Hardware Reviews

Totem Element Fire V2 the reveal

Element Firev2 0253

Totem Element Fire V2 loudspeaker

The Element Fire V2 marks the beginning of Totem’s top-tier Element range. The V2 badge denotes improvements, most notably to the crossover and both drive units, and is said to have made the speakers easier to drive and position compared to the previous model. Canadian company Totem is a brand that sits a little under the radar in the UK, despite producing speakers of some repute for over three decades. In many ways this is surprising as everyone I know who has given Totem’s speakers a serious listen to talks highly of them. At the company’s helm is founder Vince Bruzzese, a man who has never shied away from forging a path against the accepted grain. His loudspeakers have a reputation for producing more bass than the size of their cabinets would suggest is possible and offering fine imaging qualities. Those familiar with my reviews may have noticed I have been using a pair of their Forest Signature floorstanding speakers at home for some while, they retail for only £200 less than the speakers tested here. Totem is not a company that continually chops and changes its ranges, the standard version of the Forest has been in production for over twenty years.

Design and build

In keeping with the brand, the Element Fire V2 is designed to blend well into living spaces. Unlike some of the competition, they do not try to impress with futuristic designs but look closer, and you will see plenty of innovative details. Take the shape of the beautifully finished cabinets, you will find a distinct lack of parallel surfaces, which is great for breaking up standing waves but not so good for putting Christmas cards on.

Totem Element Fire V2 white

The review samples were in Dusk, a high gloss black, the alternative finish being Ice, a High gloss white. Both types of finish are described as multi-coat polyester and the finish can only be described as stunning. The dimensions are listed as 422mm high, 224mm wide and 297mm deep, which due to the sloping panels, does not tell the whole story. For example, the cabinet is significantly taller at the front than the rear. I love how the bass/mid driver fills the entire width of the speaker’s baffle, at first glance it looks like a shouting emoji. The 25mm tweeter looks similar to the one used in the Forest Signature but closer inspection reveals that the unit here is very different, being made of titanium rather than aluminium, although it does have an aluminium face-plate. The 178mm Torrent mid/bass driver forms the basis of the Element range, with the Element Metal V2 being graced with two of them. Designed in-house and built by hand, it is said to contain many breakthrough technologies in the magnet system. A small, single bass port and WBT’s top-of-the-range platinum-plated four-way binding posts are to the rear.

The crossover is described as a first order design and is only used with the tweeter, the bass/mid driver effectively sees a straight path to the amplifier. Sensitivity is quoted at 88dB for an 8 Ohm, which suggests the Fire V2’s are reasonably sensitive. However, as I have found with other Totem speakers, they need an amplifier that can deliver high current. The quoted frequency range is 30hz-22khz, the lower figure causing me to double-take when I first read it, but in use, this seems believable. Matching stands for the Fire V2 are available at £635 which sounds like a lot of money for a pair of stands but is not unusual for a dedicated stand, and these ones do look incredible in the flesh. The distributor sent a pair of SS6 stands from Solid Steel and these were used throughout the review.

Totem Element Fire V2 drivers

Making Music

Keeping with the Canadian theme, I hooked up the Fire V2 to my mainly Moon Audio system – 780D DAC and 600i amp, fed by high-quality FLAC, WAV and DSD files via the new Melco N50-H60 server/streamer that you will shortly be reading more about in The Ear. The distributor must have known I was reviewing a Townshend cable loom that included high-quality bi-wire links, as no links were provided with the speakers. Tongue now removed from cheek, I have seen from the promo photos that they do exist, and so I assume they are usually supplied with the speakers. I would suggest the first thing said customer does is to remove them and place them in back in the box and use a decent speaker cable link.

Initially the Fire V2s were positioned with a slight toe-in, about 1.75m apart and 35cm from the rear wall, 1.5m away from the corners of my room. From the first note I knew I was going to love them, but I loved them more firing straight and 15cm from the rear wall. Moving them closer to the wall did nothing to stop them producing a wonderfully wide and deep soundstage and it greatly filled out the bottom octave without adding any sense of overhang or hindering their speed.

Totem Element Fire V2

Replacing the floorstanding Forest Signatures, there was obviously going to be less bass, but after a week I have forgotten about it and am just enjoying the music. The bass is completely in proportion in terms of both speed and tonal balance. For sure they do not produce the kind of bass you get from large cabinets, but I am sat listening to them now and they lack neither weight, depth, fullness and certainly not detail nor dexterity. The Fire V2 does not have the slight lift to the upper bass that you will find with some competitors, they produce the deepest, most natural bass I have heard from a small standmount speaker. As mentioned, Totem speakers are known for their sound-staging abilities. With the Fire V2, the cabinets disappear, there is just music that starts from slightly beyond one wall and finishes at the same point on the opposite side of the room. With appropriate recordings, there is plenty of depth behind the cabinets, and they project well forward, but never forcefully. Totems generally have a slightly richer and less forward presentation than some other brands, but that does not mean they sound slow or lack rhythm. I am listening to Bowie’s Blackstaralbum in hi-res and the drums are presented with all the speed and precision required, the bass is propulsive, yet the synths are like velvet, and the cymbals are subtly resolved and have a natural sense of air. Reverb effects are sprawling all around the room and brass instruments and vocal effects leap forward in the soundstage as they are supposed to. Blackstar proved to be a great album to demonstrate the sheer speed of the Fire V2. They are fast without any emphasis on leading edges, in fact, they are natural in the way they presented every type of music played on them.

Totem Element Fire V2

This is a speaker you can just sit back and enjoy, they do not emphasise what is wrong with bad recordings, you hear what is there, but it is possible to listen to it and enjoy great music that is not well recorded. Metallica’s …And Justice For All is famous for having no bass. Legend has it that Lars Ulrich all but removed it during the mixing stages, possibly to peeve new bassist, Jason Newstead. I listened to the title track in 24/96 and the Fire V2 produced an enjoyable musical experience. It allowed me to pick out the hints of bass guitar from the background and reproduced the power and scale of the drumkit. The guitars ripped through the das they are supposed to, yet without any unnatural s. The music of progressive rock band Tool is well recorded but can sound thin and edgy on the wrong system. Listening to the track Jambi from 10,000 Days was a mesmerising experience. My living room was filled with a three-dimensional soundstage, the reverb on the guitars making each instrument appear giant-sized, this was clearly the producer’s intention but I had not experienced it throwing such a huge image before.

Dave Brubeck’s Take 5 in DSD took on a new life via the Fire V2. It was convenient that our neighbours were away for Christmas, as I was convinced there was a drum kit on the other side of the living room wall, set up on their driveway. The cymbals possessed a natural sense of crispness yet with no unnatural harshness. Mr Brubeck playing his piano was over in the office next door. The saxophone sounded as breathy and vibrant as it ever has in my system, yet with a great sense of body. The music was delivered to near perfection and I was having fun. Who needs Christmas parties.

Totem Element Fire V2

Totem Element Fire V2 conclusion

I fell for the Element Fire V2 in a big way and could easily live with them. Naturally, there will be some listeners with different sonic priorities but in many ways Totem has made the perfect high-end small speaker. £6,995 is a lot of money for such an understated design, but when one considers the fabulous build quality, high-tech drive units and fabulously musical presentation, it is a fair price. As with most Totem speakers you will need an amplifier that’s up to the job of controlling the bass drivers if you are to get the best out of them. This last point was particularly highlighted whilst I was testing a small British amp for another publication a few weeks back. If you’re building a high-end system for a smallish room, try the Fire V2 first and if you love them as much as I did, build the rest of the system around them, they are that good.


Type: reflex loaded 2-way standmount loudspeaker
Crossover frequency: first order on tweeter only
Drive units:
Mid/bass: 7inch Torrent driver
Tweeter: 25mm titanium dome
Nominal frequency response:  30 – 22,000 Hz
Nominal impedance: 8 Ohms
Sensitivity: 88dB
Connectors: WBT bi-wire binding posts
Dimensions HxWxD: 422 x 224 x 300mm
Weight: 14.7kg
Finishes: piano black, piano white
Warranty: 5 years

Price when tested:
optional stands £635
Manufacturer Details:

Totem Acoustic
T +514-259-1062


standmount loudspeaker


Chris Baillie

Distributor Details:

T  01268 858222

Joint BV
T +32 465 03 89 45

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