Totem Tribe Duo speaker review

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posted on Saturday, 22nd July 2023 by Steve May

home cinema  Hi-fi  Loudspeakers 

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When is a soundbar not a soundbar? When it’s the Totem Acoustic Tribe Duo. This large front-facing speaker array from the Canadian Hi-Fi specialist has the form factor of an all-in-one, but is very much a conventional speaker array, albeit in a single cabinet.

Totem describes the Tribe Duo as a ‘solutions bar’ - which makes it particularly interesting to integrators. Naturally, we had to take one for a spin!

First seen at ISE 2020, the Tribe Duo is part of a wider range of speaker solutions from the Hi-Fi brand, which also include bookshelf and tower speakers, architectural in-wall and in-ceiling models. We reviewed the Totem Kin Play here, and this model boasts a similar mix of build quality and refined performance.

The Tribe Duo is available in two colour finishes, Black and White Satin. It comes with a matching magnetic grille, which pops off should you feel the need to bathe in the beauty of its drivers.

Typical applications would be in a media room environment, where it’s necessary to serve TV and movie audio, as well as music.

The Duo was supplied for review with a Kin 10 subwoofer. A sealed box design, it features a 300W amplifier with single 10-inch driver.

Tribe Duo And Sub

Totem Tribe Duo Soundbar: Design and features
The Tribe Duo may look like a soundbar but it doesn’t offer any direct inputs for nearby sources, and isn’t Wi-Fi or Bluetooth enabled.

A passive speaker design, the Duo sports chunky bi-wired gold speaker binding posts and relies on outboard amplification. There’s a choice of connection options: bare wire, spades or banana plugs.

The Tribe Duo has clearly been designed to be wall mounted, although the speaker could just as easily be mounted on AV furniture. Placed flush on the wall, it looks very smart indeed.

The sealed cabinet is substantial. It weighs in at 10.8kg and measures 144.8cm x 15.7cm x 9cm (w/d/h); it’s best partnered with screens 65-inches and larger.

Build quality is excellent, with a premium finish. The Tribe Duo has a Variable Density Fiberboard cabinet, which we’re told helps reduce unwanted resonance. The enclosure is hand assembled, and the drivers are a design unique to Totem.

Duo Binding Posts

Totem Kin Duo Soundbar: Sound Quality
Just a few songs in and we were immediately struck by how musical the Tribe Duo is. It sounds like a pair of high quality bookshelf speakers.

That’s because the enclosure conceals two full-range speakers. There is no centre channel, this is a stereo offering. The step up model, the Tribe Trio does indeed offer a centre channel speaker, should you need it

The font facing array comprises two 101mm Neodymium Activated long throw woofers and a pair of 25mm Soft Dome tweeters.

Their distinguishing characteristic is excellent vocal quality and toe-tapping dynamics.

Jim Steinman’s theme from eighties rock movie Streets of Fire, ‘Nowhere Fast’, with its rapid fire synthy-piano beat, funky guitar and Meatloaf-style chorus (Meat went on to record his own version) presents wide and high, instruments beautifully delineated.

The all-in-one design means you don’t have to muck around toeing in speakers for the ultimate sweet spot.

Synths, it seems, are a happy place for the Duo. Sparks ‘The Girl is Crying in her Latte’ album has oodles of electronic detail to enjoy, and this speaker obscures nothing.

The Tribe Duo does orchestral gravitas too. The title track to the symphonic score of Demon Souls, which is all choral chants and melodramatic strings, illustrates that the speaker can discern a multiplicity of instruments and present them coherently, without any unwanted blending or sonic coagulation.

Theatrics are solid too. Star Trek: Strange New World sounds reassuringly cinematic. The various bleeps and hails of the Starship Enterprise are placed wide, while dialogue, which is crisp and clean, appears to be coming directly from the screen above.

The Tribe Duo has pronounced midrange weight, and excellent high frequency definition, courtesy of those domed tweeters. There’s weight too, so much so that a subwoofer might seem superfluous to some projects.

Magnetic Grille (1)

Totem Kin Duo Soundbar: Verdict
We think the Tribe Duo is a multi-talented speaker enclosure that potentially solves a host of problems for integrators. Its convenient soundbar form factor makes it relatively easy to accommodate, and it performs well with TV and movie material. If there’s no requirement for immersive audio, its stereo presentation is suitably wide and filmic.

It’s also a great solution for music playback. The cabinet is wide enough to provide genuine stereo separation, and baked-in imaging means that it sounds great straight from the box.

If you're looking for a media room solution that offers a high level of musicality in an all-in-one package, the Totem Tribe Duo warrants enthusiastic recommendation. This Totem speaker is a winner.

The Totem Acoustics Tribe Duo 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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