What is a better speaker than Totem? for = $$$

What is a better speaker than Totem Model 1 Sig or Hawk for the same money?

Why? please dont just list a speaker you bought if you never heard the totems or dont know why its better.
I spent considerable time auditioning Model 1 sigs against a range of speakers. The one that really does it for me is the Aerial 5b. Silky top end that can't be beat.
I listened to the Nola Contender at CES and was very impressed by it's sound/dollar ratio. An excellent speaker at a real world price.
I can't comment on the Model 1's, but I'm very familiar with other Totem offerings that I've owned previously, including the Arro's, Hawk's, and Rainmakers.

What is it that you don't like about the Totem speakers? What are you looking for in a potential replacement speaker? The Hawks have a very nice, if somewhat bloomy, midrange and decent bass for a speaker its size.

Here are some thoughts on comparisons with speakers I know in its price range:

1) Audio Physic Tempo (about $1000 used). I've owned these for years. They have better bass extension and more articulate highs, with a more neutral midrange. Amazing bang for the buck on the used market.
2) JMLab Electra 906 ($about $1000 used). Very dynamic and clean monitors, not the ultimate in bass extension, but good clarity throughout its range, and above average imaging.
3) Merlin TSM (lower-end model) (around $1200-1400 used). Gorgeous midrange, perhaps a little bass shy. Can be driven easily with tubes.
4) PSB Stratus series: Goldi ($700-1000 used) has one of the deepest bass offerings I've heard WHEN DRIVEN WITH HIGH-POWERED AMP. Very full-range.
Stratus mini's ($400-500 used): Amazing bang for the buck, above average imaging with full yet detailed midrange. At this price you can mate it with a sub and still be within the Hawk's price range.
Platinum M2's ($1200 ish used): Good imaging, but I just don't find myself enjoying it as much as PSB's older offerings like the Stratus series.
5) Magnepan 1.6 (around $1000 used): Highly detailed, transparent highs, frequently bass-shy in the wrong room or with low-powered amp. Definitely need to be placed out in room for optimal imaging. With proper position can image with the best.

There are dozens of other options in this price range. If you could give some indication of what you're looking for, and what room characteristics and amp you have, then we could help to refine the list further.

There are dozens of other options in this price range. If you could give some indication of what you're looking for, and what room characteristics and amp you have, then we could help to refine the list further.


Exactly. It's all a matter of opinion of course, but even more so without the above information.
Sufentanil has a good list. I usually find Totem's too bright and the midrange is average for the class. The standard version of the Merlin TSM is probably one of the best around. I actually upgraded from Magnepan 1.6 to Merlin TSM-MXr and it was a huge upgrade. Older TSM's are a great bargain, true high end for not a lot of $$$. It's always a good idea to check with Bobby at Merlin to see what the various versions of the TSM have been and how they will fit your gear and room.


The Totem Hawk is a very good speaker, the Forest model is even better. I never auditioned the model 1 Sigs, but if size is not a factor, I would look at the Acoustic Zen Adagios. A used pair will cost you between $2200-2500. They are dynamic with excellent bass, and outstanding midrange resolution. They will out perform the Maggie 1.7, though the Maggies may have better soundstaging. The Adagios need an amp of about 100-150 RMS with high current to get the most out of the bass. Another candidate is Salk Song Tower( possibly used) This is a factory direct retailer and price varies according to finish and optional upgrades. A member suggested the Audio Physic Tempo used, but you might seek out AP Virgo (original) used about $2000, but a great speaker that with proper placement, just disappears. IMHO, the Virgo I outperforms the entire Totem line except the "Wind" which is grossly overpriced. Good Luck, Jim
I can't comment on the Hawk, but I have owned the Model 1. If you have a medium size room (15'x20') or larger the Totem Model 1 needs a healthy amplifier and a fair amount of volume to become balanced. This is not a low volume speaker. I actually prefer the Von Schweikert VR-1 at half the price. The VR-1 is beautifully finished, has higher sensitivity and 8ohms. The VR-1 sounds great with either tubes or solid state and offers a big sound.
I wrote a response yesterday but it seems like it didnt post for some reason.

Anyway, i like the totems alot. I have experience with then and am using them as a benchmark. I need to buy a new pair of speakers and wanted recomendations in the 1500-3000 price range new. I think totems are great but there is always something better. I prefer floor standers but will look into bookshelf/monitors as well.

I have heard salk songtowers... they are very nice but i think i preferred my model 1 sigs i had. Granted it was a short listening session with material i didnt really care for but it just didnt have the sound my model 1's had.
The Vandersteen 2CE Sig II now $2345.00 is IMO the best performing and best Selling high end loudspeaker of all time.
I think with over 300,000 pairs sold
wow thats a lot of speakers
he's gotem right by now.
Another awesome advertisement from johnnyr.

Cue the neon signs.

Get the billboards ready.

Lights, camera, action!!!!
Yep, Bill, Johnnyr is the Vandersteen "enforcer." :)

I have always found it odd that Vandersteen is a big name in the US. But in Europe as far as I can tell they are hardly known at all. Audiomarkt.de is one of the biggest sites for 2nd hand audio ion Europe I think and I don't think I have ever seen a pair of Vandersteen speakers on that site.
Advertising hype or not, I have to agree the Vandy 2 series just might be the best value in all of high end audio. Though Johnny might not agree, I think it important to warn perspective buyers that they can be room sensitive. Just because they're cheap (in the good sense of the word) they can't be just thrown down any where willy nilly and be expected to perform well. Still, IMHO, in the right rooms, dollar for dollar, you'll be hard pressed to do better than the Vandy 2's.
Agree with Unsound; it is certainly a high value product at that price.

Gentlemen, the reason you won't hear a lot about Vandersteen in Europe is because of price. It is well known that in order to be successful there you need a distributor in the different countries and with forums like this everybody knows the worldwide price. So, to do export Richard would have to raise the price artificially high domestically in order to give the margin for the distributor, or build a two way instead of a four way, or start using cheap parts, or like many have done have them built in China. For most manufactures the US is the major market anyway and it allows the Steens to be a better value.
Cheers Johnnyr
Thanks for the vandersteen recomendations, but its physical size rules it out for me. I just cant fit 16" wide.