Hello, I recently purchased a pair of Totem Forest speakers. Now, I know these are capable of sounding very musical, clear, w/ a great imaging, and sound stage . I have about 70 hrs of listening and I am not getting them to sound the way they should. They are in a square 12 x 12 room and is not filling up the room w/ music and sounds a flat.
System is Krell 400xi. Yamaha cd player. Kimber Kable 8TC
Any totem owners out there that can help me figure out what is wrong? Any info is desperately needed!!
odd. Place them facing straight ahead (no toe-in) and your ears should be close to the height of the tweeters. I know you know this, but just in case.
This may not help much but my forests went from good to great when I leveled them: the tweeters were slightly pointing down because the floor is not perfectly leveled. Put a couple of steel discs below the feet, problem solved.
you should describe exactly how you have the room arranged so folks can give more considered guidance. In other words, how far apart are the speakers? How far out from the wall do you have them placed? Where is your seating position?
Also, you should expect 400+ hours of break-in, though they should sound pretty damned good before that point, and indeed out of the box.
I stand corrected on the break-in - I was going on my dealer's recommendation when I bought my Sttafs - they said 400 hrs. They will probably get better after the 150hr point but they shouldn't sound bad before and indeed they should sound pretty damned good out of the box.
I suggest you move them out from the wall about 4-5 ft and start there. Then move them closer together/further apart and see what that does. In a 12x12 room that doesn't work so well that far out, but it will give you a reference point, then you can move them closer to the wall and see what happens, deciding where you want them. Totem says minimum distance from the wall is 1 ft, but while I don't have Forests, I find the Sttafs and Mani-2's need to be well out from the wall to sound their best. They sound bland only 1 ft from the wall. Also, have you tried them firing diagonally across the room? I have my Sttafs set up in a 11x12 room and that's the only way they sound good.
I guess you have seen Totem's FAQ Page for the guidelines on these parameters. There it is in case you haven't . . .
I think they are too close to the rear wall. Try the rule of fifths...divide the room into 5 equal spaces. Place the speakers at the first space, and your listening chair in the fifth space. This is a take-off on the rule of thirds-which is better but fifths is good too.). Good luck
I agree with experimenting with speaker positioning. Sometimes even a few inches can make a world of difference.
Now, I'm going to propose something that's probably unpopular on Audiogon. I'm very familiar with the Totem line, as I own the Hawks and used to have the Arro's. I actually find the Forests to be the least musical sounding of their entire lineup (the Arro's being arguably the most musical).
I would recommend giving them a little more time, but your description of sounding flat agrees with my recollection of how the Forests sounds relative to some of the other Totem speakers.
Ok, first of all I've owned Totem Forest, Hawks, Winds and Arros. The Forests are THEE most musical offering they have when treated properly. Second, the 400xi is a match made in heaven for them and should drive them like no other while achieving supreme musicality and warmth. Your CD player is unfamiliar to me. The Krell needs a great power cord. Your IC must be top notch. The speaker cables must compliment the amp/speaker interface. Placement can be as close as 2ft from the rear wall as long as you place them well apart, like 8 to 10ft. Sit closer or equall to the distance apart. Make sure you have some natural absorptive materials in the room as well. I had great results with MIT and Monster cabling. You have the makings of something great in your posession so do not get frustrated. If you need to talk this out you may call me (just let me know and I'll give you my cell):O)
The Krell 400xi IMHO is not a good mate for the Forest.
Both the Forests and the Hawks like a warmer sounding amplifier. Great matches i've tried include the Plinius 9200 and the Unison Research Unico (Secondo or SE). For more money the BAT integrated also works a treat and the Arye is also ok.
I used the Totems with no toe in and 6ft apart. They need to be more that 1ft from the rear wall.
I have to say that i find it odd Matt that you've clearly spent a tidy sum on your amp and speakers and yet have a Yahama source?
Mattoo, alot of overpriced fish in the sea...you have a GEM in the 400xi. It has been misused and not appreciated by more than a few. I've owned many a $10 to $15K amps and $20K plus speakers with $20K cables...experience and experimentation have afforded me some insight. The 400xi is a chameleon and will only show you it's potential if hooked up properly. I will help you if you want me to, or you can follow the herd over a cliff:O) Your CD player can be updated later..let's make what you have sing first.
I've never owned Totem loudspeakers (but have listened to them for many hrs.) nor Krell, but I will say the right amp can make a world of difference. I would suggest on a whim buy an older Marantz Reciever from 70's. I own the 2218 and I will say it has a certain warmth and musicality that is very special. I suggest a higher powered model and see what results you get driving your Forests.
My Forests sounded best about 2 feet from wall, 8-9' apart, toed in to the listening position, and mass loaded (about 50% of bottom chamber filled with small river stones -- there's another recent thread on mass loading). They also sounded better without grills, after 300+ hours of break-in and with the right cables. Ultimately prefered copper wire over silver with the Forests. Quite a few different amps of very different designs worked well with them, but they all had plenty of juice.
See if you can borrow a better source component (a Benchmark DAC-1 perhaps?) before driving yourself crazy with speaker placement. I know speaker placement is very important, but you have very high resolution electronics, speaker cables, and speakers, and a CD player that's not in the same league. Maybe the Krell/Kimber/Forest signal chain is revealing the Yamaha's shortcomings.
Your room and placement is asking for trouble--same resonating frequency for all four walls, half the wall length for the space between the speakers, and 1/4 the wall length for the space between each speaker and its wall.
Matt, synergy is so so elusive. I'm still trying to capture it in my system. Source amp speaker synergy is complex or can be simple if you know of system(s) that work well and replicate that system. The Yamaha appears to be the lesser component in your system. If I were you I would look at the source first and replace it. If you then do not get what you are listening for then look at the 400xi and replace it.
A square box is the worst scenario for acoustics. The Krell sounds average to bad with the stock power cord and run un-balanced. You shoul run it balanced with a musical CDP and a great PC and interconnect like MIT offers. If you want good advice from a veteran in the business call Joe Abrams at Equus Audio (Portal Audio). He will cut through the "well intentioned advice" you are getting and give you some solid options to pursue:O)
If totem's are anything like triangle's, 70 hrs. is not even long enough to sufficiently break them in. It took my speakers 250-300 hrs. to even begin to break-in. prior to that they sounded flat, constricted etc. Consult the manufacturer to see what they say about how long it takes to break-in. I don't know of any speakers on the market that are totally broken-in under 200hrs. I think here patience is in order. If after 200 hrs. you are still having the problems you describe, then look at some of the suggestions that have been offered.
Change the amp-- Krell is a brand that appeals to only some audiophiles...they have a tendency to be quiet "dry" sounding. I think what you are describing is possibly a uninvolved sound and lack of warmth. Look at these brands..
Plinius Naim Sim audio Classe Mcintosh
All the above brands have more of a "laid back" sound than krell. Dont get me wrong some speakers love krells sound because the speaker itself is laid back, and when you add a more aggressive amp, you can get a neutral sound. Totems are somewhat neutral-bright speakers. So amps that are neutral sounding or warmish sounding go will with totems. Also look at replacing your source. Brightness and uninvolved sound is sometimes caused by jitter. The forests are a VERY reveling speaker for your Yamaha CD player. Look at getting a Tube CD player that will be much more musical and involving such as a Cary or Musical Fidelity.
Remember one thing...Forests (as well as the other totems) LOVE power. You will need a separate or a integrade that has 30+ amps to fully control the forests bass.
As far as room placement, I think it can affect the sound greatly, but with out proper electronics, room placement will only matter to a certain degree. Once you know you have the electronics correct, then you can experiment even more with placement. But I dont think right now is a matter of bad placement. Just make sure that you have the forests at lest 2 feet from the back wall if possible with no toe in.
Treat room with natural diffraction and sound damping materials i.e.., soft furniture, drapes or wall hangings, plants, wood furniture, carpet etc..
Get MIT cabling and power cords.
Put 2 to 4 inch blocks of wood under your components.
Use about 1/2 lb brass weight on top of you 400xi.
Get a Sony XA5400ES for $1099 street price.
Play music for a few hundred hours.
Be happy for the rest of your life:O)
OR...Listen to an endless list of well intentioned advice from people who think they know what they are talking about.
I have owned your equipment in various settings and have spent the time and money to determine what works and what doesn't. The 400xi is warm, sweet, extended and dynamic. The Forests are dynamic, bold, extended and detailed. The Sony offers state of the art playback for RB and SACD's at an extremely attractive price plus it has XLR outputs to take advantage of the Krell's prefered input connection. The MIT cabling and PC's will allow all of it to come alive in an organic and natural manner. Anyone who tells you anything different is full of ...well, you get the idea.
My Hawks' sound lack imaging and presence when they're just a foot from the wall. When there are no kids around to knock them over, I bring them out over 2 feet from the wall and it makes a HUGE difference. Accurate bass turns into real bass. The band and the singer set up around the room and I hang out with them. I have them a bit more than five feet apart. I'm still working with my set-up (it's in its infancy), but this one thing I've learned. And, like Dgaylin, no grills.
Your perception of the sound not filling up the room and sounds flat can be due to the room. As advised by some folks, some natural diffusion material such as RPG omniffusors can work wonders in your small listening space. I would look at improving the room acoustics first before working on the amp. If the system still sounds flat after room treatments then you might want to look at other amps that are more musical and able to give some midrange bloom or warmth. The KAV-400XI although extended and dynamic can sound a little clinical and lack some organic qualities some other amps possess.
What I like about the Sony is it's overall take on the music. It has tremendous clarity, great dynamic contrast, tonal accuracy and an almost non-existent level of digititis or odd harmonics aka glare. The price also makes it a great bargain and easy to love. I also did some more component compaarisons again in my home, compliments of my dealers, and at the risk of sounding like a broken record..uhm, CD, the 400xi still outdoes the competition for me. Maybe a Pass XA series amp would do it for me, or a Rowland integrated, but my Krell has such a great balance as well, that it just makes me happy:O) The Soundstage review nails it....the 400xi has an exceptional sense of energy and aliveness that would be hard to equal, let alone better, at any price! Of course I use superior cabling which allows my gear to achieve maximum musicality...I think Audiofeil knows what brand I use, don't ya?
The Sony is state of the art in it's design, and provides exemplary playback far and above that of many other players on the market. The Krell is way above average...I've heard and owned some of the others and find them lacking. My cabling choice has worked well with many of my systems and with various gear, something most other so called reference cables couldn't do. I am not debating with you, I am telling you. What do you consider to be a reference recording Audiofeil? I have a feeling you are listening to some real gems :O )
2. You need to really drive these speakers to break them in, that driver takes a LONG time (totem suggests 150 hours)
3. Room placement is the next thing to play with. Square room, tough. Try corner placement? 1ft is too close to back wall. Get these speakers out in the room. Try some mass loading. Point them straight ahead. You'll be surprised.
4. Your source is the weakest link right now, but that is the LAST thing I would mess with.