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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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