Replacing Totems One's

I'm thinking of replacing my Totem One's (non-sig.) and would like to hear if there are any other monitors worthy of replacing them? Sonus Fabers, Usher...etc ???? Budget $1200 for used.

One problem, wife factor has made speaker placement an issue, I will only have about a 12" gap from rear wall to back of speaker. Room is 14w x 16L x 13H vaulted.

The Totem's were awesome (imagining monsters) but a bit too forward and they need to place 24" from the rear wall.

Thinking about the Sonus Faber Concerto's (has front firing vent). Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Edit: I'm also open to changing to integrated like the naim 5i, Creek 5350SE, Cayin 265Ai (if I can find one)...etc

So options are more open but 12" from the wall is not.
Harbeth P3ES speakers come to mind. Small, decent bass and close box design (not ported) which means better close to wall placement. Imaging champs too. Less Forward then the Totem One's...which may suit your tastes..although some do prefer that up-front sound.

The problem is finding a used pair. New run about $2K depending upon finish. I see now that Harbeth has a new Radial driver coming soon in the P3...has an "R" designation
Thanks for the suggestion. The Harbeth's are very good speakers but I was looking for more bottom end similar to the Totems and the Harbeth's are less efficient than my Totems which was one of the reasons why I was replacing them, It's hard & very pricey to match them.
there ia a pair of Meadowlark Audio Ospreys for sale here. I had some Totem one sigs at one time and now have Meadowlark Blue Herron 2's. Meadowlarks are front ported and can handle your wall proximity, and you will love the bass.
Very easy decision.
Merlin TSM-MM and forget about it.
Sorry, totally overlooked your budget.
$1200 for used TSM-MM's is probably a stretch.
However, if you had $1200 plus what you could get for your Totems, then we might be talking.

I'm seriously at a loss trying to think of a better speaker for your needs & wants. I think they are something that would fit your requirements extremely well and I personally would hold back until I could afford a pair in your circumstance.
Thanks Fuji,

With your strong suggestion, I'm going to do some homework and I would like to audition them.

I see that there is a pair for sale in the classified section for 2k however they're glossy blue which the wife would not go for.

To Gmc, I need to go with monitors and not use floor standing speakers but any help or suggestions are greatly appreciated.

Any opinions on the Sonus Faber Concerto's ????? I know there has been some mixed opinions.

I have to say the wife factor (new to me) is the ultimate challenge while trying to find a very good sounding speaker.

Thanks to all in advance.
ACI Sapphire XL is an amazing monitor. You should be able to find used pair at that price. HUGE soundstage, big bass for such a small speaker. All Scanspeak drivers.
i have had many pairs of totem speakers (model 1's, arros, inwall, and now have multiple pairs of mani 2's and none of them have been forward sounding. It might be caused by your amp/preamp, cables, front end, etc...
i have driven the totems with classe and mcintosh equipment, all with very nice results. also, do you have enough power for them, the model 1's and mani 2's take a good amount of power to drive them with a fuller sound. minimum would be 200 watts from a quality amp. That might be what you need to get a fuller sound.
Mr. Macgee,

Here's the problem: Getting the same level of performance from a $1200 set of speakers (even used) that you get out of your Totem Acoustic anniversary monitors will be difficult, if not nearly impossible. Unless fortune shines upon you and you happen across an amazing deal, I don't think you'll find a suitable replacement at such a low price point.

Those Sonus Faber Concerto's you ask about? Not even close. You'd have to step it up to the Cremona Auditors for things to get interesting.

I say, get rid of the wife!! :D

On a more serious note: as rbstehno suggested, there may be an equipment mismatch going on. The One's can not only work well near a wall, but they can also work on a great variety of gear. While I do not consider them to be forward in how they present music, I think what you are hearing in them is the slight boost in the upper midrange / lower treble. If you want to tune this down (or out completely), match The One's with organic/warm/lush sounding electronics.

Otherwise, the only other loudspeaker I know that can provide some great overall sound that's smoother and enjoyable for hours on in is the ACI Sapphire XL or the Lenehan Audio ML1's. The ML1's sport a ridiculous value, but unfortunately, they are nearly impossible to find used and if you were to buy them new, you'd be set back just over 2 grand. Another great option would be the Harbeth Compact 7 ES3 (forget about the smaller models), but I digress, its size, looks, and price, wont fit your criteria.

Meanwhile, check out those ACI Sapphire XL's that were mentioned above. They have an odd shape to em', but the sound is there in spades. They are also very compact, very affordable, and can also work well near walls (especially with you mess with tuning/plugging the ports).

Good luck in the hunt!
Hi Rbstehno,

Thanks for the posts. Your right about the cables and amps being a potential problem. I guess I should have instead said I found the Totems to be a bit too accurate and analytical than forward. The current set-up has this. Speaker placement, small amp (70w@4ohm) and Kimber cables are partly to blame. They are amazing sounding speakers. Getting the most low end is also key.

I have had them sounding amazing with large very expensive gear and proper room placement (36" from wall). I was very happy with the Totems but this was a while ago. Back in the day, I have auditioned many different expensive set-ups and speakers. The Totems had impressed me the most compared to many many others but they needed to be paired with the correct gear. The Mani's (quiet giants) are amazing but talk about needing juice.

I'm very much trying to get away from large muscle amps & separates. I could see using a Classe CAP-80 or 101 (has remote) with some Cardas type cables with the Totem's but not sure that's enough power. This is one of the reasons why I'm looking for a different speaker also because the close wall placement but they will have to be a very good pair to give up the Totem's.

A used pair of Usher BE-718 are looking like a possibility if I stretch my budget. I'm still looking at others. I'll look into the Merlin's as suggested above but know very little about them. Also some Fabers.

Is there any typical kind of design that's suits close to wall placement? I know it sacrilegious but it's that or nothing.

Thanks for a very nice and useful post. Unfortunately, the wife stays. She's still hot.

I looked into the Lenehans and I have to say I'm impressed with reviews, I'm also impressed how hard it is to find a pair. Not sure about being a good pair for close to the wall due to rear firing port but defiantly on the list

The Totem 1 that I have are the old (12yrs) orig. with bi-wire but modded and not the updated signature model. Not sure how the two compare.

Again, It looks like the Totems are staying till a worthy alternative appears.

I agree, "match The One's with organic/warm/lush sounding electronics" any suggestions within reason?

I lisend to the Usher 718 and compared them to the Merlin TSM MMe in the same store with the same equipment. These are 2 diffrent kind of speakers. The Ushers are focusing on details and the Merlins on the music.

I would choose the Merlins any day of the week. But it´s your ears that should make that decision :)
Mr. Macgee,
I apologize, as I didn’t realize you were referring to the original Model One’s. I thought the speakers you had were Totem’s 20th anniversary model dubbed “The One”. The name designation can cause some confusion, or at least for a guy like me. Doh! With that said, this changes the ballgame entirely.

While the original model 1’s are fantastic speakers, there is no shortage of other competent competing mini-monitors out there. For your situation, a perfect match (more bass, was designed to work near walls, slightly less aggressive) would be a pair of speakers from Sweden called the GURU QM-10’s. Though I’ve never owned them, I brushed across them at the 08’ RMAF show. Great stuff, and THE perfect solution for your space. The only caveat is that finding them used can be difficult, and when you do, typically they will fetch a bit more than $1200.00… but the additional investment will be worth your while.

As for solid component matches.. it hinges entirely on your listening space, and how much volume you want. I'm a big fan of integrated amplifiers (due to their simple circuit path), so if I were in your shoes, I'd look towards options from the likes of Blue Circle Audio, Naim, Unison Research, Vista Audio, to name a few. If you are a big fan of cost-effective separates, than I'd look into Monarchy Audio.

Good luck in the hunt!
I was wondering about the Guru's. I just read up on them and yes they are designed to be near a wall which is perfect, not sure about the wife approval, she wants wood but they have a dealer very close by, We'll check them out. Thanks for the suggestion.

Your right about for my own ears and situation, I need to start listening to a bunch of gear but it doesn't hurt to ask and learn. The problem is there is so much good gear out there, speak to ten different well knowledgeable people and now there's ten different pieces of gear to look at all with shining reviews. I simply don't have the time anymore to run around auditioning, it's no longer a sport for me. I need a very short list. I just want good music for my new restricted room.

Sorry, I'm digressing.
Quick note: I just installed a new Devilsound usb DAC V.2 to my Mac Mini.

I used the Mac Mini as a source to watch a DVD movie and it blew away my Linn classik Movie in regards to sound and I was still using the Linn as a amp/pre-amp with the Mac and Totem 1's speakers connected to it. It was more involving, It had more transparency, larger soundstage and transients, much better bass. I was able to A/B between the two with the same disc. The picture wasn't bad either.

My Totem's now have way more bass and it's tight, larger soundstage and better transients. I'm Very impressed with this $300 dac that's not even broken in. Go figure
06-21-09: Mr_macgee
I was wondering about the Guru's. I just read up on them and yes they are designed to be near a wall which is perfect, not sure about the wife approval, she wants wood but they have a dealer very close by...
You can get a very elegant look from the GURUs in high gloss black finish sitting on dedicated wood-trimmed speaker stands as shown here.
"not sure about the wife approval, she wants wood"

Dude, you need a man cave ;)
a nice amp for the totem model 1 would be a ma6900 integrated. this would be a sweet setup. i had the model 1's with the ma6500 integrated and that was before the ma6900 was out. you could go with the ma6500, but i would recommend a rel strata III sub for the bottom end in a larger room. with the ma6900, i would just try the model 1's without a sub.

classe equipment have a warm sound to them and i currently use all classe for my equipment (except for the dac). the cap 80 would be to small for the model 1's. i think they make a cap-150 which might be a good fit.

mr macgee: i also use a mac as the fron end for my audio listening throughout the house. i use wired and wireless with airport express devices. i then use jitter removers after the airport express, then go into an external dac. all controlled through my iphone. the quality of the sound equals/surpasses the quality of my classe cdp-10 player which is a highly rated deck.
The Totems are a very fine speaker. A step up in your price range will be difficult but not impossible. Totem speakers in general can be a difficult load for many amps.
I would echo the Harbeths(recent price drop), Guru and the Reference 3a Decapo i and Dulcet. All of these speakers should be an upgrade in sound with the benefit of an easier drive.
Was extremely impressed with the Guru at the RMAF 2007.
Thanks everyone, The Merlins & the Guru's are on the short list. I will try to listen to a pair of Guru's this week. Hearing Merlins will be difficult without a first buying a pair.

The wife wants wood and as long as she gets it, I don't need a man cave. But does that have anything to do with the speakers listed above?

The Devilsound DAC has brought new life to my Totems to the point that I may keep them. I've been enjoying listening to them the last two days way more compared to the last two years, it's just way better.
B&W Nautilus 805, You can find a decent used pair on Agon or Ebay for about 1200 without stands...

Flowport on the front, so it increases the flexibility of distance from wall.
The Devilsound DAC has brought new life to my Totems to the point that I may keep them. I've been enjoying listening to them the last two days way more compared to the last two years, it's just way better.
Maybe you need to experiment more with your current setup. After all, if your wife wants a wood finish, the Totems are already beautiful. You may be able to fix this with better sound sources, better stands, and some experimenting with speaker placement. With a rear-ported speaker such as your Totems, you can also experiment with the port loading if you need them closer to the wall by placing something like a rolled up wash cloth in the port to increase damping and lower the resonant peak.

Which makes me wonder: if you were ready to replace the speakers until you got a new DAC, what *have* your listening sources been? And what are you using for cables and speaker stands? Maybe your Totems have simply done their job of showing the quality of signal and resonance control upstream. If you replace them, maybe you're just "shooting the messenger."

After all, high resolution is a 2-edged sword.
Ok, I experimented:

I have a Ayre AX-7 integrated amplifier with a Mac Mini & Devilsound DAC as a source.

Results: Unbelievable scary how good it is.

The amp is solid state no doubt about it but I can not afford the Tube amp or the foot print size needed that can replace what the Ayre does.

I also have since mounted the Totem's on some very solid wood parallam beams 6" w x 10'' d x 8" h to raise them to ear height and have a more solid base for the Totems to rest on (w/blue tack).
( )

This also made a big improvement. Parallam is so dense and solid that the bass is now tight and fast. I'm amazed how much bass there is, the Arye had a lot to do with this.

The Aryre AX-7 has no problem driving the Totems. They cranked and sounded very clean and full. There's high resolution but not at all fatiguing.

I had a good listened to the Guru's the other day and I did not care for the sound, a bit boxy certainly not bright or forward. It has great bass for the size but the soundstage did not go wider than the speakers. Imagining however was tight inside the narrow soundstage. I much preferred my Totem's even though they are too close to the rear wall.

I also heard Joseph Audio rm7 monitors against the Guru's, I preferred the Joesph's by quite a bit even though they were a bit brighter but did not hear them in my own room or felt the amp being used was nearly strong enough to drive them hence the brightness.

I don't think there's going to be a perfect solution for my problem.

Keep the Totems. Bring them out into the room for serious listening. You won't get great imaging from any speaker that's back against the wall.

I didn't know your Totems weren't even elevated to ear-level.

I consider the Ayre a keeper as well.

Is the music on your Mac Mini stored in a lossless (e.g., as WAV or ALC) or lossy file format?
I'd vote for keeping them too.....I sold mine when I moved to the Vandersteen 2ce's and I like that change, BUT then when I needed a second system, I was kicking myself for parting with them..

Yes, all files are lossless. I replaced the Mac Mini HD with a new 500gb 7200rpm hardrive and it's still silent like a mouse and with the Devilsound Dac it sounds as good or better than a Meridian G08 that a friend of mine lent me. I borrowed it to use as a reference to find out where I'm at.

I then went to my friends house with my MacBook Pro and the Devilsound to connect it to his monster system and compare it to his Meridian 808i.2 CD player with the exact same music but mine was on hardrive. At off axis, it sounded the same, the devilsound was doing nothing wrong, we couldn't believe it, then sat in the sweet spot and the difference more noticeable with less air, imaging and smaller soundstage but pretty damn close. It sounded nice and not at all tiring or lacking since considering the Devilsound/Mac was competing with a $18K CD player. He's ordering a Devilsound to play with.

Sorry, I digressed.

I'm keeping the Totem's, since I put them on the Parallam, the sound is 10xs better than before but it is lacking some of the imaging and soundstage depth that the totem's are really known for but that's life when forced to keep speakers too close to the wall. The Arye 7 is such a good match for the Totems, I feel very lucky how good the setup sounds.

I may continue to keep my eyes out if I hear about another mind blowing monitor but I'm not nearly looking as hard now.