Sugg. Retail: $1299 pr
Size: 34″H x 5″W x 7″D
Manufacturer: Totem Acoustic Inc.,
4665 Bonavista Ave.,
Montreal Que. H3W 2C6
(514) 259-1062 FAX 259-4968
(Reprinted from the Summer 1999 Audio Ideas Guide)
Perhaps it’s unfair to characterize the Totem Arro as the Kate Moss of speakers, but it is a thin little waif of a thing, with a 4 1/2″ woofer/midrange and a 1/2″ dome midrange. It’s also cute, nicely finished in rosewood, with just about the smallest footprint I’ve seen. It sits on a 7 3/4″ by 8 5/8″ base that fits spikes, and is rather tippy; I’m inclined to want to use some Bluetac to secure it to the base. The Arro should not go into houses with rambunctious children or dogs, not to forget exploratory cats.
The cabinet is rather like a tuned pipe, with a pair of ports on the rear, these above and below the bi-wire posts, which are the usual Totem types, heavily gold plated, with no plastic nuts in sight. Visually, it’s a perfect floorstanding speaker for a small room, the drivers close together at an ideal listening height to form a virtual point source. This fact will become important in discussing the sound of the Arro.
In measuring this speaker I was struck by the fact that it didn’t seem to look outstanding after all the graphs were plotted, but when examined more closely, they showed a very flat midband, pretty much +/-1-to-2 dB from 200 to 5000 Hz in the Pink Noise Sweep (PNS), with a rise in the upper two octaves. It’s also notable that the bass rolloff is quite gentle, the Arro down only 4 dB at 50 Hz, and 11 at 30. Being rear ported, its placement near walls and corners should provide for some appreciable deep bass, though not at wall-shaking levels from a single 4 1/2″ driver.
The quasi-anechoic curve looks somewhat rocky, but it has to be remembered that the two drivers are in close proximity and do lobe (cancel and reinforce) their outputs at the 1-metre measuring distance. This resolves into what we see in the PNS curve at the normal listening distance. The axial curves below are closely grouped, showing well controlled dispersion, with the upper-end brightness much lessened at 30o and beyond. This suggests that the speakers should be faced straight ahead rather than toed in toward the listening position, as does the reduction of the midrange dip through the crossover region.
The Summed Axial Response (SAR) shows more dip in the midrange as it overlays the PNS curve, but that’s to be expected, and it’s only 3 dB at most, this mostly a result of the well controlled dispersion from the small baffle width.
Diffraction (reflection off cabinet edges) is virtually nonexistant or so close in time to the direct radiation to be simultaneous, and I’ll say more on this in the listening notes. Looking at the impedance/phase measurements, we see well controlled values that bottom in the mid bass at 4 ohms and rise to 22 ohms just below in frequency. The phase angle in the midrange is quite typical of 2-way systems, +/- just over 40o between 1 and 3 kHz. In general, time arrivals and group delay (phase with frequency) should lean in the direction of excellent imaging.
And that’s definitely what we heard from this little beauty. The Arros had a big soundstage that extended outside the speakers, with pinpoint imaging in between, and lots of depth. The two little drivers were very fast and agile, working together as well as I’ve heard in a 2-way design (the advantage to 3-way systems is that the important midrange between about 300 and 5-7 kHz can be handled by one driver; in a 2-way the crossover inevitably comes in between 2 and 5 kHz).
Though I would recommend a subwoofer for serious listening to this speaker, its bass performance was quite surprising within its dynamic limitations. Yes, there was some organ pedal, provided you didn’t push it. The Arro offered an asonishingly big sound overall within a fairly limited dynamic envelope. This may seem a contradiction, but in a smaller room where levels are under 85 dB this speaker will sound very convincing with all kinds of music.