Totem Acoustic Beak

Erick Lichte
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 Beaks—Totem'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

Robert Deutsch
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 difference—a smoother, more extended treble, and improved imaging—and 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 room—and keep in mind that, with a resonance-related effect, room acoustics can play an important role—the 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 get—the Beaks are made using precision machining, their exact shape and the lines incised in the metal determined through listening tests as well as computer simulations—and the sonic improvement might be proportionally greater.—Robert Deutsch

Totem Acoustic
9165 rue Champ d'Eau
Montreal, Quebec H1P 3M3
(514) 259-1062

Devil Doc's picture

...never confront a patient's delusions.


Devil Doc's picture


double post

tiberius1023's picture

These seem to only affect the cabinet resonance. It seems that any weight strategically placed on top would have the same effect...don't know if these would be worth $125

zimm25's picture

About 6 months ago I bought a pair of used Totem Forrests and got a pair of beaks with them.  After many weeks of slight tweaks for placement, fill, etc. I added the beaks.  Do they change the sound? Yes.  Subtly. Without question they make the high end of the Forrests shound better to my ears, especially with brighter music (e.g. the climactic part of Adagio for Strings).  For the price that many Stereophile readers pay for equipment to hear very subtle differences (e.g. $3,000 amp versus $5,000 amp), the beaks are very much worth the price.  For the average listener, they're not worth it.  For this audience, I think the review is accurate.  

andy_c's picture

Follow your nose!

You can get the same effect by eating some froot loops.