I've recently moved into a small condo and feel like my LSi9s are just not working so well in this small living room (11x14). These speakers need to be a bit away from the wall and are fairly large in stature. I am also doing much more low volume listening now and feel like the LSi9 works better when at mid volume, otherwise it's kind of a sleepy speaker that isn't very detailed, especially missing much of the mid section when listening at very low volumes.
So what I want is a small form factor speaker that has clear and live presentation at low volume. From everything I read it seems that the Totem ARRO is a very good contender for this job, especially since it's small and loves to be close to the wall, which is where I'd have it for aesthetic purposes.
My gear consists of a Classe SSP AMP2 (Class D), which is a 200w amp, so I think I should have no shortage of power. My pre is an Outlaw 975 which will probably get upgraded over the next year or two, but for now this is what I'm working with.
Would love to hear any thoughts on the Arro in this setup and any other options I might look into at this price point and size. Again, keeping in mind low listening volume requirement and lively/punchy presentation, although I'm not a fan of "bright" speakers.
Should I consider the Totem Staff? I would probably like it's tonality better, because it's closer to my LSi9 in the sense that it's a more laid back speaker. But I am not sure if it will work as well as the arro in low listening volume and it is also a larger speaker in terms of dimensions that also probably would not work quite as well backed up against the wall.
I owned both ARROS and Forests simultaneously in a prior system so I know their sonic signature , their strengths and also their warts, very well.
(1) I preferred the ARRO and Forest over the Staff in my experience with my rig. It is system dependent. Placing the ARROS close to a back wall will be just fine with ARROS. I had mine 6" from the back wall ...the bass was improved - after all it’s a small mid/bass driver doing the heavy lifting.
(2) Your upstream electronics performance will greatly influence the performance of the ARROS .... Moreso than with many other speakers at their pricepoint in my experience . As I upgraded my " B" audio entire system from an all-NAD rig to an all-ARCAM FMJ rig, then that’s when the "great" imaging performance talked about in the audio mag reviews of the ARROS finally took hold.
The ARROS were the least power hungry in the TOTEM stable so no worries here ... high current quality rules ...... amp reported WPC by themselves are meaningless .
I don’t know your system, so I cannot comment on their bespoke strengths.
(3) I experimented a lot with many different speaker cables. There was a clear winner in a lengthy list of contenders and pretenders with both the ARROS and also the FORESTs: . TOTEM’s own TRESS speaker cables (silver plated all Cu) probably because that is what the ARROS and Forests are internally wired with.
Ive auditioned many of the Totem speakers, and in your case I would caution using the Sttaf in your small space. They are fussy speakers as far as placement and need about 3 ft. between rear and wall to get optimal imaging. The Arro's are made for small rooms. They are 4 ohms nominal, so they need some power which you have. They image well and throw a wide soundstage. The specs indicate only 40Hz at the low-end, but with robust power and your small space, they may perform well.
I have owned rega rs5, audionned staf, and currently own the hawks. The rs 5 have a very good, clear midrange, image well, efficient, and on the bright side of neutral. I imagine the rs3 and rs1 to be the same with less bass depth. With your monster of power classe, rega would not be my choice. Totems staf are punchy and go low, musical, but the midrange is not as clean and fleshed out as with the regas. The hawks fit in between regas and staf, with deeper and punchier bass. Both totems sound much larger than they look, and the soundstage is more 3 dimensional. With the power you have, i would buy totem because you will not have any regrets: they are very musical, airy with a very fair amount of detail. No sub needed. Sure there's always something better, but you can't dislike them. Not so with regas.
Thank you all very much. This is a lot of very good info and much to consider.
Since I currently have stand mounts, it did cross my mind that a smaller high end bookshelf might also be a nice upgrade to the Lsi9. Something like Salk Silk, maybe?! Initially, I settled on the a Arro tower because I want just enough low end not to need a sub, and to keep things simple, but if there’s a bookie out there that’ll produce satisfactory bass, then maybe I should look into it. From my searching though, I see that most bookshelves that produce decent low end without a sub tend to be "little" giants, of at least the size of my current LSi9, and since I was trying to downsize, I thought a small tower might be more effective.
In the end, I suppose if my new high end small bookie or tower end up underwhelming me with the low end, I can always add a small 8-10 in sub.
Maybe that’s the better route...
But again, hard shaking bass is not necessary or even usable in my condo, so not sure how much good that'll do.
but I was just hoping to find a satisfactory all in one solution to have a more minimalistic setup.
Interesting.... so Bob, even for this small 11x14 room you think a 12in sub is appropriate? I would think it was way too big...
I get your point about the function of the sub. That makes sense, as it does a specific job in a specific frequency range and therefore delivers the goods.
I actually already have a 12in sub in a sealed cabinet... it’s an emotiva ultra 12. It's not the best, mid grade I suppose. It might do... so hmmm... maybe a small set of bookies to pair with this sub after all... decisions... decisions...
I have friend who loves his ancient LS3/5A little boxes and runs em full range with a small REL sub…little tube amp, medium sized room, audio nirvana with all the smooth bass he needs. I use a 100 watt REL Q108e MKII with an 8" down firing woofer and a REL 150 watt Q150e 10" side firing (sealed boxes), both of which provide deep bass in prodigious amounts where needed, and as with most all RELs you can leave the main speakers unmolested using the High Level input. Note regarding small drivers, pro audio has been using 10 inch speakers in main arrays and bass amps for years, and in the right cabinet (like my Eden 2X10 slot loaded bass amp rig that is rated to go lower than most 15s, and is much more capable that any home audio sub system) they work well. Generally the low bass is limited mechanically in small mains anyway so eliminating part of the "designed in" bass from them by crossing the bass out is often unnecessary in a well designed small speaker.…I use a 100 lb 2X12 500 watt sub in my studio so I know the difference, but the RELs in my main system do bass beautifully with careful positioning and output level blending (no DSP). The thing about subs is the design (you want GOOD in this case), and although larger woofers can go lower, you may not care when listening to most music (pipe organ freaks and earthquake movie fans may need something more extreme). In pro sound work I use thousand plus watt 18" powered subs and still run the main (also powered) speakers full range…as long as attention is paid to the sub you can achieve a balanced sound and the sub disappears in the mix.
I’m impressed to see so much support for the Rega brand. I had honestly never heard of it before this thread.
You guys have really completely have me re-thinking the decision to go with towers. I imagine that no matter how small tower I go with, it will still create some level of additional "clutter" in this tiny 11x14 room. And with the many suggestions of good bookshelf options, I am really thinking I should go with a small bookshelf instead.
So with the priorities being: - a minimalist low profile do-it-all speaker - low volume coherence (with the option of adding a sub if absolutely necessary) - ability to place close to the back wall
I’ve drawn up my list of contenders:
Rega RS-1 (or RX1) Dynaudio Focus 160 Ascend Sierra 1 Totem SKY Totem Rainmaker Salk Silk (only if I can find them used)
What else should I add to the list that will is small and competent?
The Rega are more easy to drive, important in condo. I've has several prs of totems still have a pr of totem sigs1 . they need a lot of juice and not at their best at low volume where rega excel . I usually have about 20 prs of speakers at one time and in last 45 years owned well over a hundred .
Legacy Studio HD
Harbeth P3SER (which appear to retail around $2k)
My main issue with both might be that they both have very low sensitivity 83-85db, which might mean low listening volume performance might suffer relative to the Arro or the Rega RS-1?!
Price wise, I really don't mind paying up to $2k for a superior product. I, just like everyone else, just want to make sure to get something that will really be worth it given my specific requirements. My requirements are the reason the ARRO rose to the top in the first place.
The Studio HD seems to be 93 db though...if you go to the specifications tab on their website. Either way I'd always suggest auditioning what you can. However I've found out about Legacy very recently and they kinda blew me away (another model), but these share similar design characteristics and you're getting some extremely good drivers compared to the Totems.
Ok, I see you're right. Thanks. 93 db is great, I thought I saw 83 in some publication, but that may have been my misread. These look mighty attractive, but what does concern me is the documentation says you need 1 to 3ft of distance from the back wall, which to me means this speaker does need some room to "breathe". While I can probably do 1ft, at best, if the speaker gets boomy and needs to be pulled away from the wall further, this would create an issue for me.
I don't suppose anyone here has experience with these...
I haven't seen Devore mentioned here, the Gibbon 8 and super 8 come up now and again used for $1k and $2k respectively and are a smaller form factor for a floorstander, meant for smaller rooms (though I have mine in a larger room in near field and they sound great!) The 8 (not super 8) is front ported so you could put it close to the wall.
The Proac Studio 148 are very easy to place ,they have down port at the bottom make them unfussy placement just throw them in the room and that's it.Very efficient speakers with huge soundstage and dynamics.
Don't know what your budget is but I have the original B&W Nautilus 805's which still sound amazing after all these years. They work well in small spaces. I listened to the current generation Diamond 805's and they sounded lifeless to me (and they're $6000!). Don't know if it was the bad dealer setup or what. I bought an LFD integrated from Gene Rubin (it's driving the 805's right now) and it's wonderful. He swears by the Harbeth speakers. (And by the way, he wasn't the dealer with the bad B&W setup).
By the looks of this thread, few have heard the Ascend Sierra 1 or 2. At the price point of 850, one would be hard pressed to find a bookshelf that equals the Sierra 1. The bass output for a stand mount is better than any other bookshelf I’ve heard. It’s that good, and beat out some tower speakers I’ve got as well. The secret to the Sierra is the Bamboo cabinet. Bamboo actually has a tensile strength superior to steel. They are so rigid there is no box resonance whatsoever.
Those of you who don’t really know what noise that adds to the signal probably have been putting up with crap sound and not knowing how bad you’ve had it. A speaker free of resonance is actually a pretty rare thing under $2500. They can reduce it somewhat, but it takes a lot of money in the budget to get rid of it completely. Brands that are in the retail model typically sell JUNK if you’re spending under $1500.
The other secret to the Sierra 1 is the 5 1/4 woofer. It has the throw of a subwoofer. You should see how far it extends without breaking a sweat. In room frequency response is around 39 Hz, unheard of in a bookshelf of any size. The Sierra 1 trashed both the Paradigm Monitor 7 and 11 that I had. The tweeter is really nice, about as good as you can get in a soft dome. The speakers handle an honest 200 watts. Try that with any other brand of bookshelf.
Then there is the Sierra 2. Same exact cabinet, but with a 6 inch driver and a Raal ribbon tweeter, from the best manufacturer of ribbons in the world. Throw away all of your previous knowledge of ribbons, the RAAL model here is jaw dropping. When I first got the Sierra 2 I put them up against Paradigm’s flagship Signature S6 with the beryllium tweeter. This speaker was over $5k new. The midrange of the Sierra 2 was superior, I could not believe it. The highs were basically a tie, and this from a sub $1500 speaker. Of course, the Paradigm tower had more bass, but in all other categories, the Sierra 2 either matched or beat the Paradigm Sigs.
Ascend Acoustics is the biggest secret in speakers. I am not affiliated with them, just a customer that’s finally found the best deal in speakers. Unless you’ve got $6k+ to spend on speakers, don’t waste your money. Or at least try out the Ascend Tower at $2-3000 first.
While I haven't had personal experience with the Arros, I started with Rainmakers w/REL sub, then moved up to Hawks without sub. The Hawks put out a surprising amount of bass given their slim size, something you may find requiring minor fidgeting with position to attain a "right" sound. I found that the specs between models do not warrant the upcharge in performance.
Totems are excellent speakers overall. Great customer service, too.
Where Totem Arro is good, Totem Forest is going to be much better considering your amplification and same league could be Nola Viper 1a. Also I'd consider Sonus Faber Grand Piano (again considering your amplification specified). It's definitely a different league of speakers, but on the long run funds will be spent more wise. Consider getting them used in nice condition.
I agree with 213runnin, Totem has increased their prices considerably on designs that are nearly 20 years old. Performance-wise, they are really good though, transparent, detailed with extended and rich tonalities. I consider my totem hawks the better compromise in comparison to B&W cdm-9nt, martin-logan aerius i, Dynaudio BM5A, Magnepan MMG, MG12, Vandersteen 2CE Sig, Paradigm Studio 40 v5, rega rs5 that I once owned. But the outrageous price increases of Totem models do not make them any better than what they already are, and there's tons of new competition. The key is to buy them used.
The Totem Signature 1's consist of decent drivers, a good crossover design and box. Specs include a bottom end of 50 Hz and a max wattage rating of only 120. They were overpriced at 2200, and I remain skeptical that a 12" high speaker can punch at the 5000 level.
Max watts are for a steady input , they can handle 300 watt peaks easily . I cut them off at 80 hz and my Gallo sub takes things down to around 30hz at a good level . That "good crossover’ and rock-steady box gives them clarity and rhythm as close to the sound at the thousands of Classical events I have attended in last 60 years as I believe possible . Decent drivers have impeccable tone as well. Also , it is impossible to judge speakers out side your room and not in your system . The worse thing you can do in audio is judge a speaker when it can only play what is upstream when odds are 100 to 1 its not the speaker . When you get as close to live as possible , the system is balanced , everybody is playing from the same score . Not a matter of money .
In any event , specs and guess mean nothing . Size ain’t everything , If your "game" is right its nothing .
Well nothing means nothing, in that case. I do believe you were indulging yourself in hyperbole with the 5K statement. Its a free forum, and talk is cheap, but Totem markets their looks in a big way and it's a big part of any of their price tags.
Still if you're happy, that's what really matters at the end of the day. In the last year I've auditioned 9 pairs of speakers in my system, including some Totem. They just did not compete with the better options I listened to. YMMV.
To be fair, the Model 1 Signatures are the first really good speakers I heard that completely blew me away. Now you gotta wonder, there are plenty of overpriced 2 way monitors that are 5K ish. Totem Model 1 Sigs were very, very good speakers indeed. Their current stuff, I'm not so sure about as I heard almost no one was impressed with the Element series, and even the tiny floorstander model is like 9K. I was very interested in it, but after hearing some lukewarm opinions, I didn't bother to find out. The Sky are the most similar to Model 1 Sigs they make now, and they are very fairly priced at under 2K, and sounded quite wonderful when I heard them.
Well, as I told Mr. Silly they are good enough to sound like live acoustic music in my system . Everything counts in a system , everything . When you shop with your ego money will always be the main factor. I listen to my Rega RS-I ’s the most because the Sig 1’s are better than most classical recordings . In their defense, Americans are raised in a culture when money is the be-all and end-all and many don’t even realize what is running their show . Or ever will . Another factor is most have never heard enough live acoustical serious music to know how it sounds in the first place .
What is your budget? I’ve had the Arros and the Rainmakers. If you don’t mind used, I would look for a pair of Focal 1008be2 ( there’s a pair on another site) blows the Totem away. I got mine for just under 3k, and I’m constantly amazed by them.
If you can’t stretch the budget look at the new Aria line of Focal.
I found the Rainmakers really good but they were a bit tipped up and bright at times. They have a v shaped response. Excellent soundstage and imaging but nothing like the Focals.
The Arros always sounded a bit recessed in the mids, kind of hollow. But again excellent soundstage and imaging.
I’ve run both with solid state and tubes.
I replaced the Arros with a pair of Focal 714. More even across the frequency range, and a front port so you can place them closer to the wall.
It's a different presentation. The Arros are better with pinpoint imaging. Focal chorus, the 714's that I have, are more full bodied and even across the frequency spectrum. You could get away without using a sub with the focals, they have 2 and larger mid and woofer. No getting around physics.
I really enjoyed the totems, but in the system I have the chorus in I use for home theater as well.
The tweeter, and the R&D budget allocated to its design, is no less important to the rest of the speaker. And a dome tweeter will only go so far and do so much. The metal dome tweeters in most of Totems lower line up( to about the Hawks) have various compromises and trade offs to do with a limited budget when a speaker is being marketed in the retail system.
Totem makes striking choices in voicing each model, and either you like them or you don't. I found some frequencies over emphasized and just not natural. But I prefer a flat frequency response, and let the music and the producer make the decisions, and let the speaker not add or take away from that.
We live in the year 2017, and a speaker, these days, that can sound like live acoustic music is actually more common that not.
I've been traveling a lot since I bought the condo and really haven't been home enough to even think about the furniture or
speakers. I feel like I need to get the furniture figured out before I can decide on the speakers.
In short, no decision yet.
I have to thank everyone for this superb discussion and suggestions. This is really fantastic info all around. :-)