Published On: October 9, 2009

Totem Acoustic Tribe 12-Inch In-Wall Subwoofer

Published On: October 9, 2009

Totem Acoustic Tribe 12-Inch In-Wall Subwoofer

It wasn't that long ago that in-wall subwoofers weren't even a speaker category. Today, with the rise in importance of high end in-wall speakers - in-wall subs have become all of the rage as they take up no floor space. Read the full HomeTheaterReview.com review here.

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If you asked me to think of a thin and flat audio/video product, the first thing that would come to mind would be a flat-panel TV. The last thing that would come to mind would be a subwoofer. That's why the Totem Tribe subwoofers caught my attention recently - at less than four inches deep, the 12-inch and eight-inch Tribe models are two of the slimmest in-wall subwoofers around. Naturally, I wondered what kind of bass such a sub would produce.

I had the opportunity to check out the 12-inch Tribe subwoofer (SRP: $1,995). Measuring approximately 17 inches wide by 28-and-one-quarter inches high (at the outside of the mounting frame) by three-and-three-quarters inches deep, the Tribe (I love the fact that Totem Acoustics gives their speakers memorable names, as opposed to something like the X22-1013A MKII) includes a 12-inch flat-cone driver, complimented by a 12-inch flat-cone passive radiator and an outboard rack-mountable 500-watt BASH high-efficiency amplifier. The woofer has a five-inch voice coil and the passive radiator is "specifically damped and weighted," according to Totem's literature, to perform optimally with the woofer. The frequency response is 26Hz - 250Hz.

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Featuring a flat magnetically attached grille, the mounting system allows for direct stud or open wall mounting and fits between two stud bays. The subwoofer features a full back-box design and is constructed using three-quarter-inch MDF and a rigid aluminum frame. The grille is absolutely flat up front. The Tribe 12-inch subwoofer is designed to compliment the other Tribe on-wall, in-wall and in-ceiling speakers in the Totem lineup, and can obviously also be used with other manufacturers' speakers.

I have to say I was skeptical about how much bass such a skinny sub would deliver, until I heard it. This subwoofer produced plenty of clean, tight, punchy bass in a large-ish demo room, and played quite loudly (the spec is max SPL at 112dB with 400 watts) without any sense of strain or breakup. The purpose-designed woofer, passive radiator, enclosure and built-in amplifier work as intended. Yes, it's not a big-box, 18-inch megawatt behemoth, but for many listeners and installations, I think it'll deliver as much bass as they'll ever need, while being completely unobtrusive in a home theater installation.

Read more about the Tribe subwoofer on Page 2.

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High Points
• The Totem subwoofer is designed to fit easily into a wall, for new construction as well as retrofitting.

• It puts out a surprising amount of clean, powerful bass.
• It blends seamlessly into a custom home theater installation.

Low Points
• If you want big volume in bigger rooms, a standalone 15- or 18-inch
powered subwoofer is going to produce more sheer "grunt" for loud
listening.
• Since it's an in-wall subwoofer, figure on hiring a professional
installer, unless you're one of those fortunate people capable of doing
it yourself.

Conclusion
The Totem Tribe 12-inch in-wall subwoofer incorporates novel,
purpose-built drivers in a slim package less than four inches deep, and
also includes a 500-watt amplifier. Despite its compact configuration,
it delivers powerful and clear bass while blending invisibly into a
room.

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