Totem Arro vs Totem Sttaf. Which one image better?

Hi guys. I been wanting to buy a pair of totem but not looking to spend over 2000. Just want something that really image and stage well. My listening room is small so both speakers will be powerful enough. Any one heard these two side by side? I keep reading thar arro image the best, is this true? Just going after the best imaging and sound stage that will disappear in my room. Thanks for your input.
Yes, IMO the ARROS have superior imaging.... Subject to the qualifier later on.

I've heard all the Totem line and personally owned the Arros and Forests simultaneously in a prior system.

The qualifier: the Arros can sound lovely IF you have the quality source, quality build hi-fi integrated amp and matched quality cables to permit them to perform. They will output to what you pay for as supporting gear. If you run them with low-fi receivers or with mid-Fi gear, there will be compromises in your satisfaction, and that step-down will likely not be subtle.

(A) SIMAUDIO with Totem Tress or Chord Oddyssey cables comes to mind as the my gear of choice. IMO they bested an ARCAM FMJ and Chord system I had them paired up at one time.

A very distant third ranking and comparatively poor, dark and wooley initial setup was with all NAD C370 integrated / NAD 541 cdp with VDH cables driving the ARROS.
(B) System synergy with cables matters with the Totems. With both the Arros and forest, either Totem's own cables ( near clones of the Chord) or the CHORD Oddyssey / Rumour (all of the suggestions are silver plated copper) worked best in my experiences, and I experimented with many offerings.

I had the Staffs initially on demo and swapped them for the Arros. The Staffs left me wanting even though they fit between the Arros and Hawks, and then we go up to the Forests in the Totem line, but IMO the are the weak sister of the line in most respects and especially in direct comparison to the Arros.... Their closest alternative.

One commonality shared by all Totems .... They crave quality build hi-end amps with muchos watts AND muchos current to perform at their best.

IMO especially for a smaller environment .... ARROS are my choice.

Last point to ponder: The older Totems had the SEAS drivers in them like the Dynaudios. The newer ones don't, and IMO the older ones to mid 2000s sounded sweeter to both me and also to my audiophile amigos in direct comparison. In fairness, that latter old vs new model comparison was made on two different systems and that difference alone could also account for the differences.
Thank you so much for your feed back! I don't have great amp right now but willing to buy at a later date. So how is the imaging ability on Sttaf? Is it just average compare to arro
The arro's are very nice sounding speaker, especially for their size, I used to own them. But they are no comparison to the Hawks or forests with the right equipment. I've heard the Hawks in a smaller room with nice equipment and they sounded fantastic. The arro's can be placed closer to walls to help the bottom end whereas the Hawks or forest need to be out from the walls to sound best.
"Imaging" is bs. "Musicality" is important.
Thanks for the inputs. So how is hue musicality of Arto vs Sttaf? I have read that totems are very musical speakers in general.
Arros are amazing for their size with the right amp and image as well as most anything I have heard when set up well.

LEss familiar with Sttaf. They might be just as good or better in the right application I suspect.
Good imaging helps with musicality IMHO in that music is a 3 (actually 4 including time) dimensional phenomenon in nature and a large soundstage with good placement within along with "air" helps one sort through the music better, much like a larger screen HDTV or movie screen helps one see what is going on better.
Good imaging and soundstage helps with 3 of 4 dimensions. The 4th is time. Coherence is the aspect of sound that matters there. Good imaging + soundstage + coherence sets the table for all teh rest to really excel and reach maximum potential..
Your room dimensions, it's listening environment strengths and warts, the quality of all the associated equipment, and the speaker placement issues within the room is the alchemy to your satisfaction.


(1) The Arros best the Staffs on just about every level .. Full stop. If you are looking for rock music as your fave genre, look to the Hawks or better as the better choice. The former excel at easy listening, classical and jazz
(2) If you are still married to Totems, then set a plan to get the supporting cast gear because without the quality amp and source, the step down in performance (including imaging) is not insignificant. Trying to get "that performance" out of the Arros with say only a receiver and a cheap source will graphically personify the tenet: "garbage in, garbage out". Simply put, they can either deliver or they can suck on your "imaging" along with the "musicality" enjoyment list depending on what they are mated with.
(3) The Arros facilitate close placement to the walls.... This may be a very limitation in your plan.
(4) I have to agree with Lindesfarne, that "musicality" is a keystone tenet in your end selection. If you go to Canuckaudiomart, you will see many Totems for resale in the used marketplace. Fellow hobbyists may find them fatiguing after a while .... I did also, and I moved on to "more musical " aka PRaT gear ( Pace, Rythem and Timing) There are many other speaker brands worth auditioning before you make your final choice..... In a small room environment, the REGA R3 / RS3 as a floorstander, or the TANNOY Revolution DC6 or ATC SCM 10 (2013) or even the Totem Model Ones as stand mounts leading the list that I would strongly look at.

IMO the Regas especially punch way above their weight class, have that ethereal "musicality" feature, are easier to drive and they also share the close proximity to the wall placement feature along with the Arros .
Forrest is best -- forget the rest.
I agree that the Forests are better in a larger room and as one moves up the $$ ladder to better gear ... I had them along with the Arros simultaneously.


(1) in a small room environment, they are a big risky wild card on a blind purchase and are arguably non optimal because they don't favour close to back wall, or side wallspeaker placement. I would insist on an actual in-home hands-on audition first without exception before stepping up to them.

(2) The big "ah hah" moment with the Forests is that they personify the Totemcraving for lotsa "grunt" to drive them. There are a. Buzzillion posts in AGON and Canuckaudiomart about this. Grunt is a lot of amperes to go with the big watts that can only be delivered by hi-end build quality amplifiers with generous power Supplies.

In my experiences, tge Forests only opened up fully to their max when I finally actually bi-amped them (not bi wired) with two 2X 100 watts hi-current gear (an integrated amp and a matched separate power amp) . That is why Totems are frequently mated to SIMAUDIO , PLINIUs, or AYRE or better at the expos. You are not going to see Forests driven by cheap gear.

The takeaway:

the small room listening environment and its resulting limitations and warts may dictate close to walls placement of the speakers and that does not favour Forests,
Even with facts taken, Forrests will still do better even with limitations vs. Arros, Hawks or Sttaf. For small room you don't need to feed them with much power either. I heard them voiced with Crown XLS series singing so not even a need for fancy ones. Also did great with vinage Sansui integrated amp at 65wpc.
YEs, the right amp for many Totems is very powerful ones that deliver lots of current. Class D is a great choice to avoid size and bulk and possibly expense.

I've heard Arros perform superbly well away from walls however bass levels will be more problematic most likely without wall reinforcement. THe drivers are very good and punch well above what one might expect for the size (with the right juicy amp) but they are still small and small always has limits in larger rooms.

Also I question teh premise that Totem is not "musical". THat's a very subjective statement. Some may like other sounds better and vice versa for sure, but I do not see very many Totems for resale considering the companies extensive dealership channels in North America and numbers that must have been sold accordingly. Plus, they seem to hold their value fairly well compared to a lot of the competition, although brand recognition is likely a big part of that.

Totems I have heard in general typically make the list of speakers that I think I could live with.
Everything did good on those old Sansui integrated amps.
IMO, the greatest amp bargains in audio history.
Thanks everyone for these great inputs. I will definitely look at some of these suggestions. I was very excited about Arro just for the imaging ability, since I only listen to classical, jazz,and mostly easy listening. Would anyone suggest another speaker for superior imaging and sound staging that is under 2000 budget? Thanks.

Try to personally audition any of the suggestions already made - one or more may leave you also suitably impressed. Try to stroll down to an actual bricks and mortar dealer to get some guidance and the ability to actually hear whatever you have on your list - only you can do it.

As far as imaging goes , the Regas , Tannoys, ATC, PMC and a host of many others are every bit as good at a minimum (or frequently better ) compared to both the ARROS And FORESTS .... and in my opinion many are on par or better in imaging and PRaT IF YOU HAVE the best synergy in the rest of the system.

The Totems are fine kit ...sure.... but they just one of many many choices in a very crowded $2000 level arena. The only way you are going to shoehorn Forests in at that price point is buying used.

W/o prejudice to the above, I wouldn't accept any recommendation in these blogs as gospel without an actual personal audition first -- full stop. And I certainly wouldn't just buy any speaker without considering a plan for the rest of the system to get synergy ( or vice versa)

Regrettably the cold hard facts are that forum bloggers push their own heavily biased personal faves that are pure anecdotal value judgements that regrettably have negligible to nil assurance that these blind offerings will actually work in your environment or with your system.

There is some more homework for you to do ..... Good luck.
I do not find that either Sttaf or Arro need a huge current amp. In fact, the Sttaf is an 8 ohm speaker designed to be easy to drive. I would not use a mass market receiver, but integrateds from the likes of NAIM and Creek drive them very well. I had a chance to spend some time with Vince this week and he re-iterated that the Sttafs were designed to be easy to drive. Quality components definitely matter, I just would not caught up in huge power for these speakers. Hawks do like more power.

In a different vein, Totem recently introduced the $500 Kin Mini which can be paired with the Kin sub ($700). The Kin Mini was designed using ideas from the Torrent drivers used in the new Metal series. It really is a remarkable little speaker. It is a nice alternative for those you want something small. The combo covers 29 Hz to 40,000 Hz.
Akg, thank you so much for your positive feed backs. Really appreciated it and will do auditioning myself!
Just an interesting observation upon visiting Totem's website- the renowned Model 1 Signature appears to be no longer in production. I have had these amazing speakers twice in my system over the years. Truly a classic in my opinion.
Having owned both, I preferred the Arros precision and imaging. The Sttaf is less articulate but bigger on the low end. In a perfect world I would pair the Arros with a fast sub, but they are still nice as stand-alone speakers.