Review: Totem Acoustics Hawk Speaker

Category: Speakers

During the christmas season of 2002 I was in the market to upgrade my home theatre system and I wanted to get some good stuff, so I decided to go very slowly in picking the components. I live in Southern California and I went to Honolulu on a business trip just before Christmas. While I was there I went into an audio store called "Audio Lab" to look around (not ready to buy anything).

I started talking to the owner and I explained what I was after. He allowed me to listen to several speakers, but none sounded much better than what I have at home. Before I left he said " there is another speaker that you must listen to before you go, called Hawk from a Canadian company called Totem Acoustic".

I had never of Totem Acoustics before, much less the "Hawk". He brought in these small things with a 5" driver and a tweeter, without any grill but the finish was beautiful and is Mahagony. My thaughts were blank. He hooked up the speakers and throw FourPlay 4 in the CD player. The rest is history.

I have never thought I could hear such clean, smoothe, and dynamic sound coming from these small things. The bass was smoothe (not boomy), and beep. The mid ferquencies were clear and smoothe, with the vocal sharp and crisk, and the tweerers were also soft and clear. I listened at a reasonable volume, not too loud, and there was no specific sweet spot. Every where I sat on the couch I could hear the speakers clearly. I listen to a lot of Smoothe Jazz and Reggae, so I know how to evaluate the base response because those music have a lot of bass. The Hawk's performance prove to me that you don't really need a big box with large woofers and dozens of full rang and tweeters to get great sound, that's only a myth.

Upon my return to California I located a Totem dealer "Top Audio" in Orange County and listened to the Hawk once more, to make sure that I could hear what I had heard in Hawaii. The same thing happened: Four Play, Paul Hardcastle, Ray Charles, Aswad, Bob James and a bunch of others sounded great. I could not leave the store without them, so I bought myself a $2000 Christmas present. Up until now the Hawk is worth every penny.

I have even shipped them to Honolu, Hawaii where I will be on a temporary assignment. And they have teamed up with Rotel's 1075 amplifier, and 1066 preamplifier. I have just purchased the Totem Mite-T for the rear channel, haven't heard them yet (review to follow).

The "Hawk" speakers are worth the full list price, JUST BUY THEM, you will be very happy. I have even purchased a set of Beak for them but so far, I can't tell the difference in sound image as Totem Acoustics claim, still experimenting with them.

This is an honest review coming from a owner/user of these speakers, and I have no AXE TO GRIND. The folks at Totem Acoustic are very helpful because I called them several times to ask all kinds of questions about the Hawk and their other products, and they were very patient with me.

PS. Remember to buy some decent speaker cables and inter connect cables, don't have to be too expensive, as the Hawk has proven.


Associated gear
Rotel 1075 120 Watts/channel amplifier, Rotel 1066 Pre amplifier, Audio Quest Type 4 speaker cable, Audio Quest Copper Head inter connect, NAD T572 DVD changer. Totem Acoustic Beak (sits on top of the Hawk for sound inageing).
I'm happy to find someone else here enjoying Totem Acoustics as much as I. I've listened to the B&K's and the Paradigms, and to be honest, I prefer the Totems.

I started with wanting, and I mean wanting to buy the Energy Veritas 2.4's to 2.8's, somewhere in there, but I really thought the Energy Conneisseurs sounded better (I think this is the result of leap-frog of generation). I was very unimpressed.

So, I tried out the Totems, went from the Arro to the Hawk to the Forest. I stopped there. I only have so much money. Gorgeous... it got better as I went up the line. I'll try to post a more full review of these things at a later date. Let me say, though, the better the gear you put with them, the better and better they get. I have no idea where the potential on these speakers, Totem Forests, ends at this point.
I agree the the last to writers. I've owned Snell C's,D's,E's and the Ultra 2 sub with a B&K AVR507. When my wife and I bought the B&K it was such a dramatic improvement on the sound quality of our system we staid up all night listening to our CD collection. Something we hadn't done in yrs. I've been looking for a new pair of something different that owners gush about. I settled on the Totem Forest's. My wife was shocked at the sound and as usual, the price. She said I could buy them only if she could buy the chair she was sitting in. Ha! That was easy! We get the speankers home and set them up for breaking using my old but trusty Luxman R-117. Wow is the only word that comes to mind. And if what others say is true about them only getting better as they break in, I don't know how they could get any better. Anyways. Now I'm looking to replace all of my Snell's and theater system with the Totem's. By the way, the only other pair of speakers I've ever bought new was Snell E-III's. Anyways, I'm in love and I'd absolutely reccomend these to anyone. And the fact that the WAF is high doe not hurt.
This is actually a review of the Totem "Beaks" mentioned previoiusly. While seemingly simple, they are a revelation when used correctly, as I've demonstrated to countless listeners in my home. Best application is to use two pairs of beaks, with one set placed atop the speakers (ANY speakers) at the outside front corners and the second set placed on the inside rear corners. The Beaks' cylindrical sides should be tangential to the speakers' edges at each corner.

With the Beaks so configured, listen to familiar music and have two assistants standing beside the speakers. To make this test most telling, listen blindfolded, or with your eyes closed if you can keep from cheating. At some random point in the music, the assistants should step towards the speakers and quickly remove the Beaks, without letting you know. What you should hear, if you're a practiced listener, is an immediate diffusion of the soundstage and a loss of focus in the bass and center image. When the Beaks are replaced, again without your knowing, you should hear a refocussing of the soundstage and a tightening of the bass. After that, you won't want to listen to your system without Beaks!

Info on Totem Beak
Best Totem value for the money/performance ratio. They just sound right. I had the Model 1, Hawk and now I do have the Mani-2 Signature.

Don't get me wrong here, I love the Mani-2 but still feel the Hawk is a better value. It is a speaker that does a lots of things right.

I have listened to the Hawks and to the Mani-2s and I must say that thought the price difference is quite substantial; I would still buy the Mani-2s. The bass response, the clarity and the warmth of the Mani-2s is just astounding. The one thing that bothers me is the power needed to drive them. I have heard that the forests are amazing as well and that they don't need as much power to drive them, but I have not had a chance to listen to them yet. Can anyone here be able to give me an objective comparison in sound?
I just placed a set of Totem Hawks in my living room as a vinyl based 2-channel serious listen system. Powered by a Plinius 9100 intregrated amp with a Rega P-5 and a Shelter 501 MkII moving coil cartridge, the Hawks are simply outstanding! The speakers have only grown in bass development, clear rich mids and a soft yet detailed treble. I have about 125 to 150 hours of play on the speakers and I have nothing but good things to say, I could not be happier. The speakers simply disappear in the room and fill the space with great sound.

I have yet to fiddle with any of the Totem accessories, any thoughts on the Beaks? One set or two? Where best to place them on the top of the speaker? Do they really work or is this just a great sales tool? I am inclined to beleive the manufacturer as the speakers have done all that has been promised, but...
I saw youse guys post and I had to respond,I have owned 30 pair of speakers over the last 20 years, and have gone from dynamic to planar and back. I have to say that besides my current speakers, the Hawks which I reluctantly sold to keep my speaker addiction going were the overall best I have owned. They best speakers that cost 5-10k. You may ask about what I currently own? I have a pair of Omega Super Alnicos 3R which in my opinion are the best monitors in existence. They are single driver and they are almost perfect. The hawks now may take 2nd place
The Totem Hawks have been in my system now for about six months and they have only continued to bloom into a great sounding speaker. In fact, they have absolutely disappeared within the soundstage that now covers the long axis wall in my living room. This little speaker has gone beyond all of my expectations and I am thoroughly pleased with the purchase. Each listening session has been and continues to be a real joy!

I did purchase a set of Beaks shortly after putting the speaker in service. They did seem to imporove the integration of the drivers and produed a smooth yet detailed presentation of the wide array of music types that I tend to listen. I'm in the market for a new "red book" 2 channel CD player and stopped into a shop in the Philly area that just happened to be a Totem dealer.

During the audition of the player, the Onwer popped two set of Beaks on the top of the cabinets and wow, the sound became seamless, tight and highly engaging in his show room. Impressed, I coughed up the dough for a second set and headed home(without the CD player).

I place the second set of beaks at the rear inside corner of the speakers and fired up an old Eric Johnson album (Tones). The recordng always seemed to center Eric's voice deep in the sound stage, and with the second chunk of aluminum, he was now fron and center, detailed with a "reach out and touch me" presence. I tried several other records with the same results, Van Morrison's Moondance had a completely new feel. These thing work, but many others have indicated, I have no clue as to the science, but they really work!

Totem has done an outstanding job on this speaker, in fact the dealer that sold me the Beaks indicated that he normally tires to get his clients to consider the Hawk over the Forrest and spend the difference on an improved source or better cabling, or...

Be that as it may, I can absolutely recommmend this speaker, as it has become the spot where I seriously listen to all of my music. Our family room 5 channel/SACD TV system has become more for watching and less for listening, and that's OK. The 2 channed vinyl based system headlined by the Hawks just has far more soul, and lets the music take over.
Doe's anyone use the Hawk with some medium power tube amplification
Readed that they need lot of power
Is 50 watts enough to drive them
50 Watts are more than enough to drive the Hawks. I am using a set of Audio Space EL-34 Mono locks rated at 30 watts to drive them in my listening room. The room is 11x9, too small for my Legacy Audio Focus 20/20 so I am using the Hawk instead with excellent results. The Bass is wicked, listening to vinyl records some Four Play smooth Jazz CD is a charm, and I do not miss the Focus 20/20. The Hawk is amazing for such a small speaker with two small drivers.
I believe Totem The One speaker is the best from all Totem speakers, and if you want this speaker to give you the superb sond, use with this speaker:

1- A-88T integrated/power vacuum tube amplifier.
2- RAYSONIC Vacuum Tube Top Loading CD Player.
3- Bada LB-5500 Power Filter Plant.
4- Audience-Au 24 2.5 meter Speaker cables.
5- Interconnect Cables Audience Au-24.
6- Cable Elevators: Dark Field.
7- Power Cable Anaconda CX.
8- Harmonix tuning feet.
I've heard Totem Mani 2s and been impressed, but never "The One".

How are these two models different?