I hooked up the Tribe Towers to my Jeff Rowland Continuum S2 integrated amp and started by spinning up a few 90s rock, alternative and hip hop albums, taking me back to my high school days. A journey back in time, like this, is so easy these days thanks to streaming music services. Oh, the beautiful memories this brought back – my shoulder length, jet-black hair (which has mostly ran away), my first car (an 80s Ford Mustang; no not the cool V8 model, the 4 cylinder version with faded gray paint), my Yamaha electric guitar and my first not-exactly high-end Kenwood audio system. Luckily most things have changed for the better since my high school days, including the musical fidelity at which I enjoy the music. Many of these 90s albums were actually recorded quite well but my equipment at the time simply wasn’t capable of that kind of performance.
Playing these albums through the Tribe Towers exposed the music’s true beauty and scale. The vocals of Kurt Cobain, Eddy Vedder, and Noel Gallagher sounded warm, genuine, and full of emotion. Tracks from various Beastie Boys albums sounded powerful and energetic. The Tribe Towers produced a clean and expressive midrange which made vocals and instruments sound very natural. Voices sang melodically, while string instruments offered a realistic sense of texture. The high frequencies sounded crisp and detailed, without being etched or tiring. Bass lines on rock albums played tunefully and offered great articulation. Overall, the Tribe Tower presented me with a lush and musical sound that was a great pleasure to enjoy.
If you enjoy pop, hip hop, or music that’s bass-driven in general, you will be very pleased with the full-bodied bass from these speakers. The Tribe Towers punch well above their size in the bass department. Despite the compact cabinets, these speakers are capable of reaching remarkably low frequencies without breaking a sweat. And it’s not just a boomy, single-note bass that so many other small speakers are guilty of. The Tribe Towers demonstrated that they have an excellent grip and control of the bass frequencies. As a result, the bass notes played with a richness and energy that made these styles of music a joy to play. You know a speaker is very special when it has the power to get you out of our seat and dance around the room – that’s exactly what happened to me just about every time I listened to the Tribe Towers. Every single family member and friend that I played music to, commented on just how great the bass sounded. This only helped to confirm my own findings. If you love music with a good bass, you’ll definitely love these speakers.
The Tribe Towers may look like divas, but they are actually refreshingly easy to work with, in terms of placement in a room. Many high-end speakers are very finicky and require great attention to placement in order to achieve the best sound. The Tribe Towers on the other hand are very forgiving and versatile. They offered a great musical performance when placed close together, spaced far part, in a small room, and even in my large, L-shaped open-concept flex room. They also sounded great when I didn’t sit directly in front of them and that makes them a perfect speaker if music makes you dance. Just as importantly, these speakers managed to seriously energize even my largest room, offering the sense of not just listening to music but feeling and experiencing it, no matter where I stood in the room.
Does your taste in music lean more toward jazz, blues or classical? Recently, as I continue to expand my musical horizons, I’ve been on a journey to learn more about classical music, with a little help from my good friend and NOVO contributor Phil Gold. Listening to classical pieces from Beethoven, Handel, Dvorak and Vivaldi, demonstrated just how good the Tribe Towers were at creating a three dimensional sonic image. Their excellent imaging allowed me to hear instruments positioned precisely behind the speakers, as well as far off to the sides of the speakers. To me, soundstaging is paramount in a speaker – it’s one of the factors that differentiates a good speaker from a great one. The Tribe Towers were also capable of clearly delineating the different layers of the music. I could easily focus my attention on individual instruments or sections of the orchestra, and hear the nuances that each offered. Dynamics were also impressive from a speaker of this size. When the balance shifted from quiet musical passages to loud, room-filling moments, the Tribe Towers were always up to the task.
There is no other way to put it – the Totem Tribe Tower is a knockout success. The musician inside you will love it for its sound, while the interior designer inside you will adore its timeless beauty. With a price of $5,300+ US it’s not a speaker you’ll find in a big box store but it’s also not out of reach to whose looking for a high performance speaker that will bring them many years of joy. To me, it’s worth every penny of its asking price and more. After 14 years of publishing this magazine, it’s not that easy to impress me, yet this speaker managed to do so in spades. There are lots of great audio products out there, but only once in a blue moon I meet a product that is as special as the Tribe Tower – that’s why I’m pleased to present it with the NOVO Exceptional Choice award recognition. There’s simply nothing quite like the Tribe Tower. Well done Totem!
For more info about Totem products, check out www.totemacoustic.com