Totem Acoustic Beak
One aspect of the Totem Forest loudpeakers that LG commented on in his original review was their ability to throw a large soundstage. But while the Forests' imaging greatly improved with the addition of ballast, I never got them to create the truly holographic soundstages LG wrote of. Sound tended to lump up around each speaker instead of being spread evenly between them. When I touched the cabinet of a Forest while playing them at even moderate volumes, I felt a whole lotta shakin' goin' on; those cabinets "sang along" with the music more than I'm used to. I can't help but think that the Forests' lively cabinets impede their ability to image as well as they otherwise might.
During his listening in 2005, JA set bags of lead shot atop the Forests in hopes of taming that liveliness. Looking for a solution less obtrusive and toxic, I placed two BeaksTotem's computer-designed aluminum bullets ($125/pair)in various spots atop each Forest. Beaks on or off, I could hear no difference in any aspect of the sound. For fun, I also tried the Beaks with all the other speakers I had on hand, and heard no difference with them either. At least the Beaks look kinda cool.Erick Lichte
Erick Lichte mentioned Totem Acoustic's Beak, which costs $125/pair, in his follow-up review of the Totem Forest loudspeaker in January 2010. The Beak is a bullet-shaped device, about 2" high by 1.5" in diameter, that's intended to be placed atop a speaker to control "parasitic resonances." I was given a pair of these more than 10 years ago, and have tried them with various speakers. While Erick didn't find the Beaks to make any difference to the sound of the Forests or any of the other speakers he had to hand, my experience was different. Sometimes the Beaks made a positive differencea smoother, more extended treble, and improved imagingand at other times (as with the big Dunlavy SC-IVs) no difference at all. They never made the sound worse.
I tried the Beaks on the GoldenEar Triton Twos that I review elsewhere in this issue mostly on a whim, wondering if it was possible to make this excellent-sounding speaker sound even better. To test the Beaks' effects, I first listened to track 3 of the Chesky Jazz Sampler & Audiophile Test CD, Vol.1 (Chesky JD37) with nothing on top of the speakers, then placed a single Beak at the top of each speaker, at the center front edge, and listened again.
The difference was subtle yet significant. With a Beak atop each speaker, the highs seemed to have more clarity and extension, the percussion instruments greater presence, and Ana Caram's voice was more tightly focused in the soundstage. Without the Beaks, although everything was still there, the imaging was less sharply defined, the highs a bit subdued. I repeated the comparison many times with various CDs, with similar results. The degree of improvement varied with the recording, but I always preferred the sound with the Beaks in place.
The Triton Two is an excellent speaker, with or without the Totem Beaks. However, at least in my roomand keep in mind that, with a resonance-related effect, room acoustics can play an important rolethe improvement wrought by the Beaks was such that I wouldn't want to be without them. At $125/pair, the price is reasonable for what you getthe Beaks are made using precision machining, their exact shape and the lines incised in the metal determined through listening tests as well as computer simulationsand the sonic improvement might be proportionally greater.Robert Deutsch