About a year ago, I was at the High-End Show in Munich. That was the first time I saw and heard the d100 by Totaldac. Actually, it was not the original d100 – it was the d100% wood which is an upgrade of the original version.
To be quite honest, I was not impressed by the looks, but I knew better than to draw conclusions based solely on appearance. I stayed for a short sound demo, and it blew me away. Right from the first tone. It sounded relaxed, natural, and highly detailed, yet not too analytical. And it sounded big. It was a speaker with authority. I genuinely liked it.
Ever since the High-End show, I was looking for a way to spend some more time with these speakers. However, since Totaldac doesn’t have official distributors in the US and I don’t travel often to France, it was a long quest.
Luckily, I recently found out that an acquaintance of mine from New York has a pair of Totaldac d100 speakers and is willing to let me test them. Imagine my excitement! It wasn’t the d100%-wood version I heard at the High-End show, but I was still happy like a child.
He is in the process of building an entire Totaldac system, gradually replacing his older components with Totaldac gear, which gave me a chance to feel the synergy some of these Totaldac components create when paired together. Let the fun begin.
If you disregard the boxy design, you will be rewarded with a performance you don’t hear every day. d100 speakers are highly detailed and dynamic. They can be big and rough, but they can also be soft and gentle. Their natural presentation will captivate you and give you a great deal of enjoyment.
- Impeccable build quality
- High-quality components
- Impressive sonic balance
- Dynamic audio performance
- Great deal of detail
- Massive bass (but not overpowering)
- Big soundstage
- Big footprint and boxy design
About the Speaker
d100 was introduced two years ago, at the beginning of 2021. I assume the speaker was supposed to be premiered at the Munich High-End Show 2021. Sadly, the event was canceled, and d100 didn’t have the premiere it deserves. The next year, Vincent Brient, the founder of Totaldac, introduced the upgraded d100% wood version. That’s the version I heard at the Munich High-End 2022.
Let’s find out more about the Totaldac d100 – the original one.
Design and Build
The original d100 is a simple-looking, boxy floorstander with a gray finish. The cabinet is made of Baltic birch plywood, which is arguably one of the best materials for speaker cabinets. After all, engineers used it to build airplanes back in the day.
On the front, you have two exposed drivers, a horn tweeter, and two bass-reflex ports at the top, one on each side of the horn.
d100 is not the most refined-looking speaker in its price range. I find it a bit too ordinary, but that’s just me and my taste. And I’m talking strictly about the design. The build quality, on the other hand, is impeccable. You won’t find any irregularities, unfinished edges, discolorations, protruding screws, etc. Every single piece was carefully assembled. After all, this is a premium speaker.
If you want your speakers to stand out, you can contact Totaldac and ask for a different finish, but that will cost you extra. From what I’ve seen on Totaldac’s Facebook page, they have shipped d100 speakers in chestnut and shiny piano-black finish.
Totaldac d100 speakers are hard to miss in a room, especially a smaller one. The footprint is quite big – they are 46.5″ tall, 12.6″ wide, and 18.5″ deep. They weigh 92.6 lbs, so placement can hardly be handled by one person.
Totaldac d100 houses two huge 12” drivers. At first glance, especially if there’s not enough light in the room, they look the same. But if you take a closer look, you will notice the difference in materials. The bottom driver is somewhat blacker than the upper one. It looks as if it was coated with something. That’s because these two drivers have different purposes. The bottom 12” driver is in charge of bass reproduction only, while the upper 12” driver also handles the midrange.
|Totaldac d100||DRIVER ARRANGEMENT|
|Bass Driver||12” x1|
|Bass/Mid Driver||12” x1|
|Compression Horn Tweeter||1” x1|
At the top, you have a non-metal horn paired with a 1” compression tweeter. On each side of the horn, there are front-firing bass ports.
On the rear panel, right at the bottom, there’s a pair of top-quality Mundorf binding posts. Unlike many other bulky floorstanders, d100 speakers don’t have two pairs of binding posts for bi-amping/bi-wiring. That’s because the sensitivity of these speakers is so high that you don’t need extra power to drive them. Even low-power tube amps should have no problem getting the best out of these speakers.
As we all know, there’s no good high-end speaker without a high-quality crossover. Totaldac d100 crossover is made of selected film capacitors and air coils. The wiring is done point-to-point using only the components’ legs (no PCB trace was used). The inductor coil for the woofer was made from 5mm2 copper wire and was so huge and heavy that it had to be mounted on a large piece of wood. Then, they had to make custom brackets inside the cabinet to mount this piece of wood with an air coil on it.
Speaking about the crossover, the d100 is a 2.5-way speaker – one bass driver, one bass/mid woofer, and one tweeter. All the frequencies above 3.5kHz are handed over to the compression tweeter. If you are wondering whether that huge 12” bass/mid woofer can handle midrange up to 3.5kHz, don’t worry – it’s a surprisingly capable driver.
The first thing Vincent Brient likes to emphasize is his speaker’s sensitivity. So, let’s start with that. The sensitivity is 98dB (measured at 1m/2.83V), which makes d100 super-easy to drive. You can pair it with almost any amp you can think of and get amazing results. Even low-power tube amps are a perfect match.
|Totaldac d100||IMPORTANT TECHNICAL SPECS|
|Frequency Response (in-room)||35Hz-20kHz, bass cut-off at 25Hz @ -6dB|
|Sensitivity (@ 1m/2.83V)||98dB|
Vincent published his own frequency response measuring on What’s Best Forum. The in-room frequency response ranges from 35Hz to 20kHz, with the bass cut-off at 25Hz (-6dB).
As you can see, it’s fairly flat all the way to 20kHz, with just a minor dip at 150-160Hz. The dip was caused by sound reflections – the sound bounced off the floor and reached the mic. So, it’s not an anomaly in performance.
Price, Upgrades, and Other Considerations
The current price of the d100 speaker, if you live in the EU, is €16,900 (VAT included), while the price for buyers outside the EU is €15,900 (or $17,900). Two years ago, when the speaker premiered, the price was significantly lower – it was €13,900 for EU-based buyers and €12,800 for non-EU buyers. I guess the inflation and a global supply chain crisis had a massive impact on speaker prices as well.
If you want a separate subwoofer that perfectly matches the tonal characteristics of the d100 speaker, you will have to add €8,000 (EU) or €7,350 (non-EU) for the sub-d100.
To provide the best possible protection for your d100, you can get the flight case for the speaker. The price is €1,250 (EU) or €1,050 (non-EU).
|Speaker/Upgrade||Price (EU)||Price (US)|
|d100||€16,900 (VAT included)||$17,900 (VAT excluded)|
|sub-d100||€8,000 (VAT included)||$8,300 (VAT excluded)|
|Flight Case for Speakers||€1,250 (VAT included)||$1,180 (VAT excluded)|
As discussed earlier, d100 is available in different finishes, but the default is dark grey. If you want a different finish, you will have to ask for it. Also, if you want a grille to cover the drivers, you have to order them separately.
My d100 Set-Up
When I came to New York to visit my acquaintance, his Totaldac-based audio system was already assembled in his listening room and tuned to perfection.
The system consisted of d1-Streamer-mk2, d1-Core DAC, d1-Driver-mk2 (stereo version), and a single Amp-1-mk2 driving both d100 speakers. As a music source, we used his NAS library connected to the streamer as well as my TIDAL and Deezer playlists I made especially for this occasion.
Besides the Totaldac audio system, we gave some playing time to a system he only uses for vinyl. This system comprises equally beautiful (and expensive) Technics SL-1500C-K Direct Drive Turntable, McIntosh C12000 hybrid preamp, and two McIntosh MC3500 Mk II Tube Monoblocks. He usually uses them to drive a pair of DYNAUDIO Contour 60i floorstanders.
The d100 speakers were placed about 4’ from the wall (the one behind them) and roughly 10’-12’ from my listening position. I wondered whether they are too close to the wall and was afraid the bass may sound too boomy, but it turns out you can save some space when the bass ports are on the front.
Ok, now that we have everything set up, let’s hear it.
Since d100 comes from France, I decided to make a playlist centered around French artists, to make it feel at home. That’s something I like to do when a speaker or headphones come from a country other than the US or UK.
I started with a beautiful song called Le Vent Nous Portera by French Band Noir Desir. However, I went for a version of this song performed by Sophie Hunger, from the album 1983. The first time I heard this version was at the end of the movie “My Life as a Zucchini“, and it brought me to tears. Since then, I’ve heard this song on many different speakers and audio systems, so I know how it should sound.
Right from the first note, Le Vent Nous Portera played through hd100 gave me chills. It sounded full and warm, just as it should. Sophie’s whispering voice enters the stage and d100 puts it right in the center of the stage. The voice blends perfectly with the music.
Overall, Totaldac d100 sounded balanced, detailed, and musical. This giant can be very gentle when you need it to be. That’s what this song needed, and that’s what d100 provided.
Sophie Hunger, Le vent nous portera, album 1983
Going further through my playlist, I streamed a hit single Je Veux by a French artist ZAZ. The song is centered around Isabelle Geffroy’s addictive vocal performance.
I used two songs with dominant female vocals only because I wanted to test the speaker’s midrange performance. To be honest, I was skeptical about that huge middle driver and its ability to deliver detailed and accurate midrange reproduction. I was absolutely certain d100 can deliver massive bass, but I was not so sure about the midrange. And I was proven wrong.
Not only does this huge 12” bass/mid woofer deliver clear and balanced mids, but it’s also fast, dynamic, and so natural.
ZAZ – Je Veux
Going through the digital library, I wanted to try something bassier and went for another French artist called Willy William and his song Ego, released in 2015. This song has a cheering vibe with lots of bass and a fantastic rhythm.
D100 handled this with authority. This type of bassy sound is actually d100’s playground. These speakers deliver the kind of thump that raises the hair on your head and messes with your heartbeat. If you are standing close, you can feel the air pushed by these massive 12” woofers.
And one more thing – these beasts like it when you play them loud. They don’t lose control, even at painful volume levels, and the output is distortion-free regardless of how much you push them.
The level of detail and the size of the soundstage are massive. Even at lower volumes, you can hear the most subtle nuances. To me, they don’t sound too analytical – it’s more of a resolving and engaging sound that forces you to listen to them more and more.
One more thing – the synergy created by using Totaldac components along with d100 speakers is amazing. They play every tone in unison as if they have known each other for years.
Ego by Willy William
As we switched from the Totaldac audio system to Technics turntable and beautiful McIntosh tube amp, I played Voglio Vederti Danzare from the reissued LP L’Arca Di Noè by Franco Battiato. It’s one of my all-time favorite songs, the one that lifts me up in my hardest moments.
Listening to Voglio Vederti Danzare through d100 was a transcending experience. I admit– I even danced a little, even though I have just as much sense of rhythm as the deceased author of this song. This happened only a few times in my life, so there had to be something special about this occasion. It was the d100 and its musicality. It forced me to stand up and move clumsily, trying to make some dance moves.
Totaldac d100 partnered naturally with the high-end McIntosh amp. It sounded more open, airier, and slightly warmer.
The treble doesn’t have a huge extension, but it’s present and natural. There were no harsh, shrilling, or sharp tones regardless of the volume level.
Voglio Vederti Danzare by Franco Battiato
By now, I think I know exactly what kind of sound d100 speakers like, and I feed them with one of the latest Ghost’s singles, Mary on a Cross. It’s one of those songs that hits you right in the head from the first note.
As it opens up, the bassline underpins the track – it’s strong and fast, but not dominating or overpowering. On top of the bassline, you hear a guitar and a heavenly-sounding synth. Then, Tobias Forge steps onto the stage, the whole image widens, and the instruments surround him creating a perfect blend.
Totaldac d100 delivered a detailed and consistent presentation with impeccable clarity and accuracy. It transported me right in front of the band and gave me the ride of a lifetime.
Mary on a Cross by Ghost
While there are many alternatives in d100’s price range, and most of them look more refined, very few speakers can deliver the same level of performance. Here are the d100’s worthy opponents.
|Speaker||d100||Sopra No3||Olympica Nova V||EPICON 6|
|Price (pair)||$17,900 (+ shipping)||$26,000||$18,000||$16,000|
|Sensitivity||98dB (2.83V/1m)||91.5dB (2.83/1m)||90dB (2.83V/1m)||88dB (2.83V/1m)|
|Speaker Design||2.5-way||3-way||3-way||2.5 + .5-way|
|Bass Driver||12” x1||8.25” x2||7” x3||-|
|Midrange Driver||-||6.5” x1||5.9” x1||-|
|Bass-Mid Driver||12” x1||-||-||6.5” x2|
|Tweeter||1” x1||1” x1||28mm x1||29mm x1|
Totaldac d100 VS Focal Sopra No.3
Focal is another French speaker manufacturer, famous for its high-end, unique-looking speakers.
Sopra No.3 is somewhat pricier than Totaldac d100. It is a 3-way speaker with two 8.5” woofers, one 6.5” mid-woofer, and one 1” Beryllium tweeter. The sensitivity is 91.5dB), so it’s noticeably lower compared to Totaldac d100. Still, Sopras are also fairly easy to drive.
In terms of sonic performance, Sopra No.3 delivers warm and full sound, with a large and open soundstage.
Thanks to Focal’s in-house developed Beryllium tweeter, Sopra No.3 has an impressive treble extension with a spectacular level of resolution without ever being harsh or shrill. In this aspect, I believe Sopra No.3 is better than d100.
The Sopra’s bass is firm, well-controlled, fast, and very detailed. However, in terms of bass, d100 is the clear winner for me. It’s equally detailed and well-paced, but it’s bigger and gives you more rumble without being overpowering. Sopras No.3 are perfectly capable of handling any type of music, but you may occasionally feel the lack of that rumble.
Totaldac d100 VS Sonus Faber Olympica Nova V
Sonus Faber, an Italian speaker manufacturer, is also known for its classy high-end speakers. If this was a beauty contest, Focal and Sonus Faber would win 10 out of 10 times when compared against d100. But it’s not a beauty contest.
Olympica Nova V is another hefty floorstander. It houses 5 drivers – three 7″ woofers, one 6″ midrange driver, and one 1.1″ tweeter. It features a 3-way design with crossovers set to 250Hz and 2,500Hz. The impedance is 4Ω, while the sensitivity is 90dB.
Nova V delivers detailed and full-bodied sound with excellent tonal accuracy and spatial resolutions. The midrange is rich and clear. This is where Olympica Nova V truly shines.
Depending on the track, the bass may lack weight and slam. In this regard, it’s hard to beat d100.
The highs are accurate and natural, without ever being excessively bright or harsh.
Totaldac d100 VS DALI EPICON 6
DALI speakers are made in Denmark. Yes, it’s another European manufacturer. EPICON 6, like the previous two speakers, looks more refined than the d100.
EPICON 6 features two 6.5 bass/mid drivers, one 29mm soft-dome tweeter, and another 10x55mm ribbon super tweeter. The crossover setup is defined as 2.5 +.5 with three crossover frequencies – 700Hz, 2,550Hz, and 15,000Hz.
Similar to d100, both bass drivers handle the lows up to 700Hz, but only the upper driver handles the range between 700Hz and 2,550Hz. The soft dome tweeter handles everything above 2,500Hz and up to 15,000Hz, while the ribbon super tweeter handles frequencies above 15kHz.
EPICON 6 has a 5Ω impedance and 88dB sensitivity. The d100 is definitely much easier to drive.
EPICON 6 delivers accurate and engaging sound with smooth tonal balance. The bass is present, fast, and perfectly controlled at all volumes. However, it’s not even close to d100 in terms of weight and heftiness.
The mids are incredibly detailed and perfectly accurate. The treble extends well over 20kHz without being harsh or shrilling at any moment, although it can be brighter occasionally.
Totaldac d100 is like a girl who’s not really your type, but she’s so interesting, so fun to be with that you can’t help but fall in love with her. That’s exactly how I feel about Totaldac d100.
d100 is the embodiment of sonic refinement. I know it doesn’t look like that but don’t judge the book by its cover! Get over their design and give them a chance – you will be amazed.