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Totem Acoustics Rainmaker Speaker Review

Rate this speaker:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 150 68.2%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 66 30.0%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 4 1.8%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    220

amirm

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This is a review, listening tests and detailed measurements of Totem Acoustics Rainmaker Speaker. It is on kind loan from a member. It was released back in early 2000s for around $1,000 (pair):
Totem Rainmaker Speaker bookshelf speaker review.jpg

The look and feel of the speaker lands in "good" category with nice use of wood/veneers which you don't see often today in small/budget speakers. As you may be able to guess, this is a rather small speaker which brings challenges usually in the form of dynamics. Not much to see on the back:

Totem Rainmaker Speaker bookshelf speaker back panel port review.jpg


If you are not familiar with Totem Acoustics, the brand is the darling of Custom Integration channel. Company founder and designer, Vince Bruzzese, is at seemingly every show, putting on great demonstrations. Website and show booths are covered with pictures of models which I am sure helps with the male dominated industry they target. Recent claim to fame has been crossoverless woofers but I think this one does have one.

Even though this speaker is long discontinued, I wanted to get some coverage of the brand and hence this review.

Testing was performed without a grill and with tweeter as the reference axis.

Totem Rainmaker Measurements
As usual, we start with our usual frequency response ("spin") measurements:
Totem Rainmaker Speaker Frequency Response Measurements.png


Ouch! I must say I was not ready to see such uneven response replete with resonances in the upper midrange and lower treble. Near-field response shows the source being cabinet and woofer break up:

Totem Rainmaker Speaker Near-field Frequency Response Measurements.png


This is probably the worst example of such abnormal responses I have seen.

We can see other signs in both impedance/phase response and CSD/Waterfall:
Totem Rainmaker Speaker Impedance and phase Measurements.png



Totem Rainmaker Speaker CSD Waterfall Measurements.png


Early window ironically is a bit better due to narrowing of the high frequency response (see directivity later):

Totem Rainmaker Speaker Frequency Response Measurements.png


The sum is not pretty as far as predicted in-room response:

Totem Rainmaker Speaker Predicted in-room Frequency Response Measurements.png


Lack of a waveguide means wide directivity starting around crossover but then narrowing at the upper treble:

Totem Rainmaker Speaker Horizontal beam width Measurements.png


The wider directivity in lower frequencies should give a more diffused soundstage and narrow up above as noted, help with the brightness.
Totem Rainmaker Speaker Horizontal Directivity Measurements.png



Totem Rainmaker Speaker Vertical Directivity Measurements.png


Distortion is low at 86 dB SPL:

Totem Rainmaker Speaker Distortion Measurements.png


Totem Rainmaker Speaker Relative Distortion Measurements.png


At 96 dBSPL I could hear strange noises but the woofer did not thankfully bottom out.

Finally, here is the step response:
Totem Rainmaker Speaker Step Response Measurements.png


Totem Rainmaker Speaker Listening Tests
The out of box experience was not as bad as the insult on the eye that the frequency response was. Continue to listen though and the boomy low end starts to annoy while the boosted upper treble takes out hiss from tracks you didn't think had any! In an odd way though, it balances things a bit giving you a feeling of brilliance that the lower treble had taken out.

I build my EQ filters by eye and while the method usually works, it is no match to the extremely uneven response of the Rainmaker. I tried anyway:

Totem Rainmaker Speaker bookshelf speaker EQ.png


In most tracks, this was an improvement but in a few, I thought the stock tuning was maybe better. At shows, Vince plays techno/modern music so I tried that with and without EQ. For sure, the failures of the speaker were less evident in that kind of content (think Deadmau5).

Conclusions
Objectively there are many failures in the design of Totem Rainmaker. Resonances are a problem as is very uneven frequency response. Subjective experience is not that bad, aided by decent dynamic range and ability of the speaker to keep going instead of falling apart as some small speakers do. Mind you, it is still "bad" but just not as much of an assault on your ears as the measurements are on your eyes.

I can't recommend the Totem Acoustics Rainmaker.
-----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

Attachments

  • Totem Rainmaker Frequency Response.zip
    60.4 KB · Views: 34

bogart

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Thanks for adding this brand to the set of speakers reviewed. I had (then sold) a pair of their Sttaf towers. While they were initially pleasant sounding I was happy to sell them to move into Revel speakers.

Totem definitely comes off as under-engineered here.
 
Last edited:

SuicideSquid

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Hey it's my Rainmaker!

I used to sell these in the 2005-2010 window and they were a speaker that "showed" very well for its budget. You can definitely see why looking at the response. Lots of midbass, lots of treble, made them stand out when demoing next to other similar-budget speakers. I used a pair for awhile as my mains but found them a bit bright and fatiguing to listen to so they were relegated to my rear surrounds and replaced with Totem Forests up front (which measure much better and have a much more neutral sound).

Thanks for testing them Amir! Very cool to see.
 

H-RYCAJ

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Saw this one coming.

Edit: 1000$ says the advert for this speaker had a pretty lady or two.
 

McFly

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Rainmaker because you be crying after searing holes in your eardrums.
 

bogart

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Rainmaker because you be crying after searing holes in your eardrums.
Ha! In fairness, I wouldn’t quite put these in the searing-your-eardrums category. There are much worse offenders to the ear, though these charts definitely offend the eye.
 

SuicideSquid

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Ha! In fairness, I wouldn’t quite put these in the searing-your-eardrums category. There are much worse offenders to the ear, though these charts definitely offend the eye.
They are absolutely reasonable to listen to. You will notice a bit of a bump in the treble and midbass but it only becomes objectionable at high volumes or during long listening sessions.
 

USER

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Great review, Amir! Glad to see a speaker that is still seemingly always around--most often for sale used at an audio purveyor. This type of review helps understand the overall landscape. I always enjoy them. Totem is one of those brands that even subjective reviewers started second guessing after a while. Good to know why!
 

Timmeon

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I feared this day would come! I still love my Totem Hawks which I'm almost certain would show similarly disappointing measured results. I don't actually find them fatiguing at all, but I only ever listen at low to moderate volume. They are entertaining at any listening position.

Oh well. For what it's worth, the compact minimalist look appeals to me (though I did plasti-dip the chrome "claws" which were a bit gaudy for my taste). They'll stay.

I do appreciate the data. Another excellent review.
 

Steve Dallas

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Wow. Totem does Batman response even better than B&W!
 

Maiky76

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This is a review, listening tests and detailed measurements of Totem Acoustics Rainmaker Speaker. It is on kind loan from a member. It was released back in early 2000s for around $1,000 (pair):
View attachment 256587
The look and feel of the speaker lands in "good" category with nice use of wood/veneers which you don't see often today in small/budget speakers. As you may be able to guess, this is a rather small speaker which brings challenges usually in the form of dynamics. Not much to see on the back:

View attachment 256588

If you are not familiar with Totem Acoustics, the brand is the darling of Custom Integration channel. Company founder and designer, Vince Bruzzese, is at seemingly every show, putting on great demonstrations. Website and show booths are covered with pictures of models which I am sure helps with the male dominated industry they target. Recent claim to fame has been crossoverless woofers but I think this one does have one.

Even though this speaker is long discontinued, I wanted to get some coverage of the brand and hence this review.

Testing was performed without a grill and with tweeter as the reference axis.

Totem Rainmaker Measurements
As usual, we start with our usual frequency response ("spin") measurements:
View attachment 256589

Ouch! I must say I was not ready to see such uneven response replete with resonances in the upper midrange and lower treble. Near-field response shows the source being cabinet and woofer break up:

View attachment 256590

This is probably the worst example of such abnormal responses I have seen.

We can see other signs in both impedance/phase response and CSD/Waterfall:
View attachment 256591


View attachment 256592

Early window ironically is a bit better due to narrowing of the high frequency response (see directivity later):

View attachment 256593

The sum is not pretty as far as predicted in-room response:

View attachment 256594

Lack of a waveguide means wide directivity starting around crossover but then narrowing at the upper treble:

View attachment 256595

The wider directivity in lower frequencies should give a more diffused soundstage and narrow up above as noted, help with the brightness.
View attachment 256596


View attachment 256597

Distortion is low at 86 dB SPL:

View attachment 256598

View attachment 256599

At 96 dBSPL I could hear strange noises but the woofer did not thankfully bottom out.

Finally, here is the step response:
View attachment 256600

Totem Rainmaker Speaker Listening Tests
The out of box experience was not as bad as the insult on the eye that the frequency response was. Continue to listen though and the boomy low end starts to annoy while the boosted upper treble takes out hiss from tracks you didn't think had any! In an odd way though, it balances things a bit giving you a feeling of brilliance that the lower treble had taken out.

I build my EQ filters by eye and while the method usually works, it is no match to the extremely uneven response of the Rainmaker. I tried anyway:

View attachment 256601

In most tracks, this was an improvement but in a few, I thought the stock tuning was maybe better. At shows, Vince plays techno/modern music so I tried that with and without EQ. For sure, the failures of the speaker were less evident in that kind of content (think Deadmau5).

Conclusions
Objectively there are many failures in the design of Totem Rainmaker. Resonances are a problem as is very uneven frequency response. Subjective experience is not that bad, aided by decent dynamic range and ability of the speaker to keep going instead of falling apart as some small speakers do. Mind you, it is still "bad" but just not as much of an assault on your ears as the measurements are on your eyes.

I can't recommend the Totem Acoustics Rainmaker.
-----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/

Hi,

Here is my take on the EQ.
Please report your findings, positive or negative!

The following EQs are “anechoic” EQs to get the speaker right before room integration. If you able to implement these EQs you must add EQ at LF for room integration, that is usually not optional… see hints there: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...helf-speaker-review.11144/page-26#post-800725

The raw data with corrected ER and PIR:

Score no EQ: 2.9
With Sub: 4.9
Totem Rainmaker No EQ Spinorama.png


Spinorama with no EQ:
  • Too many resonances
  • Poor Directivity
  • Far from neutral balance
Directivity:

Better stay at tweeter height
Horizontally, better toe-in the speakers by 10/20deg and have the axis crossing in front of the listening location, might help dosing the upper range.
Totem Rainmaker 2D surface Directivity Contour Only Data.png


EQ design:
I have generated two EQs. The APO config files are attached.

  • The first one, labelled, LW is targeted at making the LW flat
  • The second, labelled Score, starts with the first one and adds the score as an optimization variable.
  • The EQs are designed in the context of regular stereo use i.e. domestic environment, no warranty is provided for a near field use in a studio environment although the LW might be better suited for this purpose.
  • Too many resonances to EQ them out and might not translate on other units...
Score EQ LW: 5.6
with sub: 7.5

Score EQ Score: 6.1
with sub: 8.0


Code:
Totem Rainmaker APO EQ LW 96000Hz
January122023-104534

Preamp: -3.7 dB

Filter 1: ON HPQ Fc 48.85,    0.00,    1.50
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 177.55,    -3.49,    1.11
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 900.91,    -3.81,    6.42
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 867.85,    2.91,    1.13
Filter 5: ON PK Fc 2940.39,    2.28,    4.22
Filter 6: ON PK Fc 6735.47,    -3.33,    1.34
Filter 7: ON PK Fc 10362.93,    -2.19,    2.85

Totem Rainmaker APO EQ Score 96000Hz
January122023-104534

Preamp: -3.7 dB

Filter 1: ON PK HPQ 48.85,    0.00,    1.50
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 170.55,    -3.69,    1.11
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 879.46,    -5.54,    5.76
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 835.54,    4.01,    1.86
Filter 5: ON PK Fc 2947.39,    2.74,    4.39
Filter 6: ON PK Fc 3739.39,    -1.57,    1.22
Filter 7: ON PK Fc 6508.42,    -4.27,    1.48
Filter 8: ON PK Fc 10590.03,    -3.18,    1.92

Totem Rainmaker EQ Design.png

Spinorama EQ LW
Totem Rainmaker LW EQ Spinorama.png


Spinorama EQ Score
Totem Rainmaker Score EQ Spinorama.png


Zoom PIR-LW-ON
Totem Rainmaker Zoom.png


Regression - Tonal
Totem Rainmaker Regression - Tonal.png


Radar no EQ vs EQ score
Nice improvements but still a lot of resonances...
Totem Rainmaker Radar.png


The rest of the plots is attached.

Bonus: Amirm EQ
Score EQ LW: 4.1
with sub: 6.1


Totem Rainmaker Amirm EQ Spinorama.png
 

Attachments

  • Totem Rainmaker APO EQ Score 96000Hz.txt
    438 bytes · Views: 24
  • Totem Rainmaker 3D surface Horizontal Directivity Data.png
    Totem Rainmaker 3D surface Horizontal Directivity Data.png
    455.5 KB · Views: 36
  • Totem Rainmaker 3D surface Vertical Directivity Data.png
    Totem Rainmaker 3D surface Vertical Directivity Data.png
    460.7 KB · Views: 25
  • Totem Rainmaker 2D surface Directivity Contour Data.png
    Totem Rainmaker 2D surface Directivity Contour Data.png
    296.3 KB · Views: 25
  • Totem Rainmaker APO EQ LW 96000Hz.txt
    389 bytes · Views: 20
  • Totem Rainmaker Vertical 3D Directivity data.png
    Totem Rainmaker Vertical 3D Directivity data.png
    417.7 KB · Views: 24
  • Totem Rainmaker Horizontal 3D Directivity data.png
    Totem Rainmaker Horizontal 3D Directivity data.png
    403.1 KB · Views: 28
  • Totem Rainmaker Raw Directivity data.png
    Totem Rainmaker Raw Directivity data.png
    461.1 KB · Views: 24
  • Totem Rainmaker Normalized Directivity data.png
    Totem Rainmaker Normalized Directivity data.png
    300.5 KB · Views: 21
  • Totem Rainmaker Reflexion data.png
    Totem Rainmaker Reflexion data.png
    142.5 KB · Views: 24
  • Totem Rainmaker LW data.png
    Totem Rainmaker LW data.png
    140.4 KB · Views: 30

AndreaT

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A Totem bookshelf speaker failed to please my ears when I listened to them at a High End dealership outside Boston, early 2000’s. I had, at the time, a pair of ProAc Studio 100, and the Totems did indeed sound bright and splashy. As a comparison, I moved to another demo room and fell in love immediately with a pair of Revel Ultima Gem: absolutely delightful but out of my price range back then.
Thank you Amir for a wonderful review and thoughtful listening impressions!
 

norman bates

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I wonder if adding a bunch of acousta-stuf would help the 800-3khz region ?????

Those box resonances are probably sneaking out the port.

The climb past 3khz might not be so bad sitting 10'away, especially to those who boost the hf.

Lastly, rolling off at 150hz, well, it's a 5.5" woofer.
A subwoofer that goes that smoothly higher than that is mandatory


"As always from Totem, the Rainmaker's measured performance reveals some excellent speaker engineering. However, I would have preferred not to have seen those cabinet resonances in the upper midrange.—John Atkinson"
 

SuicideSquid

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I feared this day would come! I still love my Totem Hawks which I'm almost certain would show similarly disappointing measured results. I don't actually find them fatiguing at all, but I only ever listen at low to moderate volume. They are entertaining at any listening position.

Oh well. For what it's worth, the compact minimalist look appeals to me (though I did plasti-dip the chrome "claws" which were a bit gaudy for my taste). They'll stay.

I do appreciate the data. Another excellent review.
Just from subjective experience, from a fair bit of time listening to and comparing the Rainmaker, Hawk, and Forest, the Hawk would definitely measure a LOT better than the Rainmaker. It's got a similar midbass hump but much smoother through the mids and with a bit of a treble bump, but probably closer to 2-3dB rather than the 5-6dB Amir measured on the Rainmakers.

Based on my ears and on some measurements done by Stereophile and others, the Forests are about as ruler-flat as a floorstanding speaker gets between around 60Hz and 10kHz.
 

lateralous

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I feared this day would come! I still love my Totem Hawks which I'm almost certain would show similarly disappointing measured results. I don't actually find them fatiguing at all, but I only ever listen at low to moderate volume. They are entertaining at any listening position.
You're in an enviable position, then ;)

You enjoy what you have, so no problems there. Then you have an entire world of speakers that excel "technically" to explore, should you choose (maybe you have, and simply like the Totem best; again, no problem).
 

Timmeon

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Just from subjective experience, from a fair bit of time listening to and comparing the Rainmaker, Hawk, and Forest, the Hawk would definitely measure a LOT better than the Rainmaker. It's got a similar midbass hump but much smoother through the mids and with a bit of a treble bump, but probably closer to 2-3dB rather than the 5-6dB Amir measured on the Rainmakers.

Based on my ears and on some measurements done by Stereophile and others, the Forests are about as ruler-flat as a floorstanding speaker gets between around 60Hz and 10kHz.
Ah, interesting. Prior to the Hawks, I had the Arros which I might have liked a tiny bit more. As far as I could tell the Arros had slightly smoother treble. I was second-guessing myself the few times I swapped them to compare. The Arro just couldn't compete in the low frequencies for obvious reasons, but I enjoyed the hell out of those little things.

Appreciate your thoughts and lending your speakers to be measured!
 
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