What Hi Fi Sound and Vision Fri, 6 Jan 2006, 12:00pm

Totem Arro

Tested at £1200
80100
4

The Arro is an accomplished design, and will work well in most systems – but the competition is mighty stiff

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For

  • Slender looks
  • expansive soundstage
  • fine integration

Against

  • Could sound weightier
  • could sound more detailed

When talk turns to compact floorstanders, the name Totem will invariably be invoked. These Arros have undergone any number of detail changes (and a 20 per cent price rise) since we last looked at them back in February 2006; but their tiny cabinet dimensions of 85 x 13 x 18cm remain unchanged.

Totem has revised and upgraded the Arros’ crossover, capacitors and 19mm textile dome tweeter.

What it hasn’t addressed, sadly, is the Arros’ entirely unsatisfactory plinth arrangement. The supplied, spiked plinths don’t bolt or screw to the speaker cabinets – instead, you must use the supplied sticky pads, Blu-Tac or similar to create a union. Does that sound like £1200-worth of speakers to you?

With plenty of playing-in time under their slender belts, and with minimal toe-in, the Totems are, fortunately, talented enough to make you forgive the indignity of their plinth arrangement.

Arresting stereo focus
Nils Frahm’s The Bells positively revels in the Arros’ distinct, wide-open soundstage and vivid imaging. Dynamically adept, rhythmically surefooted and musically up-front, the Totems offer fine timing to accompany their arresting stereo focus.

There’s impressive togetherness to the Arros’ sound, a seamless integration from the bottom of the frequency range to the top.

The bass-hungry may raise an eyebrow at the flyweight low-end presence (Totem admits mass-loading the cabinets might be an idea), but what bass there is, is four-square, tonally varied and solid.

In fact, the Arros cover their tracks well – they’re not the punchiest, the most transparent or the most detailed speaker here, but they are among the most vibrant and musical and, as such, ought to feature on any short-speaker shortlist.

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