Totem and Dyn, two of my favs also!
What is the rest of the system and how big is the room?
What is the rest of the system and how big is the room?
i just bought a full set of totem dreamcatchers for my ht/2channel system. i couldn't be more pleased with them. i drive them with a jaton operetta which is 140 watts @ 4ohms. i have all the volume i could possibly need. though i should say the room is mid-size to small. for me, they do everything i like and don't give up too much in the speaker design "trade-offs in performance". image spot on, crisp treble, super quick pace, toe tap rythum, all that jazzy stuff. their middle may be seen as a touch thin, but in my room i had an enormous hump @ 80hz which killed my midrange, deep bass snap, and soundstage with other speakers but pairing these with a sunfire truesub eq solved this issue completely. they are crossed over at 60hz and the sub takes the rest. low level thump and midbass snap is almost perfect. i've never had tubes but the jaton is supposedly similar in character with all the power/drive of ss. it is a perfect mtach for these little speakers, which i could see coming off as is a tad bright, but noit with this amp. anyway, depending on what your running them with and your room, these, are super quality and value, my faces so far. my references of other speakers are the following:
klipsch horns: great dynamics, highs, but clinical(i do like that though)
sound dynamics rts-3: good for the money, but a bit sloppy
totem mites: great soundstage, imaging. a bit closed in. i perfer the dreamcatchers.
quad 12l's: very full, lush sound. good imaging. nice tone. sold 'em cuz i'm dumb. however, the dreamcathcers are faster and image better, but the quads were definately "fuller". maybe 1 for you to look in to.
mirage m5si: lovely warm speaker. my room couldn't handl;e them. can't give real review, but the potential was endless i could forsee.
anyway, enjoy the ramble...
You haven't enumerated dipoles in planar, ribbon, or cone driver form.
This is a very different thing from omni (there's actually less reverberant field generated than with conventional speakers at lower midrange frequencies, where you're trading much less output to the sides for increased rearward energy. Given a traditional short wall placement that's a great idea).
You haven't listened to modern wave guides which don't honk.
I got the message you want dynamic (like horns) but do not sound honky like
horns and you want small with tight accurate bass (no bloat). You want to be
able to move around and the sound should stay the same (no change in
presentation or tonality). Totem One was great but did not cut the mustard with
dynamics (small speaker). Focus 110 might also be great but I doubt they will
hold together an play cleanly at the dynamic level you seem to crave.
My suggestion is to try and get your hands on an old used model ATC SCM20
provided you have at least 100 watts to drive them. It might be too bass light
and a bit hot in mids for you but it will play pop rock unflinchingly loud and in
an entirely musical but still resolving way.
Stay away from floorstanders at your price range...you'll get better sound by
sticking to monitors...
The Totem Acoustic Sttaf would be a good bet. It's relatively easy to work with, has quite a bit more heft than the Arro, and does the 'monitor' thing very well. They go for around $1000 used (or less).
I once owned the Dynaudio Focus 110, and while its a lovely speaker, I found it to be very dynamically limited compared to many other competing monitors. One unconventional option you may want to investigate is the Mark and Daniel "Maximus-Mini". This thing can jam out, is fairly easy to place, has great range for a monitor its size and has a treble presentation that's well beyond where a monitor in its price range should be. The only caveat is that it requires at least 60 solid watts of solid state juice to sing. They like power.
Other great options would include a used set of ACI Sapphire XL's, They don't have quite as much 'bite' up high, and they can be difficult to find used, but I don't know of anyone that doesn't like these speakers. They are among the most enjoyable affordable monitors that I've personally come across. Great bass and dynamics as well..
Lastly, I'd suggest looking at a set of Ascend Acoustics Sierra 1. While their tonality never won these ears over, they are nonetheless great monitors that can be had brand spankin new for under your budget. Ascend makes great gear, and these monitors may have the efficiency, dynamic prowess, frequency range, and ease-of-use that you're looking for. Best of all, if you buy them new, you can always return them if they're not your bag. If they turn out to 'do it' for you, then you can kick back with a little extra coin in the pocket.
Agree with Mapman - knowing what you will be driving the speakers with upstream in terms of power and source would help with suggestions.
In addition to my suggestions in your other thread, I suggest these options used:
Agree that Totem Sttaf (tower) would be a great
B&W CM7 (tower), 705 or 805s (the last only if you have mucho power)
Dynaudio Audience 52SE - belts it out, but with detail, or Dynaudio Focus 140
I also still like the Quad 21L2 (tower) or 12L2 as suggested above, the new Paradigm Monitor series towers and the Monitor Audio RS6 (also a tower).
Sounds like you are sold on another Totem model at this point, but another consideration or two could well be the Phase Tech PC series, or one of the Silverline monitors... eg., SR 15. Either will be well under the $1K budget, and neither has anything like a bright top end. both have weight great imaging, and speed. Bass for either depends on setup... but both will suprise you.
I've driven many of the Phase Tech units, and several of the Silverline units on various equipment, ranging from HT receivers, to pretty good tube gear inclusive of my current setup, with fine results. I've also owned numerous BW speakers, from the 600 series up to the NT, & 805Ns. The latter are pretty good all on their own but might have some special needs addressing the top end, especially if you found the 600 series top end bright, which BTW, I can not fathom how that was, apart from the cabling or gear supplying the signal to them. I thought the top ends were almost dull in the 600series, and i CAN'T HANDLE ANYTHING THAT RESEMBLES BRIGHT OR AGRESSIVE, UPSTAIRS in a speaker.
Based on your tastes and deducing clues as to your room size (Mirage OM-5 too big; Totem Arro too small), it looks like a used pair of Totem Sttafs would be just right--that Totem magic you like so much plus a larger mid/woofer for increased dynamic range and bass extension over the Arro. After that it's going to be up to you for room placement and treatment, and pairing the speakers with the right amp.
Mapman: The room right now is 20'x 30' approximately.
I'll be moving soon and I'm likely to have a smaller listening room.
Tvad: I've used lots of different equipment to power these. The list is even longer than the speaker list! :) A few notable:
NAD 2400THX *
McCormack DNA 0.5
Onix Melody SP-3
HH Scott LK-72-B
Denon POA-4400 monos *
ADCOM xxxx w/ GFA-750 pre **
Trendz Tripath chipamp
B&K*, East sound, Rotel, Carver, Mcintosh, Marantz...
The ones marked with asterisks I found bright.
The Onix, McCormack and Trendz I have found to be my favorites. The HH Scott was great until I had it recapped (cry).
Yes, all in about two years. Obsessive? YES!
(Tvad) Will I be 100% satisfied with anything? I'm just aiming for 90% at the moment. ;) Also decided I should find some speakers I liked first.
The questions about amps and pre's are for my next novel-length post. (Hope I'm not the only one laughing here :| )
Drew-Eckhardt: Haven't explored much in the bi, di, etc territory. Heard some old magneplanars and liked what I heard in a very small range of the music. They were quite old. The Mirages were cone bipols I think. I am open to more education.
Rumadian: Did hear the ACI Sapphires at the RMAF this last year and very much liked them.
Mapman: I just went and hooked the Totem Arros up to my McCormack (100wpc into 8ohms) just to make sure I wasn't missing something. No, they definitely don't carry the weight I'm seeking. Shame 'cause they really are great speakers.
Johnnyb53: I've spend more and less time with every speaker I've owned and often in less than ideal circumstances, as I mentioned at the beginning of my post. The Om-5s in particular I had stuffed into a 15' by 30' room(on the narrow end!). Definitely the furthest from ideal of all the setups. Mirage recommends sending them back to the factory for modifications to the bass for the size of room I had, and for good reason. The speaker "fit" the minimum requirements and in -that- space it was not the right one for me. I tried them briefly in a very large room, too, and I don't remember feeling like they could be a fit for me there either. Those are my memories of over a year ago. My ear has grown a lot since then. Not sure what part of my short review of these felt particularly dismissive to you compared to any of my other very short reviews.
Most speakers I would play with the placement of but only to a degree at first. So far, I've found that if I'm going to like a speaker at all, I'm going to like -something- about it at the very beginning, before messing with it much. I'll like it close up, and I'll like something about it when I'm listening from the next room over, even. I'll play with placement and room acoustics from there. Not sure what the "right" amount of time/effort/energy is but I'm open to suggestions. There are many speakers I didn't mention at all because I couldn't stand to listen to them for even a few moments. Anyone else on here own some cheap Sony, Onkyo or Yamaha floorstanders? ;)
All: Looking into almost all of the speakers mentioned so far. Thank you, thank you.
IMO, you need to consider the amp you're going to use when you're choosing
As a general guide, if you select speakers that have a nominal impedance of
8 ohms or less, that have a wildly varying impedance curve (impedance dips
below 4 ohms), then you'll be best served by using a solid state amp that
doubles power output as the speaker impedance is halved. The tonal balance
from the highs to the mids to the bass will be better because the volume
produced throughout the frequency spectrum will be equal. If you use a tube
amp, or a solid state amp that doesn't double power as impedance is halved,
these speakers will tend to sound "bright".
If you select speakers with a minimum nominal impedance of 8 ohms (or
higher), and with a flat impedance curve (minimum impedance doesn't dip
below 6 ohms), then you can more easily use a tube amp because the volume
differences throughout the frequency range will not be pronounced enough
to sound imbalanced.
You've gone through 16 speakers and just as many amplifiers, but you don't
mention what combination you've used, so we can't ascertain if you've
matched amp to speaker correctly in any of the combinations you've tried.
What amplifier do you presently own and intend to use with whatever
speakers you buy?
05-22-09: EyediverGetting the model name (Ohm 5 vs. OM-5) and the dispersion pattern (dipole vs. omnipolar) wrong indicated to me that you hadn't fully considered what the speaker was and what it could do. The dispersion pattern has everything to do with how a loudspeaker will energize the room and where you should place it. The OM-5 is a bipolar verging on omnidirectional. Although a dipole also radiates to the front and the back, the back wave is out of phase with the front and cancels radiation to the sides as well as a significant amount of bass. I mention the Mirages because I've owned Mirages for over 12 years and am quite familiar with them.
But what I know about Mirages is true of any good large floorstanding full range speaker: they are capable of very exciting and engaging music reproduction, but they also require more time to get to know, to break in, to optimize with cabling, and can be very picky about placement. Some reviews of large floorstanders in Stereophile indicate that they are sensitive to location within an inch. In a 20'x30' room, I can't imagine anything but a large floorstander with lots of amp power behind it energizing that space properly.
I have a pair of 1996 Mirage M5si bipolars that I've had at three different houses. In the most previous house, they definitely sounded best facing straight forward, but in my current listening room, they *definitely* sound best toed in 2", and in both cases are about the same distance from the wall behind them. In the previous house the side walls were much further away, however.
Speaker placement takes time and patience in general, but is particularly true for full range floor standing speakers. I suspect you are not spending enough time with each speaker model, at least with the big ones.
Tvad: Thank you much for the helpful education. That is very useful information in my quest. While I've mated most of the speakers with various amplifiers to try and train my ear, I look forward to doing some listening tests with these specifics in mind. Right now I have the Cayin, the Onix, the McCormack, the NAD320BEE, and the Trendz. I love the Onix and the Trendz in particular. Would love to find an integrated that would combine the things I like about these, and drive any speaker that crosses my path. This sounds like a whole new thread however.
Johnnyb53: You got me fired up with this one, Johnny.
"Getting the model name (Ohm 5 vs. OM-5).... wrong indicated to me that you hadn't fully considered what the speaker was and what it could do."
What could getting the name wrong possible have to do with full consideration? I had a traumatic head injury a few years ago and I have had trouble with my memory since... particularly names of people and things. Truth be told, my memory for such things was not good to begin with. I forget friend's names, whom I've known for ten years, while standing right in front of them... X-girlfriends even! This doesn't mean that I don't have consideration for them. I'm as sensitive about my handicap as you are about your speakers it seems. ;)
I appreciate your willingness to disagree with me and educate me in the process. I will keep an open mind about them if you feel they might fit my bill. I certainly didn't know that speakers could be so sensitive to placement("within an inch")!
If you're going to use the Trends amp, then you need high sensitivity (90+
db), 8 ohm minimum, flat impedance speakers. The same applies to the Onyx
Honestly, at your $1000 budget, I don't know what to suggest other than
perhaps used Klipsch Forte II. Stretch the budget to $2k, and you could try Zu
The McCormack DNA-0.5 should successfully match with just about all the
speakers on your list. Vandersteen loudspeakers are known to match well
with McCormack amplifiers. Double your budget and look for used Ref 3A
Signatures (or for less money Vandersteen 2Ce Signatures), and you might be
very happy. I've heard the 3A Signatures at Steve McCormack's house, and
they sounded exceptional.
Hey Eyediver, ain't we a pair!
I've had two heart attacks and live with congestive heart failure. Where your
injury affects your memory, my heart failure leaves me with lower physical
reserves and I get impatient and grumpy more easily. It's also affected my
short term memory, though my long term memory is still strong. Please
accept my apologies for my impatience and crankiness; I'll be more vigilant
in future exchanges.
Anyway, I've been thinking more about your tastes and frustrations with your
speaker quest. It sounds like your room may be difficult for setup. I see
you're surprised that speaker location can be sensitive, but the room is
actually the most influential component in the signal chain. That's why you
can't just try a new speaker and expect it to fix things without experimenting
a bit. I'm being truthful that my Mirage M5si's needed to be adjusted for two
inches toe-in at my present house and had to be facing straight ahead in the
It takes more time and patience to get a floor standing speaker to work at its
best in any room. The bigger bass output has a more profound room
interaction. Perhaps your room has lots of reflective surfaces or two
dimensions that are nearly the same, making for a stronger room resonance
at a single frequency. That may explain why you're trying to get the sound of
a minimonitor with its precision of imaging and placement, but with more
If your room is indeed problematic, it may help to get stand-mounted
speakers and small powered subwoofers. Then you can experiment with the
placement and output level of the sub(s) to get the best blend in your room.
FYI, since this seems to be a speaker you like and fits your budget:
disclaimer: I have no relation to the seller or other interest in the item.
I have not seen the description of "Dated" before as you applied it to the Canton CT800s and wondered if you could describe that sound in a different way. I am thinking about buying a pair of CT800s.
I would recommend you listen to some newer Cantons in the ERGO series, I love those and they are at least 10 years newer than the CT800s, hopefully would not sound "dated" to you.
Owned a mint pair of Canton CT800 with factory stands and sold them soon after. Beautifully built but their sound was ugly. They fatigued me out by the end of the first track. Way hot up top. Bought them for $60 at a yard sale and sold them for $200 to a guy who wanted to play his guitars through them using an old Jbl monster amp.
given your well documented proclivity to change gear frequently, your quest to arrive at something, anything like a final destination seems strange and at odds with your habits....not a judgement..
somewhere in the pile of 8 or so pair of speakers i listen to is a pair of Totems......i will echo others inputs to really plumb the depths of that line first....
as to horns....the big Cornwall mid if driven with tubes can get rid of much that annoyed you....
i also think you might really enjoy DQ-20’s... or somebodys tricked out DQ-10
enjoy as it so seems you are doing !!!!