Totem Hawks/Forests - Upstream Components


Hi,

I am trying to set-up a 2 channel set-up based on Totem Hawks / Forests. I will be deciding on which speaker very shortly. I am curious about the set-up I should be going for ?

1. Stereo Integarated Amplifier ?

2. Pre-Amp & Amp ?

3. SS or Tubes ?

Should I be going for separates (or) integrated ? In either case, can you please recomemnd any proven coherent components for these speakers ?

Thanks
Grakesh
grakesh
You might want to list a budget, room size and musical tastes. It will help people make recommendations.
Totem has been showing their speakers recently useing Plinius electronics, they are widely regarded as a great match. Either integrated or separates should work fine, generally separates tend to offer higher performance, though not always...most people recommend solid state with totem

depending on the speakers you choose the power requirments will be different...unlike virtually every other speaker Totem makes, the Forests are easy to drive, and dont require a lot of power, 50 watts will do fine, with their other speakers, the more power the better.

I recently heard the forrests with musical fidelity separates and thought they sounded excellent... i also heard them with bryston separates and like it far less.
As far as amps go, anything by Sim Audio. I heard a pair of Forests with a Sim W5. It was very nice indeed. The W5 is smooth, extremely detailed yet relaxed with tremendous bass. The W5 with 190 Watts, will make those forests sing ! I am pretty sure Totem and Sim have something going in terms of one using the other to voice...etc.. might want to give them a call.

good listening
Hi Grakesh. Several Integrated units come to mind
Simaudio I3
Simaudio I5
Plinius Integrateds

I personally run my Hawks with a Classe DR6 paired with a CA150 ( It is almost too much power).

The above are some general ideas. You might want to let us know what type of music you listen to.
I have the Hawks driven by a Classe CAP-150 integrated. They are considered very musical speakers with no dryness/harshness to them - also not the most senstitive - so that seems to favor solid state. Was also specifically told by my reputable dealer that they need some power to sound their best. I have noticed however that this set-up is highly critical of poorly produced music ie. most Alison Krauss, Pink Floyd, Nora Jones, well-done jazz recordings sound magical, while a lot of run of the mill rock/alternative is tough to listen to for very long. I think this is true of most mid/high-end set-ups. Having said that, I am actually considering experimenting with a tube preamp in front of my Classe to see if it eases that issue. Best advice - find a dealer that will let you audition both SS and tube gear in your price range with your recordings and source component(s) and the speakers. Sorry if this creates more questions than it answers.
more than welcome to visit my system arround Totem Forrest where I use biamplification with SS and tubes.
IMHO Forrsts do much more for the money spent than Hawks.
You might want to try Arcam components. I believe the Totems are voiced with Arcam. If not, the synergy created between these to products makes this combination sound incredible.
I have used different pairs of Totem speakers with seperates, integrated amps, tubes and solid state. My recommendation would be to get an amp in the flavor you like (tube or ss) with a lot of reserve power. some amps to consider would be: mcintosh mc352, ma6900 integrated, classe ca201 or ca301. good luck.
I asked the same question to Totem directly, or more specifically, if my Sim I-5 would be a good fit for the Totem Hawks & Forests. Here is the email reply:

"Both the HAWK and FOREST would be comfortable with your room size and musical preference. In terms of your amplifier, the I-5 would be better suited to the HAWK. From our personal experience we have found the I-5 to be slightly "cool" in nature. The Hawk which tends to be slightly "warm" should provide a nice balance. Although the FOREST is more demanding to drive the I-5 can still handle the load to a moderate/high level. Although it will play to satisfying levels, maximum dynamics would not be reached. We recommend you audition both units as each model is different overall, and personal taste would be the determining factor."
All,

Thanks a lot for all the feedback you provided. I appreciate your input.

Eldorado....You are right. I should have provided mroe details that will allow folks over here to guide me better.

My Budget is $3500 for both Pre-Amp and Amp together (or) for the Integrated Amp it is $3000. I like listening to Vocals, Instruments, Pop, Classical and light rock. I am not an audiophile and i am new to audiphile terms. I am thinking most of my listening interests and particularly Vocals come under mid-range. I also heard that Tubes make the mid-range really bloom and sound sweet. That is why I was asking for Tube recommendations too.
Also, I have a few questions that I am looking for some guidance with.

1. Can I buy a Tube Stereo Inegrated Amp like Jolida 302B (or) Primaluna Prologue 2 and use it to drive Totem Hawks / Forests for my current 2 channel needs and then add a power amp like Musical Fidelity A5 CR 6 months down the lane and use the Jolida / Primalune as a Pre-Amp. In simple terms, in the future, can I take the output from Jolida Integrated and pass it through MF A5 power amp and the output from MF Amp to Speakers ? If this is not possible, then I need to buy a pure Pre-Amp and Power Amp together to start with.

2. The so called Tube sound and mid range bloom...is that contributed by the Pre-Amp Tubes or tubes in the power amp section ?

3. In the case of Jolida, folks recommend 302b over 502b if one's preference is sweet sounding mid-range. I read folks saying EL34 tubes contribute to that. In that case EL34 tubes are part of pre-amp section (or) power amp section of Jolida ?

4. I like sweet sounding mid-range and some good tight bass too. So I thought I can have a sweet sounding mid-range bloom tube based Pre-Amp and a good SS power amp like MF A5 to give the bass slam. That is why I was thinking of pairing up Tube Pre-Amp with a SS Power Amp thinking it gives best of both worlds. I am not sure whether this is a correct theory or not. May be you can educate me.

Can you please let me know ?

Thanks
Grakesh
I am open for pre-owned Power Amps, but would like to buy the pre-amp new.

Grakesh
I am surprised at how well my Forests sound powered by my PrimaLuna Prologue Two. They are premeiring monoblocks rated at 60/70W? at the CES show. I would recommend giving those a shot.

Also, the Krell kav-400xi sounds great powering the Forests, but for me, I preferred the tube sound of the PrimaLuna. The Krell could get a little fatiguing in the highs at hihg levels, although this may have been dependent on cables?

I am going to try an i-5 next week myself as my dealer (who doesn't sell simaudio, but totem and krell) stated that Vince (of Totem) used to own Simaudio, so the synergy is there. This is the only source I have heard this information from though?

I've had a Plinius 8200mkII integrated driving Tabu's back in the day, and I wasn't feeling the combination. Just personal preference.

I had the PrimaLuna driving the Arro's previous to the Forest, and thought the PrimaLuna wouldn't cut it, but I was pleasantly surprised. Many, even Totem themselves said that the Forests want a lot of power, like 200W SS, but I am questioning that as the PrimaLuna sounds so damn good. I think the monos with a little more juice may be the ticket?

I would recommend the Forests highly over the Hawks, again just personal opinion. I've heard the Hawks on several occasions in seperate systems and have never been as 'wowed' with them as the Forests. The best Hawk system I've heard was at the HE show this past year paired with Ayre gear. CDP and integrated, not sure the model #'s? but you may want to check them out if the Hawks are your taste?

Good luck with your decisions, it really will come down to was is most pleasant to your ears!
First off, if you have the money I'd def. go for the forests. There are a number of threads on the subject, but just listen for yourself and you'll understand.

So I'll list a couple units I liked with the totem Forests, but these may voice differently depending on your CD/TT, Cables, etc.

The Plinius 9200 I think represents a lot of what you're looking for, in terms of tube-like mid-range bloom and power, plus it has a decent phono stage. Also, if you buy used you should have money left over for ICs, PCs, and speaker cable, if you buy well.

If you want to go with tubes somewhere in the chain, you could get the BAT VK300x or 300xse, both of which sound very good with the forests.

A Vac Avatar Super may be a stretch of your budget (but falls below 3500 used) but would be an ideal match.

A Musical Fidelity Tri-Vista is about 3 grand used, and would be much superior to the Jolida/MF combo you proposed in your last post. Plus, this thing has enough power to match with anything you might upgrade to, and has a phono stage, but it's not great.

If you're looking to save money, the Plinius is the way to go. Otherwise, I'd say the Bat or MF would be good. I didn't get a good listen on the VAC and totems, but I'm familiar with the VAC and it's great.

Enjoy
If your room is not too big look at the Pathos Classic One MKII integrated. It has a tube pre section and SS power section. 70 wpc. New well under your price range

Pathos Logos same config and the Classic excepy 110 wpc. Used in your price range.

I heard the some Totems (sorry can't remember the model) with the Logos and the combo was outstanding.

Also the Sim I-5LE at 75 wpc would be a very nice match IMO. Used in your price range.

Rogue Audio Tempest II for an all tube design. New in you price range.

The is no such thing as a perfect system or combo. Take some time and listen to as much as you can and let your ears be the deciding factor. If it were me I would go with one of the Pathos units.
Eldorado,

You reminded me one more factor I missed. My 2 channel room is 14 x 16 x 8. Hoping this helps in the recommendations.

Thanks
Grakesh
i would recommend that you listen to the totems with your source components in your own room to see if they float your boat. if you can't do this, i would buy used pieces so you don't take a hit if you have to sell it because you don't like it. IMO, to get the most out of these speakers, don't skip on the amp's power. for example: i currently use a small jolida tube integrated amp to power my totem inwalls. sounds nice for my den/office setup. when i switch the amp out to my more powerful tube setup, the sound difference is like nigt and day. i also used this jolida to power my arros with good success. only when i switched amps to a more powerful one did i notice the improvement. i also did some comparisons with my model 1's and now my mani 2's with different amps. i used to power these speakers with a pair of odyssey monoblocks which sounded nice. but when i auditioned the mcintosh 352 amp or the classe ca-301 amp with these speakers, these amps did a much better job at controlling the lower end and the speaker seemed to really open up. this was more noticable with the mani's than the model 1's. good luck.
Hi,

Can anyone answer my questions ( 3 questions ) about Tubes I posted earlier ? I am re-postingt he same questiosn again.

1. Can I buy a Tube Stereo Inegrated Amp like Jolida 302B (or) Primaluna Prologue 2 and use it to drive Totem Hawks / Forests for my current 2 channel needs and then add a power amp like Musical Fidelity A5 CR 6 months down the lane and use the Jolida / Primalune as a Pre-Amp. In simple terms, in the future, can I take the output from Jolida Integrated and pass it through MF A5 power amp and the output from MF Amp to Speakers ? If this is not possible, then I need to buy a pure Pre-Amp and Power Amp together to start with.

2. The so called Tube sound and mid range bloom...is that contributed by the Pre-Amp Tubes or tubes in the power amp section ?

3. In the case of Jolida, folks recommend 302b over 502b if one's preference is sweet sounding mid-range. I read folks saying EL34 tubes contribute to that. In that case EL34 tubes are part of pre-amp section (or) power amp section of Jolida ?

4. I like sweet sounding mid-range and some good tight bass too. So I thought I can have a sweet sounding mid-range bloom tube based Pre-Amp and a good SS power amp like MF A5 to give the bass slam. That is why I was thinking of pairing up Tube Pre-Amp with a SS Power Amp thinking it gives best of both worlds. I am not sure whether this is a correct theory or not. May be you can educate me.

Can you please let me know ?

Thanks
Grakesh
In response to the above post, my answers are:

1) The Jolida 302b pairs well with the Hawk, less so with the Forest. (I have heard the Forests sound best with Totem's own integrated amp.) No, the 302b cannot be used as a preamp. But you can sell it for a comparable price to the one that you buy it for (used).

2) Both

3) EL34's are in the power amp section

4) Tube preamp and SS amps are a common combination. But that doesn't mean that it will necessarily result in the best sound, especially if the pre and power amps don't mate well. For a long time I enjoyed a SS preamp with tube amps; in some ways I actually prefer it that way (especially for the Hawks). The other option is to biamp the speakers so that you use the SS amp for the bass and tube amp up top.

I hope that helps.

Michael
Sufentanil,

Why cant we use Jolida 302b as a pre-amp ? I dont know the reason and I am eager to find out the technical reason behind it. Please bear with my lack of knowledge here.

Thanks
Grakesh
Michael,

I agree with you. What you said is correct about Tube Pre-Amp and SS amps combination for Totems (or) any speakers. The system synergy is what really matters. That is the reason why I was asking for any proven combination of Tube Pre-Amps and Solid State Amps for driving Totem Hawks / Forests.

Thanks
Grakesh
Can anyone add their views to this discussion ?

Grakesh
Grakesh:

I'm using an aesthetix janus preamp with a parasound A21 with very favorable results, but I'm getting a BAT VK 250 tomorrow and I expect the change to be night and day. I"ve heard the bat and aesthetix together and it's a stunning combo. I'm a fan of tube pre and solid state amps, only because I'm nervous about fully embracing tubes. I would seriously consider listening to the BAT VK 300 integrated, because I though it voiced very well with the Totem forsests, as did the Plinius 9200 which is all SS.
Mimberman,

Thanks for giving your feedback. Janus is definitely not in my price range. My budget is 3500 - 4000...can go Integrated or separates way based on system synergy and value for the dollar. I am considering these combinations as of now and will need to audition them in the near future.

1. New Primaluna Prologue 3 preamp with Musical Fidelity A5 CR power-amp (New/Used).

2. New BAT VK-3iX preamp with USED Musical Fidelity A5 CR Power Amp

3. New BAT VK-3iX Preamp with USED BAT VK-250 / VK-350 power amp.

4. New Plinius 9200 Integrated

5. New Musical Fidelity A5 Integrated.

6. New BAT VK-300x Integrated.

7. Sim Audio I-3 / I-5 is another good choice. But I am not considring it highly because it is low on power amp portion and I want to use ths same set-up for powering my HT fronts as well.

Can you guys throw some light on these system synergies with Totem Hawks / Forests ?

Thanks
Grakesh
Also,

Option 8 is Unison Research Unico which got amazing reviews and has good references for system synergy with Totem Hawks / Forests. But again just like sim audio , the power may be on the lower end for it to work as a power amp for my HT needs

Grakesh
BTW...Is there any Tube Pre-Amp from Unison Research that falls into 1000 - 2000 dollar segment ? I know olny Unison Research Unico which is a Hybrid Stereo Integrated Amplifier.

Grakesh
Any feedback please ?

Grakesh
Unico is too weak for Hawks. It's power overrated and it never does 80Wpc even near. The small Creek 4330 does better job with 40Wpc.
If you get used Krell Kav 300i with your current budget you will be in great shape.
Marakanetz

Thanks for letting me know about Unison Unico. I have seen a few flks recommending this integrated because of its system synergy with Totems. I have a question for you

1. If I go with Creek 5350SE for now, does it mean I can plan to use 5350SE as a pre-amp and hook it upto a 2 channel power amp like Musical Fidelity A5 ?

Grakesh
Grakesh:

Since you constantly refer to the Musical Fidelity A5 it would appear you are keen on the MF gear. I would think that a creek with an A5 wouldn't be as favorable as going with an MF Trivista integrated, which would also save you a pc and an IC. I would think that in general the creek wouldn't be the best bet for the Forests, assuming those are what you've settled on.
Mimberman,

Thanks for letting me know about Creek and Forests. Do you mind looking at the other combos I have posted earlier?

Also, can you let me know about the system syenergy between Forests and MF gear ? I am currently thinking of auditioning atleast the following 2 set-ups:

1. BAT VK-3iX Preamp and MF A5 Power Amp

2. Primaluna Prologue three Preamp and MF A5 power amp.

3. I see folks keep referring to MF Tri-Vista Inegrated. Is this available new t buy (or) I need to look for it only in the used market ?

Thanks
Grakesh

Grakesh
Hey Grakesh:

So I'll respond to the following setups you asked about, based on my experiences where applicable, and your desired price range of 3000-3500.

1. New Primaluna Prologue 3 preamp with Musical Fidelity A5 CR power-amp (New/Used).

-I've not heard the Prologue 3, and I've only heard the A5 with other MF gear, but wasn't blown away. I have to say that overall the new MF gear hasn't bowled me over the way the 308 or trivista stuff did. I think there are other SS amps I'd choose before the A5, Bat, plinius, and Sim being among them, especially with the forests.

2. New BAT VK-3iX preamp with USED Musical Fidelity A5 CR Power Amp

I've not heard these two together so I can't comment on the synergy, but it wouldn't be my first choice. Also, don't these two exceed your budget? Keep in mind you'll want to have some interconnects and PCs, so this might not be the way to go price-wise.

3. New BAT VK-3iX Preamp with USED BAT VK-250 / VK-350 power amp.

This is a much more logical combination than two IMO, but as far as I know there does not exist a BAT VK-350 amp, and the 250 used is still around 3500, which means you're way above teh budget listed above. Still, this would sound pretty sweet.

4. New Plinius 9200 Integrated

It seems based on other posts that you're leaning toward seperates, but I think the plinius 9200 is in some ways the ideal choice. It's got all the desired features (more than enough power, remote, phon section) and matches excellently with totem. I really think this is the winner, and the price used will leave you a nice amount left over for accessories or the bank (waste of time). If I hadn't blown an unnecessary amount of money on my seperates (I'm a schmuck) this woudl have been it.

5. New Musical Fidelity A5 Integrated.

I'm not in love with this integrated. I'm not anti MF, but I think the KW500 puts this to enough shame to make this one irrelevant. The tri-vista does for that matter too!

6. New BAT VK-300x Integrated.

Well there are really 3 different integrateds here: all SS, tube-hybrid, and tube-hybrid with supertubes. I loved the top of the line one with my totems, but the phono section is a bit of a joke. at the price used, though, you can get a good outboard phono stage.

7. Sim Audio I-3 / I-5 is another good choice. But I am not considring it highly because it is low on power amp portion and I want to use ths same set-up for powering my HT fronts as well.

Many have commented on this so I'll just say that I love the sim/totem combination and think you would be able to buy something used and resell it fairly easily if it didn't work out.

Okay, hope this helps. Again, I think considering your budget the best option would be the Plinius 9200. One not mentioned here would be the YBA passion integre, which is a killer integrated. Forget the power ratings...this one's a gem!
Mimberman,

Thanks for patiently answering all my options. So you recommned Pinius 9200 integrated. Good. I am finding few other options. If you dont mind, can you help me with your opinion on the quality of these components and their synergy with Hawks/Forests and whether the deal is a good one or not (I am planing to use this set-up to power my HT fronts as well)

1. Pathos Logos USED for $3600. Hybrid Integrated with SS Power Amp at 110 Watts into 8 Ohms, 220 Watts into 4 Ohms

2. BAT VK-3i USED for $1500. Will need to decide a good power AMP that I can get for $2000 - $2500 (New/Used)

3. New Audio Research SP 16 (No Phono) for $1800. Will need to decide a good power AMP that I can get for $2000 - $2500 (New/Used).

Also, I have auditioned Audio Research, Pathos Logos and A5 Integrated. I totally agree with you that MF A5 integrated did not impress me too much. I just want to listen to your opinion and check it against my obervations for Pathos Logos and Audio Research.

Thanks
Grakesh
So first off, I think given the price range of the other components you're looking at, that you should stick with the forests. If it came down to cash, I think the plinius 9200 would leave you the extra scratch for the difference between the hawks and forests.

That being said, here are my impressions:

1. Pathos Logos USED for $3600. Hybrid Integrated with SS Power Amp at 110 Watts into 8 Ohms, 220 Watts into 4 Ohms

Have to say that I loved this unit when I heard it with some Proacs, and I surmise it would voice very well with the Forests. It may not have the power reserves of the 9200, but I think it wouldn't sound lean. It's a beautiful thing and has a pretty great midrange.

2. BAT VK-3i USED for $1500. Will need to decide a good power AMP that I can get for $2000 - $2500 (New/Used)

If you mated this with something like a Bat VK-500 I think you'd be pretty happy. You'd have more than enough power, a very neutral revealing system, but of course you'd need one more set of ICs and another PC.

3. New Audio Research SP 16 (No Phono) for $1800. Will need to decide a good power AMP that I can get for $2000 - $2500 (New/Used).

Can't comment on this unit since I've not heard it, but there are a number of ARC lovers (and haters) on audiogon so maybe post just about that unit if you're curious.

Also, as I mentioned before, I would consider the YBA Passion Integre, which is fantastic. I would trust your ears and play around. I suspect you'd be happy with the Plinius and save some money for other upgrades, as well as some space. If not, I think either the Logos or Bat combo would be amazing. I think the Pathos gear has something of an inflated cost because of the look, but that's important to some (me). Have fun.

-matt
Matt,

Thanks for patiently answering all my question. I appreciate it.

Grakesh
Garkesh,
I guess you're realy undefined with your budget for the amplifier.

In this case don't rush-sh-sh!! Take it EASY especially before spending near $4k on Italian product which dictates paying more for less.

Stick with Plinius 9200 or Krell KAV300i. You will not regret what they can do with Hawks for sure even versus Pathos.
Marakanetz,

Thanks for the guidance you provided. I agree with you. May Be I really need to cross check with what Plinius 9200 can do with Forests / Hawks.

Mimberman (Matt), Marakanetz & All: How does Plinius 9200 compare against Pathos Logos in-terms of system synergy with Forests ? Just wanted to let you know that my interest is in Sweet Sounding Mid-Range with good watts for HT. For instance I really liked the tube sound.

Also, I saw BAT VK-3i tube pre-amp for $1500 and BAT VT-500 SS Power-Amp for $2500 which will be slightly above my budget. How does this compare with Plinius 9200 for Forests ?

Thanks
Grakesh
So I've never heard the combo of the VK-3i and VT-500 with the forests, but I like BAT gear and I think it would sound pretty great. I've heard the Pathos gear and very much liked the Logos (I actually didn't love the inpol2, but I think the unit I heard had problems, i.e. transformer hum) but still think the Plinius is the best buy. The Logos is beautiful looking, and has a great midrange, but I think you pay a huge premium for design and brand cache. I think the Plinius fills all your requirements, including a lush midrange, and you can always sell it with little to no loss if it didn't float your boat. I ended up spending rougly 4 times the pri9ce of a used plinius to better the sound. I don't think it would have bene easy to do it any other way, so I say go for the plinius, and use the left over money in other parts of your system.
Garkesh,
We've just "sang" in unison with Mimberman.