Where many manufacturers opt for boring type numbers for their products, Canadian Totem Acoustic always manages to surprise with resounding names. This time I get to work with the V2 version of the Element Fire stand mount speaker. Totem Acoustic speaks of a Bookshelf speaker, but that is not the correct description given the size and price, € 7,799 per pair of Totem Element Fire V2. This speaker deserves a good stand and nice placement in the listening room.
Totem Element Fire V2 – Specs and features
The Totem Element Fire V2 is a large monitor, 22.3 x 42.2 x 29.7 centimeters, with a different design. To eliminate standing waves as much as possible, only the baffle and the bottom of the cabinet are at an angle of ninety degrees to each other. The top and sides are oblique, which gives the Fire a special appearance. Totem itself speaks of Geometric Cabinet Design. The speaker is available in a choice of black or white high-gloss lacquer. The finish is excellent. Without the magnetically attachable front, the black version delivered to me has an industrial look that is somewhat reminiscent of a professional studio monitor, but in a luxurious jacket. Both loudspeaker units are encased in a matte black aluminum ring and the tweeter has a fine-mesh metal shield so that it is safe from stinging children’s fingers. The woofer is a 7-inch model with the Torrent technology patented by Totem. As a result, no crossover is required for the woofer, which ensures that the musical energy is reproduced unimpeded. The 1 inch aluminum tweeter is designed in such a way that it fits seamlessly with the Torrent tweeter and has a wide radiation area. This makes the hot spot less critical for the listener. At the rear, the bi-wire WBT terminals can be found, which are placed in a large aluminum plate. Totem specifies a frequency range of 30 Hz to 22 kHz, which is very good for the bass reproduction, given the cabinet size. A stable amplifier that delivers a power of approximately 50 watts is enough to get the Fire V2 playing, although the efficiency of 88 dB suggests that a little more power is pleasant. The nominal impedance is 8 ohms, which makes the speaker amplifier friendly. Despite the reflex port on the back, the Fire V2 can be placed relatively close to the back wall, according to Totem. The minimum is 20 centimeters. The distance between the two speakers is not specifically stated but described as ‘dependent on electronics and space’.
Set up and connect
To set up the Fire V2 I use my sixty centimeter high Sound Organization stands which are filled with silver sand and therefore form a solid basis for the speakers. This puts the tweeter at exactly the same height as the normally used floorstanding Audiovector R3 Arreté speaker. About forty centimeters from the back wall and more than two meters apart gives the best result in my living room of forty square meters. A slight toe-in provides the best stereo image. My Devialet 220 Expert Pro serves as an amplifier. Recently I switched to ROON audio software in combination with an audiophile Silent Angel Bonn N8 network switch, Forester F1 power supply and a NUC with Sbooster power supply. A Bluesound Vault Gen2 acts as a NAS in this setup. Atlas Hyper and Mavros Grun Ethernet cables are used for the cabling. Atlas Ascent Grun single wire speaker cables and jumpers connect the speakers to the amplifier. Clean power comes directly from the meter cupboard and is distributed over the equipment by an Atlas Eos Modular junction box and Atlas Eos Superior power cords.
Although the supplied Element Fire V2 speakers were already used a lot, judging by the many address stickers on the outer boxes, the reproduction is a bit disappointing with the first sounds. This is when watching some television programs. Highs and lows do not seem to match well and the voice-over is not part of the rest of the broadcast. I decide to let the speakers play almost continuously for a few days with internet radio via ROON as the source before planning a second listening session. This time I’ll start with music from the NAS to make sure the source material is okay. Swallowed Up (In the Belly of the Whale) by Bruce Springsteen, a bonus track on the Deluxe version of the album Wrecking Ball, gets the ball rolling. The first thing you notice is that this Totem Element Fire V2 starts building the stereo image behind the speakers and that it continues very far back. The big drum with which the track opens sounds powerful and very realistic. It lacks some of the physical impact of my Audiovector floor uprights, but the bass reproduction is really beautifully drawn. The reproduction is very dynamic, which can be heard well with the wind section. Bruce’s voice sounds very realistic and is completely detached in the deep and wide stereo image. Hey Now by the band London Grammar is a track that floats on the bass lines. With the Fire V2 it sounds low, given the relatively modest cabinet volume, very full and deep. Especially when you consider that the speakers are placed freely in the room. However, it does not overshadow the fine taps on the snare drum and the voice of Hannah Reid is loose and at height in the deep and wide stereo image. The albums of singer Lori Liebermann are always beautifully recorded. Not surprising when you consider that high-end audio guru Mark Levinson is often involved in the recordings. You Can’t Take It Back is a very beautiful recording that is flawlessly translated back into the listening room by the Fire V2. Instruments have a beautiful natural timbre and realism. Lori’s voice is completely separate from the instruments in the room, but nailed in place. You can almost walk past Lori between the different instruments. What applied to all previous tracks was the ease of conveying the tension or message in the music through the speakers.
With Let Her Down Easy from George Michael’s album Symphonica, the Totem loudspeaker again does not disappoint. The emotion in George’s voice is unmistakable and gives the music weight. In addition, the excellent transfer of the room atmosphere and the audience present. The micro details are a fraction less than I am used to from the Audiovector tape tweeter, but that is almost nitpicking. It is a small step from subtle to over-produced. Miley Chris and Dua Lippa sing Prisoner, the Fire V2 treats to a wonderfully solid bass foundation. Overlaid with Miley’s raw voice in an electronic mix of distortion and Dua Lippa in between. The speaker reproduces the music very dynamically and knows how to build a very good 3D image. Although it is nice music, I still grab some subtlety. Ellen ten Damme sings a number of French chansons on the album Paris Live. One of them is La Vie en Rose. The Totem Element Fire V2 again shows fantastic the room in which music is played. Ellen is exactly at height, lifelike in my living room, there is peace in the reproduction and dynamic it is perfectly fine. Her voice goes from whisper soft to full throttle, but the speakers have no trouble keeping up with these swipes. Bells and cymbals in the background are subtle but clearly audible. Breathlessly I listen to various parts of the album including Alors on Danse, the bass drum is fast, detailed and powerful. The backing vocals and wind instruments are placed far at the back of the soundstage and are really rocking. These speakers seem almost made for reproducing live music, they know how to physically disappear from the room and only the music remains. De Stilte may be a strange title when reviewing speakers, but it is a beautiful song from Rob de Nijs’ latest album. The characteristic warmth of his voice is immediately audible from the very first note. You can hear from everything that Rob is experienced and somewhat tired, but conveying the message is still unprecedented. I listen to the music with tears in my eyes. The music is nicely layered, recorded with real instruments, each of which has its own place. After all, close up with Donna Summer. In Love Is In Control, the clipping of the fingers in the intro can be heard short and dry. A wide and deep stereo image is created. The tight and detailed layer provides a solid foundation and many electronic sounds can be heard in the mix. The horns are spot on, every trace of sharpness is missing, it is especially fast and lifelike. The mix is completely unraveled without losing unity.
Totem Element Fire V2 – Conclusion
The incoherent rendering that I thought I perceived at the beginning of the review turned out to be only an honest and truthful reflection of the recording. The Totem Element Fire V2 shows exactly what the recording quality is like. What you play is what you get. The Torrent woofer is exceptionally good and provides speed and great layering in the bass reproduction. The tweeter, in combination with the Geometric Cabinet Design, creates a fantastic stereo image in which the depth of it is particularly noticeable. The somewhat lower efficiency of the speaker is something to take into account when matching your amplifier, but that is the only ‘downside’ I can come up with. With this Element Fire V2 you get a top class stand-mount speaker that is guaranteed to set you on fire!
- Layer view
- 3D Stereo Image
- Pronounced appearance
- Match with amplifier