I don't personally like the term "high end," but understand your question very well.
The Totems will suprise you - pleasantly - with their bass response (for their size, not as much on an absolute level). I have heard them with Plinius and Musical Fidelity electronics.
Soundstage was deep, fairly wide. Dynamics were VERY good, again, surprising in a speaker the size. A little brash and glaring in the upper mids/lower highs, but it could be break-in on the speakers or electronics. Whatever the case, it added some sibilance to female vox I found slightly annoying at higher volumes.
But bottom line, they ARE serious speakers, great designs IMO; they get the most of what they are/have. I definitely recommend an audition if you can....
My 2 cents, good luck.
Forest is much stronger and better on higher volumes(110dB continuos what do you think?). They realy breath on high volumes. Since all Totems have relatively stable impedance they're considered to be a tube- friendly. Even specs on Forest say that you can use minimum of 30W of tube or 50W of SS amplification. I drive my Forests with VTL MB100 in triode mode 50...55W/ch at most. In seldom cases I switch to ultra-linear 110W/ch.
The Totem's that I own are anything but brash and glaring in the upper mids/lower highs. The sound that Chams_uk heard was probably due to the speakers not broken in or the front end equipment. Check out other reviews and your best bet is to demo a pair with your own electronics. They do require a good deal of power so don't try to use a cheap amp with them.
as for the stands for the hawks, I use the arro's in my den which are smaller than the hawks and i do not use stands. I have never seen the Hawks on stands.
The Hawks have superb soundstaging/imaging.
My 2 cents: I listened to the Hawks with ARC and CJ and was not too impressed. I could not put my finger on it - they just seemed a little light and recessed sounding. The effect was the same on both setups. Then we swapped the Hawks for JM Lab Cobalt 826 and I was much happier. They were clearer and more lively in general. Don't go by labels like "high end" as they are different for everyone. Good luck!
One more thing that is realy in common to all smaller Totem speakers and monitors:
They're all designed for relatively small rooms and therefore the demand on efficiency is low. They all have superb imaging and staging even including the cheapest floor-standing Arros.
Applying them for the large room will realy demand endless power to drive them.
I was browsing in a hifi store some years ago, listening to small speakers. Most were just noisemakers. Then I heard a pair of Totems. Their high-end perpective was immediately evident. Relatively accurate frequency response, low distortion and noise, clarity with high resolution. I didnt buy them, but they are very good speakers.
I had the Ones for some time and enjoyed them immensely. I never tryed them with tube power. First of all, I bought them new and they took a looooong time to break in- sounded conjested and a little thick in the middle, a little rough in the highs. After what seemed like an eternity ( about 3-4 weeks) things really jelled and they sounded wonderful.
As for amplification, with a 50w NAD int they sounded lifeless and retained the thickness, the 100w Belles was better but still not as open on top. With the 120w Marsh I used to have they really opened up, more dynamic, better bass. Amazing for their size. Think they would have liked even more clean power.
I have not heard the Forest or Hawk, but I would expect nothing short of excellent sound from either. Build, finish, sound, Totem is a class act.
I would consider the Hawks "high end" if by that you mean they do not sound like "mid fi."
Seriously, the Hawks are really very good at soundstaging. Their bass response is okay, but don't expect it to go low as it is only a single 5.5 inch driver (or less). Depending on how far they are from the wall I would guess they roll off in the 60-50Hz range. They do not need stands and sound fine without the "claws", which are not necessary (nor are the "beaks" for that matter). They do harden and compress when pushed too hard. They sound best with acoustic music. The Forrest would be better with rock music, although for that I would not go with Totems. The Hawks need less power than other Totems, but are by no means efficient. Probably at least 60 watts to get the dynamic range to a level where the music is involving.
I had a pair of Forests for a while. I thought they imaged well and were fairly dynamic, and they look fabulous. I found them a touch reticent in the midrange and very slightly harsh in the treble, though, and for the acoustic music I prefer the Forests weren't quite right. They were broken in and I used them with a Rogue 88 amp. I should add that my room at the time was quite bright, and that in a better-damped environment I think the Forests would sound more balanced.
I want to thank all the members who contributed to answering my questions; your input is very helpful in evaluating the compatibility of the Totem speaker with my set-up and room size. Best regards to all for a prosperous new year! Jim
I owned a pair of Rokk's for a while, damned nice monitors they did a lot of things right for a very reasonable price. I heard the Totem Hawks at the Montreal audio show and man did they sing! Then I went to CES and the sound was less than stellar to say the least, but I'll write that off as a bad room. All in all the cabinetry is gorgeous and the sound is very very good. Vince is also a real gentleman and passionate audiophile.
I've had a pair of Forests for aprox. three years. Had originally broken them in with a B & K AVR202 reciever and was very pleased with the results. Found that their reputation for producing exceptional bass response was well deserved, only once I added a pair of Odyssey monobloc amps. This change yeilded a huge increase in bass response, and woofer control. These speakers will most definately reward you for any upgrades made elsewhere in the system, which I feel makes them high-end. Overall, I've found them to image very well, and be extremely dynamic when driven well. Since we'd moved about 6 mths. ago, I've set the system up in a much larger finished basement. Am now approaching the woofers limits as far as their ability to move an adequate amount of air. Went to Rogue Magnum monoblocs on top of Odyssey Extreme monos on the woofers(how's that for well-fed!) recently and these speakers are awesomely resolving and dynamic. First-rate cabinetry makes these a speaker you can live with easily. My wife has never expressed a problem with them because they look so good and are not huge, physically. I may need to go to a larger, multi-driver design, soon though.
I spoke with a Totem dealer recently about these two models. I was told that they both sounded good, but the Hawk could not be driven to the same levels as the Forrest. He said people would demo the Hawk and end up cranking it up because they were impressed with the bass response. This had caused the speaker to blow more than once.
In a nutshell, the Hawks can't handle the higher volumes. Depends on how you'll use them. Good luck.
I just had a very nice visit with Galen Carol in San Antonio and had a brief listen to the Totem Hawks in an inexpensive system, Jolida integrated,Audio Aero Prima cdp,with Nordost cabling. I believe power cords were from Shunyata( I can't remember as I looked at three different systems)I was very impressed with the sound out of the Hawks,extremely wide and deep soundstage,very nice focus of a female vocalistin center stage,overall very musical and engaging. Galen is a Totem dealer and has both the Hawks and Forrest.Both speakers were out from the wall a few feet and were floor-standing. I was very surprised to see so much sound coming out of these diminuative little speakers.You can contact Galen at www.gcaudio.com.Highly recommended.As friendly and helpful as they get in the high end of dealers.
I have a pair of the Hawk and I am enjoying every penny out of my $2000 spent for it. I do not listen to high volume sound so I don't think I will damage it with my 120 watts/ch Rotel 1075. I auditioned the Hawk twice, and the sacond time I walked out of the store with a pair. I think you will have to listen to them yourself, and take your own music. Some speakers that I see get great reviews don't sound as good as the Halk, to me. I listned to a pair of JM Lab Cobalt and they were no match for the Hawk interms of warmth, and musical imageing. I don't know how they would do against the JM Lab Electra. The Hawks are worth your time to stop by a dealer and to before buying any speaker, no matter what price.
I've compared Forest against JM Lab Electra 915. They seem to be on the same legue but Electras are much tougher to drive(4 ohm nominal and dive down to 2.5!) If you've no need for super high volumes than Forest would be much better choice for the money spent.