I decline to comment on such inexpensive speakers.
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Slikric3000, hilarious comment, kudos.
Milpai: I am certainly not saying that the arros aren't nice, I enjoyed their sound and thought they were fast and seductive sounding little gems, I simply did not observe the unbelievable imaging that others have described.
Was just wondering if anyone else had run into the same conundrum as myself.
Slikric3000 and Aenergi,
I an inclined not to comment, as well. Unbelievable imagining? I think not. That reads like ad copy. I used to own the Rainmakers and have auditioned the Arros many times. They are a nice little Totem speaker -- with emphasis on the word little. Don't expect any miracles. You get what you pay for.
I'm thinking placement is a good part of it as Milpai mentioned. I have Dynaudio - similar size to the Arro and they image like crazy with a powerful amp and very little toe-in. That said, imaging is one forte' of planar speakers in general- the Martin Logans I heard had Alisson Krause positioned firmly in the center between the speakers and spooky realism (this was in a treated room- the owner spent 10k on an engineer and wall treatment) so enjoy!
and using the same amp and sourcethat right there may be the root of your different experience. I don't have, nor have I ever heard the Arros, but do have 2 other Totem speakers and enough experience with all sorts of gear to know that some combinations work better than others.
Also, I have had many experiences where my impression of a component was 180 degrees from what others have reported. It could be attributed to what's between the ears.
"... that right there may be the root of your different experience.... but do have 2 other Totem speakers and enough experience with all sorts of gear to know that some combinations work better than others...."
I've had both the ARROs and FORESTs at the same time. They are fine kit, -- but arguably a tad finicky that are sensitive in that they excel with PARTICULAR hardware kit AND cables.
There area well travelled threads in AGON that Totems need a lot of grunt to perform at their max. In my experience, they only performed at their max when they were bi-amped.
Vis-a-vis cables, ARROS preferred -- (in my experience and I swapped in and out a lot of candidates)TOTEM's own TRESS, higher-end CHORD or higher-end ATLAS.(the latter was best in my kit)
Lastly, in our experiences, it is my understanding the older models wwere equipped with different speaker drivers (same ones from the company as the Dynaudios I believe ) than than the current models. IN my expereinces, there was never a less than optimal imaging sunject to the introduction of a bi-amping setup.
That you swapped in MLs with a marked improvements supports the premise that ARRO synergy with your kit appears absent and therefore ARRos are not your preferred choice.
Its quite easy to check, use a battery applied positive to the red terminal and negative to the black should produce a outward movement of the woofer cone.
You can do the same to the tweeter but it will require opening up the speaker and applying the battery voltage after the crossover. I don't know if the Arro is designed so that the tweeter is in electrical phase with the woofer, ie positive voltage to the positive wire produces an outward movement of the dome but if you check both they should be identical.
I've had a few Totems through here for repair and the tweeters are wired with a fine gauge solid core silver teflon insulated wire that's twisted with both the positive and negative wires of the same color (purple on the ones that were here) so a mis-wiring is a possibility. I'm sure Totem has a stringent QC program, but as Steve stated stranger things have happened.
Best of luck
If I'm reading your description of the problem correctly, it sounds like something in your system may be broken.
"What I didn't really witness however, was the unbelievable imaging that everyone talks about, the image would waver from left to right and become sort of ubiquitous when it should be dead center. "
That type of thing shouldn't happen. It definitely sounds like a phase issue. The image should never move around like that. (Unless it moves around in the recording like when a singer walks around, or something similar.) If your wiring was wrong, and you were using a recording that you are familiar with, the voice will come from a different place, but it won't move around.
Its easy to check. Shut your amp off and go to just 1 of your speakers. Reverse the connections at the binding posts, black to red and red to black. If your speakers are biwired, do both pairs. That will make the speakers 180 degrees out of phase with each other. Play a recording with a center vocal and you will see that the voice is not between the speakers but more off to the side like it is comming from one of the walls. The point that I'm trying to make is that even though the imaging is not correct, it will not move around. The only situation I've ever heard where a fixed vocal image moves around is when it is done on purpose using a test CD. Its used as a demo to show what something out of phase sounds like.
Thats why I think something may be damaged. Since your SL3's sound OK, something may be wrong with your old speakers.
Before you go nuts and sell your speakers make sure they are set up properly. Make sure that they are square (use a bubble level). When they are square, put a laser pen on the top and swing the red laser dot on to the far wall. Put a post-it note on the far wall, and put a dot where the laser dot shines. Do the same thing to the other speaker, and make sure the laser falls directly on the dot which is on the post it, on the wall. If the laser on one of the speakers shines too low, shim, or adjust the speaker so that the laser dot is exactly on the pencil dot. Once you do this, the speaker will speak to you in sync. This will give you the best possible stereo image. Most floors are not level. Bi-wireing is good, and experiment with toe in and in some cases toe out. You will be amazed at how the sound will improve.
David, what I have learned with my current speakers is that the performance of the speakers is highly contingent/dependent on:
1. the electronics connected to them
2. the sources in the system
3. the quality of power feeding the system connected to them
4. and the associated electrical impedances created by all these variables listed
Impedance matches or impedance mismatches affect the sound of a system dramatically. Your Arros are not matching well with your other gear. Take the Arros to another system and you could hear a different result then you hear now. I have seen this happen with my past speakers. Back in the day, I sold my Infinty speakers to a friend of mine because I did not like what I was hearing. I went by his house a few weeks later and was instantly green with envy. The speakers were kicking butt, like they never did for me. They sounded awesome. I hated that experience and never forgot it.