The new bookshelf loudspeaker from Montreal's Totem Acoustic looks almost identical to the company's legendary Model 1 from twenty years ago.
That speaker, like the new Sky, was housed in a small enclosure that packed a musical wallop. It was refined, too. So much so that my choice for my first reference came down to it and Stuart Tyler's ProAc Tablette Signature. I went with the signed Brit. And loved it. It was my reference for several years. All the while my friends with the Totem kept reminding me of the 1's superiority in many audiophile checks and balances.
Since leaving teaching two decades ago, Totem's owner/designer, Montrealer Vince Bruzzese has spent that time developing Totem into Canada's premium and most successful loudspeaker brand. A nicer man you will not find in high end audio.
I haven't read anywhere in the promo material that the Sky is anything but a new product. It looks very much like the original article, but with a Morel sourced woofer (tweeter by Germany's Muller). The original drivers were from Dynaudio and SEAS. Either way, with its gorgeous mitred cabinetry and good looks, it's a new fangled Model 1 in all but name. And it certainly mimics its sonic signature.
Also copying the Model 1, the Sky's innards uses cross bracing and a dense borosilicate paste to inhibit unwanted reflections.
This time, Totem has also designed matching stands to accompany the Skys. They work perfectly and should be purchased alongside the speaker.
The Sky sound was easy to pin down for review. They're fussy with placement (well clear of back and side walls otherwise the drivers complain with an edge) but sounded superb right out of the box -- they will wow you with their dynamism and coherence.
For the relatively modest price of CAD $1,850/pair, these are a blockbuster of a deal. To get similar qualities from continental and Scandinavian manufacturers, you'd be paying three or four times the price. And with the loonie at a low point, the deal gets even better.
So, why such a deal?
First, I've not heard bass as fulsome and powerful as this from a bookshelf, well, ever. Maybe the Magico Q1. But you're paying 25K for the Magico privilege. The Sky's bass goes down to 50 Hz or so, but feels and sounds lower. And with no bloom or bloat, it's punchy and refined.
But as Bruzzese knows how to voice a crossover, the midrange and treble match the bass for refinement and coherence.
Electronic music such as London Grammar sounded particularly good on the Skys. The accurate bass was very impressive and the purity of the 'instruments' highlighted the definition of the refined drivers.
Classical music also sounded larger than life if not quite as refined. Daniel Barenboim's 5 CD set of Schubert Sonatas is a fabulous new collection. When the speakers were placed near the back wall, the sound was infused with some grain. Moving the speakers out into the room cleaned things up nicely. Barenboim's exquisite touch was heard readily. And when macro dynamics were demanded such as the opening movement of Bruckner's mighty Ninth Symphony, the power handling of the woofer's 75 mm voice coil was exceptional. A mighty sound from such a small enclosure. Remarkable.
To summarize, what we have here is a steal of a high end loudspeaker. At the MSRP, I can confidently call the Sky a game changer. Bruzzese has been changing the game for some time -- the Model 1, the stand mount Mani-2, among others. And let's not forget the 'beaks' and 'claws'.
The Sky lacks the ultimate refinement in musical delivery of the very best, and far more expensive, loudspeakers. Yet, its bass delivery and power handling are something to behold. For those, and for a litany of musical reasons, the Sky should be on your audition list, even if you're looking to spend considerably more. Very highly recommended.
Type: Two-way bookshelf loudspeaker
Frequency Response: 48 Hz to 29.5 kHz
Impedance: 8 Ohms
Sensitivity: 87 dB/W/m
Recommended Power: 30 to 125 Watts
Crossover Frequency: 2.5 kHz (First Order)
Speaker Terminals: Four-way bi-wireable
Dimensions: 6.35" x 12" x 9" --- 16.2 cm x 30.5 cm x 22.9 cm (HxWxD)
Further Information: Totem Acoustic