Some points for you to consider:-
As a 604S2 owner I can tell you that B&Ws, in general, require lots of clean power amplification. By "clean" I mean refined, which indirectly means an amp on the expensive side rather than the cheap side. I do not know the Rotel specs & I'm sure that it has adequate power but it certainly lacks refinement in the mids & highs, which can be grainy (this I remember from my experience of hearing a few Rotel amps a few yrs ago). Lack of refinement might cause listening fatigue & could accentuate the brightness of the Nautilus tweeter. Additionally, the power amp should be capable of supplying large doses of current 'cuz the speaker has a 4th order x-over ckt which has a bad habit of changing its impedance over freq. This means a hard load for the amp to drive. Gobs of current is the solution. A side related issue is that these speakers sing (really well!) when the volume is turned up a bit. Don't know if your neighbours will complain!
I have also found that on complex orchestral pieces, the compromise made by B&W in making the 600 series cabinets MDF shows up pretty significantly - the sound is boxy/directional rather than being spatial within the soundstage.
I have also found that the larger 600 floor standing units work best when pulled out into the room i.e. very little or zero help from the walls for bass. The speakers are capable of re-producing plenty of bass when free-standing. If they get close to the wall, bass becomes boomy & that can get annoying + it hides the details of the music. I solved that problem using ASC tube traps. You will need some room treatment to get the best out of them.
I have also found that using a tube pre (like I have) tames the Nautilus tweeter to where the listening fatigue is virtually gone.
Don't know anything about the Totems, sorry!
I have heard many of the speakers in the B&W 600 series. They seem to lack coherance and seem to have some problems reproducing some orchestral textures and harmonies. I think this is due to a compromise in the crossover design. [Listen to the soundtrack from the movie "Gattaca," available on CD, tracks 1, 2, and 3 - I use this as a reference just for this purpose.] The B&W Nautilus 805 is the lowest speaker in the B&W line that, for me, appears to resolve this problem. But I feel the 805 likes lots of power and volume to sound its best which doesn't usually work with classical.
I have not heard these specific Totem speakers, but if they are anything like the Totem Hawk then they are in a different class altogether from the B&W 600 series. I think this would be especially true of the Mani 2's.
The best $1000 speaker for mostly classical music that I have ever heard is the Alon Petite. My dad has a pair they image and sound great with Parasound amplification, even though they are against the wall on either side of a small Steinway grand piano. They don't go really low or really loud, but they can't be beat at the (new) price within these limitations by anything I have heard. If you can find it used it would be an absolute steal at anything less than $800. The model is not made any more, but the manufacturer still has information about it on this page: http://www.alonbyacarian.com/index2.htm. Go to the products menu and choose previously manufactured products. It may be worth looking up a dealer to see if Alon currently has a model similar to the Petite.
I was not impressed with the last Rotel amp I heard, but to be fair it was an integrated unit playing through an awful sound board using "zip cord" for speaker cable. I have heard some good things from Rotel in the past and perhaps the models you are considering are better than what I heard. Whatever you choose, keep it for a while to let the components break in and allow you to get used to the sound. Then when you "upgrade" you will be able to hear the difference.
I too am a classical music fan and for years have used Totem Mani-2's. As this seems to be your initial major audio purchase, you should be forewarned that using the Mani-2's with lesser electronics will likely lead to disappointment. The Mani-2's are a difficult load and require high current, high quality amplification in order to sing (and they truly can sing!). I question whether the Rotels will satisfy. I have been happy driving the Mani-2's with a venerable Levinson 27 (about $1500 used) and would recommend that or something of that ilk.
If you're not in a hurry, you can probably get a pair of BW 602's on line for $250. or slightly more. And given your choices, you'd probably be happy with them. If not, sell them, trade up, you have nothing to lose. I have a set of 602's that I once used as front mains for stereo between systems. their not bad, but inadequate for great listening imo. I had a set of BW N804's and am now looking at 802's.
The 602's are now part of my HT 5.1 set up.
forget both of those brands..if you are looking for bookshelf or small monitors you should go for VMPS..their QS0 626 models cost between 1000 and 1500 $ and I am sure they will beat both Totem and B&W....have a look for VMPS website..there is lots of information there including the prices....
ACI Sapphire. Slightly over your budget but they will take you to a whole other level. I've owned or auditioned many fine speakers from Thiels to B&Ws to Wilsons, etc. and the Sapphires are one of the most musically enjoyable speaker I've experienced. Give them a try, you won't send them back!
I have not heard the Totem Mani-2s, but I have heard the Totem Sttaf and Hawk and I liked them MUCH better than the comparable B&W models. Whether you go with Totems or not, I wouldn't say that you would 'have to' step up to a better preamp and amp to start with.
I am a member of the camp that believes that you should first find speakers that you like (within your price range), and then start making changes upstream to compliment the speakers. Therefore, my advice would be to spend a little more on speakers (to start with) and a little less on electronics.
Of course, some will disagree...
JM Renaud, Vienna Haydn's, Pro-Ac and Aerial Acoustics are good brands for classical music.
Tweeter's Etc sells the Vienna line so easy to audition. I would search out Proac and Aerial if you can.
You may want to decide on speakers first because you may find a speaker you really like and Rotel may not best match.
My friend own totem model one. He runs them with
parasound amp.Iam not sure if its 100 or 200,
it sounds very musical.Also I would recommend
aerius used if you listen to classical music.
they are not that expensive.Good Luck.
I second Alon Petite speaker and I strongly recommend Jolida 302 to drive it. I am a serious amateur pianist and I was searching for a system a few years ago in the same price range as yours. I auditioned B&W 602 and a Rotel integrated. The B&W will give you a lot of detail but the highs will be quite harsh. an Alon is more neutral and is very open.
For more real instrument timbre (i.e. piano, violin sound) which I assume is important to musician like us, you should go with tube amps. A Jolida is not expensive but is very good. (I recently compared it with Jadis Orchestra (my Jolida is upgraded for $150) and find that I didn't really miss anything.
Call Totem and ask how your electronics will mate with their speakers. There is a good chance that you will talk to Vince , the designer.
This is for Aram.
How can you be so sure VMPS will beat both Totem and B&W? Have you even heard any of their speakers, or are you just speculating? My guess is the latter.
I recently audiotioned the Totem Model-1 signature speakers, and instantly regretted having paid over twice their price for a pair of Revel F-30s...
Admittedly, this is like comparing apples to oranges. The Model 1 is still just a monitor, and cannot fill a large room the way the F-30 does. Despite this, I'd still go for the Model-1, it just seems to make more beautiful music.
I am more familiar with the Totem line, and would concur
with what a couple others posters mentioned: yes they can really sing, and they shine if mated with good
gear upstream. I have the Forests, and love them. And, as someone else said, Vince Bruzzese, the designer, often
will take calls. The craftsmanship in their product is first-rate.