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Totem Acoustics Rainmaker Speaker Review

Rate this speaker:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 151 68.0%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 66 29.7%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 5 2.3%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    222

fineMen

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I think you're getting a few things mixed up. The CTA-2034-A is a standard method for measuring (in-home) speakers and reporting data (using standardized methods) - nothing more. This standard does not specify at all how a loudspeaker should be tuned or designed and has nothing to do with listening tests.
Agreed, I kind of see the CTA-2034 as the foundation of the Harman score introduced by Dr. Olive. Now it is my turn to play the 'best pratice" card, though.

At most, one could say that listening tests have imposed the need for such a standard, since a correlation between subjective evaluation of loudspeakers and their "complete" (hor and ver) measurements has been established.
Exactly, the CTA-204 implicitely states that the measurements it takes are the ones to be relevant. Insofar it implicates their usage in an evaluation.

CTA-2034-A is a powerful "tool" for loudspeaker design and analysis. It extends the before used non standardized evaluation methods (on-axis, angular frequency response measurements, sound power, SP DI, sonograms, ...) with standardized evaluation methods like LW, ER (hor + ver), PIR, ERDI (hor + ver),...
That's related to the Harman score, right? The data is injected to the calculations that yield a single valued (ordinal?) position on a scale.

A completely different aspect is the connection between measurements and subjective evaluations of loudspeakers.
To measure but not to evaluate the outcome, not to relate the values to a 'model' of an understanding, not to tell what they mean is worthless.

Despite the weaknesses of a circular conclusion when using arbitrary but 'most revealing' recordings done elsewhere, I actually appreciate the CTA-2034-A light-heartedly Because I think the data is relevant, because studios were the first to adapt to speakers that comply to the CTA-2034-A in particular with the notion of 'linear' as the natural target. In other words, not the evaluation method with some 'natural' outcome cuts the vicious circle of confusion, but the standard as a mere standard did. While of course the standardized measuring topics ask the right questions within a correct 'model' of what a speaker does in-room with human hearing. Reiterated, appreciated!

This only means that already at the time of the totem-acoustics-rainmaker release, the connection between measurements and subjective hearing sensation was known.
Regarding this I cannot share your perspective. My key-words with this are 'subjective, unquestioned preference', 'most revealing recordings' and 'statistics with averaging'. One might say that the Totem's engineer sitting in his room listening to his records didn't represent the norm, and so his evaluations don't count. But the methodology of searching out for the most pleasing sound is shared. Why would anyone forbid, that said engineer wants to evaluate his speaker in his room with his recordings subjectively, without questioning his preference for what he delivers to the customer? It is literally the same what the test-panel did during so many investigations you mentioned above.

What you say is actually, that the individual that the engineer is, isn't qualified, but an arbitrary, still not representative person is.
 
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Spartiate1852

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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.
I did the same move, in my case from Totem Forest to Revel F208. I couldn't be more happy. I drive the Revel with a Bryston 4B Cubed and, as preamp, the BR-20 (also from Bryston).
 

Gphoton

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Have the Rainmakers in the kitchen, need to use Paradigm PW-Link's equalization to make them listenable... they replaced $50 Minimus 7's which didn't. However have the Hawks in the bedroom and they are a very nice sounding speaker and no equalization is used.
 

fpitas

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All these comments and criticism, but no one investigated the rain making possibilities.
 

fpitas

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I am not sure if it’s raining money for the designer though
I have a feeling the "design" was tossed together by an intern of some sort. I hope.
 

YSC

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I have a feeling the "design" was tossed together by an intern of some sort. I hope.
Or it’s just a tune by ear product, in a real room using ears are surprisingly unreliable as we know
 

SuicideSquid

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Or it’s just a tune by ear product, in a real room using ears are surprisingly unreliable as we know
Totem's lead designer proudly designs by ear. He has some weird ideas about speaker design as well that are just flat wrong (doesn't use fill in the speakers, incorrect port measurements, insists on weird nonsense like silver wire and veneering the inside of cabinets).

That said he has made some genuinely excellent-sounding speakers. I upgraded my Rainmakers to Forests when I was a dealer many years ago and I've been happily using them ever since. The problem is there's no consistency at all to his designs - some Totem speakers sound great, others sound dreadful.

The Rainmakers, I believe, were tuned to "show well" with their hyped treble and midbass response, but they get very tiring to listen to over time.
 

YSC

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Totem's lead designer proudly designs by ear. He has some weird ideas about speaker design as well that are just flat wrong (doesn't use fill in the speakers, incorrect port measurements, insists on weird nonsense like silver wire and veneering the inside of cabinets).

That said he has made some genuinely excellent-sounding speakers. I upgraded my Rainmakers to Forests when I was a dealer many years ago and I've been happily using them ever since. The problem is there's no consistency at all to his designs - some Totem speakers sound great, others sound dreadful.

The Rainmakers, I believe, were tuned to "show well" with their hyped treble and midbass response, but they get very tiring to listen to over time.
actually are there some measurements of the forests available? I am kinda lazy to search on phone
 

DSJR

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The hyped treble was arguably done to mask the raggedy upper mids.... I remember a couple of KEF Concerto speaker models made specially for the UK 'BADA' dealers featuring wood veneer cabs and a plastic chassis bass driver suspiciously like the one in this speaker and the upper mid had an almost 'ringy' quality to it which KEF didn't disguise. We found them impossible to sell and KEF finally took them back and replaced with something more sellable!

Pic from UK ebay -

KEF Concerto One.jpg


Just remembered the smaller model in the series - Cresta 2 - Driver different here, but not up to KEF standards sadly, I remember.

KEF Cresta 2.jpg
 
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SuicideSquid

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actually are there some measurements of the forests available? I am kinda lazy to search on phone
Amir hasn't measured them but they were measured in Stereophile back in the day.

https://www.stereophile.com/content/totem-acoustic-forest-loudspeaker-measurements

They exhibit some of the same tonality as other Totem speakers but much less pronouned - a bit of midbass and treble boost, but it's a couple dB and not the ~10dB variation of the Rainmakers. With careful positioning I've always found them to be very natural, neutral sounding speakers in most of the rooms I've used them in.
 

srrxr71

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Totem's lead designer proudly designs by ear. He has some weird ideas about speaker design as well that are just flat wrong (doesn't use fill in the speakers, incorrect port measurements, insists on weird nonsense like silver wire and veneering the inside of cabinets).

That said he has made some genuinely excellent-sounding speakers. I upgraded my Rainmakers to Forests when I was a dealer many years ago and I've been happily using them ever since. The problem is there's no consistency at all to his designs - some Totem speakers sound great, others sound dreadful.

The Rainmakers, I believe, were tuned to "show well" with their hyped treble and midbass response, but they get very tiring to listen to over time.
I had a favorable view of the brand until they released those beaks.
 

pablolie

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To me, the Totem Dreamcatchers are one of those examples for something that measures flawed yet everybody with an open mind enjoys listening to. I will keep the ones in my weekend cabin in the woods forever. I have some theories why they sound good while showing measuring flaws.
I also enjoyed Element Fires for several years, but got a bit tired of them for my more analytical audio shrine. I was lucky an ambitioned friend made a great offer and still owns and loves them.
 

MattHooper

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To me, the Totem Dreamcatchers are one of those examples for something that measures flawed yet everybody with an open mind enjoys listening to. I will keep the ones in my weekend cabin in the woods forever. I have some theories why they sound good while showing measuring flaws.
I also enjoyed Element Fires for several years, but got a bit tired of them for my more analytical audio shrine. I was lucky an ambitioned friend made a great offer and still owns and loves them.

I’ve always found Totems to have a superficially attractive sound but I could not put up with their coloration for the long haul.
That said my fiend is currently using a small pair of Totem floor standing speakers in one of his systems and damn if they aren’t the most beguiling sound! A canny combination of a disappearing act, spacious soundstaging, with just enough upper frequency bump to bring out some vivid detail and give some liveness to guitars, cymbals, drums, but enough warmth and just the right bass balance - slightly warm but tight. I just want to keep listening to all sorts of music when I sit in front of them. (And they were to my ears particularly great when he had them driven with sone tube amps)
 

thewas

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To me, the Totem Dreamcatchers are one of those examples for something that measures flawed yet everybody with an open mind enjoys listening to. I will keep the ones in my weekend cabin in the woods forever. I have some theories why they sound good while showing measuring flaws.
I also enjoyed Element Fires for several years, but got a bit tired of them for my more analytical audio shrine. I was lucky an ambitioned friend made a great offer and still owns and loves them.
Their listening window and direcivities don't look really bad to me so I am not really surprised, have seen worse measuring loudspeakers from them.
 
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what would be a good crossover frequency for a sub with these? using a svs sb2000 and it's being a pita to integrate been using about 65hz
 

Old Iron

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I bought a pair for $250 at my local pawn shop in the mid 1990's with the original packing boxes and manual. They only ever sounded great with two of my many power amps! Audio Research D-500 and Urie/JBL 6260. I have them in one of my three indoor Electronic prototype shops. Set up as near field monitors. Your measurements confirmed all my questions.
 

Old Iron

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I plan to remove the crossover. Then bi-amp the drivers.
I use them near field because they fit in my proto lab.
After looking at some photos of the inside of the enclosure. There are many improvement I plan to test.
 
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