Can the Totem Hawk Rock?

I was told by a dealer, who distributes both Totem and B&W that the Hawks are superior in every way to the B&W 704 except for volume (Note: the 704 is an excellent speaker). This particular dealer does not stock the Hawk, because he stocks the Staff and claims the two are so close in sound. I already know from second-hand research that I would prefer the Hawk over the Staff. However, I hate to ask the dealer to bring in the Hawk specially for me if there’s a chance I might not like their sound - thus my thread. I appreciate quick detail, image and clarity, a good soundstage, etc., but I do like to crank up the volume when the wife and kids are away. I'm from the old-school and like to "feel" the music right in my chest. When the dealer said the Totem's wouldn’t play as loud as the B&W's I thought I should ask you Agoners before I drive 3 hrs to listen to a pair of speakers that the dealer would have to bring in specially for me to demo. I've demo'd the 704's and was impressed with their ability to play loud, but I was not that happy with their overall sound.
Note: My listening room is small (12 x 15) - due to layout, I'm forced set up and listen between the shorter distance (12 feet). I can bring the speakers out 18 - 20 inches without freaking the wife out too much (that is the max though!)

Thanks in advance to your responses. Keep in mind, my budget is only $2,200.00 max. so no need to remind me of all the really great, but pricey, speaker choices.
Definetly. I am a big Totem fan, and have three different sets in my house. imho, they are much more musical than the b & w and sacrifice a little in bass. Haqing said that, I am always surprised at how good the base is in their models. the smaller room also is a good fit for the Totems. I would suggest an high current amp with them, there is clearly a difference between amps in my experience. Good luck.
The short answer is YES. I think as long as you have a good quality, high current amp, there shouldn't be any problem.

I brought in my McIntosh 7300 (300Wpc) amp into my Totem dealership here in Singapore and the totem hawk rocked w/ AC/DC and had a surprisingly good base response for these tiny boxes!

Having said that, if you like to play rock music at relatively loud levels, I'd demo the B&W 704s again, from what I heard, I actually liked the B&W 704's base performance better, it was quick and defined. I'd definitely choose the 704s for a house party. But then again, I think the Totem Hawk are much better overall speakers and are more musical in my opinion.

With your budget, you can go up one more to the forest, they've been listed here used for less than $2000.

If you have any questions on the Totem speakers, I'd strongly suggest you call up Totem Acoustic in Canada and speak to Vince directly. He's extremely helpful and you can always trust an expert opinion from the person who actually designed the speakers!

Good luck,


P.S. I think the hawk are certainly better sounding speakers than the staffs in every sense.
i would agree with the other posts. the hawks are a better speaker than the sttaf, and the forests are a better speaker than the hawks. the forest speakers have a better bottom end than the hawks but in your room, the hawks should be just fine. another option for you would be to listen to the totem mani 2's. a fantastic speaker. they are a larger monitor type speaker with dual (isobaric) woofers. i traded up from a pair of totem model 1's with a rel strata III sub to the mani 2's in my audio room. my audio room is about the same size as yours and the mani's work out perfectly. i also use a pair of totem arros in my 12 x 13 ft den. as for amplification, totem's need power and more the better. in your size room, a good choice of totem speakers would be: model 1's or rainmaker with a good fast rel or totem sub; or the hawk, forest, or mani 2. i would have my model 1's cranked pretty loud without any strain.

BTW, IMO, totem speakers blow away B&W speakers!
Rock?...realistically, at modest levels, rock'in would really need those speakers to be subwoofer assisted. I know I could easily send those drives into audible distress, compression, distortion, you name it. My suggestion for people wanting to rock with speakers such as these(by the way, the long wall will get you better sound easier likely, wiht less tinkering) is to cross em over with a pre/pro and enlist the help of a sub! Trust me, full range through a smaller passive speakers like those is going to be limited with high dynamic source material, most definitely. letting em play down to about 80hz crossed over yields 100-200% better dynamic range and headroom easily. yes, you might potentially sacrifice ultimite purity with some pre/pro's this way for music, but you more than gain in the dynamics. And, with some pre/pro's you can use "dirrect through-put" for more purity. Or, if your CD/DVD player is just so-so digitally, go digital dirrect and process that way...otherwise, leave your standard 2 channel set up for more delicate chores.
Basically, if you like the Totems(you'll have to listen), and you want to rock, you need to maximize dynamics, and some compromises might be necesary. Thus is the nature of the beast with passive setup's like yours. If you doubt, just pop in "Fluke/Absurd" or most any Metalica cut into your system playing full range (w/o a sub, full range) and listen to your speakers crying for help!..not to mention flat distorted, undynamic sound overall.
As for your concern about buying the Totems, I don't get it. Buy em and sell em if you don't like. I don't understand people's thinking they'll find the ultimate sound with "one shot"! don't work that way. Try em in your room/system and you'll know. Otherwise, you'll only assume/guess. It's a takes time. Throw it out there and see. If you're unwilling to "make second best chioces" with this stuff, you'll never know anything. Besides, they won't be your last speaker anyway. There's always more me.
I have a little Totem experience as a former Totem Forest owner and having dealt with a super Totem dealer and meeting many other Totem speaker owners on Agon, I feel somewhat qualified to offer suggestions here. There definately is significant improvement in performance as you move up the Totem line. I was all set to buy the Hawks until I heard the Forests. While both are good speakers, the Forests simply handle loud music better and will rock. Two separate dealers I trust told me the tweeters on the Hawks simply can't compete with the tweeters on the Forests. You can commonly p/u a pair of Forests under $1900 which (imo) is a great deal. If you really want to eaperience Totem sound, Rbstehno is a big proponent of the Mani 2s which I think is a step up from the Forest in soundstage and bass reproduction. Of course, good quality amplification is critical to yield all you can from these speakers. I'm not telling you the Hawk is not a good choice, only that for a few more $$ the Forests or Manis might be the way to go. Good luck.
If you add a-bit more for used pair you may have Forrests that are substantially better performers of nearly any kind of music...
Fantastic advice from all. I love this website...I'm hooked; had to get up early today (before the "honeydo's" and check for responses).
A lot of responses dealt with having sufficient power for the Totem's. So, give it to me straight, do I have enough power? I'm powering my speakers with an Audio Research D-240 (IMHO a good solid state amp). That's 240 watts per into 4 ohms or 120 per into 8 ohms (not sure what the math is for 6 ohms). Not sure what the Totems are; I assume 6 ohms? Anyway, it's a tuff little amp and my Musical Design tube preamp helps to smooth out the solid state sound. I'm running the Martin Logan Sequel II's just fine right now. I'm not sure how efficient the ML's are?
I will agree with Exertfluffer on auditioning any speaker in your room with your equipment. if you get quality equipment on audiogon at a decent price, you will be able to sell it again if you don't like it. Totem speakers sell pretty fast on audiogon.

I would not agree with Exertfluffer on driving these speakers into distress unless you cross them over at 80hz. If you were trying to get 115 decibels of sound in a 15 x 30 ft room, then these would not be your speaker, go with revel's, joseph, wilson watt puppys, or totem winds. you have a small room, it will not take much to produce loud music. when i had my totem model 1's with a rel sub, i ran the model 1's full range with no crossover involved. this was rel's recommendation. i had that system very loud with no breakup/distress. one thing to remember, you need a quality amp. if you don't, then the speaker would start breaking up because of the lack of power, not from the speaker not handling the power.
good luck!
..."I would not agree with Exertfluffer on driving these speakers into distress unless you cross them over at 80hz."

This statement doesn't make any sense! First, the Hawk is a 6 ohm, 86 db, two way design with one tweeter and a small 5 1/4 inch driver! This speaker, even with a 1000 watt per channel amp(or biamped for that matter) needs ALL THE HELP IT CAN GET TO HANDLE ANYTHING WITH REAL DYANAMICS!!!! Also, if you did cross those FLOORSTANDING "BOOKSHELF SPEAKERS"(which is what they are) over at 80hz, you would be getting much better dynamic control and power handling with these, because you'd be taking all the demanding bass load off of them, which would make your amp/speaker combo sound much much much more dynamic, controled, powerful, composed, un-compressed, and distress-free!! Your powered sub would then bring in the demanding bass dubties, just like any properly set up home theater or THX system. These low sensitivity, small driver music speakers can't handle the goods at any reasonable level with any level of control, impact, power, dynamics and or authority! They'll sound like small speakers in dire need of help if you really push them..and not just to 115 db! This speaker recommends on it's website "107 db" peak potential!!!!!...that's the extreme outside!. With an 86 db rating(not to mention small woofer) you would reach 106 with a hundred what amp. This is the outstrech of what they are recommending in terms of volume. yes, a larger amp will help control. But still, compresshion, distress, distrotion, and the outer limits will be quickly reached.
Then again, don't take my word for it. Just go buy them and try them! I mean you have the itch, right? Then, just plunk in some Techno, Metalic, rap, or even HT movies, play em full range, and just listen to those drivers beg for mercy!..not to mention the sound will be less than composed and powerful! Then, you can cross em over to a sub, and hear IMMEDIATE DIFFERNCE AND IMPROVEMENT DYHAMICALLY!(by the way, this is how THX recommmends things for a reason...passive speakers can't deliver mostly full range...they need help).
So when you pop in "Fluke" (track: "Absurd"). YOu'll know what I mean.
Seriously, if anyone here thinks a little 5 1/4 inch driver is going to rock your socks off, you are sadly mistaken! These are not pro audio, active, or large horn speakers with big bass woofers. They are dainty audiopile spaekers,that have serious dynamic limits. They can' be made to play hard and strong, but you must crossover and do bass managment of some sort, and enlist acxtive woofer as help. Sorry...that's the way it is. I've worked in 6 high end stores over 15 years, and done custom for many of those...not to mention I'm an avid 2 channel and HT junkie, who's constantly tweaking and trying out different gear for a living and hobby! I've "been there and done that". You can't expect small speakers to just change the laws of physics.
Anyway, the bottom line for you is to try this speaker and some combo's or setup preferences and see!
I'm just saying, if you think you'll pop in any hip/hop, heavy dynamic pop/rock/techo/whatever, and just wow your friends and neighbors with those dinky dudes, rethink. It's not going to happen. You'll be the only one excited, trust me. If you like those speakers enough, and listened, then consider bass managment(which effectively partially actively bi-amp's them) for rock dubties. Either way, you'll find out real quick.
Hey listen, I've sold Wilson's, Dunlavy's, Celestion, Meridian's, B&W's(not bettered by Totem, sorry), Totem's(complete line), Jm Lab's, Martin Logan, Aud Physic, NHT, Paradigm, Mirage, Maggies and Apogee's, Thiel, Def Tech, Sonus Faber, Boston, Polk, Klipsch, Infinity, and many others. And if Speakrs like Wilson WATT Puppies or Dunlavy SC1V's can't rock to their potential without some help, than neither can your delicate 86db 5" speakers! So be realistic.
BTW, The Mani two's don't have the greatest treble, and their bass is a bit thick and lumpy(as with most issobaric loaded woofers), and the Totem model 1's are soft and lack detail(compared to any of the B&W's Matrix or Nautilus series, which aren't as detailed as others even, yes!)
Exertfluffer, it is not about watts, it is about power. i have heard bob carver amps that claim 400 watts that did not produce the power of an onkyo 70 watt amp. you need a good 'powerfull' amp (not just an amp with a lot of watts) to drive totem speakers to their fullest. also, i would not crossover an audio speaker at 80hz, even if it is the THX standard, i don't even do that in my dedicated ht room.
i don't understand your response about a smaller speaker not producing a big sound. you don't want to overpower the room with speakers. 2chnlben claims his room is fairly small, so he will be able to get a big sound out of a smaller speaker. are you trying to tell everyone that he would need a large floorstanding speaker with an 18" subwoofer to get a full loud sound? i don't think so. also, what is loud? 80 decibels, 90, 100, ...? 100 decibels in a small room is pretty loud, especially when you are practically sitting next to the speakers.
2chnlben, your best bet is to bring home a pair of the speakers you like and listen to them using your equipment in your environment. if you like them, buy them, if you don't send them back or sell them. Nobody can really tell you how a speaker system is going to sound in your environment.
BTW Exertfluffer, i have never heard of a review of the mani 2's indicating that the bass is lumpy and thick. my guess is that you were listening to them using an amp like the Carver i talked about above instead of a good quality amp!
Thanks guys. I realize I need to demo different speakers and ultimately try them in my listening environment. The dilemma is that I need to drive 3 hrs east to demo the Totems and 3 hours west to demo Thiel (two brands I'm interested in). That's why I really do appreciate all your input - it does help in my decision-making. Now, I do have a B&W dealer practically right next door to me. I may have to audition the 704's again. The reviewers seem to like the 704's, but I wasn't overly impressed with them. My budget is going to allow me the B&W 704; Totem Hawk; Thiel CS1.6; or something else I'm not familiar with. Have any of you done any comparisons with the three I mentioned? I realize that there are some killer bookshelfs in this price-range, but I think I need a bigger speaker for the lower end.

I'd again recommend the Totem Hawk for your situation. They certainly can't play as loud as the B&Ws, but in your small room, 100dB (which they can definitely play without compromising sound quality @ about 2m away) will cause serious ear damage if you listen for more than couple of hours.

If you're a party animal and need to blast windows and shake walls, look elsewhere. But I think the Totems will serve you right. I have not demoed any Thiel speakers, so I can't quite comment on those, but I hear they're excellent as well.

I've demoed the B&W 704s and the Totem Hawks with less than 2 minute break between them (in Singapore's Adelphi building) and I liked the Hawks better. It was quicker, had extremely good imaging (didn't try too much off-axis) and awesome soundstage. Plus they're significantly smaller than the B&Ws so it'll be nice for your small room.

As for the lack of bass extension mentioned by Exertfluffer, I dissagree. The Totem Hawks were certainly missing the very bottom octave, but they weren't designed to reproduce the very low 20Hz-35Hz frequencies. But they had very good bass response when I demoed them in a room about your size. It was nicely detailed, quick and loud enough. If you are obsessed like many of my friends are, you'll need a sub-woofer, even for the B&Ws. The bass does go a little mushy if you really turn up the volume (again, probably an uncomfortable level for your room).

I'd recommend that you actually do take a day or a weekend off to demo the Hawks and the Thiel speakers. It'll be worth it and see which one YOUR ears prefer before you spend $2200.

Good luck,

Thanks Spacekadet. I look forward to auditioning that speaker. Rbstehno has peaked my curiousity about the Mani 2's. I've been reading about them. I learned something new - that a small bookshelf can actually produce good deep bass. The Mani's are expensive though. I might be interested in used.
Nrchy. VERY nice system!! I would love it. But, I am asking people to comment on "real-world" budget speakers! What I wanted to know, is, FOR THE MONEY (approx. $2,200) what are the best performing speakers. I think Totem, Thiel, Green Mountain, the little Von Schweikerts and even B&W are "good" speakers in that budget range. If I won the lottery, I would opt for your speakers!

Thanks anyway.

i have auditioned many different brands and types of speakers before deciding on the totems. the thiels were too bright for me and did not have any bottom end what so ever. b&w speakers, just so-so, nothing stood out. joseph, from their bookshelf to the pearls, audio physic, all very nice. revel studios and salons, wilson watt puppy 7's, wilson maxx, vandersteen 5a, all very nice and if i had a HUGE room to play them in. with the totem's, they just produce a musical sound that i can listen to for very long periods of time without fatigue and they cost quite a bit less compared to the revels, vandersteens, wilsons, etc. i have had 3 pairs of totems so far and have been very pleased up to this point.
totem also does some amazing things to get a big sound from such a small speaker. read the reviews on the totem arros (i also have a pair of these). reviewers are amazed on the big sound coming from a 4" woofer. (before i get blasted from somebody, i would not recommend this speaker if the listener wants to rattle the windows in a 30' x 15' room).
the only way to audition a pair of speakers is to install them in your home, using your own equipment, in your own room. that is going to be the only way you will know if they will sound the way you want them to. there are many decent deals on audiogon and other places for used totem speakers right now. go to the different audio sights and read the different reviews on the speakers you're interested in. then make a good deal with an audiogon'r on a newer used pair and
listen to them in your environment. if you don't like them, sell them for what you paid for them and do it again until you find what you are looking for. for $2200, there are a lot of choices.
good luck!
If I were buying used speakers in that price range I would get a pair of Sony SS M9's. The only worry I have about them is that they might be too big for your room. They are a great speaker inspite of the name!