The Audiophile Garage, Part 1

One of my least favorite car things to do is clean a dirty engine compartment. The older a classic gets, the more potential it has to get really, really dirty. This is a bad thing for more than just the aesthetic element. Whether you wrench your own or take it to your favorite service facility, a dirty engine makes it tough to diagnose anything. When your engine compartment is nice and clean, it’s easy to spot leaks or cracks – and that just might save you a much more expensive repair later on down the road.

A great playlist of your favorite tunes will help make the few hours of drudgery go by a lot quicker and these days there are a ton of great, inexpensive wireless speakers to funnel music into your garage. All the better if you’re taking advantage of a streaming service, like Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal, or Qobuz.

Thanks to my “other” job at TONEAudio Magazine, we’ve been getting a lot of interesting wireless product in for review lately. Totem Audio, from Montreal has been making fantastic speakers for your home stereo or home theater system for decades now, specializing in high performance without breaking the bank.

Their latest creation, the Kin Play wireless, builds on all of their strengths as a speaker manufacturer, adding an internal 120 watt per channel amplifier, digital to analog converter (so you can jack that old CD changer you’ve still got lying around the garage) and the ability to stream your music via Bluetooth with Qualcomm aptx HD. You can even plug a turntable into these babies if you really want to get fancy, but somehow handling vinyl records in the garage just seems like a really bad idea. (But should you want to move a set of these in the house, it’s awesome)

At just 7 inches wide, and 14 inches tall (9 inches deep) and 16 pounds each, you can fit a pair of Kin Play speakers anywhere in your garage. Totem suggests you place them at least about 6 inches from the wall, but crass as it sounds, I put mine on a pair of Home Depot buckets. They work pretty well on a floor jack too. The Kin Plays are available in a satin black or white finish. Unless your garage is more art gallery than place to actually fix stuff, black is probably going to be the go-to choice, and keep the grilles on too!


Yeah, I’m a lot more meticulous about this kind of thing inside the house, but the garage is about functionality. Thanks to the wide dispersion these speakers offer, they sound good even only 16 inches off the floor, and it makes for perfect speaker placement when bleeding brakes. My second least favorite car thing to do, btw.


In the two and a half hours it took me to get the engine compartment on my 99 Z3 Coupe nice and clean, I was able to listen to a wide range of music, from classic rock to some of my favorite electronica tracks. Staring down the task in front of me made starting the listening/cleaning session with The Tubes “I’m Just a Mess” seemed appropriate.

While the Simple Green was soaking in, the volume kept going up as I was tracking through Aerosmith’s Rocks, attracting my nextdoor neighbor. After a few years of being my neighbor he knows better than to utter the phrase “When you’re done, wanna do mine?” But seriously, we’re not talking cars today, he’s totally digging the Totems. “Where’s the subwoofer, these have killer bass,” is his next comment as we switch the program to the Bombay Dub Orchestra.

Totem speakers have always been famous for getting incredible bass response out of compact enclosures and the Kin Play keeps the tradition intact. However, if you need more bass, they have a single, variable level output to connect to your favorite powered subwoofer. That depends on your budget and available real estate, but Totem does make an awesome little Kin subwoofer that will only set you back about $500 and it really delivers the goods for those that really need to rock (I salute you, hahahah) out in the garage.

No matter what kind of music you enjoy, the Kin Play has solid bass response, and a super clean midrange/treble presentation. With music this good, you might even find your better half or other friends hanging out in the garage with you more often. And isn’t that a good thing?

Kin Play comes with everything you need in the box. A power cord, remote, line level interconnect cord and ten-foot length of speaker cable (to connect the main powered speaker up to the other speaker) will have you enjoying the sound sooner rather than later. There is a line level input for a tuner, tape deck, or old school CD player, plus a handful of digital inputs as well. Finally, all you need to do to stream music from your phone or laptop is make sure it is ready to pair and then press the “pair” button on the Totem remote. KinPlay will appear in your devices Bluetooth menu, hit ok and that’s it – the Kin Plays will give you a little beep and the blinking blue light will go to solid blue.

At $1,000 a pair, the Kin Play probably isn’t an impulse purchase, but hey, you can’t spend all your money on your car, can you? Man can’t live on Michelin Cup 2s alone. Music this good will keep you relaxed and focused, resulting in a better job. Fortunately, they are small and light enough, you can easily bring them back in the house for office, or even living room duties.

In less time than it takes to play the new Rolling Stones’ Honk, I’ve got a pretty clean engine compartment again. And thanks to the Totem Kin Play speakers, I didn’t even notice the time going by. That’s success.