I listen to a lot of vocals, and while I wouldn’t characterize the Signature One as merely a “voice” speaker, this is a critical area for many audiophiles. The Signature One has, as noted, a more forward presentation. Vocalists and soloists take a step closer to the listener. With a singer like Diana Krall singing “I’m Confessin’ That I Love You” from Turn Up The Quiet, I could identify a bit more lift in her upper register. The articulation between a lead singer and background harmonies is also a Totem strong point, and I enjoyed the soaring backup vocals of Randy Meisner in support of lead singer Bernie Leadon during The Eagles’ “Bitter Creek” from Desperado.
There was a tonal region in the vocal range that was a little less to my liking. There’s a suppression of energy in the mid/upper mids that emphasizes the breath of a singer at the expense of some of the vocalist’s body. I could hear this during Ella & Louis’ version of “They Can’t Take That Away from Me” in the way the singers’ chest tones seemed a bit diminished, and detail and air in the upper harmonic region were accentuated. Admittedly, I may be an outlier in my sensitivity to this relatively narrow issue, but it is a factor to consider.
The Sig One was not merely a quick, peel-out-and-burn-rubber compact. It actually has fairly broad shoulders that impart authentic gravitas to recorded music. Totem claims mid-40Hz extension, and I have little reason to doubt it. While this is not quite pipe organ territory, this little speaker leaves the impression in the bottom octaves that it is playing well beyond expectations. The Totem’s upper bass and lower midrange also fare well, providing a satisfying (though not completely full) amount of heft and muscle for orchestral winds and lower strings, and percussion. I was more than satisfied as I listened to cello soloist Pieter Wispelwey perform Bruch’s Kol Nidrei. Reproducing a string section’s power range is a tall order, but the Signature One was more than game, although it couldn’t quite muster the deeper, extended resonances of the music in the hall. Descending into the midbass I could hear some port augmentation on bass drum explosions, timpani thwacks, and vigorously bowed acoustic bass. All things considered, these are relatively minor quibbles. To be fair, if you’re hoping to get full transparency in this region, then your expectations for a thirteen-inch-tall two-way are probably a little out of whack.
Devotees of the two-way monitor, myself included, have always wrestled with the inherent limitations of this segment of loudspeakers. We’ve come to terms with the fact that bottom-octave extension and PA-level output will never be parts of the résumé. However, Totem Acoustic continues to push hard against these boundaries, continually widening the performance envelope of the small speaker and raising the expectations of aficionados. The Signature One is the widest expression of Totem’s grand quest thus far.
Specs & Pricing
Type: Two-way, bass-reflex compact
Drivers: 1" aluminum dome tweeter, 6.5" mid/bass
Frequency response: 45Hz–22kHz
Impedance: 8 ohms
Dimensions: 7.7" x 13.8" x 10.6"
Weight: 19.5 lbs. each
9165 rue Champ D’Eau
Montreal Quebec Canada