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Jim Tavegia
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Totem Angst over followup review.

In the Jan issue Eric Lichte does a followup on the Totem Forest. In Mfg comments Mr. Vince Bruzzese unloads on Eric for what he sees as a poor review.

First of all, the day I have to "modify" a $3500 speaker to sound right is the day I am not a customer. I know...you saved some freight in having the coustomer mass-load your cabinets with playground sand.

Also, I do understand anechoic testing, but most, if not all loudspeakers will reside in a real living space in the misdst of their owners and their furnishings. I would think that this should be taken into consideration when voicing a loudspeaker for domestic consumption. If you want to build for monitor/control room applications then do just that, but the customer or listener should not be attacked when consumer loudspeakers do not sound "right?" when in a real acoustic living space. Right is in the ear of the owner.

Maybe I am not being any fairer than Mr. L's review. I do not think that customers must make a major changes in their furnishings just to accomodate a loudspeaker to make it sound acceptable, or best and certaily not at $3500.

I'm probably wrong as well, again.

Jim

tom collins
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Re: Totem Angst over followup review.

jim: i can't wait to get my copy so i can read about all of that.

dbowker
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Re: Totem Angst over followup review.

You sound right on the, um, money, too me.

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Re: Totem Angst over followup review.

I haven

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Totem Angst over followup review.

Robert, you ARE the Totem customer in waiting. You are the man! LOL but, you are right, that once you lay down your green, you might as well agonize over placement as years of displeasure might surely await you. Glad it came out with a happy ending. Let no one douibt you are a true audiophile.

smejias
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Re: Totem Angst over followup review.


Quote:
I haven
JMLabFan
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Re: Totem Angst over followup review.

I was disappointed in Totem's Manufacturer's Comment. They didn't like the negative follow-up review? OK, so be it. It's fair to comment on perceived flaws in the testing/reviewing methodology. But the moment they went ad hominem was the moment they lost any credibility with me.

Seriously -- what was Totem thinking when they called out the reviewer for his "apparent amateur reaction" to their self-proclaimed "fabulous Forest speakers?"

I may not know a lot, but I do know that so long as Totem is under its current management, I will never support a company that attacks a reviewer personally for a less-than-stellar review.

-Erik

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Re: Totem Angst over followup review.

I've owned Totem speakers and they do take a bit of fiddling to sound their best. I haven't read the review, but I have dealt with the Totem customer service and it was exemplary. If I were to guess, I would say that Totem uses a lot of brass to voice their speakers as opposed to piano. Finding the sweet spot to fill-in the piano took a lot of messing around and while I was able to improve that area, I never really felt I could achieve that goal.

I don't consider having to mass load a speaker cabinet as an issue.

KBK
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Re: Totem Angst over followup review.

anechoic and quasi-anechoic testing is required for loudspeaker design to understand what the speaker is doing. Then this normalized or standardized test result, which can be done virtually anywhere....can then be applied to understand what the speaker will sound like in a room. We need a zero, we need a ruler, we need a reference point - that is universally applicable. Thus we can then understand where we stand when attempting to design a speaker.

As for shipping a speaker with no sand in it - that is the norm. Shipping a speaker full of sand is pretty darned ridiculous and hard on the planet's resources for no good reason.

If the review contention(which I have yet to see) revolves around the issue of the capacity to tune the speaker via sand loading variables, then that is different matter and should be lauded as a benefit, not a detraction. Sure, it introduces a variable - yes, but only to a minor degree, in the vast number of cases. However, I should not pre-load with speculation, I should just see the review.

Lick-T
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Re: Totem Angst over followup review.

KBK,

I have no contention with loading a speaker with sand at home. In fact I think it is a good thing to have the option to load a speaker and the ability to tune it by adjusting the amount of sand used.

You'll see what this fuss is all about when you read the article. I haven't gotten my copy of the January Stereophile yet, either.

Erick Lichte

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Re: Totem Angst over followup review.


Quote:
I was disappointed in Totem's Manufacturer's Comment. They didn't like the negative follow-up review? OK, so be it. It's fair to comment on perceived flaws in the testing/reviewing methodology. But the moment they went ad hominem was the moment they lost any credibility with me.

Vince Bruzzese obviously hadn't read Robert Deutsch's article on how to write a manufacturer's comment letter - see http://www.stereophile.com/features/22/ . :-)

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Totem Angst over followup review.

My comments apply for the need to mass load the speaker once purchased. It is obvioiusly a requirement with the Totem Forest and an onwer would be foolish not to add sand or shot as needed. I have had a number of great speakers in my home that needed no mass loading to sound their best.

I would love to see a review comparison of the Forest vs even the small Epos floorstander, or even the Renaissance Audio MLP 501 at $1500 or their Prelude at $2600. It seems that even the under $1500 floor standers from B&W and Monitor Audio have faired well.

I think that at $3500 more is expected in EL's experience.

It seemed that Erik was primed to "like" the Forest from his friend's experience and his former recommendation. Dr. Kal has made it clear that if you want optimum performance you must agonize over speaker placement, room treatments, and even room EQ. I have no problem with anyone so inclined to do just that.

Value is always in the eyes of the owner and the tweeks necessary to achieve the best performance out of any component. There may be rooms that will be a challenge for any speaker to sound great in. This may be the case as Erik found out.

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Re: Totem Angst over followup review.


Quote:
I think that at $3500 more is expected in EL's experience.

That was what I took away from Erick's report. The Forest was certainly a competitive speaker when it was first introduced, but other manufacturers have been working hard in the years since then and I wanted a fresh pair of ears to take a listen.

In his other life, BTW, Erick got two positive press mentions these past few days:

http://tinyurl.com/yenxyrg
and
http://tinyurl.com/y86y3n8

Good work, EL.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

KBK
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Re: Totem Angst over followup review.

We used the accuracy defense, and I daresay, we did a damn fine job. We should start a contest among manufacturers for the slipperiest response. We'll see who's slicker'n who.

tom collins
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Re: Totem Angst over followup review/contrast with Bryston follo

i had the chance to consider the article and response, finally.

i did not think the article was offensive at all. in fact, i thought it was refreshing. to me, the article was not a thumbs down but more of a "this is a good speaker among other good speakers at the price". i think eric did the potential buyer and totem a great favor. it also reminded me of something you might have read in the late, great listner magazine (a high compliment).

for example, customer comes in store, hears speaker, comments that it sounds this way or that, but in any event, not a positive comment. salesman can say, well, this speaker has the advantage of being able to be tuned at home. or he might already have some sandbags waiting and demo it with the customer, the more customer involvement and the longer in the store the better the chance for a sale. i would find that very cool.

also, if i already had a set of totems and was feeling the urge to look at something else, after reading the article, i might want to go spend $5 on sand and change tune the speaker. i might fall in love with it again.

finally, eric is just one person and his review is simply one person's opinion. that sounds simplistic, i know many more people will be reading his opinion than will ever hear mine, but at the core is the truth of the matter (could have been pointed out by totem (in a classier way than was done, see below)).

in regard to the response. very pompous and ego-maniacal. attacking the writer is very junior-highschoolish. the bluster is very unprofessional. contrast that with the response of the bryston principals - now that was a good example of "how to do it".

i thought it was very classy not to whine about the fact that the product was compared to a product costing almost 5 times as much. they kept to their core message which is the quality of their products. they did not call michael names. they thanked the magazine for the review.

thank you eric and thank you s-phile for a very good article and for printing that response.

KBK
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Re: Totem Angst over followup review/contrast with Bryston follo

Now that I've read it, I'll say: I've known Vince since he did his first show; a friend and I where the maybe the second (at most) people to meet him at said show. We went to the show specifically with intent to see and hear the Totem products and speak with him.

So I've (very casually) known the man for many a year. I would not be too hard on him, he's a great guy. Note, for example, Roy Hall's response to Sam Tellig a while back. Sam and Roy have known each other for years and part of their back and forth appears to be jaunty fun, complete with ripostes. So I might say that it can be possible to state that maybe Vince's response is a bit more personal in tone than overtly corporate and formal. IMO, there's nothing wrong with that, but the 'popular front' of the public's recognition of that is that most responses of such nature must be professional in scope and flavor.

And if one wishes to cast his response in a negative flavored light, I think that Vince's company and product will survive such 'just fine' and that this is all just (however it may be kerfuffled all out of shape-if at all) a blip on the radar which, in the end, is nothing at all.

Lick-T
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Re: Totem Angst over followup review.


Quote:

That was what I took away from Erick's report.

Yep.

Man, its like JA knows how to read between the lines on these articles. He should do something with this talent...

I also want to point out that I own Revel F30 speakers, which also cost $3,500 when last available. (I know, I know, they'd cost much more now due to inflation.) However, my frame of reference for speakers is right in this price range, not in the five or six figures.

Indeed, I did not set out to write a negative review, nor do I think I did. I left open the notion that some folks will really like the Forest's laidback midrange, some folks also won't be bothered by the treble balance since the quality of the treble is so nice. Also other rooms and other listeners may find the imaging better than I did. I also tried to convey my sincere opinion that Totem is a quality company, based on my friend Kurt's experience.

We need to remember that I'm just one guy trying to write down what I hear and experience as honestly, clearly and funly as I can.

Its interesting that JA posted two links to reviews of MY work. For the past decade I put myself up for scrutiny in concert reviews from major papers like the Washington post and LA Times. It is frickin' scary to be up for that kind of scrutiny so I completely understand what manufacturers go through during these reviews. I've gotten good reviews and bad reviews. However, in my experience, no one review makes or breaks any career. Though critics can be a helpful tool for all consumers and focal points for the bigger conversations in a given field, they are still, at the end of the day, just one person's informed opinion.

JasonVSerinus
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Re: Totem Angst over followup review.

Having finally read Erick's follow-up, as well as his first review for Stereophile, I find Vince's personal attack misguided and uncalled for. No one likes to see their product criticized in print. But to start impugning Erick's abilities as a reviewer, and then disparage the magazine as a whole, does not speak well for the writer. Thank goodness there are magazines like Stereophile that neither make deals with manufacturers, nor put pressure on writers to water down criticism.

More power to you, Erick. Don't let anyone stop you from speaking your truth, especially when you speak it as cogently as you do.

jason victor serinus

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Re: Totem Angst over followup review.


Quote:

Quote:

That was what I took away from Erick's report.

Yep.

Man, its like JA knows how to read between the lines on these articles. He should do something with this talent...

I also want to point out that I own Revel F30 speakers, which also cost $3,500 when last available. (I know, I know, they'd cost much more now due to inflation.) However, my frame of reference for speakers is right in this price range, not in the five or six figures.

Indeed, I did not set out to write a negative review, nor do I think I did. I left open the notion that some folks will really like the Forest's laidback midrange, some folks also won't be bothered by the treble balance since the quality of the treble is so nice. Also other rooms and other listeners may find the imaging better than I did. I also tried to convey my sincere opinion that Totem is a quality company, based on my friend Kurt's experience.

We need to remember that I'm just one guy trying to write down what I hear and experience as honestly, clearly and funly as I can.

Its interesting that JA posted two links to reviews of MY work. For the past decade I put myself up for scrutiny in concert reviews from major papers like the Washington post and LA Times. It is frickin' scary to be up for that kind of scrutiny so I completely understand what manufacturers go through during these reviews. I've gotten good reviews and bad reviews. However, in my experience, no one review makes or breaks any career. Though critics can be a helpful tool for all consumers and focal points for the bigger conversations in a given field, they are still, at the end of the day, just one person's informed opinion.

First, since the price of the replacement for your speakers, the Performa F32 is $4K, that makes them direct competitors for the Totem Forests at $3.5K... So I think your reference for the price range is spot on...

Next, Having read both this review and your previous review of the 550K Superchargers (keep in mind that I'm a musical fidelity fan)... I think that you have added a breath of fresh air (new perspective as I believe JA puts it) to Stereophile...

I respect that you have the balls to write reviews where you disagree with the opinions of the more established reviewers at the mag and the Editor! The same respect also goes to John Atkinson for printing reviews contrary to his own (that shows real credibility and character both personally and for the Stereophile mag)...

As another poster basically said; I'm sure the representative from Totem is a decent guy... His words were probably just a knee jerk reaction to what he saw as a bad review, rather than a carefully worded, professional response...

The review seemed fair to me, as you not only had price comparable speakers on hand to compare to, but you even researched what the previous reviewers did to achieve their best results with the Totems... Hell, you even used Totem's Beaks... I can't imagine what else anyone could really expect you to do... Build a new listening room to suit the Totems???

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Re: Totem Angst over followup review.

It's funny, I've never been to the Stereophile forums, but after reading Erick Lichte Follow-up of the Totem Forest, I wanted to come thank him.

I have re-read the article, and while at first I did see it as a little negative, I DO also see the positive's in the review.

It is a HARD line to walk between how a product is perceived by others(media/friends) and how one perceives a product in their own home. Personal preference for a certain sound can play a part in perceptions as well.

Yes, the Totem speakers are well made, Yes Totem is a very good company that is known for very good speakers. I've always liked Totem speakers, but I've also personally noticed that while all their speakers do have a bit of a 'family' sound, they don't all sound the same(or as good?)

Mostly, I was just entertained to read an actual opinion piece. Someone had an opinion about a product and wrote it down, while trying to balance the fact that people really do enjoy that product.

I really hope Erick continues to write down his opinion's and continues to educate us about how he sees musical reproduction. If he does that, we can all have a better idea of what he is really saying and a better idea of how good something really is.

Besides, angry manufacturers might be good PR for Stereophile.

Thanks again...

TOM...

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Re: Totem Angst over followup review.


Quote:
Having finally read Erick's follow-up, as well as his first review for Stereophile, I find Vince's personal attack misguided and uncalled for. No one likes to see their product criticized in print. But to start impugning Erick's abilities as a reviewer, and then disparage the magazine as a whole, does not speak well for the writer.

I made that point in person to Vince when we met at a NY dealer event in November. But his response was basically "you hurt me, I'll hurt you."

Vince is a passionate person, and that comes across in his speaker designs. But the downside is that he can't stand back enough to see what is the best way to move forward. I remember Sting being asked if negative reviews bothered him? His response was that it ruined his breakfast sometimes, but he had forgotten what the critic had said by lunchtime.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

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Re: Totem Angst over followup review.


Quote:
No one likes to see their product criticized in print.

Apparently reviewers and their associates don

rvance
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Re: Totem Angst over followup review.

I thought Vince's response called more attention to the Totem's supposed flaws than the review did. In fact, I went back and re-read the review to pick out the negatives he was so upset over.

Contrast with the classy comments Bryston made re Michael Fremer's relentlessly negative review of their product. Chris Russell spent his valuable print accentuating the Bryston's strengths rather than slamming Fremer. Then he thanked MF "profusely." Smart move, I'd say.

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Re: Totem Angst over followup review.


Quote:
But his response was basically "you hurt me, I'll hurt you."

That approach, as seen in my own experience, rarely works out as well as it could.

Pissing in someone else's well usually results in drinking your own urine.

I had not read RD's article on responding to critics, until a few days ago. Brilliant! Politicians must learn this stuff on day one.

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Re: Totem Angst over followup review.


Quote:
. Contrast with the classy comments Bryston made re Michael Fremer's relentlessly negative review of their product. Chris Russell spent his valuable print accentuating the Bryston's strengths rather than slamming Fremer. Then he thanked MF "profusely." Smart move, I'd say.

Interesting in that I own a 14B SST and could not disagree with MF more. But then, I looked at MF's associated gear list and feels high end wall sockets and power cord ends are necessary. As my late father said "consider the source". In fact, MF's review is the only negative one (I can recall) of a Bryston product that has a warranty that is unheard of. Everyone has off days, I guess.

Totems' response is no suprise to me. I bought new speakers over a year ago and the Totem WIND was a contender. But they were being sold through a "Best Buy" type of retailer going out of business with salespeople who could of just as easily being selling shoes. I emailed Totem on this fact and that if this is how they wanted their products represented, then they would have to work harder for my sale. I got no response. I did not buy the Wind's.

Yes, Totem make great speakers but so do others, and the egotistical nature of the response will tell far more than any listening session ever will.

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Re: Totem Angst over followup review.


Quote:
I remember Sting being asked if negative reviews bothered him? His response was that it ruined his breakfast sometimes, but he had forgotten what the critic had said by lunchtime.

I read that same Sting comment somewhere as well, and it has application in everything we do. I think he can say that because he is VERY secure in his ability. If person is secure in there direction, then criticism can be ignored, because they are confident they will come out on top in the end.

I'm not so sure that is the case here.

I applaud the Totem review. If everything is positive and receives glowing reviews, then I could simply look at the magazine's index and start shopping.

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Re: Totem Angst over followup review.


Quote:
If person is secure in there direction, then criticism can be ignored, because they are confident they will come out on top in the end.

I would rather think that a secure individual would not ever ignore criticism but accept (and, perhaps, learn from) it without becoming defensive.

Kal

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Re: Totem Angst over followup review.

Bravo, Kal. Your comment applies as much to critics as to those they criticize.

jason victor serinus


Quote:

Quote:
If person is secure in there direction, then criticism can be ignored, because they are confident they will come out on top in the end.

I would rather think that a secure individual would not ever ignore criticism but accept (and, perhaps, learn from) it without becoming defensive.

Kal

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Re: Totem Angst over followup review.


Quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I would rather think that a secure individual would not ever ignore criticism but accept (and, perhaps, learn from) it without becoming defensive.

Indeed.

In my own concert life, just and honest criticism has led to better performing. In fact, years ago Jason Serinus reviewed a CD I did and said that the singers lacked some joy in their performance and a sense of fun in their singing. He was right and I learned from the comment.

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Re: Totem Angst over followup review.


Quote:
Vince is a passionate person, and that comes across in his speaker designs. But the downside is that he can't stand back enough to see what is the best way to move forward.

This thread reminds me of the overview for the Totem Arros on Totem's website:

Ultra sophisticated crossover
Hard wired
Bypass capacitors
Ultra expensive
Lovingly hand-assembled

Result
Non obsolescence
Soul moving

I fear that Vince may have indeed begun to believe his own hype; that Totem's don't suffer from obsolescence... And once you believe that, then you are no longer interested in constructive criticism...

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Re: Totem Angst over followup review.

Fascinating topic.

I can see a little bit of both sides, except for the "if you hurt me, I'll hurt you" stuff. Really, Totem is going to 'hurt' Stereophile?

1) Totem does ask a pertinent question: Why couldn't the reviewer accomplish the same imaging that previous reviewers described/reported? Any input from the previous reviewers?

That's a quantum shift in reported imaging quality and a great thing to try to investigate.

2) If, in fact, the reviewer is an "amateur" and was unable to 'correctly' install and listen to the speakers - as the manufacturer insinuates - then perhaps the manufacturer's comments themselves should serve as a warning to us 'amateurs' who are consumers that these speakers may not be for us, either.

I mean, if these are so hard to set up that Mr. Lichte wasn't up to the task, what hope does a regular consumer have?

3) I have no issue with the speaker being 'loaded' by the consumer, so long as the manufacturer makes everything clear enough for an amateur to figure out.

4) An opportunity was lost. Totem could have set up a follow-up follow-up follow-up and set up the speakers in the reviewer's room and a great discussion about what happened differently and a description of what sound Totem could achieve in the same room would have been incredibly good for everybody.

5) I've heard many Totem speakers and generally like them...even their looks! I do hope this isn't too big a sales issue for Totem, as I've never heard their product sound bad. (I even like their approach to show sound and display.)

I hope for further discussion between Stereophile and Totem about this discrepancy!

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Re: Totem Angst over followup review.


Quote:
I can see a little bit of both sides, except for the "if you hurt me, I'll hurt you" stuff. Really, Totem is going to 'hurt' Stereophile?

Totem has canceled all of its advertising in Stereophile as a result of this follow-up review.


Quote:
I hope for further discussion between Stereophile and Totem about this discrepancy!

Erick and I will be talking to Vince Bruzzese at next week's CES. I will also be looking at the review samples of the Forests' measured performance in a further follow-up.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

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Re: Totem Angst over followup review.


Quote:

Quote:
I can see a little bit of both sides, except for the "if you hurt me, I'll hurt you" stuff. Really, Totem is going to 'hurt' Stereophile?

Totem has canceled all of its advertising in Stereophile as a result of this follow-up review.


Quote:
I hope for further discussion between Stereophile and Totem about this discrepancy!

Erick and I will be talking to Vince Bruzzese at next week's CES. I will also be looking at the review samples of the Forests' measured performance in a further follow-up.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Good news.

I look forward to following the story.

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Re: Totem Angst over followup review.

Man- where does that guy think he's in: Junior High? His response in writing came off as an arrogant baby, but then to cancel all ads? It will hurt himself as much or more than the magazine. I mean, where are those ads going to go now? Time? Newsweek? People? And it's all over a back of the magazine follow-up article that was only mildly negative.To me, it wasn't a "negative" review as much as one that differed in opinion about certain aspects of it's designs. In fact, he still recommended the company and even those speakers but with some caveats.

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Re: Totem Angst over followup review.


Quote:
1) Totem does ask a pertinent question: Why couldn't the reviewer accomplish the same imaging that previous reviewers described/reported? Any input from the previous reviewers?

I don't know why they didn't image as well. My guess this is a combination of how I heard the Totems and how I wrote about them. I put the Revel Gems, Revel F30's and Klipsch PB-17b in the very same system, in the very same room, and got great results.

Having read that JA and LG got good imaging from the speakers, I tried A LOT of things to get them to image better (though I did not write about all of it due to space). I tried every sort of toe-in, no toe in, a wide spacing between speakers, a narrow spacing between speakers, I tried raking the speakers back, I brought them far out into the room, close to the back wall, close to the side wall. I also sat on the floor to change my listening height as well as in a taller chair.

Consistent in the sound in all of these positions was a lumping up of sound around each speaker. My hunch was that cabinet vibration was culprit, since the added sand ballast made the Forests image better.

Unlike JA, I was not willing to put bags of lead shot on each speaker to tame this resonance. I don't think a reviewer should tweak and tweak a product to get it to perform. Adding weight to the top of the speaker may be the difference that JA heard in terms of imaging. JA added this weight to the speaker to get them to image better and I did not. Therefore I'm not sure that there is, as you say, a "quantum shift" in the imaging I heard.


Quote:
I mean, if these are so hard to set up that Mr. Lichte wasn't up to the task, what hope does a regular consumer have?

Indeed. It is my philosophy to use the product as the consumer would. I try to use my ears and all of my knowlege to get the equipment to sound great, this means using complimentary cables and gear to help the product under review be a part of a synergistic system. I also will work with placement; both where I sit in my room and where the speakers are.


Quote:
3) I have no issue with the speaker being 'loaded' by the consumer

Me neither.


Quote:
4) An opportunity was lost. Totem could have set up a follow-up follow-up follow-up and set up the speakers in the reviewer's room and a great discussion about what happened differently and a description of what sound Totem could achieve in the same room would have been incredibly good for everybody.

I don't agree. Will the average Totem owner get Vince at his house? I don't think so. I have never agreed with the practice of manufacturers getting to do a setup in the reviewers home, unless the reviewed piece comes with professional setup by the dealer or manufacturer.


Quote:
5) I've heard many Totem speakers and generally like them...even their looks! I do hope this isn't too big a sales issue for Totem,

Me too.

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Re: Totem Angst over followup review.


Quote:
I don't agree. Will the average Totem owner get Vince at his house? I don't think so. I have never agreed with the practice of manufacturers getting to do a setup in the reviewers home, unless the reviewed piece comes with professional setup by the dealer or manufacturer.

I mentioned this possibility in this case because of the disparity of result.

If the magazine allows manufacturer 'rebuttals,' then it would be interesting to see what the manufacturer would say after trying to place the speakers in your room himself. The average consumer could benefit from this additional follow up discussion, so I don't see it as any extra 'service' the reviewer gets vs. the consumer.

As an outsider, I see this more as a discussion between two entities within the industry, so I have no problems with the manufacturer being involved. Your reportage of the events serves to educate me, so I kind of do get the benefit of the manufacturer being present!

Plus, wouldn't you be intrigued by the process of seeing what the manufacturer could accomplish in your room...or not? I would not begrudge you getting the attention of the manufacturer at all.

P.S. Could we get you to do the follow up of the Bryston 7B SST2? That's another interesting situation where more cooks might render the stew even more interesting!

Thanks for your replies, by the way. Your own lack of defensiveness has really made for a great audio topic. Much appreciated.

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Re: Totem Angst over followup review.


Quote:
If the magazine allows manufacturer 'rebuttals,' then it would be interesting to see what the manufacturer would say after trying to place the speakers in your room himself. The average consumer could benefit from this additional follow up discussion, so I don't see it as any extra 'service' the reviewer gets vs. the consumer.

Hmmm... Maybe this could work in a special instance, but I don't think it is wise as an overall policy. I'd rather see something like this done in a column as an experiment on equipment setup instead of part of a formal review. It would be fun to have a manufacturer "review" his own equipment in a writers system. The manufacturer could write about what he hears before and after he gets to tweak it. The writer could comment on the changes the manufacturer makes.

Again, I'd only see this as a one off. The divide between the manufacturer and reviewer should be clean. There is already WAY too much scuttlebutt on the internet about how all Stereophile reviewers are in the pocket of manufacturers. There is no need to help perpetuate this totally false claim.


Quote:
P.S. Could we get you to do the follow up of the Bryston 7B SST2? That's another interesting situation where more cooks might render the stew even more interesting!

Well, I've already disagreed with Michael on the sound of amps (see my followup to the Musical Fidelity 550k Supercharger). I'll let JA sail that train if there is to be a followup. He's da BOSS.


Quote:
Thanks for your replies, by the way. Your own lack of defensiveness has really made for a great audio topic. Much appreciated

Thank you! I've had a number of great conversations with people regarding this review. It IS possible to disagree with folks and still maintain decorum - even on the internet.

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Re: Totem Angst over followup review.


Quote:
Having read that JA and LG got good imaging from the speakers, I tried A LOT of things to get them to image better (though I did not write about all of it due to space). I tried every sort of toe-in, no toe in, a wide spacing between speakers, a narrow spacing between speakers, I tried raking the speakers back, I brought them far out into the room, close to the back wall, close to the side wall. I also sat on the floor to change my listening height as well as in a taller chair.

Can JA and/or LG get good imaging from these speakers you tested?

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Re: Totem Angst over followup review.


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Can JA and/or LG get good imaging from these speakers you tested?

They both said so. You can read the reviews here:
Totem Reviews

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Re: Totem Angst over followup review.

thanks for a great discussion. i think it was alluded to that the speaker in question has not been changed by the mfr. for a number of years. perhaps it has been passed by? imaging is subjective. people can easily hear it in different ways. in fact, my best listening friend and i were in the house of a mutual stereo guy. we were listening at the same time and disagreed as to the quality of the imaging.

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Re: Totem Angst over followup review.

" It IS possible to disagree with folks and still maintain decorum - even on the internet. "
Exactly!!
BTW, does anyone know what happened to the other followups listed on the contents page?

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BTW, does anyone know what happened to the other followups listed on the contents page?


They're included in reviews of other products. Mikey's Parasound Follow-Up, for instance, is in comparison to the Bryston 7B-SST. It's not a separate Follow-Up, like Erick's Totem review.

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Re: Totem Angst over followup review.


Quote:

Quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Can JA and/or LG get good imaging from these speakers you tested?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

They both said so. You can read the reviews here:
Totem Reviews

Yes, they both said so, but not from the same speakers. All were of different pairs of serial numbers. What I was asking is can JA or LG get the same or similar imaging they had heard in 2005 and 2001 respectively from the *same* pair you reviewed? If they do, then it must be something at your end (electronics, room, etc.) that differs.

If they do not get that imaging, perhaps the pair you reviewed was defective. I would think that you and JA/LG had questioned this imaging result before publishing the followup so that the less than good imaging you reported is reliable, yet remains a mystery on why it differs from their prior results.

If all three 'reviews' are reliable, then there is something different about the speakers from unit to unit, but that apparently was not the case between the measurements of 2001 and 2005.

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Re: Totem Angst over followup review.


Quote:
What I was asking is can JA or LG get the same or similar imaging they had heard in 2005 and 2001 respectively from the *same* pair you reviewed? If they do, then it must be something at your end (electronics, room, etc.) that differs.

Erick has just shipped his review samples to me, so after next week's Consumer Electronics Show, I will be able to investigate if these Forests differ in any meaningful way from the last 2 pairs we reviewed. I will report on what I find in the April issue.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

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Re: Totem Angst over followup review.

Thanks Stephen, I'll look for them.

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Re: Totem Angst over followup review.

If a pair of Totem speakers aren't imaging like bastards then I would bet good money that something is defective.

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Re: Totem Angst over followup review.


Quote:
What I was asking is can JA or LG get the same or similar imaging they had heard in 2005 and 2001 respectively from the *same* pair you reviewed? If they do, then it must be something at your end (electronics, room, etc.) that differs.

If they do not get that imaging, perhaps the pair you reviewed was defective. I would think that you and JA/LG had questioned this imaging result before publishing the followup so that the less than good imaging you reported is reliable, yet remains a mystery on why it differs from their prior results.

If all three 'reviews' are reliable, then there is something different about the speakers from unit to unit, but that apparently was not the case between the measurements of 2001 and 2005.

Perhaps.

I think there are a few assumptions going round about why I didn't get the same imaging as JA or LG.

1. I don't know how to set up speakers/ I set the Forests up incorrectly.

2. The electronics I used did not allow the Forests to image well.

3. The specific pair of Forests I listened to were defective/ different from what LG and JA got and will measure differently

4. I am deaf and stupid.

Though I can't rule out any of the above, I think there are some other things that I feel made me write what I did.

1. I specifically wrote the words "truly holographic" in my review. "Truly holographic" is a pretty high standard and I could not get the Forests to perform at that level. Some people are taking from this that the Forests did not image at all. That is not true and not what I said. To described the way in which the Totems were not imaging well, I described the sound as lumping up around each speaker. This is what I heard and so did others who heard these speakers in my room. I think it may also be possible that I held the Forests to a higher standard for imaging than LG or JA did - JA certainly knows I'm picky. Perhaps this is reflected in how I wrote about the imaging.

2. I heard the Forests having a laid back midrange and/or tilted up treble. This is confirmed in JA's measurments from both samples of speakers. I am very sensitive to forward treble as I can still hear up to 18.5khz, usually. I think it may be possible that some will hear the laidback midrange as a deep, broader and more diffuse soundstage. I heard them have that quality on some music to my ears as well. However, I heard the tonal balance of the speaker as a seperate issue from the imaging. Imaging for me encompasses specificity of sound location, width, depth and projection. Through the Forests, everything sounded large and indistinct, again with sound lumping up around the speakers more than I was used to. The Forests lacked the precision of image that my Revel F30's and recently the old Revel Gems have shown in my room. I conjecture that some of the Forests' reputation for imaging comes from a response to the tonal balance, not my criteria listed above. JA and LG may have also responded to the tonal balance.

3. I am used to spiking my speakers. The Forest do not allow for spikes, they instead use the Claw. In my experience, spiked speakers image better; my Revel F30's certainly do. Since the Claw is the way in which the Forest meets the floor, that was how I needed to review them. It is my guess that I would have liked the Forests better spiked and that they might have imaged better with spikes. Again, since there is no way to spike the speaker without drilling new holes in the bottom, I felt I must review the speakers "as is."

In the end, my guess is that these speakers will measure the same or similarly to the two models previously reviewed in Stereophile. I think the difference here is how I heard the same things as JA and LG but interpreted and responded differently to the same speakers. I think this is why Follow-ups are so great in Stereophile - you get a second opinion. I truly believe my review, JA's review and LG's review describe essentially the same characteristics (I could go through and find ALL of the paralells) but each of us responded differntly because we are each, thank God, seperate people.

absolutepitch
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Re: Totem Angst over followup review.


Quote:
Quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

What I was asking is can JA or LG get the same or similar imaging they had heard in 2005 and 2001 respectively from the *same* pair you reviewed? If they do, then it must be something at your end (electronics, room, etc.) that differs.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Erick has just shipped his review samples to me, so after next week's Consumer Electronics Show, I will be able to investigate if these Forests differ in any meaningful way from the last 2 pairs we reviewed. I will report on what I find in the April issue.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Thanks for the clarification. After the CES, I'm sure you'll all be very busy reporting about the show.

absolutepitch
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Re: Totem Angst over followup review.


Quote:
... In the end, my guess is that these speakers will measure the same or similarly to the two models previously reviewed in Stereophile. I think the difference here is how I heard the same things as JA and LG but interpreted and responded differently to the same speakers. I think this is why Follow-ups are so great in Stereophile - you get a second opinion. I truly believe my review, JA's review and LG's review describe essentially the same characteristics (I could go through and find ALL of the paralells) but each of us responded differntly because we are each, thank God, seperate people.

I fully understand what you said here and where you are coming from. I would also guess that writing in print does not always convey the whole impression one has heard. This may be the case here, especially if the measurements later come out nearly the same as the prior two sets.

I have seen how difficult it is to express the hearing experience in words. That's clear when one person says the sound is 'warm', and another will have a different idea of what 'warm' is. Imaging is IMHO very difficult to assess using only your ears.

Speculation: If one could record the audio of a small group of instruments, one can record on paper the locations of each instrument (or better yet, a single instrument) and it's subtense in angular terms as a reference at the time of audio recording. Then compare to the reproduced image's angular position and subtense to the reference's. Of course, one has to hear the same as what the mikes picked up, not to mention the post-processing of the music on the consoles. Easier said than done, I'm sure. Just a thought of how to assess images, and maybe useful to compare what each person 'hears'.

It may be that each of us have different imaging hearing acuities. We all have different visual imaging acuities (depth perception as an analogy), but corrective lenses help the visual part. No one I know of uses hearing corrections when listening to music (tone controls or equalizers are not forms of correction in this sense).

Let's see what JA finds after the CES and go from there. Either way, IMHO the manufacturer could have seized the opportunity of trouble-shooting instead of shooting-trouble.

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Re: Totem Angst over followup review.

"In the end, my guess is that these speakers will measure the same or similarly to the two models previously reviewed in Stereophile. I think the difference here is how I heard the same things as JA and LG but interpreted and responded differently to the same speakers. I think this is why Follow-ups are so great in Stereophile - you get a second opinion. I truly believe my review, JA's review and LG's review describe essentially the same characteristics (I could go through and find ALL of the paralells) but each of us responded differntly because we are each, thank God, seperate people. "

My biggest problem is the language you used in your Totem review that came off as flip and disconnected.

Statements like "at least the Beaks looked cool" rings of the Corey Greenberg Vandersteen 1b review from the 1990's. I loved CG's writing, just sometimes it comes off as too casual, especially in light of the leverage that Stereophile has with its readers/consumers in the marketplace.

There are other statements like "overwhelming sense of responsiblity" seem to ring false when it wasnt communicated that everything was done to ensure a quality review process.

MF at least hammered that concept home, and he stuck by his words as a result. That was a better communicated but negative review, that sits a lot better with me as the objective control freak in me trying to control variables, and verifying a good scientific method process for these speakers under review. Your language in many circumstances (of both reviews) were the undoing of the review. Silly comments like the 'almighty reviewer' spiel in your background description area seem to cement (possible) accusations that you weren't taking the Forest review seriously enough. Never in a million years would I want to risk statements like that no matter how powerful of a writer I would or would not be. Just too loaded of area in the world of audio reviewing.

Ps- I address this subject in a letter to the Editor submitted today, without reading any prior comments in this forum until now. I do hope JA prints my letter in Stereophile, as well as here, to pinpoint and backup some of the statements I made here now. Please also see the MF/Bryston review forum for another critical area of the review process concerning the amplification used in both reviews.

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Re: Totem Angst over followup review.


Quote:
I address this subject in a letter to the Editor submitted today, without reading any prior comments in this forum until now. I do hope JA prints my letter in Stereophile, as well as here, to pinpoint and backup some of the statements I made here now. Please also see the MF/Bryston review forum for another critical area of the review process concerning the amplification used in both reviews.

With respect, both your statements in the Bryston thread and the argument you make in your letter are based on a misunderstanding of the review procedure. I will not, therefore, be publishing your letter in the magazine.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

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