Totem Model 1 vs Totem Arro

These two Totem speaker models had more or less the same price, and it was natural to choose between the two when one was interested in the Canadian brand.
The Arro is still currently on Totems catalog but the Model 1 is only available on the Signature version, much more expensive.
I have the Arro (love’em) and I wonder if the Model 1 is superior, specially in the bass quality?

Does anyone have any experience in comparing these two models?



This is one of the best speakers sold over the last 35 years or more. The Totem Model 1 Signatures sound as good as the Dynaudio special 40’s ($4500) for half the price! These Totem speakers have a beautiful Dynaudio main driver with a lovely 3 inch voice coil. The inside of the cabinet has some space age NASA material that dampens the cabinet tremendously. These speakers (when driven by a high quality clean sounding amplifier of around 100 watts per side ) will deliver bass that is very powerful potent and forceful, amazing for their size. The mids are first class, female and male vocals are reproduced with total accuracy and detail. The highs are pure joy, effortless with great extension. A great pair of solid speaker stands will be needed as well. As for the Totem


Matt M

This Saturday morning I went to my dealer and listened to the Model 1 and I must say that they certainly made a good impression... so good that I will change my Arro for them, this Thursday.
Luckily my stands are the Target R4 that were recommended by Totem, so I expect a good integration with my room and system.
Also I got a pair of used-mint Straight Wire Encore speaker cable and must say they really work with the Arro, so they must be great with the Model 1 and specially the Thiel CS.5, the main reason why I got them. Great cables!



Good to read that you are enjoying the SW Encore with Thiel CS.5 loudspeaker.

Another +vote for Totem Model One.


Happy Listening!

Model Ones are great speakers and as you've already found an improvement over the Arros.  If you get the itch for trying new speaker cables try some Analysis Plus.  Very good with Totems and i think you'll find them even a better match than Straight Wire..

I would suggest not going below the Oval 9's for a good match to the Model Ones.  I used both Oval 9's and Oval 8's with my Totems.  The 8's will give you better base and more transparency but the 9's are a better value, imo. 

Also, if you allow me to spend some more money for you lol get the Plinius 9200 integrated amp.  Its an older model but pairs exceptionally well with Model ones.  Also has a very good phono stage if you spin records.

Marco1, seems that we are on the same page, since I am looking for a Plinius 9200 for some time now. In the past I had not one but two 8150 and I surely miss them.

As for the Oval 9 they are a bit pricey for me and hard to find here in Europe.

The Vincent SV237MK works well with the Arro, so I expect a similar result with the Model 1.

Did you ever tried the Totem Truss speaker cables?

Well if you had the 8150 then you know what to expect with the 9200.  Only with the 9200 you'll get so much more.  Plus if you're in Europe you're playing in 220v.  The 9200 in 220v sounded as good as their separates. I'm in the US and at the time I ran a dedicated 220v circuit just for my Plinius.  Never tried Truss cables.  Good luck in your search.

I’ve owned the TOTEM ARROs and TOTEM FORESTs in prior systems , so ai know the TOTEM sonic signatures, strengths, and warts very well.

which speaker model you choose will be predicated by the amount of “grunt” ( and that means current = amps ….WPC alone are meaningless) it can deliver. TOTEMs are power hogs …the ARRO is easier to drive in my experiences, But the small midrange / bass driver means compromise on bass reproduction based on elementary physics.

I experimented with numerous speaker cables, from budget to the expensive. In short, I’d stick with the Ag coated over Cu models. The ones that immediately come to mind are the CHORD RUMOUR X , CHORD ODYSSEY, and TOTEM TRESS


- Save your cash and don’t blow the wad on expensive speaker cables. Rather, stay with the mid-priced ones listed above. Expensive options disappointed …they produced somewhere between negligible / minimal / meh? depending on the rest of your system,

- The TOTEM TRESS are in-house cables modelled after the class-leading CHORDs, specifically the original RUMOUR.( current model is now the RUMOUR X)

- I like the CHORD ODYSSEYs in that are identical in materials and build to RUMOURs EXCEPT FOR being a double thickness. It made for a bit more slam and dynamics for me. BUT …they cost double too so it may be a non-optimal choice for some in the $$$ vs VALUE proposition.

- The TOTEM speakers are internally wired with their in-house TRESS cables… it’s intuitive that extending the same cable or proxies works well.


the CHORD RUMOUR X as the premier $$ to performance choice. Curiously, I’m guessing that their bespoke upgraded shielding when compared to the TRESS,, and an ethereal “who knows exactly why” factor were a slightly better performance reasonin my system.

The RUMOUR X model is a class leader rated contender and no pretender

they are $$$ comparable to the TRESS.


The high frequencies of the Model 1 sound a bit harsh and unrefined to me but that was when the speakers were compared to Harbeth SHL5 in my system about 10 years ago. Perhaps the Model 1 Signature sounds more refined at the top in comparison to the original Model 1.



I owned TOTEMs and I also currently run HARBETH 30.2 XD’s.

the TOTEMS are generally fine at their price-points with their own fans IFF

- they have a suitable high-current capable amp  to drive them, and

- you accept a few.warts to go along with their strengths , and

- you prefer their bespoke sonic signature ….

BUT…. - as @ryder has pointed out- , a move up to HARBETHs are a distinct step-up in audio performance (and price ,,,) that is not subtle .

@marco1, yes you’re right, if the 9200 is even better than the 8150 then 

it will be a wonderful thing.

@akg_ca, thanks so much for all the information and tips. I had the Chord Odyssey a few years ago, to use with my Naim pre-power amp, but prefered Naim’s own Nac A5.  I will try to borrow some Truss to test at home and report back.

@ryder, I am already listening to the Model 1 in the same place the Arro were last night and fortunately I am enjoying the sound, specially the highs. It is a much more transparent speaker, with a larger soundstage and more robust bass. But above all, it is the depth that surprises me the most.

Can I ask what amplifier do you use with the Model1?

Best bet Powering your TOTEMs ,,,, SIMAUDIO

SIMAUDIO and TOTEM are both in Montreal and mutually used to voice each others product. A TOTEM/SIMAUDIO partnership is arguably the ideal stablemates.

Here is your Holy Grail .... the TOTEM AMBER integrated amp. This is a now discontinued high-current beefy integrated amp that is a mutha of a beast It was JV between SIMAUDIO and TOTEM , wherein TOTEM had a bespoke custom designed product built for them to their specs and speaker line by SIMAUDIO, based on the SIMAUDIO platform.

SUITABLE ALTERNATE CHOICES (also seen set-up with TOTEMs at audio expos). These are contenders and no pretenders.


. I’ve auditioned TOTEM ARROs and FORESTs paired with NAIM upstream numerous times at dealers after I sold off mine.

My take: not the best option…. System synergy matters .

NAIM with TOTEM was a step down from any of the three brands listed above,..and compared to the ones herein, it was not subtle. 

I have a lot of admiration for NAIM paired with Brit speakers (NEAT, KUDOS, REGA, ROYD, ( insert any of the BBC monitor derivatives); etc. etc …….and French offerings from JMR and FOCAL),,,, but just not so much with TOTEMs

Hey…some drive Fords and some drive Chevys… Whatever stirs your drink.


carry on, sir!

@akg_ca, I didn’t knew about the existence of a Totem integrated amplifier neither the connection with Sim Audio! Thanks :)

I have enjoyed all Celeste / Sim Audio / Moon components that I have experienced but never owned any. A few years ago I almost bought a mint  i-5 integrated...

I really enjoyed my Naim rig with the Totem Arro, specially with the Nac A5 speaker cable. Now, that I have the more demanding Model 1, let’s see if the results are equally good.

As I write I am using the Cayin CS-55a (KT88) tube integrated - the last amp that was used with the Arro - with satisfying results, but I suspect that the Vincent SV237MK will do a better  combination, and I also have the Rogue Sphinx and the NAD C275BEE to try.

The Model 1 are so much more transparent with a bigger dimensionality to the sound, that I am really amazed by them. What a magic trick from such a small box!


the TOTEM MODEL 1’s do crave solid state “grunt”. ( All TOTEMs do …)The better the upstream fed, the better performances overall.

I had the NAD C370 integrated amp initially to pair up to the ARROs initially (predecessor to the C275BEE on your audition list.) It was “ok if you like the bespoke NAD sonic signature that is on the dark side with a rolled off top end. It wasn’t my thing , so I swapped it out for the top model ARCAM FMJ integrated amp ….. It was for my “B” system, so I didn’t go that extra mile for a SIMAUDIO .

I still stand behind my post that SIMAUDIO is still the best partner for TOTEMs that I have heard . I’ve also heard them with AYRE and PLINIUS …. Sweet too .…but SIMAUDIO still had that extra ethereal bit IMO with TOTEMs.

FWIW, My current amp is the REGA OSIRIS integrated amp driving HARBETH M30.2 XD’s ,,,,it’s well worth an audition and I”m most confident that it would impress you further with the Model 1’s …. if you can live with the added strain on your wallet.

budgets matter big time for sure. Audition what you can , think about inserting a SIMAUDIO into the mix last if you csn, and have fun sorting out the contender(s) from the pretenders . This hobby is a journey and never a destination in our stroll down the Yellow Brick Road to Audio OZ. Excluding my OSIRIS, The SIMAUDIO is one that I might consider on a blind purchase on a hot deal .

choose wisely, and carry on sir!

PS If you are married to your TOTEMs and you see an AMBER integrated amp on the resale market … dive on it FWIW

last one I saw posted below. I suggest that you look for one on CANUCKAUDIOMART 






@akg_ca, it is funny, my dealer has the Rega Osiris always ready for a listen, and for a moment I thought of asking him to connect it to the Model 1 but my wallet conscience stopped me. I knew that I would like it a lot but it is 8000+ euros!

I just connected the Vincent for the weekend, so let’s see how it goes :)

I had been in touch with a company that sells Totem as I was interested in those speakers having heard the Totem Sky in a demonstration. They told me that Totem was coming out with a new speaker, the Bison in around the same price area for the bookshelf version. Don't know anything about it and haven't heard it but you might want to investigate. 

Here is a link to the announcement:

Can I ask what amplifier do you use with the Model1?


I can’t recall but it would be either the Audio Research LS16/Plinius SA-100mk3 or Naim NAC202/NAP200/Hicap.

Good to hear that the Model 1s are an improvement to the Arro. That is all that matters. Enjoy.

I owned TOTEMs and I also currently run HARBETH 30.2 XD’s.


Between Model 1 and Harbeth M30.2 pre XD, I would pick the Harbeth. I presume the XD version would sound even better.

I have owned the SHL5 and SHL5+ for more than 10 years and recently moved to the Graham LS5/9 which is the M30.2’s equivalent / direct competitor. I still have a soft spot for M30.2 XD but wish to try something different. I’m sure the Harbeth would sound equally glorious.

There is just something special about the high frequency reproduction or treble quality of the Harbeth particularly the M30.2 versions. It’s smooth as silk as you can’t hear any sibilance, grain or harshness at the top. With other speakers, you hear some grain or sibilance.

@ryder sure the M30.2 are a bigger and more capable speakers - they are for years on my “to get” list, but they are a out of my reach for now. This Model 1 are mint used, bought from the Totem dealer, so I got a great price, in fact it was the chance to part-exchange the Arro also. I am happy for now.

But your description of the 30.2 highs response certainly make me smile. I am very sensitive to sibilant and hard sounds...

I certainly knew that the Model 1 need power and current to perform well, but I never thought that the 250w/4 ohms Vincent SV237MK, with is (usually) bass heavy sound signature was not enough! They paired ok but nothing to write home about! 

I will change some speaker cables and draw some conclusions...

Finally I am in the position to say a few words about the Model 1: wonderful stuff indeed! 

The upgrade from the Arro is very evident from the first note, the transparency the balance, the superior bass delivery, mid range presence and clear, detailed, non-fatiguing highs... are all signs of a very well balanced speaker, with amazing timbre quality and tridimensional imaging.

Now I understand how this was a shock when they came to market in the early 90’s, and stayed for long on the brands catalogue - the Model 1 Signature still existe. They were (are) not an cheap speaker to make. In fact they are all handmade.

The other day I had to take them to my dealer to move one of the cables on the inside (it was touching the bass reflex tube, making a tiny but audible vibration) and I could se the interior...oh my! My main surprise was that the crossover is a crazy thing (super complex), the drivers (Dynaudio and Seas with mods made by Totem), and WBT binding posts, are connect by a thin cable. After all that, the power loss must high - as they are power hungry - but Totem knows what they’re doing, and the sound quality is a testament of that.

The cabinet is very well made and the synergy with my Target R4 super heavy stands is great.

The Vincent SV237MK was my first amplifier of choice, for the power delivery and sound signature, and it turned out well, very well. After some speaker cables changes it was the (low cost, great value) VanDamme LO-OFC 4mm that help to produce the magic in my room. Sources are the Naim CD5x cd player (with the Flatcap2x power supply) and the Auralic Aries Femto + Denafrips Pontus II. Interconnects are the Belden 8402 with Switchcraft rca plugs.

I almost never use my REL subwoofer, specially with a speaker so pure as the Totem Model 1.

In my room, they are easy to position than the Kef LS50, and require absolute symmetry and distance from the boundaries. 

The first things I noticed (coming from the Kef LS50 and Quad 11L) was the timbre, timing and soundstage! Holy cow! The speakers completely disappeared (no toe-in) and the sound was huge. The decay is much more natural and the voices seem to have more presence, depth and air around. The idea of space around the players/instruments is far more realistic. For exemple: wood chops sound more like wood (with a natural hollowness) and cymbals have a spacial presence and decay very present but totally integrated in the sonic picture.

It is easy to get emotional and listen the same record over and over again...

The Model 1 (in combination with the rest of the system) made clear some mixes and special qualities in some recordings, making them more engaging and clear. 

They are addictive stuff, and I am really happy rediscovering my favorite records.


Thoughts on the Model 1, for another day:

1 - how better can they be with a superior higher current amp, from Sim Audio for example?

2 - what can the Signature model offer more? ...although 

I really don’t care. I am having to much fun :)



Hey @DZ13, have you found anything more about the Totem Bison line? I’ve seen the announcement from Totem authorized resellers too, yet there is nothing (still) on Totem’s website. What gives? Anyone know? I switched from Totem Sky monitors for the sole reason of esthetics. Now the replacements in white oak are what I want. Switched from the Sky’s to Harbeth P3 in Olive wood and they look perfect. My problem is they are only about 5” from back wall. I know the P3’s need more air around them to really show off their natural sound. Just can’t happen in my space. Totems can be placed close to a wall (according to mfgs info) and I did enjoy their sound. Now the Harbeth are wonderful little speakers. They’ve really grown on me. But I keep thinking back to the Totems and was really satisfied with how they sounded. Hoping these new Bison will be as good, if not better!

I'd be very careful thinking that Totems can be placed that close to a back wall.  While I know nothing about the new Bison line, Totem advertises that many of their speakers can be placed close to the backwall.  Over the years I've owned four (4) different Totem speakers and never found that to be true.  Quite the contrary, the further out into the room (up to a point) the better.

@marco1 , I found that also true. I have never been successful in putting any speakers close to the front wall, more than 85cm

In fact, the 1/5 rule, my favorite positioning starting in my room distance the speakers 100cm from the back wall, and it can be up to 115cm.

In the end, I believe that the distances are dictated by the room’s dimensions and acoustics characteristics The Model 1 bass delivery is very very satisfying.