Totem Acoustics Kin Play soundbar review

Inside CI 5 Rating

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posted on Saturday, 25th June 2022 by Steve May

High-end  home cinema  Hi-fi  Soundbar 

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Canadian Hi-FI specialist Totem Acoustic has an enviable reputation for high performance no-nonsense loudspeakers, and that unwavering commitment to solid sound is evident in the Kin Play soundbar and Kin Sub 10.

Suitable for movies and music, and both wired and Bluetooth wired sources, this impressive 2.1 system is a perfect partner for big screens in larger rooms.

This Kin Play soundbar is part of a wider Kin range that encompasses Bluetooth bookshelf and tower speakers, conventional monitors and centre speaker, and CI architectural in-wall and in-ceiling models.

The bar isn’t Dolby Atmos compatible, but offers a forward facing stereophonic driver array.

Kin Play And Sub

Totem Kin Play Soundbar: Design and features

Build quality and finish is immediately impressive, but there’s no fancy design flourishes. This system is sizable and has furniture grade heft. The soundbar weighs in at 17.23kg, and measures 152 x 1200 x115mm. It’s best partnered with larger flatscreens, 55-inches and upwards.

The forward facing grille can be removed, but aesthetically that’s not the best idea. A large, clear central display window relates the usual stuff like input status, volume, tone control, and EQ; helpfully, this vanishes after 15 seconds, so as not to be distracting when the lights dim.

The soundbar employs customised KIN Natural Hybrid woofers and two Metal Alloy tweeters, all driven by some gutsy digital amplification. As it’s sans Dolby Atmos, there are no height or side aligned drivers.

The feature roster is similarly stripped back, at least when compared to immersive models from rivals. Equalisation settings are available for different content, but that’s as far as post processing goes.

Connectivity is less accommodating than we’d like. The bar may be stereophonic, but we’d still liked to have seen an HDMI connection with ARC, which would greatly simplify media room integration.

What we actually have is an optical digital audio input for TV audio, plus analogue stereo RCA phonos and a 3.5mm jack. Wireless support comes via Bluetooth 5.0 with Qualcomm aptX HD.

The soundbar ships with a wall mounting template, but is equally at home on AV furniture. Sound isolation feet are supplied. There are two colour options, black or satin white. Our sample was the former.

The soundbar has on-body controls for power, volume control, Bluetooth pairing, input selection and EQ, although most users will opt to use the dedicated remote.

This zapper also has learning functionality so that it can control select TVs (LG and Hisense models are specified). When there’s no audio input for 20 minutes, the Kin Play automatically drops into Standby. Similarly, when it’ll wake up again when an audio signal is detected.

Completing our 2.1 system is the Kin Sub 10, a wireless partner for the soundbar. A sealed box design, this big bass box features a formidable 300W amplifier and 10-inch driver. It takes up a fair amount of floor space, but puts it to good use.

The pairing button on the soundbar is centred at the bottom of the front display, and on the back panel of the subwoofer. There’s a wired subwoofer output option, if you have a different subwoofer waiting in the wings.

We were up and running in minutes.

Totem Kin Play Rear Panel

Totem Kin Play Soundbar: Sound quality

Any qualms we had about the lack of Dolby Atmos immersion were quickly quashed. This system sounds absolutely immense, creating a wall of sound that can’t be ignored.

The soundbar isn’t short on power. It plays loud and with total conviction. Crank up the volume and the soundstage holds its integrity, without distortion or loss of focus. The 2x75W amplification rating isn’t hyperbole, this soundbar has formidable power.

A run through of our favourite streaming shows proved immediately satisfying.

Even without the paired subwoofer, the bar offers a fulsome bass, as its 4-inch woofers attest. However, add the Sub 10 and its performance becomes persuasively seismic.

There’s a nice top end to the Kin’s presentation, courtesy of those 2.54cm metal alloy dome tweeters. This keeps TV dialogue clarity high without falling victim to sibilance.

With movies and music, the soundbar is fast and agile, and sounds somehow larger than it actually is. Visceral sound effects are jarring, and it slams when required

Remember that the Kin Play bar doesn’t have a Dolby Digital decoder, so all source outputs need to be configured as vanilla PCM.

The soundbar offers six EQ settings: Pure, Concert, Movies, TV, Night and Games.

The Pure mode is the default and is best defined by its natural smoothness. The Concert music mode adds a toppy uplift, while Movies enhances dynamics. The Game mode gives bass and treble a bump.

We preferred the Pure default, particularly when listening to music.

Not only is the soundstage musical, it’s wide. The dispersion on this soundbar is phenomenal, making it ideal for larger rooms. Unlike a conventional stereo speaker system, there’s no overt sweet spot.

You can position yourself, within reason, at any axis and enjoy a coherent stereo image.

Totem Kin Play Soundbar: Verdict
When it comes to power and presence, the Kin Play soundbar can’t be faulted. It delivers a bookshelf-speaker style stereo soundstage in a soundbar form factor, and there’s power aplenty; with the Sub 10 handling deep bass, it’s dynamic too.

Of course, the lack of Dolby Atmos and HDMI will be an issue for some, but few will fail to be entertained by the Kin Play’s purist, two-channel approach. Build quality is also superb.

We think the Kin Play is a brilliant option if Bluetooth music streaming is high on the wants list, and it takes movies and TV shows in its stride. Highly recommended.

The Totem Acoustics Kin Play soundbar is available now through Redline distribution.

Steve May

Inside CI Editor Steve May is a freelance technology specialist who also writes for T3TechRadarHome Cinema Choice, Trusted Reviews and The Luxe Review.

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