- Written by Richard Stevens
- Published on 04 June 2009
Steely Dan's Gaucho SACD is a great recording. The first song "Babylon Sisters" was the perfect track to get the Mite's going. Right away the Totems established a laid back sound with terrific focus. Soundstage and imaging were good compared to other speakers I've heard in this price range but excellent when you consider the size of the speaker. My reference bookshelf is twice in size by comparison. What surprised me most about this speaker was the amount of bass the midrange was able to deliver. Bass remained controlled within reasonable limits. Adding the subwoofer was an obvious step-up in low frequency output but the Totem handled itself quite well without a subwoofer. The Mite's aren't as dynamic a speaker as I'm accustomed to, something I can again attribute to its size. Fast pace passages sometimes lost their flare, though this is more of a criticism of two-way speaker designs and not of the Totems themselves. Properly crossed over in a two or multi-channel system, its size limitations became much less apparent.
Looking over my review notes, one word jumps off the page, "effortless". Music seemed to flow easily from the Totems. As with all good speakers, bad recordings sounded bad and good records sounded good. The Totems aren't afraid of power, switching back and forth between the stereo and multichannel systems it was obvious the Totems were right at home with beefy amplifiers. My Denon AVR has an option for bi-amping which I use regularly. Feeding the Totems extra power was a welcome addition, bi-amping can sometimes have negligible advantages. In the case of the Totems the difference was less subtle, they like power. When pushed to extreme volumes the sound stage began to narrow some, but those levels are uncomfortable for extended listening sessions. Larger speakers can be pushed harder but the Mites aren't intended for head-banger volumes.
The Dreamgirls Blu-ray is equipped with plain ol' Dolby Digital 5.1 but was perfect review material for the Totems. Musical passages were clear and enveloping. It was interesting to hear Dreamgirls processed into two channels, the experience wasn't nearly as lackluster as I imagined. Credit the Totems. Again, there were instances where I could've have benefited from a larger speaker but my large listening space can be extremely challenging for smaller monitors. Switching to hi-res material such as Chicago reinforced my earlier impressions; the better the recording, the better the sound. This was a first class reproduction.