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Totem Acoustic Rainmaker 5.1 Speaker System

Part I

November, 2005

Piero Gabucci

 

Specifications:


Bookshelf (Monitor) Speakers
● Drivers: One 1" Aluminum Tweeter, One
    5.25" Aluminum Woofer

● MFR: 42 Hz - 20 kHz ± 3 dB

● Nominal Impedance: 8 Ohms

● Power Handling: 100 Watts

● Efficiency: 87 dB

● Dimensions: 14" H x 7" W x 9" D

● Weight: 12 Pounds/Each

● MSRP: $950/Pair

 

Center Channel Speaker

● Drivers: One 1" Aluminum Tweeter, Two
    5.25" Aluminum Woofers

● MFR: 44 Hz - 20 kHz ± 3 dB
● Nominal Impedance: 8 Ohms

● Power Handling: 120 Watts

● Efficiency: 87.5 dB

● Dimensions: 7" H x 24" W x 9" D

● Weight: 20 Pounds

● MSRP: $900/Each

 

Thunder Subwoofer

● Drivers: One 10" Active, Two 10" Passive

● Amplifier: 500 Watts

● MFR: 20 Hz - 120 Hz

● Dimensions: 18" H x 12" W x 18.5" D

● Weight: 65 Pounds

● MSRP: $1,595 USA


T4S stands are $525/Pair

 

Totem Acoustic
www.totemacoustic.com

Introduction

Totem Acoustic takes a very stylistic approach to the business of making world-class speakers. Somehow that style comes through in the passion for speaker making shared by founder Vince Bruzzese and his family. By playing off the Native American totem icon symbolism of lifelong development, you can’t help but be drawn to the earthiness Totem Acoustic portrays.

If you attend shows like CES or any Hi-Fi show where Totem exhibits, you’ll be touched by their displays, which are by far the most creative. At CES, they use a stretched drum about 6' in diameter as their projection screen for video display while playing a 5.1 audio system.

Just north of Montreal, located in Saint-Leonard, Quebec, Totem Acoustic is a speaker manufacturer that’s been around since the late 80’s. Its early success consisted of the highly regarded Model 1 bookshelf unit, still available. "Le Hab" is not the only great thing coming out of Montreal these days.

Totem Acoustic products share names of Native American heritage. Along with names like Dreamcatcher and Thunder, Totem now introduces the Rainmaker center channel speaker to compliment the Rainmaker monitor speaker.

As sales of floor-standing and bookshelf speakers are relatively flat, in-wall and on-wall speakers are booming. With the rise of interest in flat panel displays, consumers also want their speakers to have a small footprint, and I think Vince is very much aware of the current trends in the marketplace. His audiophile and marketing sensibilities tell him smaller and discrete are better. The Rainmaker monitor, and now the center channel nicely fills a niche between the demands of the audiophile and the need to stay compact.

The Rainmaker Bookshelf (Monitor) Speakers

The Rainmaker bookshelf speakers (I really hate the bookshelf reference, however c’est la vie) are not new. In fact, I heard them first over a year ago at the New York Hi-Fi show. Referring back to my notes from that show, I recall writing to myself, ". . . surprise find, and truly rich sound".

As I unpacked the Rainmakers, I was startled at how lightweight they are (12 pounds each). I’m always expecting speakers to be heavy, and why not, as weighty 1” thick MDF is common in speaker design these days.

Most manufacturers will tell you that the enclosure should be as neutral as possible, only achievable by deadening the cabinet. Totem on the other hand subscribes to the theory that enclosure resonance has as much influence on performance as the drivers and crossovers.

The units stand about 14” high, are less than 7” wide, and 9” deep. So, they are not only light, they are small as well.

Flawless is the only word I can use to describe the finish and quality of the mahogany veneer. This is true for all the speakers, including the center channel and the subwoofer. The soft radius edges add to a distinct profile and elegance. Although they are conservative in design, I do find them nicely proportioned.

The other available finishes include a light maple, cherry, and also for the traditionalist, black ash. It’s no secret that high quality speakers are coming from the Far East these days in droves, so it’s nice to know someone at home is setting standards as well.

The rear ported 4 ohm Rainmaker will handle 100 watts, has a frequency response from 42 Hz to 20 kHz (
± 3 dB), and a sensitivity rating of 87 dB. A twin pair of gold-plated binding speaker terminals allow for bi-wiring.

The Rainmaker’s music making is handled by a 1" rigid screen-protected tweeter, internally chambered, and also a 5 ½" woofer made with multi-layered paper. Totem achieves the desired sonic quality in the Rainmaker by using extremely rigidly internal braces (as I’m told since I decided not to slice one in half to have a look for myself) and borosilicate damping.

The size and elegance of the Rainmakers are balanced by the beautifully designed and executed robust steel stands, the T4S. These would be fine stands for any stand-mounted speakers, Totem or otherwise. At $525/pair, the stands are heavy, real heavy. Standing about 24" tall, and supplied with carpet spikes, the tubular design is impressive. I did come to feel that the stands are integral to the success of the Rainmaker.

Even more interesting is the fact that the speakers are not attached in any way to the stands. The supplied rubber feet are for use on wood floors instead of the spikes, but I put them under the speakers instead. Not to worry, no sonic altering characteristics from this setup.

The Rainmaker Center Speaker "The Rhythm of the Sky"

The inspiration for this review was the new center channel Rainmaker. And despite the modest size of the Rainmaker monitor, the Rainmaker center channel is quite large at about 7" high, 9" deep and almost 24" across. Weighing 20 pounds, it can also be stand-mounted.

Right in line with the Rainmaker monitor in every way, the center takes advantage of the monitor's drivers, bi-wiring, internal bracing, and finish.

Totem recognizes that the center channel speaker is critical to the success of a surround system. Like their counterpart monitor speakers, the center also is bi-wireable, has a hand-wired point-to-point exclusive 2nd order crossover is its road to sonic nirvana.

The center channel has a nominal impedance of 8 ohms, a sensitivity of 87.5 dB, a frequency response between 44 Hz and 20 kHz, and is fully shielded for placement close to your display.

Flanking a 1" aluminum tweeter is a pair of 5 ½" woofers. The tweeter is slightly raised and out of horizontal alignment with the woofers to avoid potential problems with horizontal dispersion, common in speakers mounted horizontally with driver/tweeter/driver configurations. On the rear, besides the pair of gold-plated binding posts, you’ll find a 1” port centered behind each woofer.

Click Here to Go to Part II.

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