Totem vs. Vr-1 vs. Dynaudio Audience

Hi all, I'm interested in your thoughts regarding the 3 speakers I listed. I've decided to upgrade from my current Michael Green Designs Rev. 60i to something better suited to my space and with better imaging. Right now it looks like I could get a pair of Rainmakers, Arros, Vr-1s, or Dynaudio Audience 52 in the $600-800 range, and am looking for some input.

The rest of my system consists of a Sony SCD-C222es mated to either an Audiolab 8000S or a B&K set up with a PT-II and an ST-2140. (Deciding which I like more, but generally leaning toward the Audiolab).

The room I'm in is L-shaped with the speakers being toward one side of the long wall. I'd guess it's about 300 sq feet.

My listening leans toward sax and vocal jazz and electronica (thievery corporation, zero 7, etc.) with some blues and alternative thrown in. Not really much hard rock or metal.

I'm tempted by the totems as they are close by, so I can audition them, and the arros are reputed to have phenomenal imaging. However, I am a bit worried about their lack of "meat." and they are a bit more expensive than the others.

Your thoughts are much appreciated.
I am not familiar with the Vr-1s so can't provide you any insight there.

Qualifier: I love Totem speakers. The Totems image extremely well, with the Arros a bit better than the Rainmakers, although the later are terrific little sub-$1,000 (new) stand mount speakers. As for the low end, I didn't notice it's absence right off when listening, perhaps because I was distracted by the tone, timing and images projected by the Totems. If you find you are missing some bass weight, you could always add a powered sub later. As for match with the suggested amps, the Audiolab is not known for its imaging prowess, so the Totem's greatest asset may be held in check a bit here. Power and current from the Audiolab is probably only just adequate to drive the Totems. The B&K separates may be a better choice here.

Qualifier: I love Dynaudio speakers: The Audience 52 speakers are excellent all around stand mount speakers and will work with lesser amplification compared to their higher end products, but it turns out that these speakers also love current the more and better current, the better. I think the Audiolab amp would make sound come out but would be less than optimal here - to get them up on plane, I would opt for the more powerful B&K set up. Your preference or experience may dictate otherwise.

Now with that said, I think any of these well-regarded speakers will outclass the amplification you are talking about here. If the amps are not already in hand, I might look at mid level NAD amps like the C352/C355, or C372 or a used Jolida amp to drive any of the mentioned speakers before deciding on the B&K or the Audiolab.

Stepping up a level, a used Naim integrated or PrimaLuna ProLogue tube amp would also turn the trick. Less rated power, but more useable and musical current. I heard the Audience 52s with a PrimaLuna and it was a really good pairing.

My two cents.
The Totem Arro's have an incredibly deep and powerful bottom-end for such a small,narrow speaker. I guarantee you'll be pleased with the bass performance, plently of "meat" if this is what you're referring to.
Knownothing -- Interesting thoughts regarding amplification. I'd always thought of both set-ups as a step up from the NAD. (And they certainly cost more!) I'd be very happy if I could unload both in favor of a c352.

In the jolida line, are you thinking just of the tube amps, or could I use something like a 1501RC?

Hitmam -- Yes, that's exactly what I'm thinking about, so that def. adds some support to the arros.
I can't comment on the Dynaudio's since I haven't heard them.

The VR-1 is a nice little monitor that is on the lean and detailed side. It's also easily driver by low-powered amps.

The Totem Arro is the imaging champ, and musters a fullness that's surprising for a speaker its size. The Rainmakers have more fullness than the Arro's, but don't image quite as well.

If it were me, between the VR-1 and low-cost Totem's, I'd chose the Arro's. But a lot depends on your listening preferences and amplification.


If you like the Audiolab, you may want to try it with your speaker choice before looking elsewhere (if you have both amps on hand, perhaps can you take them into a local dealer or seller and give them a listen with these speakers before you purchase?) Since speaker/amp/wire relationships are fickle, somewhat difficult to predict precisely in advance, and occasionally surprising, this might help you out.

As for your current choices being "better" than the NAD or Jolida, don't let price or supposed place in the audiophile pecking order be the ultimate arbiters of "Goodness". Jolidas have a strong following on here, and the newer NAD's sophisticated solid state engineering and great sound if you like neutral-to-warm presentation. I would absolutely consider one of the Jolida hybrids, but their most powerful tube amplifiers are going to be more expensive and perhaps outside the suggested budget.

The ironic thing about smaller speakers is that they usually sound best with LOTS OF POWER on tap to start and stop those little drivers at the end of their excursion as they work to move lots of air. I don't know about the C352/C355 line, but Stereophile measured the old C370 integrated at 34 amps of peak current and the new C372 at 39 amps. Compare that to the Audiolab's reported 25 amps. The NADs current capacity combined with the general praise both these amps have received for sound quality tells me that these are good values and powerful enough to grab hold of and control most any mid bass/woofer out there. My biggest problem with the NADs is that their cabinets look and feel a little cheap - which they probably are in order to provide their level of audio performance at that price point.

I don't know where the B&K set falls in this current race, but I would guess the ST2140 has much higher capability than the Audiolab. B&K components are competent, but my experience is that they tend towards the analytical as opposed to the musical side of the spectrum.

All of these amps discussed above are in my mind squarely in the mid fi range of cost and performance. In contrast, I think the Naim and PrinaLuna amps fall pretty much on the low end of real hi fi (if this is a difference with a distinction), representing the best thinking and execution of reasonably priced solid state and tube integrated designs, respectively. Since these are fairly popular and hold their value, it might be difficult to find one of these in your price range - but I mention them again just in case.
This thread may help sort out the amplification issue if you choose to go with the Arros.
Update --

So I auditioned the Arros for quite a while. They are leaner sounding than my Rev. 60i's, but they have enough low end to get by.

And, true to what everyone says, they image very well. The soundstage is incredibly deep and they really do disapper, BUT (and it's a Sir-Mix-a-Lot sized but) they are BRIGHT. The upper treble range is loud, harsh and etched, to the extent that it dominates anything else in the recording and makes music sound like a collection of parts rather than a whole.

I've tried a variety of set-ups to see what happens, but the outcome is always the same -- Audiolab 8000s, B&K PT-3 and B&K St2140, Trends 10.1, and a Yaqin/Grant Fidelity Tube Buffer in every mix and match combo one can think of.

I've tried switching cables and even hauled the arros to my buddy's place to listen with his Sonic Frontiers Line 1/Bryston 4bst combo.

In the end he and I concluded that we liked what the arros did, just not the sound with which they did it.

I'm ready to give the arros back now. I'm going to miss the depth, but not the harsh treble. Did I miss something (short of trying something like a Jolida, Unison or PrimaLuna)?

What do they sound like before they get broken in? Could this be the issue?
I am very fimiliar with the Dynaudio sound. I had the Audience 72 and if you don't want an on the bright side treble look elswhere. The VR1 may have the best balance for you.

Blessings, Bob
World Wide Stereo is offerin up some Dynaudio Audience 52SE at a closeout price. Check them out on *Bay. I just bought a pair for my analogue system.

Interesting. I have listened to Arros at the end of all Musical Fidelity, all Naim and all Rega systems and did not find them overly bright. The Musical Fidelity amp/CDP/Arro combination was an especially good match. Maybe I have an ear for tin?

How many hours did you allow for them to break in? I believe Totem recommends 100-150 hours.