Sound and Vision
AT A GLANCE
Extended bass for a compact speaker
Solid build quality
Finicky about setup and placement
The Totem Acoustic Sky delivers dynamic, exciting sound for a compact speaker, though it requires careful placement and equipment-matching for best results.
Compact “bookshelf” speakers have their advocates, but I'll admit up front that they've never been my bag. I guess you could say there's something about the stateliness of floorstanding towers that appeals to my personal taste. And then there's the problem of the shelf itself: every time I've tried to listen to compact speakers installed in a place where books would typically sit, I've been thoroughly unimpressed with the sound. Flat imaging, indistinct bass—to me, those are the hallmarks of shelved speakers. Not a problem for background music, but for critical listening, stands are a must.