figuration. When allowed to break-in for several hours, the speakers open up and reveal excellent midrange and vocal characteristics. They do need a subwoofer to reach the lowest octaves of bass, but once a sub is added, they sound superb.
I’ve reviewed several very good in-wall speakers from various Canadian manufacturers, and the Totem Acoustic Inner Spirits are near the top of the list of my favorites. The company makes a wide variety of highly musical (and
highly regarded) floorstanding, onwall and in-wall/in-ceiling speakers and several subwoofers. The Inner Spirits are Totem Acoustic’s latest inwall speaker offering. It’s a rather simple, plain looking two-way speaker, with a 5-inch, long throw DST Revelator woofer (Danish Sound Technology, designed by ScanSpeak) and 1.14-inch SEAS soft-dome tweeter with a shallow wave-guide. The Inner Spirits incorporate a one-piece aluminum enclosure internally laminated with MDF. They are simple to mount in new construction or retrofit installations and are secured to the wall with four aluminum dogleg clamps. But don’t let this speaker’s simplicity fool you; behind its plain appearance is amazing performance. From the start, I heard terrific transparency, openness and detail on almost every disc I played through the Inner Spirits. They sounded remarkable from rock to classical, vocals to instrumentals, and everything in-between.
One of my favorite SACD recordings is Ultimate Mancini [Concord Records] featuring a collection of the late composer’s best work, performed by his daughter, Monica Mancini. Her voice quickly reveals the strengths and weaknesses of a loudspeaker, and in this case, the strengths. Perhaps a better word for transparent is invisible, which is precisely the way the Inner Spirits sounded. They revealed all of the subtle details and warmth in Mancini’s voice that make this a good recording, and those same qualities extended to the orchestra that accompanied her vocals. The harp in “Music on the Way” sounded crisp, distinct, and lifelike. Similarly, the Inner Spirits brought Renee Olstead’s voice alive on “Taking a Chance on Love” from the artist’s eponymous album [Reprise Records], faithfully reproducing inner details and all of the dynamic and tonal range for which Olstead is known. It’s the accurate reproduction of the harmonics of instruments and voices that make recorded music sound authentic and the Inner Spirits do this very well.
The Inner Spirits presented a broad and almost three-dimensional soundstage that extended well beyond the outer edges of the speakers and that was capable of producing strong, wellfocused center images. In “It Had to be You” from American Songbook II (J Records) Rod Stewart’s voice appeared front and center, and both Stewart’s voice and the brushed cymbals on this track sounded exquisitely detailed. The piano, too, had a sharp, incisive attack, indicating quick transient response. The speakers have wide off-axis response, which is essential for home theater sound given that some viewers invariably wind up sitting off-center from the sweet spot. Finally, the Inner Spirits offer midbass response that is taut and welldefined, though their low frequency response reaches only to 50Hz. With the addition of my two subwoofers, however, they sounded much fuller.
Totem Acoustic has combined premium drivers, a good crossover, and a solid enclosure to produce an in-wall speaker system that rivals a well-tuned in-room speaker. They are trransparent with excellent detail and have a broad soundstage with lots of depth. They may have a simple, plain appearance, but they also have a distinctive sound that’s hard to beat.