Totem Mani-2 Signature review

At first glance you may not be tempted by the Totem Mani-2 Signature speakers – but start listening and they are spectacularly capable performers Tested at £4600.00

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

Trust your ears and not your eyes with these Totems and you’ll end up with some of the finest standmounts available


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    Stupendous bass power and authority for the size

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    cohesive and highly musical sonic balance

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    excellent build


  • -

    Perceived value is low

Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.

Ordinary isn't a word normally associated with high-end kit. Yet outwardly, it suits Totem's Mani 2 perfectly: at first glance, there's little about them to suggest anything special, even though these speakers have been in production for two decades with just gentle tweaking.

Dig deeper, and there's far more to these two-way ported standmounters than is initially apparent. The solid cabinet is made from variable density MDF, with the denser layers sitting closer to the exterior.

This helps control resonances, leading to a cleaner sound. Each enclosure's corners are mitre-locked too, which allows for greater glue area, improving strength.

The Mani-2's other stand-out feature is its use of two mid/bass drivers. These are mounted one behind the other, and work in tandem. In theory, this allows a halving of cabinet size without loss of bass output.

Twin drivers make fine bass
It also reduces sound coming through the cone from inside the cabinet. As for materials, a 25mm metal dome tweeter and polypropylene mid/bass don't sound particularly impressive next to exotica such as diamond, beryllium or kevlar found in rival designs, but then every material is a compromise of one sort or another.

Besides, drive-unit integration here is simply superb. Vocals are articulate and brim with emotion when required.

Whether you listen to the immaculately recorded Sanctus on the Opus 3 label or Alicia Keys' The Element of Freedom, the Mani-2s deliver midrange with top-class agility and naturalness: the sound really is spellbinding.

Despite being relatively small, the Totems are capable of stupendous scale too, lacking nothing in authority even compared with rival floorstanders.

That twin-driver arrangement is clearly worth the trouble: these speakers produce arguably the deepest, most powerful bass we've heard from standmounters.

Top-class timing and dynamics
Play Massive Attack's Heligoland and the Mani-2s spit out the lows with venom: usually the downside to such extension and power is a loss of agility, but not here. The Totem's timing and dynamics are top-class too: they also convey the drama of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring brilliantly.

Issues? You'll need a powerhouse amp, plus plenty of room and a pair of heavy stands. The drive unit array means they don't like being pushed too hard: at a certain volume level the drivers say ‘go no further'.

Finally, you should use refined electronics, or you'll provoke some edge from the tweeters.

So, the Totems aren't exactly perfect. No matter: when it comes to outright enjoyment, we can't think of any rival speakers we prefer for this money.

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What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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