Cuttin-Edge, On-the-Spot Reporting

Have You Seen?


Okay, I exaggerated a little in that title, but I couldn’t resist. The D120 speaker from Totaldac is new indeed, but rather than being “totally” new, it’s more of an “evolution” than a “revolution.” I’d never heard of this company before the days leading up to High End 2024, but I’m glad to have been introduced.


I described the D120 as an evolution because the D100 and D110 speakers came before it. That said, I was surprised to learn how much time and effort went into the D120 when I visited the French firm’s exhibition room. True to its name, Totaldac has concerned itself with offering a suite of products such that one could build a complete system. It was thus obvious that a reference-grade speaker would be required, and the D100 and D110 walked so the D120 could run. In fact, all three speakers were originally created for internal use as reference speakers, but have since become available for sale. High End 2024 marks the official introduction of the top-of-the-line D120, which is set to go on sale for €70,000 per pair.

While the D120 shares its driver layout with the D100 and D110, its most outwardly obvious upgrade over the other models is its cabinet. Vincent Brient, Totaldac’s founder and chief designer, told me that the D120’s curved cabinet is machined directly out of several large pieces of hardwood, which are then glued together. As a result, the woodgrain on its exterior is not a veneer of any sort—that’s the finish of the hardwood cabinet material itself. Additionally, the cabinet has a similarly carved interior volume, which makes use of diffusor patterns carved into the cabinet to break up standing waves and other sonically harmful reflections.


In addition to the quietly impressive woodwork of the cabinets, the treble-driver horn and even the baskets of the midwoofer and bass woofer are made out of wood as well, Brient told me. The claim is that wood is naturally self-damping, more so than typical metallic materials, and the use of wood in this application leads to a more natural sound.

As one would expect, the D120 has an onboard passive crossover. But as Brient emphasized, it can be easily converted to accept Totaldac’s active crossover, and this configuration was in use in the company’s exhibition room.

The sound in that room was as impressive to me as the D120’s build quality. Played via a pair of D120s, some haunting female vocal music with a sparse piano accompaniment had such a wonderous sense of scale that it was easy to get lost in it. The speakers seemed right on the money tonally as well, and they conveyed the emotion in the singer’s lament just as competently as they did the scale.


To give credit where it’s due, Totaldac is primarily known for its electronics, and they were out in force driving the D120s. A pair of the Amp-1-sublimes (€28,000 each) drove the speakers, while a d1-sublime DAC (€50,000), matched with three (yes, three!) d1-digital-sublime reclockers (€7750 each), worked to chug out an analog signal for them. A d1-player-mk2 (€11,000) and d1-streamer-sublime (€9,900) served up the digital signal for the DAC. I was told that the total cost of the system, including the speakers, cables, and accessories, was within spitting distance of €300,000.

But fear not. Should ye think Totaldac gear out of your price range, the room also had examples of the D100 and D110, which are claimed to come close to the performance of the D120. The D100 costs €14,900/pair, and the mid-tier D110 comes in at €38,000/pair. All prices, by the way, include VAT in Europe.

Matt Bonaccio
Contributor, SoundStage!