Product Review

Totem Acoustic Drum Couch Shaker

January, 2005

Jared Rachwalski



● Power Handling: 100 watts RMS
● Impedance: 8 ohms
● Machined from solid aluminum
● MFR: 10 Hz – 150 Hz
● MSRP: $450 USA

● Output: 100 watts RMS
● Capable of Powering Two Drums
● MFR: 10 Hz - 150 Hz
● MSRP: $450 USA

Totem Acoustic


Sitting in the middle of our living room is a large green monster of a couch. This imposing beast will entice you into an easy slumber with its extra-comfy cushions, ultra-soft fabric, and ever-enveloping shape. Many a night I have fallen victim to its grasp. No matter how exciting the movie was. I would find myself being slowly pulled into its sleepy embrace. What a comfy couch it was.

All that has changed since installing the Totem Drum. What was once a harbinger of sleepy delight has now become a shaky beast sure to snap you awake. Every slam, bang, crash, and boom elicits a wondrous response from within the couch cushions. The couch has gone from being a force that worked against the movie to an integral part of the movie experience.

The Design

First in this two part delight from Totem Acoustic is the actual drum, a 3” wide 10” long aluminum tube. This tube is designed to be placed between your couch cushions, or mounted directly to the couch using an optional bracket. The unit is heavy (for its size) and almost appears to be a single piece. It is thoughtfully overbuilt as it should be given its job.

It does seem likely that an aluminum tube this big would be noticeable in your cushions. And if not placed correctly, it is. However, my couch is of significant girth, and I found no problems hiding the drum. The ease of installation is a big plus, as no modification to your furniture is required. For couches with less substantial cushions, you can mount the drum to the underside of the couch. Each drum is said to activate 4 seats – which it did with my big couch.

Powering the Drum is a box shaped amplifier. The amplifier stands about a foot tall and roughly half the width of a normal piece of stereo equipment. The amplifier can be finished in any of Totem's available finishes (some finishes have a higher price), has inputs and controls on the back, and a black screen on the front. It is designed to power as many as two drum modules. The unit comes with three billet aluminum "claws" attached to the bottom. These are similar to the ones offered with their floor-standing speakers, only instead of being polished they are anodized black.


Listening to music with this system proved to be rather interesting. Some music benefited greatly from the drum, while
other genres could do without. Heavy music (Tool, Kyuss, and System of a Down) sounded great, and the drum added impact and excitement to the music as it defiantly kept up to the beat. More detailed music (Jesse Cook and Tom Waits) sounded a little strange. Some tracks worked, and others just did not. When the drum responded it had the odd effect of pulling the soundstage forward and in some cases it would just collapse altogether.

One problem tactile transducers have is keeping up with the music. This was not the case with the Totem Drum.


Suspense movies are really improved with the Drum. Normally I do not easily scare during these movies. Their forced suspense brought on by cliché scores and musical cues are too easily predicted. Once I added this powerful kick to my couch, I jumped! Dark and eerie moments turned from humm to wow! This really added to the suspense of the movies, underlining the intentions.

Action packed movies of course worked great. With the couch rumbling away, it gave the illusion that the whole house was shaking. Any movie that gives your sub a workout will excite this system. I had previously believed that the only application for a tactile transducer was action movies. Boy was I wrong! Every movie from sappy love story to full-blown action extravaganza was improved.


Couch shakers are a definite must-have for any home theater system. Anyone out there looking for one more piece of the story should check this out. The ease of installation and ability to add more modules makes the Drum a very user-friendly product. While the unit does perform well with some music, it is best left for movies. Given what it can add to the movie experience, you would be doing yourself a disservice not to check one out.

- Jared Rachwalski -

© Copyright 2005 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity
Go to Table of Contents for this
Go to Home Page


Go to Benchmark Introduction

About Secrets


Go to Primers Introduction

Terms and Conditions of Use

Our Vault pages may have some display quirks. Let us know if we need to take a look at this page or fix a bug.
Connect with us
  • Instagram
  • Google+
  • YouTube
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
Secrets "Cave"