My first opportunity to become intimately acquainted with Totem Acoustics was through my previous Hi-Fi+ review of the Sky Tower loudspeakers last fall. I admit, a bit sheepishly, that after being bowled over by the Sky’s crisp holographic presentation I had casually come to regard Vince Bruzzese’s Totem as a speaker manufacturer whose bread was buttered with floorstanders. Naturally I was quite intrigued when I got the nod to review Totem’s freshly reimagined V2 model of the Fire bookshelf monitor. The upscale new Fire V2 speaker sits on Totem’s tippity top shelf in their pinnacle Element series. Anticipation of experiencing Totem through a two-way bookshelf monitor continued to build daily until I routinely found myself making trips to open my front door just to see if I could glance the UPS truck turning down my block.
When the doorbell mercifully did ring quite late one hot summer evening, I confess I had not the self-control to wait even one more night before greedily tearing into the boxes. For a few spellbinding moments it was unclear if I was love struck by the shape of the Fire’s sexy tapering trapezoidal lines, or if I had actually hit my head on the front door jamb and my vision was still a bit woozy from impact. You see the new Element Fires are quite visually beguiling being purposely constructed to avoid any parallel lines, an effect that can become an optical illusion of sorts. To my eyes (and my faithful onlooking Sky Towers who were certainly turning green with envy) the unique shape was most definitely aesthetically pleasing. Visually arresting is only half the story though, the unique shape of the Element Fires are said to achieve phasing coherence and bass accuracy in the lowest octaves. The shape attempts to avoid any standing waves which will help enrich clarity in the midrange band and minimise cabinet resonance.
My review pair was ‘Dusk’ coloured and virtually shone under three splendid coats of lacquer. The lacquer was so luminescent it might as well have been adorned in a diamond necklace, or so it seemed as the speakers were dropped into place front and centre of my home system. One of the improvements from the V1 to the V2 version of the Fires was a far larger sonic sweet spot so, it being late in the evening already, I set them up square about 6’ apart or so and let ‘em rip. It took no more than a half a minute listening to my first track before the sonic jungle quickly overtaking my living room signalled that everything I knew about monitor playback was about to get flipped right on its head.
The Element Fire is anchored in Totem’s success with their Tribe series. The Tribe’s celebrated 100mm version of the world-famous Torrent driver inspired Mr. Bruzzese to see how far he could push the envelope with a fairly priced bookshelf monitor. Vince isn’t shy about letting the industry know he feels he has created a dead ringer with the V2 Element Fire. Vince has anointed the Fires as “the finest monitors on the planet.” How is that for booting a new set of speakers through the curtain out into the spotlight? No pressure, right? However, big talk aside, for your entry fee it is easily demonstrable that these new versions of the Element Fire are packed and then re-packed with so much improved technology that your head is going to get woozy. Or wait, maybe that’s because you are still looking for parallel lines in the speaker cabinet.