Monetarily Absurd Systems 101 / Monetarily ideal systems 102

A short revisit of Stereophile’s Totem Dreamcatcher review / A word about great Mini Systems

Regardless of merit, if any, of reporting on the sound quality of $575.00 speakers while using a $6000.00 (Audio Research R110 w/a Tube Line Stage Preamplifier rig)I’d like to make a couple of points.   Thankfully, Robert Reina also uses in his May 2011 Stereophile review, a Creek Destiny CD Receiver ($2200.00). Naturally, all of us who do equipment testing use a reference system, otherwise, we would have no standard of measure, and little clue as to how various components or speakers actually perform.  However, the absolute highest level of a system I would report results on for $575.00 speakers, would be something in this price range, in our case, the $2500.00 Reference Mini System (Teac Reference ADH660NT/PDH60).  Additionally, I tested these with several more real world priced systems, each including modest Integrates & Receivers from $350.00 to $800.00, and did comparisons with several monitors ranging from $279.00/pr to $2000.00.  In fairness to Robert, the Dreamcatchers do use such high quality parts that one must test them with ultra expensive equipment just to see where they’ll go?  However, it should be noted that the diminishing returns are with such a system as his, or our reference ($6000.00) will be well in play. I believe that most people building a system around these speakers will likely use them not at their absolute ultimate performance level , but ultimately, in their real world price class of $575.00.  

One of the Dreamcatchers most important design attributes, is that they DO NOT need amplifier rigs of the afore mentioned prowess to achieve 80 – 90% of what they are capable of.  As unfortunately do the vast majority of high-end mini monitors, and sadly, many lower end ones as well. This is where the honest genius of Totem’s chief Engineer, Vince Bruzzese, becomes so important, as all of his mini monitors are so well designed.  I also agree with Robert that they do perform like much more expensive monitor speakers, so  giving them a go with reference gear is irresistible. And it is only then that you can appreciate their measure of performance with modest electronics.  It should be noted that there are a good many speakers that will fool you.  Being relatively easy to drive and giving good performance with modest gear, yet really coming to life when hooked to high end equipment.  Thankfully, in my examination, at minimum, you’ll achieve 85% of the Dreamcatchers ultimate performance with modest “quality gear”, like our NAD C316BEE & C515BEE Integrated Amplifier & CD Player ($650.00 for the pair).  So for the quaint sum of about $1500.00 with proper accessories, the Dreamcatchers allow you do just that, “catch the dream of what super costly mini monitor rigs give you”, at a fraction of the price!  And for those who aspire to touch the rewards of a reference caliber system, but of smaller proportion and dollar amounts, the Dreamcatcher coupled with the Teac Reference electronics gives an extraordinary performance! Articulately broad frequency range and shockingly immense soundstage, easily tackling even highly complex material like symphonic music.  Quite frankly, a rare feet for any system at just $3350.00. But at the $3350.00 level, a nudge toward the Totem Mite should be considered for the paltry $200.00 more.  Clearly, a balance of modestly priced, but well chosen, high quality speakers and electronics makes for a most musically rewarding experience!  For testing I used all Ultralink interconnects, speaker wire, and line filtration.  We have all the tested models above here for your auditioning pleasure.

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