I listened to Arro, Sttaf, Hawk and Forest three years ago and bought the Hawks. Having said that I am re-thinking my decision although that is based primarily upon room size/room dynamics and not the qualities of the speaker.
Here is my summary - this is only my experience at a particular dealer and in my room at home and is not meant to be anything more than that:
The Arros are remarkable for their size - in a small room with decent acoustics they are shockingly good. Clean, detailed, airy, surprising bass - wonderful really. Can't imagine many similarly priced "bookshelf speakers" being this good. Maybe the best sounding of the lot to my ears but only in a small space. Can be located close to back wall and that maybe even helps this speaker in some cases.
The Sttafs and Hawks I found to be fairly similar despite using different drivers. Both very musical and by that I guess I mean balanced and easy to listen to. Hawks slightly better in the bass and a little brighter in the treble. Again, both these speakers shine in smaller environments - the Hawks in my large room have useable bass to just under 40 Hz and I have added subs as a result because I miss the lower rumblings when they are not there as it turns out. Also don't think the Arro, Sttaf or Hawk are very "fussy" speakers - at the dealer I placed them close to walls, away from walls, bi-wire, single-wire, expensive wires, cheap wires and could tell little if any difference in any case and I suspect that all three models would sound superb in the right environment with a nice tube amp - indeed the TAS reviewer of the Hawk claimed he "drove them with ease" with a 32 watt tube amp. My Hawks are being driven by a 150 watt Classe. All three models I think benefit from some lead shot in the base.
The Forests clearly had more dynamic range but seemed a little drier to me - could have been lack of break-in at the dealer or an electronics mismatch - not sure - maybe they are just more analytical or true to the source. Whatever the reason they didn't capture me to the point where I was willing to write the check for them.
Hope this long-winded message helps.
Upgraded to the Sttaf's from my Arros....I still miss my Arros. It's not buyer remorse, but I have to say Sttaf & Arros have different strengths. Choose one or the other depending on what you are looking for and your room size.
Arros Pros: better soundstaging, superior imaging, tighter bass, outstanding midrange, tonally more accurate than Sttafs just lacks the deepest bass & high output levels.
Sttafs Pros: easier to drive, more detail in music, better highs and lows, bass good enough to not use a sub. Midrange is good, but Arros are better. comfortable with all types of music and a/v applications.
Both speakers driven with quality ss & tube amps. For a smaller room, I'd give the nod to the Arros for an "all rounder", fuller sound, go with the Sttafs.
What is the rest of your equipment consist of? That will also affect your decision.
I'd go for Sttafs. A much better all-round speaker IMO. The Arros are very cute and great fun but I find the bass very one note and not very well intergrated with the mid. Afterall the port is doing pretty much all the LF. They're still great though. I also thought the tweeter is very good (if slightly rolled off) on the Sttafs when I heard them recently.
But I'd go for a used pair of Model Ones over either ; )
The rest of my equipment is Bryston B60 (60W), Arcam CD 92, Rega Planar3/Dynavector DV-10X5. My curent listening room is ~13'W X 21'D X 9'H. I will definitely be moving within a year, so I am not tied to trying to match everything exactly to my current room.
My current speakers are Signet SL 280ex floorstanders, which until adding all of the above components, were the best part of my system the past 7 years. They have a nice sound overall, but a bit harsh (ex. vocals' "s"'s are grating at times), a lack of detail (as a sax player, for instance, love to hear that detailed reed reverberations and the clicking of these sax keys), and no where near the imaging I appreciate from B&W and Epos bookshelfs I've heard. While I realize moniters might be best for me, but my wife aethetically finds floorstanders more pleasing, and I am somewhat used to the oomph the Signets afford in rock and large orchesral works.
So in my online research, the arros seemed to be a good match as far as floorstanders that image like monitors.
What's leading me to consider the Sttaf's are the size of my room, the potential of added oomph/moving air, and the opinions that I've read that Arros are more finicky with power ... but don't want to lose too much of the imaging capabilites of the Arros.
Am open to other speaker suggestions (under $1,500 new/$1,000 used)- the Totems just seem to fit the bill from what I see(read), short of being able to compare speakers in the same room.
I had a pair of Sttafs and think it's hard to go wrong with them. I drove them with several amps including a 30 w/c vintage Fisher tube integrated. They do have reaonable low end, and are very easy to place (though they excell is you can bring them out into the room). If at some point (as I did) you want to get deep bass, it's really easy to integrate them with a subwoofer. I upgraded to Mani-2's, and kept them for 6 months, but decide it wasn't right for them to sit around idle most of the time so I sold them.
Don't sweat the decision and get stalled in the process. If you're uncertain, buy a used pair of Arros and try them in your home. You're only going to know if you like them by hearing them for yourself. If you buy them used and they don't suit you, then you can resell them and by some Sttafs.
An alternative to the Arro is the Silverline Prelude. They go a bit deeper (35 Hz), and are a bit easier to drive (91dB, 8 ohms). About the same size. About the same price. They also sound really outstanding.
Yep and don't worry about power. The Sttafs sound great with little Rega Mira intergrated. Looking at your kit it seems either speaker would make a sweet little system.
Sandman, since you like oomph, you are better off with the Sttafs. The Arro does have palpable bass but it is a little lacking in the oomph department. The Arro's best feature is its imaging.
To the individual who claimed the Arro's bass is not integrated I have to question what source and placement of speakers. I owned the Arro's and am possibly moving back to them within the next couple weeks (after owning the Mani's Sigs and Forests). The Arro's bass is very well balanced and integrated
I'll offer my limited 2 cents. I just this week purchased a (used) pair of Arros for my 12X18 dedicated 2CH/HT room. Ceiling is single slant cathedral running roughly 8.5' up to 11/12'.
One evening of listening, since they are 2 years old, I am assuming they are pretty well broken in (though not sure what impact shipping during the winter in the northern midwest may have on that).
Do they sound good? Yes, they sound very good in many ways. Was the bass lacking? That's a good question, after watching a movie with my 6 year old daughter and finally getting down to some music, I found myself turning up my sub (for the first time in my life). Maybe I wouldn't have had to do this if I wasn't running a sub in the first place? Maybe the result of watching a movie b/4 music, movies are always bass heavy. BTW, B&K 507 S2 receiver driving them.
Tomorrow night, I will run them through my Golden Tube SE 40 and see the impact on these speakers with tubes at only 40 watts.
Not sure if I have found the right placement yet. Lot's of moving around, trying to get them dialed in for imaging. Close to the rear wall, out as far a 2.5-3'. I don't necessarily agree that placement is unlimited. As a note, they sit on either side of my 40" tall by 60" wide entertainment center with a TV mounted to the wall above it.
Anybody else with a similar set-up and Arros, I would surely appreciate any placement advice.
I am intersted in listening to the Sttafs, so I can't comment on that. If I could find a used pair, I would buy them.
BOL and if you buy a pair for testing and decide to sell them (Sttaf, Hawk, Forrest), contact me and I will consider buying them.
Update from my last report after having just received the Arros.
Today I ordered a pair of Hawks.
I love the Arros and am going to move them to a second zone/room and run them as stereo speakers in there.
I want a little more and felt the Arros in my 12X18 room with the cathedral ceiling were a little less. Anybody else have experience with a similar sized room?
Don't get me wrong, I love the Arros and bought the Hawks without ever getting a chance to listen to them. Hopefully they won't be for sale in the near future. I doubt it.
Intergrated is probably the wrong word. More of a singular note bassline. It's not suprising really, look at the size of the driver. Small ported speakers give the illlusion of defiying physics but it is just that, an illusion.
Ckoffend - I have a big room (bigger than yours actually) with cathedral ceilings and lots of hard surfaces and I own the Hawks. They sound great in the proper listening position but not everyhwere in the room - a small speaker is not going to "fill the room" with quality off-axis response. The bass extension is not as great in my big room as advertsisd in the spec - the Hawks struggle below 40 Hz so I recently added two subs to fill out the sound and although hard to set up initially, they sound great. I think the Hawks will be fine in your room and even better if you add a quality sub of which there are many at affordable prices.
As for amplification, I have tried a few different things but for my tastes the Hawks sound best with lots of power. I tried a highly regarded 40 watt tube amp too and was disappointed across the board. I do have a tube preamp which really has added a richness to the sound and the 150 watts of Classe SS power provides the oomph the Hawks need.
Itball, were the subs hard to set up or the Hawks? If you are refering to the hawks, where is your final placement (obviously not the the inch, just a starting point). My room is nice and rectangular, but has a 6 foot wide doorway/passageway just to the side of one of the speakers (no reflection, but lost sound).
How far out from the back wall did you bring the hawks and how far apart? Just looking for a starting point.
I have a sub now, but am thinking I will replace it to integrate better with these speakers versus my old speakers. Any suggestions? I am definately budget minded.
Ckoffend - the subs took some serious time to set up and integrate. The Hawks I found to be not very fussy to set up. I actually have them fairly close to my back walls (2 feet)and about 8 feet apart, ever so slightly toed-in. I have tried them in many positions and they sound pretty much the same. Definitely add lead shot or kitty litter or sand or whatever to the base - it tightens the bass - but do it iteratively - it's easy to put more in but harder to take out if you put in too much!
For the subs I found it important to find out exactly what my speakers were doing on their own first - ie. where did the bass actually begin to roll-off in my room? Then I set the subs crossover just above that point. Getting the volume right was tougher. Also found that even slight changes in placement of the subs made a big difference. I'm not flat but I'm close on most bass frequencies with the exception of one "hump" at 50-60Hz which is a room issue.
I'll offer my two cents since I own a ton of Totem speakers. I own both Arro and Sttaf in addition to 4 Dreamcatcher monitors, Dreamcatcher center, Storm subwoofer, and a pair of Totem Mite. I currently have the Arro set up with the Dreamcatchers and Storm in a 7.1 HT system, and the Sttaf in a stereo system all in the same room. I have the Mite set up as my desktop speakers with my computer. Anyway, back to the topic, since I have both the Arro and the Sttaf in the same room, I had some chance to do some side by side comparison. For stereo application, the Sttaf wins hands down, much fuller sound, much bigger soundstage, more musical. It definitely has a warmer sound than the Arro. If you prefer the tube sound over solid state, you will love the Sttaf. Arro on the hand is much brighter. Yes, it might provide more clarity, but I'm not sure how much of this is due to it's lack of the bottom end and its brighter nature. Since I also have the Storm sub, now I do not ever listen to the Arro in stereo mode without also using the sub. The Sttaf on the hand makes the sub redundant in stereo setting. BTW, I have driven these with an Arcam AVR300, a Simaudio I3, and a Marantz SR8500. On a side note, the Arcam AVR300 really is a very musical receiver in stereo setting that rivals many integrated amps and separates. I did find it a little lacking in its surround sound performance that I ended up replacing it with the Marantz SR8500 and the Simaudio I3. Although I think the Marantz SR8500 is a better surround sound performer, its stereo performance is not close to that or the Arcam AVR300.
You are finding/stating that the sub, combined with the Sttafs in stereo is redundent? Are you saying that you do not feel that the sttafs need a sub and can handle the bottom octaves sufficiently by themselves (again in stereo)? Don't get me wrong, I am not intending or implying that you are wrong, just a bit surprised.
My Hawks arrived today, but it will be a bit before I get them hooked up and burned in. I was planning on adding a REL subwoofer for either/both the Hawks and the Arros, and probably 2 (I will run one or the other pair of Totems as a zone 2 and planned to have a sub in that zone - stereo only).
Since your feeling is that the Sttafs don't need a sub, what type of bass would you say you are getting out of them and in what size room?
Okay, guys (if anybody still is paying attention to this thread). After running the Arros for a short time, My Hawks came in and I also bought a pair of REL Q108 subwoofers.
The Hawks without doubt have a much fuller sound than the Arros and also smoother (ie. not as bright). I am running the Hawks in a second room through my zone 2 pre-amp out into a Golden Tube Audio SE 40 Amp (anybody else driving Hawks with 40 watts). I am surprised that this amp is able to drive the Hawks as well as it does at 40 wpc. But they sound good.
I am now running the Arros with the two subs which definately changes the sound all aroud with the Arros. My room, while not large at 12 X 18 with a single slanted cathedral ceiling is much better pressurized with the subs and not just at the bottom end. I have found that the Arros sound much better with the subs as volume levels do not need to be as high which has smoothed out the sound of the Arros. The sound stage is still excellent (better than with the single B&W sub which always made it feel weighted to one side and not as tight).
I really like the Arros in all regards and the addition of the REL subs really makes these speakers shine. Yes, even with the little REL Q108 which I think in a pair version is a perfect match for the Arros. This from both a matching price comparison and also soundwise.
Thinking about adding a large REL for the Hawks, but they already have sufficient base even though they are in a larger room. Typically, they are only background music.
Side by side, the Arros and the Hawks cannot be compared in many regards. While physically, the size is pretty close, the Hawks have much better extension and are generally smoother. Their soundstage/imaging is not up to the Arros though. But at twice the price, I don't think it is fair to compare the two for most people considering the Arros.
Final result - I love Totem - What took me so long?
It's been awhile since I have read these forums. Anyways, it looks like you have pretty much the same taste as I do in audio since I too, am driving my Arros with a Bryston B-60 but assisted via a bi-amp set up with a Bryston 2B-LP and a Dreamcatcher sub. Adding the Dreamcatcher is an alternative to you getting new speakers in your search of more bottom end. In my system, the Dreamcatcher sub blends in very well with the Arros. So well that my audiophile friends cannot tell from listening.
Also, I do recommend adding a Bryston 2B-LP to passively bi-amp the Arros. The result is greater resolution/clarity and dimensionality along with increased dynamics. Good luck!