Totem Rainmaker

Totem Rainmaker

April 16, in Hi-Fi Systems Reviews


  • Frequency Response: 42 Hz -20 kHz ± 3 dB Impedance: 4 ohms minimal
  • Sensitivity: 87.5 dB/W/m. Maximum sound pressure
  • 107 dB before dynamic compression Minimum Power: 20 Watts at 4ohms Maximum Power: 100 Watts Crossover: 2.3 kHz 2nd order Woofer: 5 1/2”.
  • Tweeter: 1” aluminum dome. Chambered Dimensions: h 14 x w 6.8 x d 9” approx. size Volume: 9 litres (internal)
  • Weight: 5.8 kg ( approx. 12lbs
  • Manufactured in Canada
  • Price: $950 in Mahogany or Black Ash,
  • $1050 for Cherry or Maple Veneer

One of the most fascinating things as a reviewer is hearing how manufacturers with great reputations for having “golden ears” can produce speakers with such different sound characteristics. In the past few months especially, I’ve been lucky enough to sample a definite variety of monitor cabinets. In each case the sound signature was quite original, yet in character to other pieces in that company’s lineup. Recently, I had the opportunity to step up one level within a single manufacturer and experience what takes place with a design that is graduated above a smaller model, yet fits nicely between a classic model above it. I am speaking of the Totem Rainmaker, a small monitor designed to fit in between the MITES below it, and the well-respected Model 1 Signature.

Totem Rainmaker reivew

The Rainmakers arrived a few months back after an exchange of emails with Nico Bruzzese in a wonderfully rich mahogany finish. When I first saw the box with the finish label I was a bit timid, as normally I prefer the redness of mahogany as an accent wood. Instead, I was delighted with how attractive they looked. Now, granted, the rainmakers are not a big speaker, and thankfully the real veneer is not the brutal red vinyl of the Polk 10B’s of my college days.

Totem Rainmakers

The second surprise is how solid yet light they feel.* The knuckle rap test gave off a solid, yet higher pitch than other speakers about the same size, yet lower than the MITES which I own. Like all Totem speakers, each cabinet is hand crafted taking a couple of hours to build. All pieces are lock-mitered for a solid joint, and internally, they are vertically braced. As with all Totem speakers, the inside is veneered, in following designer Vince Bruzzese belief that consistency is crucial to proper performance. The exterior front and back edges are beveled Last year in an interview with Vince Bruzzese described how by using specific mathematical tables he can select drivers that are synergistic. After further comparison a final choice is made. It is important to keep in mind that Vince designs speakers that specifically create an emotional connection to the music. This may explain why Totem speakers are considered to be slightly “sweet” by some listeners. In the case of the Rainmakers, a one inch aluminum tweeter with a grill is matched with a 5 ½ multi-layered paper cone. The crossover is a point-to-point design using pure copper wiring and quality capacitors. The drivers are positioned more towards the top of the cabinet leaving a good 4 inches from the bottom, giving the illusion of being a taller speaker then they actually are. The optional grills further accent this visual cue. The back contains a single small tuned port near the top and dual binding posts for those wanting to bi-wire.

Listening Totem Rainmaker

About 90% of my listening sessions were conducted before my wife and I moved into our temporary apartment. To be on the safe side I took very copious notes with which I am using to write this review. The Rainmakers received my usual break-in treatment. Specifically, 111 hours of continuous play in a closet shrouded by a heavy blanket. They were then placed in a spare bedroom while they awaited their turn with the main rig. During this delay, they were hooked up to my HK PM665 VXI integrated amplifier. Although, the Rainmakers are only rated at 100 watts they had no problem handling the 150 wpc of the HK, proving again the old and trusted axiom, that amplifier ratings and speakers are a misnomer.

Totem Acoustic Rainmakers review

The room is a nice size for semi nearfield monitoring at 11x13ft. The standard bedroom furniture does limit the ease that sound waves can travel unimpeded. But then again, most rooms for the average joe are imperfect. I began by listening to the happy, party music of Huey Lewis and the News cd Sports. With its upbeat tempo and catchy lyrical hooks it made for a fun introduction to the Rainmakers. My first impression was that the high frequencies were a bit more natural than with the MITES and Dreamcatchers. Cymbals had a calmer ring to them, the vocal choruses, always a part of Huey’ repitoire, were nicely envolved and carried some three dimensional quality, giving each voice a bit of room to work.

Next up was my current James Taylor cd on my playlist, October Road. He is one of the few pop artists whose voice has truly improved over the years. On top of that is his effort/demands that the final product is acoustically a fine sounding work and not compressed into a sonic mess. The vocals in the track “Caroline” are simple, clean, and demonstrate a resonance that on the Rainmakers exuded the slightly lowering of his vocal instrument after 32 years of recording (the cd dates from 2002). The beauty of this is that many speakers can’t duplicate this layering of past and present. The Rainmakers did this to a degree beyond what I heard on the MITES. This treat became even more important when played in conjunction with the Jolida 1501 integrated or my reference Onix SP3 tube amplifier.

Once with the main rig, sitting on the sand-filled Celestion Si stands, and the Jolida JD100 cd player (modded) and the SP3, the Rainmakers demonstrated a level of aptitude that debatably was even better than the Polk LSi7’s (regretfully, the LSi7’s were sent back during the break-in period on the Rainmakers, leaving only my auditory memory and notes to compare). I can say that the Rainmakers produce an outstanding bass response for such a small cabinet, with a nice, tight, punchy bass that corresponds to its 42hz rating.

Playing a variety of jazz, both contemporary and traditional showed how nicely the rainmakers enjoy playing in a common-sized living room. Using my favorite bass test track “Gaia” by James Taylor, the thunder-clap was explosively realistic, and without hang. This showed tremendously quick transients, a hallmark of Totem speakers. The quick bass was just as evident during the driving beat of the late great John Entwhistle, in the track “Eminence Front”. The quickness of the driver was outstanding, allowing the notes following each pluck to have its own moment to shine.

After many cd’s of enjoyment, I pulled out the second collaboration of Tim Weisberg and Dan Fogelberg in No Resemblance Whatsoever. This pairing of music and speakers was stunning. I listened to the combination a total of eleven times, nine of which took place in the living room. It’s one of those rare synergies where everything lines up perfectly to one’s ear. I can remember the same thing upon hearing Bonnie Raitt’s “Nick of Time” played through the Celestion SL6si’s, the sound was so jaw-dropping I bought the speakers that day.

Every track exudes a clarity that left me writing just one word notes “stunning. pure, intimate”. Weisberg’s flute playing which is fairly breathy, can sound a bit intense was amazingly smooth on the Rainmakers while keeping its treble pitch. Fogelberg’s acoustic guitar work in the track “Todos Santos” with its classical Mexican heritage warmed the room.

What about classical? Late one night while packing I found my long lost copy of George Gershwin’s An American In Paris. In the dark, the sonics were exceptional. The woodwinds floated in space, presenting an almost surreal experience of being in the middle of the orchestra. Of particular note is how the Rainmakers delivered the oboe solos, in my mind one of the most difficult of instruments to reproduce.

Totem Rainmakers back

Like all speakers, the Rainmakers do have their limitations. Hard rock is not their forte, yes they replicate the music competently, but the purity isn’t there. Maybe its because so little heavy metal is recorded cleanly. Classic rock does fine as there is some refinement of instrumental nuances. But in reality, I can’t imagine too many MegaDeath fans buying Rainmakers. The point being, these monitors are designed for speakers that show the talent of fine musicians.

Conclusions about Totem Rainmaker

The Totem Rainmakers are a speaker designed for those who enjoy detail and imaging. In conjunction with a fine pair of stands and a willingness to place them out from the back and side walls at least three feet, the Rainmakers become a stunning performer. With a solid dealer network from coast to coast in North America, those looking to purchase a small monitor will do themselves a favor in giving the Totem Rainmakers a serious audition.

Associated Equipment: 

  • Harman Kardon PM665Vxi , Onix SP3
  • Onix CD5
  • JoLida JD100
  • Jolida 1501
  • Totem MITES
  • Apple iPod 60 gig (AIFF only), Zebra Cables
  • Celestion Si stands

external link: Rainmaker on Totem Acoustic website

from affordableaudio, By Mark Marcantonio

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