks I don't want to hi jack the thread here.
Mr. Rumadian don't get me wrong sir:-)) I used to own 2 pairs of Rainmakers (my brother inherited them now) and recently switched to Dynaudio DM 2/10 to keep things simple. But I still own a Totem Storm (a great sub and I have to give this credit to where it is due, Vince Bruzzese and his team)
I do admire Vince's work on the Arro and the Rainmaker (speakers for the working class people) However, Totem does have some sub par products like the Lightning, Mite, and Rokk.
The Mite is probably the worst speaker that they ever produce. I do A/B listening between a pair of Mite and a pair of Usher S520 and the Usher, at almost half the price of the Mite, beat the Mite hands down (high, midrange, and bass definition and extension) They were both driven by a very Denon amp that cost less than a $1K.
I then autioned the Forest. You are absolutely correct that Forest sounds very good and they look great for the money if WAF is a must to you. And I have to say that Forest has a group of followers. Well it is a practical matter that Totem used Hi Vi drivers. I was thinking about upgrading to the Forest but after I learned about Hi Vi drivers man I was disappointed with Totem. Their only redeeming product is the Rainmaker for their prices.
I do think that Forest is a product that is overpriced for what they are. Vandersteen 2CE and Dynaudio Audience 72 may not look much to you but they are very viable options for the Forest. As I said earlier, if WAF is not a must, anyone would love to own a pair of Vandy or Dynaudio Audience 72 any day. And these 2 speakers are not very electronics friendly:-))
Btw Mr. Rumadian, if you are into tube, check out the Dynaudio DM 2/10. I used NAD C162/NAD C270 combo or a NAD C372 to drive them and place them on Sound Anchor 22 inch stands that I purchased from another kind Agoner here. Man, they are simply stunning at low listening level with all music genres, jazz, vocal, rock, hip hop, classical and what have you.
If you check with your Totem dealers, I am sure they would tell you that they sell more Arro/Rainmaker/Sttaf/ and maybe the Hawk more than Model 1, Forest, or Mani 2:-))
Second on Naim integrated.
Personally, I think Sim is more engaging than others but I don't like their prices. Classe is a better deal because they are not that insanely expensive as Sim but they too are very musical. NAD M-3 is also a good choice on the used market.
Plinius is a good choice but I think Totem recommended Plinius because they refer each other products back and forth in Asia, as they do with Rega in Europe.
The Sttaf, although designed to work with a wide variety of electronics, tends to only sound its best when paired with tube gear and placed in small, sealed off rooms. It also requires fairly precise positioning; as most Totem's do.I owned a pair of Sttafs for 2 years, sold them only to upgrade to Mani-2s. I think you need to be careful interpreting this statement. While it may be true they do their best in these conditions, that's only a little bit better than under most any other conditions in my experience.
I found them fairly easy to place (ie by comparison to every other speaker I've owned). While they are wonderful with Tubes, mine were wonderful with every amp I used. And while they're more suited to a smaller room, I found them quite nice in a 16x24, and 14x20 open rooms (maybe these are small?).
I wish I still had mine!
The HiVi woofer may not have the same history and cool factor as a true Dynaudio woofer, but it's performance is not slighted in any way. Oh well - I prefer the Scan Speak Revelator to either the Hi Vi or the Dynaudio woofs anyway. :)
Once upon a time I owned the Vandersteen 2CE Signatures and have gone through a number of speakers from Dynaudio, particularly from their Contour and Focus line. You certainly won't ever catch me bad mouthing either product. They are exceptional in their own right. Although I personally do not consider them to be a better value, or hold an edge in over-all performance - its easy to see how some people will prefer what they do over other options in the market.
BDGregory; Perhaps it's just my luck! Hah! I find most loudspeakers to be incredibly easy to position - Totem's, for whatever reason, always seem to be a challenge for me - right down to the last half inch..
Seems to me that Totem has spent so much time voicing the midrange on the Model 1 to make sure that they would be the most revealing speakers on the market that Totem's decided to sacrifice the bottom end (similar to listening pipe organ music in MP3 format, missing the bottom end)
I spent too much time rearranging my furniture and upgrading my electronic that I sold them to get it over with:-))
Re: Their only redeeming product is the Rainmaker for their prices
I can't believe some of the comments I'm reading here. The Totems are awesome, and easily better than many products at similar prices. There is not a single bad model in the line. They very in their "flavor" a bit between models but they all are definately Totems. I can listen blindfolded and tell you if a speaker is a Totem or not. They certainly have a signature sound. It is one that I ultimately love as well as many other people. I've listened to much more expensive speakers, and said to myself, "they sound good... but their missing something that the Totems have", a certain "life" that the Totems breathe into music.
I've had much time to listen to all the speakers mentioned in this post, with varying electronics. The Sttafs contrary to what someone else posted are the easiest speakers to drive in the Totem line. They sound amazing for thier price to boot. One of my friends actually said that they sound better than his own Martin Logan Summits, an over 10K speaker! There is a certain magic to the way an extremely simple two-way speaker with a high grade crossover can present the music. I own the Hawks myself, in a system that every other component costs significantly more. (my previous speakers were about $5,000, but the Hawks are much better) I auditioned probably about 40 different speakers before I settled on them, and even then it was between the Hawks and another pair of Totems. The Totems were simply better.
The comment about HiVi drivers is completely nonsensical. What you will see in the Totem line, is that unlike other companies who "sell out" and use drivers from all one manufacturer in all of thier designs to save cost, Totem chooses whatever driver fits the demands of the product that they are building THE BEST. If Vince thought that another driver would have worked better in the Forest, he would have used it guarunteed! The HiVi is an excellent driver with a 3" voicecoil and an extrordinarily long throw for a 6 1/2" woofer. This is one reason that the Forest can have such amazing bass extension for a small two-way. Just because HiVi doesn't gouge on their prices, now the entire speaker becomes undesirable? Well, I say if you think you know better, than why not build one yourself? Trust me it isn't as easy as it looks, I've tried. Also, even with HiVi woofers, and all your own labor and parts procurement, it will still cost you more and most likely sound worse.
One thing you'll find, is that upon first glance the Totems do seem expensive, maybe because of how small they are or how simple they look ect. Some people just can't see forking out that kind of cash for something that's so "small". I've heard people say; "but you could get so much MORE speaker for that kind of money" without ever even listening. If "more speaker" was what mattered most, then I could have bought pretty much every speaker Radio Shack has to offer and chained them all together in a room full of drivers for the price I paid for my Hawks but it would have sucked.
No matter what people will say, the looks of a speaker still play a very important role about how people will percieve their "sound" or "Value". Totems, while attractive and very wife friendly, are smaller and seen as not very serious by many people. It's ashame that that makes the decision for many people. I can't tell you how many times someone's posted to upgrade my speakers on my system and how my electronics are way beyond my speakers ect. But, they have not heard my system! It will blow your mind. If you closed your eyes and pretended my speaker was a pinyata you couldn't find it with a stick if you tried, all that you would find are musicians and instruments. It's that good. IMHO :)
Of course, beauty is in the eyes of the beholders so I am not going to make any comment on that. Our perceived value are simply different.
Regarding your definition of cheap speakers, I think I could still get good sound without having to spend a few kilo bucks for a pair of speakers. PSB Alpha B1 sold for less than $299 per pair (almost as low as Radio Shack speakers) will beat the Totem Mite, twice the price of the PSB Alpha B1, hands down in its high, mid range, and bass definition. I did A/B auditioned these at a local dealer, both driven by a budget NAD amp C325 BEE.
I could give you a few more examples of overpriced models that Totem made.
Mite $750 per pair vs Usher S520 $450 per pair. Usher would win hands down (high, mid, bass definition, and bass extension) I did A/B them at my local Totem dealer that also carried Usher as well. Score Usher 4 Mite 0
I don't understand why Totem still sells the Mite. They are more expensive than the Usher and the level of sonic performance is nowhere near. Likewise, the Mite would stand no chance against the Dynaudio Audience 42 (they are sold at the same competitive price range)
Dynaudio Focus 140 $2K per pair vs Totem Model 1 $2.3K per pair. Dynaudio Focus edged the Model 1 on high and bass definition and extension. The Model 1 is better than the Dynaudio Focus 140 but only with the mid range.
Score Dynaudio 3.0 Totem Model 1 1.5
Silverline Prelude $1.3K per pair vs Totem The One 3.5K per pair. No need to go there since the Silverline Prelude is listed in Stereophile's Budget Components and the Totem The One is not.
I used to own the Rainmakers/Model 1 and currently own a Storm so I could say that I am somewhat familiar with Totem speakers.
I do not know what your definition of "sell out" was so I am not going to comment on that. That would be "business practice" and has nothing to do with audio sir:-))
Don't mean to hi jack the thread here. Sorry Gs:-))
You can check with yout local Totem dealers and they will tell you how many times that the Arro and the Rainmaker outsell the Model 1 and Forest. Like everyone else, I was looking for a good deal and they are always giving me discount on the Model 1, the Forest, and the Mani 2 but not a chance that I would get a discount on the Rainmaker or the Arro even though I am their repeated customers.
I thought that you listen to music with your ears and not your eyes:-))
If you like reasonable price separates, I would strongly recommend NAD C162 pre-amp and NAD C272 power amp. I am driving my Dyn DM 2/10 with the C162 pre-amp and a used C270 that I purchased from a cool Agoner. The Dyn just sing beautifully, driven by the NAD combo.
I am not sure about your source Mr. Mxwizard but I think with your $1.5K budget, you can get a NAD C352 (excellent value) and a Rega Apollo CD player (another excellent value) And I guarantee you that will not have that upgrade bug bites for a very long time with this Totem Sttaf/Rega Apollo/NAD C352. Who knows? Maybe you could have $100 left in change to buy a knock off LV handbag and pull the Husband of The Year award:-)))
Just for some input on an integrated. I like Creeks top two offerings, also not really an integrated but for about integrated prices you can get the fabulous Parasound P3 and A23 combo which I've driven the Sttafs with personally so I can attest, it sounded great.
Hieule5: The Mite's are the only model from Totem that I am not intimately familiar with, and it seems like most of your "overpriced" gripe is based around this one model so I really can't comment on that. Totem says that it's been one of it's long standing best sellers, so maybe it's just supply and demand who knows. My "sell Out" comment was just about companies that use different sizes of all the exact same driver because of the cost savings. One driver can't possibly be best in all applications. (One reason for Totems additional cost since they choose the best driver for the job) My point about the "looks" of the speakers was exactly what you are saying, you listen with your ears, but people judge the Totems before they ever listen because of their looks and never get a chance to HEAR. The first time I saw the Arro's I laughed. The first time I heard them I was amazed. A lot of people post about speakers that they have never heard in comparison to one that they like. But I suspect that they are judging on the Looks of the speaker that they have not heard and making conclusions based on that.
It's a bit odd that you say that the Rainmaker and Arro outsell every other model, because I used to sell Totem speakers, and I never sold a Rainmaker even though we had them for demo. The Sttaf, and Hawk far outsold any other model. I would say in our store saleswise they went Hawk, Sttaf, then Arro or Forrest.
IMHO, the NAD separates and C325/C355/C372 integrated amps are very nice, but I would not put them in the same league in terms of resolution, airiness or PRAT with the Naim, Simaudio or Creek amps mentioned above, especially to drive the Totem Staff. NAD's higher end M3 is another story - but new those are nearly twice the $1500 budget discussed here.
I have recommended the the C355/C352 and C372 models to many people on here and in "real life". The idea that you can pick up a 150 wpc integrated that has a fairly natural, neutral and smooth sound with a damping factor of >150 for under $1K new is a HiFi bargain if ever there was one.
But I like listening to the other amps better, especially the Naim Nait 5i, and I think they are worth the extra $500 if you have it in your pocket and are ready to spend it.
And as for a CD player - while the Rega Apollo is a very good player for <$1K - to go with the Staff and a Naim/Simaudio/Creek or a $1500 tube integrated, I would wait and spring for a player of equal quality - Cambridge 840C, NAD M5, Simaudio Moon CD-1, Roksan - Kandy KC-1 MKIII and Naim CD5i (a great match for, guess what? the Naim Nait 5i integrated amp). The Staffs's are great speakers, and would not be embarrassed by electronics costing twice what I have recommended here. They, and you, deserve the best you can give them...
Agreed with you on the Naim integrated. Sim and Naim are simply above NAD level period. Creek is also good.
I am a cheap guy:-)) and had good experience with NAD C352 so that was the reason I recommended NAD. I do have the C162/C270 combo and another integrated C372 at home currently. If I have the money, I would definitely step up to Sim or Naim or Classe.
Sim new entry level integrated, I forgot whether that was I1 or I3, and Naim Nait are probably the best two integrated candidates at the $1.5K mark.
Regarding CD player, Cambridge Audio sounds very good for the money but I am also told that they have lots of QC problems. But those QC problem may only exist with the entry level C640 and C740, I guess????
Hieule5- I no longer sell Totem because I no longer sell anything. I have a different job. But fyi, I used to sell Usher too and I wouldn't even compare better Totems to the S520's, although Usher makes great speakers too as well as Dynaudio. I've compared the Totem Sttafs directly to the high end Be-718's and it was an even tradeoff. Better midrange and imaging, vs. more dynamics and gobs of detail. The Usher Tiny Dancers are a great speaker though as well, and will provide more output if you like it loud. One of the major cost differences in a "Budget level" speaker is weather the company uses real wood veneers, or if it's lacqered or vinyl wrapped. Dynaudio makes great speakers too, but if you want to talk about expensive, they've got a small bookshelf that costs $7,000 a pair! Some people and I suspect that you are one of these people, will say that they are way too expensive for what they offer, others will say that it's the best monitor bookshelf available, the price be damned. All depends what paradigm you come from.
Anyway, the original poster was looking for Integrated suggestions for the Sttafs that he's wisely chosen, not someone to tell him that his choice is overpriced and doesn't perform as well as "such 'n such" cheap speaker. Maybe you should should start your own thread, where you discuss what people who don't like audio enough to devote much of their expendable income to it, buy!
Suggestion to you: an Ipod and headphones
HA! I bet I am even cheaper than you. I have a Cambridge Azur 640C v2 that is about 2.5 years old, and it works like a champ. When Cambridge first came out with the 640C version 1, they had some problems with noisy transformers and the left channel on some units (rushed to market?). Before I had the version 2 I owned a later model 640C version 1 for a few months and had no difficulties with that either. I haven't heard much about QA/QC problems with the brand since the first batch of bad 640C units.
The 640C version 2 is noticeably more accomplished than the first version, and the 840C is significantly more polished and analog sounding than the 640C v2.
Back to topic, I STILL think the Onkyo A-9555 would be a great match with the Totems under discussion. I have heard myriad Cambridges, some Regas, Creeks, and Musical Fidelities, and I'd take the Onkyo in a heartbeat for being better at everything--bass extension and clarity, transparency, tonal balance, smoothness, musicality, microdynamics, macrodynamics, and low level detail in proper perspective to bloom and fullness.
It's almost risk-free to try--$474-494 at Amazon.com with free shipping and a 30-day trial period.
Just give it 100 hrs to break in and hook it up with a good aftermarket power cord. The PS Audio XStream Prelude should do just fine.
What if I'm right?
Let me start by thanking everyone for their responces...As I suspected when I started this post, it was going to get off topic...Its great we all have differnt points of view and can share opionions.I have to agree with the one posters that said sometimes the emphases is placed on the equipment itself, rather than what my ears tell me, and thats what i was looking for...Some people like one brand, others thinking its **** just one persons (or more) opinion....Seems Sim Audio, Naim, are my top contenders( to audition) because i cant listen to some of the brands as they are not carried where i live...So thanks again and keep posting......I can take what i like ----and leave the rest.
I am not sure if you have purchased your integrated for the sttaf's yet or not. However I thought I would add my two cents for what its worth. I have a pair of totem arrow's that I was looking to drive. Believe it or not they are actually somewhat more difficult to attain their potential than their larger brother the sttaf. I was using an arcam AVR300 in Bi amp. mode. The sound was pleasing, but somehow lacking. Although I could listen to disc after disc without ear fatigue I knew something was not their or veiled withing the sonic signature of the amplifier. I ended up pairing the arro's with a creek 5350se. At first it seemed a bit forward, but upon many A-B listening tests between the arcam, and a Sim Audio HT3 I found the sweet spot for my totems was the creek. It isn't perfect, but nice, easy on the ears and it will allow me to get on with listening to music and not think about the gear for a while. For the money Its a pretty impressive piece sonically. It may not have the flash of some brands but it delivers solid performance.
Anyways good luck in your search, let your ears lead you and enjoy the purchase you make.
I recently heard the Sttafs through a Cayin SP10A integrated tube amp ($2000) and they blew me away. Enough so, that I purchased a used pair of Staffs on Audiogon. The source was a Cayin SPCD300 CD player and the cables were transparent Music Wave and Music links. I'm currently playing the Sttafs through my McIntosh 4300v receiver with an Arcam CD73t using Signal Ultra speaker cables and Analog two interconnects. Although I happy with the sound, they definitely lack the warm, extended bass I originally heard through the Cayin. I usually listen to my MAC through a pair of JBL L100's and primarily listen to Rock & Roll and smooth Jazz. I intend to keep the MAC/JBL system for R&R duty and the new integrated will be in our Living Room for Light Rock, Smooth Jazz and Classical. I'm open to the Cayin, but would like to hear feedback from anyone who has heard the Sttafs through the Naim 5i, Simaudio Moon i-1, Creek 5350 or Primare i21. We only have a Naim and Creek dealer where I live so before I begin traveling great distances to audition the other amps I'd like to hear some feedback. Thanks.
Bargie, I think you should trust your reaction to the Cayin/Totem STtaff signal chain and complete it with a Cayin integrated just like the one you heard. We can spend a lot of time mixing and matching trying to come up with a synergistic combination. When you hear one that rings your bell better than what you have at home, buy it if you can afford it. You were impressed with the Totems, but they only got you part of the way there. Get the amp.
I had Staff/Cayin combo before and was happy with combo. Went back to Arro/Cayin combo only because I like imaging/tonality of Arro's more.
Cayin amp is quite good, even my friend admitted his Arro/SS amp w/3x more "watts" didn't sound as initimate, organic, "you are there" as my setup.
Trust your ears.