Totem Model 1 Vs. Hawk

Anybody ever do a comparision?

After stands they cost almost the same. Anybody have any opinions on the pros/cons of either besides the idea that the hawks will play louder/lower.

for rock and classical..the hawk. otherwise a toss up
Classical in its general sense (baroque, romantic, gregorian, etc.) is what I listen to a lot. The next largest genre of music that I listen to would be Electronic (down-tempo, ambient) next to Rock and some New Age.

Although I do listen to pretty much everything, the aforementioned is what I listen to most.
Anymore opinions?
The Model 1 is a great solution from its form and function standpoint. Its extremely compact, dynamic, sports great range and power handling. The Model 1 is typically at home in smaller to medium sized rooms. This speaker is picky. Thankfully – it is not the most difficult speaker to set up in the Totem line. You will need to experiment with distance from the wall and with distance apart. The Model 1’s respond very well with high powered tube electronics, although they are known to perform very well from the likes of McIntosh solid state, Bryston, Sim Audio, and Plinius. There are a plethora of other brands out there that match perfectly well. As large as these compact speakers sound, I found they still sound like what they are at the end of the day – a small two way. While versatile, I found the high end tilted a little high for my liking which is why I favor it with darker electronics.

The Totem Hawk is a much better speaker in every way shape and form. Unlike the Model 1, the Hawk prefers large to real large rooms to attain comfortable breathing room. If your room is medium to small sized… (no more than 16x16 or so), you just won’t be able to fully appreciate what these speakers are capable of. The Hawk is also the most difficult speaker in the Totem line to get right. Some friendly pointers would include positioning it along the short side of the wall in your room – experiment with distance from the wall (two feet or so), and taking a larger step up in electronics (upper tier McIntosh tubes, Lamm, upper tier BAT) et all. The Hawk will give a much fuller and genuine presentation than the Model 1. Its smoother, better with ambient music, and of course, can provide exceptional bass that may leave you not even thirsting for a sub. Of course, great performance can be attained by more realistic scenario’s… but the Hawk can also be one of the most overpriced sounding speakers if your listening near-field or just do not have the room/electronics to accommodate them.
gotta throw in a suggestion to audition a castle harlech or howard. for the type of music you like it doent get much better

If the room size is exactly 16 x 16 x 8, do you think Hawks is the better speaker to go for ? How about Forests / Mani-2 ?

I'll offer offer a few observations, some first-hand, some gleaned from general consensus. The manufacturer regards the Model 1 upper end as slightly more refined than the Hawk, the Hawk clearly with more bass depth and extension. I've heard both speakers, but only the Model 1 in my own smallish room, which is about 16' x 11' x 8' - not as square as yours. Well set up, with adequate power, for the type of music you describe, in that room, I believe the Model 1's an excellent candidate. Would you prefer the Hawk's greater depth, even at the expense of a sliver of high frequency insight? That is such a personal choice...UHF magazine made just that comparison a few years back, I don't think they were able to be conclusive...

The manufacturer and many Totem lovers regard the Mani-2s as operating at a more elite level altogether, with substantially more refinement, and more real depth. As well they should at the considerably higher price... By all accounts they are very power hungry and particular about partnering and set-up, but very rewarding if well propitiated.
Hey Panderso,

Its funny you mention that because i contacted totem in regards and they said the same thing. That the Model 1 is closer to the Forest in Performance. They said the Model 1 is a notch up from the Hawk's with the exception of bass...however, they claimed the quality of bass is better on the model 1.

Furthermore, they said the model 1 is used in classical music studios all over the world...something like 200 world wide.

I think this might be the route to go...

It looks like you have found your speakers. Cool. The Model One should be perfectly at home in your room provided you give it solid juice.

Side comments; The Forest, Mani-2, Model 1, all have their major strengths and weaknesses. What I love about their products is that while there are similarities between each speaker, there are differences enough to make each one unique. In some situations, the Arro or Sttaf could be a better choice than a Forest or Mani-2.

From a build and design standpoint, the Hawk is Vince's greatest achievement. Of course, that will never go officially on record and perhaps for the better. It takes a monster load of effort to get that particular speaker to sing well.

Whatever Totem you chose, I am certain you will thoroughly enjoy the experience! Enjoy the music !

Is there any reason why you say "It takes a monster load of effort to get that particular speaker to sing well.".

Can you please post your observations regarding this ?

The reason why I am asking is...I have read it the other way in Audigon postings itself. Aslo, since i am considering Hawks, Forests and Mani-2 for my 2 channel set-up, I am very interested in knowing about this.

I appreciate your input regarding this.

The Hawks are inefficient speakers and do like lots of current.
Hi upstateaudio. So, what exactly is "a lot of current" to drive the Hawks? I contacted Totem to inquire about my 70 wpc I-5's ability to drive the Hawks and they basically said they are ideally suited to drive the Hawks. I then went to a dealer and heard the I-5 drive the Hawks and with the volume at 30 (of 50 max) on the I-5, it was quite loud, with no strain or clipping or exessive heat coming from the I-5 (I touched). The dealers said the two were a great match (a "marriage"). Perhaps 70 wpc is sufficient, or is this "need of current" something that is potentially yet another individual perception thing (to one person's ears the smaller powered amp on the hawks does not allow them to sing as well as another person's ears?). I dunno, just asking, but I am also curious as I am considering the Hawks for my I-5.

- walkman
A high current amp does not necessarily have to drive a lot of wattage. My dealer also drives Hawks with an I5. I drive mine with a Classe CA150 amp mated to a DR6 preamp.
All this talk about the Hawks needing large rooms and large amounts of power is garbage. They're very easy to work with, and in Vince's own words "you can set them anywhere and they'll sound great". They're doing just that in my 14x14 room, and have sounded great with a wide range of amplification. Sure, a flea-watt tube amp will suck with them, but with 86db sensitivity there are far worse offenders out there.
Maybe its a he said she said thing...

The I-5 is almost a perfect match for the Hawks...if I owned the Hawks thats the exact amp i would pair it up with.

The Hawk is a tiny speaker. Some may even call it cute. Despite its small size and being a very simple two-way design, this speaker really does require a very large room to strut its stuff. This is not to say you cannot get away with using this speaker in a 15x15 room. You just have to understand that over-all the space would not be large enough to let the Hawk do its thing.

I experienced this many homes. Even in my own house, this speaker really started to open up when placed in a 20x20 living room that was open to a dinning room, hallway, staircase, you name it... When placed in a 10x10 room, the Hawk was just horrid.

The Hawk is inefficient so you will need an amplifier that sports high amperage and a watt minumum of around 60 per channel. The Sim I-5 is an excellent 'budget' piece of equipment for the Hawk and can match well. Still, you are only getting a faint idea of what this speaker is capable of. Idealy, you will need to run a BAT (vk60?) amp, a nice Lamm pre amplifier with a fairly compotent source (vinyl, redbook, pick your poison)...

Please bear to mind that I am approaching this from the standpoint of achieving top performance from this speaker. Totems over-all play nice with a lot of equipment, but to get that extra ounce of magic from them takes some patience and experience. The Hawk is the most difficult Totem to work with.

Unfortunately, I have very little experience with the Mani-2 aside from a few brief listening sessions - which I hardly consider applicable for giving advice or opinions. It's a great speaker.

The Forests are great speakers because while they require some pretty beefy electronics, they are incredibly versitile speakers. You can throw a wide variety of electronics at these speakers, along with a huge assortment of media... and the Forest will play it all without bias and sound pretty good to boot. Now, its tone and signature is quite different from the Hawk - so if possible, take a listen and see which signature more suites your fancy.
I second G Hunter on use of the Hawk in small rooms. I use mine in a 11 by 12 room (There is a large opening on one side which I sometimes close.
I agree that the hawks do perform pretty good in a larger room. There reviewer of "The Audiophile Voice" placed the Hawks in a 13X20 room and quote...

"Over all, the hawks are more natural sounding than any other full-range system i've had at home"


"The hawks can play at realistc levels closely matching what would be heard from an orchestra in the middle of the concert"

But I do have a hard time believing that they can't perform well in a smaller room. Maybe you loose a little imaging but the dynamics gained would make up imo.
BTW, I managed to convince my dealer to let me demo both in my room so I will let everybody know my findings...

The same review also quoted...

"Using stereophiles test CDs with thrid-octave warble tones and frequency generator, i measured the Hawks frequency response with a "corrected" radio shack SPL meter. I found the Hawks had a flatter response than claimed in the manufacteres specs. Placing the SPL meter where my ears would normally be, 37 inches off the floor and seven feet back from the speakers which had no toe-in and were 45 inches from the back wall, I measured them with 29 test frequencies. Using 80dB at 1,000 Hz as a norm or "o dB" deviation point, with both the speakers playing simultaneously, I measured +3dB, - 2.5 dB from 31.5 Hz to 20kHz. This is the flattest frequency response I have ever measured, out performing my Quad 63 and Gradient subwoofer comination and my Watt puppy 5 speakers. What was truly amazing was the speakers were down only 0.5 dB at 40Hz and at 31.5 Hz, they were slightly up."

Maybe what rumadian is saying isnt so far fetched...i guess I will find out in the next couple days.
Maybe I can clarify my statement that they perform well in my small room. The room is treated with Eighth Nerve in the seams and corners. This was done before I bought them.
I posted this in another thread as well. I am posting it again to see your responses in this active thread. 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.

8. 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

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


PS: 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.
Any Responses ?

Grakesh...don't hijack the thread please.

Anyways, so far my listening done I am in favour of the Hawks. There balance is almost perfect, and cohesivness is something to write home about. Its still early and I will write a longer review in a few days. So far the Hawks have proven to be the better speaker. I may even prefer them to the Forests.
I'm still a little perplexed by this kinda statement:

"The Hawk is inefficient so you will need an amplifier that sports high amperage and a watt minumum of around 60 per channel. The Sim I-5 is an excellent 'budget' piece of equipment for the Hawk and can match well. Still, you are only getting a faint idea of what this speaker is capable of."

How can an an amp be an "excellent" choice for the Hawks, and yet only "faintly" give an idea of their potential? They either are not an excellent (budget...? at $3k new for a $3k new speaker?) match or they do a better than faint job of revealing the Hawks. I get confused at such strong descriptors.

It's interesting how you get these different points of views about the same products (I-5 & Hawks).

- walkman
Very interesting Baroque_Lover. Keep the impressions coming...thanks, - walkman

Your question is valid. The best way I can explain it is to break this down into specific price points. Lets say you really enjoy the Hawk's and decide to bring a pair home. Now, you may need some decent electronics that form good synergy with the speakers.. but many (most) are not afforded the luxury of price-no-object spending. So at the bottom tier of good electronics that form a good synergy with the Hawk.. we may look at equipment from the likes of REGA - a Mira 3 or Planet 2000 could be purchased new for in/under 1k each and at that price point for both components used. For that price-point, you are achieving great synergy with the Hawk. Will it sound good? Certainly. Will it show off what that speaker is fully capable of? Certainly not.

Apply the same logic/principle the further up the chain you go. The Sim (or Plini) piece are proven to be fairly good matches with the Hawk given their price points (2g-3g new, 1500 or so used).

There is a ceiling with all equipment to where you begin to hit the laws of deminishing returns. That applies to all products and may vary on a per person basis for a plethora of personal reasons.

My statements tend to lean more on the bold side of things, but they are there to let people know that this speaker in particular is quite capable and indeed enjoys electronics a notch or two above the usual mated suspects (sim, plini, unison research, naim etc.. )
Thanks so much for the detailed explanation, Rumadian. I think I get it now...appreciated. - walkman
Baroque Lover,

I dont mean to hijack the thread. I did not see any activity about the current discussion and posted my points. Anyway, this discussion about Model1 and Hawks is very important for me as well as I am planning to put down 2K to 3K for the 2 channel speakers. Let us continue this interesting discussion.

How well do these various Totem models perform at lower listening volumes?
After a few days with both the MODEL 1 & HAWK I can without reservation say that the Hawk is truly a little marvel. Top to bottom is does a lot right. The Model 1 had a smidge more transparency; however, the Hawks reproduced the harmonic overtones on strings and piano so well that it made me forget about the little transparency lost. Balance, cohesiveness, musicality, and harmonics are the best way to describe this speaker. Tonally it is a tad warmer than the Forest and Model 1 and is more musical too my ears. Compared to the Model 1 the Hawks complete the audio “picture” whereas the Model 1’s offer more of the “hi-fi” qualities some might prefer like transparency, extended highs, and point-source imaging. If you like these qualities definitely give the Model 1’s a listen. If you prefer a balanced system flat to 30HZ that conjures up a lush harmonic richness, an ever so slightly warm tone, and a separation and layering of instruments that is almost creepy…the Hawks are your speakers. Believe it or not the Hawk took up less floor space than the Model 1 on stands. Compared to the Forests I prefer the Hawks. Again, If you like the qualities I mentioned about the Model 1’s then you will prefer the Forests. In direct comparison the Hawks had better balance and integration. While the Forest had better bass, but the quality of bass on the Hawks was better. The Forests bass was a little more prominent and I think this was its drawback, it sounds a little boomier on certain material whereas the Hawks just effortlessly produced the bass-lines. I think I found my perfect loudspeaker. The only drawback(s) of the Hawk is its ability to perform well in a very large room (not directly a fault of the speaker) and its slight loss of transparency (I’m really nitpicking). The Hawk allowed the music to communicate, move me even. The Hawks somewhat stray…it still maintains the Totem signature sound, but it is closer in tone to the higher end Sonus Faber. Both speakers had more than 400 hours on them, dealer demos. Overall both speakers performed remarkably well in my room but the Hawk really strutted its stuff, I mean really.
Baroque lover,
Very incisive report, very useful to all.
Yes, nice report. I come away with this having even more respect for the Model 1, actually, because it remains competitive with a much larger and slightly more expensive speaker despite its miniscule size.
Baroque Lover,

Thanks a for a very very good report you posted. I have two questions for you after reading your post.

1. When you say "The only drawback(s) of the Hawk is its ability to perform well in a very large room "....What sized room do you consider as a very large room ? My room is 16 x 16 x 8. I a just curious whether Hawks will be good enough for my room size.

2. You also said "The Hawks somewhat stray…it still maintains the Totem signature sound, but it is closer in tone to the higher end Sonus Faber". Are you comparing the Hawks sound to Sonus Faber Cremona Auditors/ Cremona (or) Guarneri Series. I had an oppurtunity to compare Totem Mani-2 (dealer does not have a Hawk ) with Sonus Faber Cremona Auditors. Both are darn good speakers with Sonus Faber being a tad more musical than Mani-2. Mani-2 was more accurate, but tad less musical than SF.

3. I am assuming you listened to Sonus Faber also. If so, can you answer this for me ...Money not being a factor, between Hawks, SF Cremona Auditor, SF Concerto Domus ( all within 1100 dollar difference ) which one would be your choice ?



When I say large, I mean LARGE...20X25 +

I speak only of the Cremona series, the Homage is a step up IMO. I can't wait to hear the new Guarneri Memento. I would without hesitation take the Hawk over the lower end SF. The Homage series are still a step up. The Cremona series are closer to the Hawks but I still prefer the hawks.
Barooque Lover,

Thanks for your feedback. I appreciate it.

As I mentioned earlier, I auditioned Totem Mani-2 with SF Cremona Auditor and SF Grand Piano. I felt both of the SF speakers are very very musical...with Cremona Auditor being a tad more musical than Mani-2 for my music preferences ( Vocals and Instruments ). But I could not audition Hawks. I just assumed Mani-2 is more musical than Hawks. May be I will try listening to Hawks. If you are preferring Hawks over even Cremona Series then it makes a lot of financial sense to check Hawks against Cremona Auditor.

Also, what electronic gear are you considering for driving Hawks ?

Any info ?
Simaudio Moon I-5 is an ideal candidate.

I prefer the Mani-2 over a wide range of speakers. The higher end SF is still a cut above.
I own Totem Model 1 Signatures. I must confess I never listened to the Hawks. I did, however, do extensive listening of the Forest and Arro. All of them are outstanding speakers and the ultimate choice is a matter of personal taste. For me, it was the Model Ones Signatures. However, what really struck me was listening to the Totems Model 1s powered by Conrad-Johson's CAV50 45W per channel tube gear. The synergy between these 2 pieces of equipment is nothing short of breathtaking. And this came on the heels of listening to the Totem powered by the Bryston SST, not exactly a bad amp. On Jordi Salvall's soundtrack for the movie 'Tous les matins du monde', the harmonics just bloomed and the depth and speed of the bass was nothing short of astounding. I suspect this would hold true for other Totem speakers as well. Even in my loft with 15 foot high ceilings, the little Totem 1s fill the space with a big, bold sound with a wall to wall soundstage. Proper component matching can yield huge dividends.