Thiel, Audio Physic or Aerial Acoustic? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 11-27-2001, 03:14 PM - Thread Starter
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I've been auditioning speakers over the past month and have things down to two, possibly three finalists. I say "possibly" because I haven't heard the third yet, though I plan to.

This is for a combined music/ht setup and while I'll ultimately be replacing all 5 and adding 2 more, but for now I'm working on the front 3.

Here are my candidates:
L/R: Thiel 2.3; center: MCS1, SCS3 or 1.5
or
L/R: Audio Physic Tempo III; center Celsius II
or
L/R: Aerial Acoustic model 6; center CC3B

Actually, it is possible I may opt to go without a center, but that's going to wait until I get the L/R speakers in place and see how they do.

All the L/R's are about the same price though the centers vary widely.

Here's my quandary: I like the 2.3's and the Tempos, but don't care for horizontal D'Appolito arrays like the MCS1 and Celsius II use because of their relatively limited horizontal dispersion (when used in a horizontal position, which I'd have to do).

I also wouldn't be able to hear the Celsius II before buying because the dealer doesn't have one in the showroom.

I haven't been able to hear the Aerial 6 yet though I've heard the 7B. I've given the other L/R's a few hours of listening each along with a bunch of others.

What do folks think the pros/cons of these are? If you were choosing among those, which would you take and why?

And, btw, in a previous thread where I posted about metal vs. fabric tweeters and appearing to prefer fabric...the preference seems to have vanished. Upon further listening, either sounds fine to me - think it may have been head cold/congestion related. With clear sinuses, the metal tweeter speakers don't seem to be bothering me anymore...go figure.

Any thoughts?
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post #2 of 14 Old 11-27-2001, 04:03 PM
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These are all good speakers. So the choice is simply which you prefer.

One thing you might want to consider is that none of these is going to have any real low bass output. It's just not possible with small minitowers, who's low frequency response is limited to the mid thirty Hz range.

So here's an alternative purchasing idea. Drop down a model or two in size. Buy a bookshelf size speaker (MTM configuration), put it on a stand. Then use the money saved to get a decent sub. This will divide the workload, put the bass where it belongs.
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post #3 of 14 Old 11-27-2001, 04:16 PM - Thread Starter
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The sub's already covered so low bass isn't an issue. I actually started out looking at bookshelf models, but even with a sub in place, I preferred the small floorstanders. I wish I'd preferred the bookshelf models I listened to - it'd sure be cheaper, but it didn't work out that way :(
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post #4 of 14 Old 11-27-2001, 05:13 PM
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All are excellent choices, so I doubt you'd go wrong. There are significant differences between the ones you list, but you'll have to match them to your taste. However, here are some useful discriminants/criteria, in my opinion:

- Center speaker. Unless you plan to do all your listening by yourself from the sweet spot, I would not consider a center speaker optional. You want a center that not only provides good resolution and clarity, but the best timbre match to your front L-R pair. You should test this specifically with pans (check for tonal shifts) and steered center vocals on songs (toggle between 2-channel and a surround mode like Pro Logic II or Logic 7 and see how the center compares with the fronts). Personally, I think having a well-integrated L-C-R array is as important, if not more so, than the choice of brand "sound".

- Test with less than ideal material. Many speakers will do justice to a well-recorded source, but you should also check performance on lesser-quality recordings as well, because there are a lot of them out there! Some speakers are merciless, and you don't want to unnecessarily limit your choice of listening material.

- According to latest research from J. Johnston at ATT Labs, LF extension down to 40 Hz in ALL speakers yields big dividends in natural sounding bass reproduction (the THX-style 80 HZ crossover is way too high). Some rooms may dictate other crossover settings, but it's a good goal to shoot for.

Hope this helps,
Philip Brandes
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post #5 of 14 Old 11-27-2001, 05:42 PM
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Linda:

you made no mention on some specifics(such as the size of your room, your listening preferences, the electronics driving the speakers, etc.) that may be useful to better advise you on this matter.

Nonetheless, assuming that you are (roughly) equally devoted to home theatre and pure audio listening, I can give you an advise that I believe will offer very little compromise (if any) for both options: get a trio of Aerial LR3 for the front L/C/R channels (high-pass crossovered at 80 Hz.), one pair of SR3 for side surrounds (80 Hz. high pass x-over), and one Aerial SW12 sub(80 Hz. low-pass x-over)...and I can promise you that you will be absolutely delighted with that system. Alternatively, you might replace the center LR3 by one CC3B speaker (horizontal version of the LR3). You'll get a package full of punch and crunch for movies, and full of finesse for music, too.

The SW12 is so a mighty sub, that you don't need to spend big bucks in bass-handling capabilities for the L/C/R and side surrounds. So, if you get one (or more) SW12 subs, you don't need to put dollars in, say, a pair of model 6, model 7B, or model 8 Aerial speakers.

I own two Aerial LR5 and one CC5 for the front L/R/C/, together with a pair of Aerial SR3 side surrounds and two SW12s. Let me tell you: The bass from the SW12s is so superb that, even though the LR5/CC5 are rated down to 40 Hz., I found the 80 Hz. x-over point to provide an optimum cut point for seamless blend and truly full-range dynamics.

Now, be warned: if you choose Aerial speakers, you´d better give them a lot of clean/controlled power, as these babies crave/beg for power to show their best qualities.

Regarding the metal vs. fabric dome tweeters, don´t worry about that, if you happen to buy the Aerials. They use titanium tweeters, but they'll sound as sweet, extended, and clean as anything you might find out there in the high-end world.

Try to find an Aerial dealer who is willing to put the above suggested set-up for demo for you.

Good luck!

J.V.
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post #6 of 14 Old 11-27-2001, 06:49 PM
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Linda,

Have you considered the used market for higher level mains? A/A 7B's can be had for 2700.00 range on Audigon. The CC3 center is THE best center in it's price range IMPO!!! I think this is where Aerial shines! I have also listened to the Thiels 2.3's, 3.6's CS6's and MCS1. I didn't care for the 2.3's but the 3.6 and CS6's are really nice!!! I found the MCS1 to be a great center and really blended well with the 3.6 and CS6's. On the used market 3.6's are about 1800.00 due to their older design.

I think there is 1 set of speakers in this price range I whole heartily recommend an audition that you didn't mention are the Revel Performa series. The F30's are $3500.00, C30's w/stand is $2K, and S30's are $2200.00. As a total package they are my FAVORITE speaker system! The F30's are better then the A/A 6B-7B's and are cheaper! They are not as demanding of a speaker if you don't have much in the budget for amps. The C30 is a good match for the F30's and the S30's are really nice too!! I even read that the A/A CC3 is a nice match for the F30's so a little mismatching won't hurt anyone! :).

Well best of luck on the shopping spree and keep us updated!

Michael

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post #7 of 14 Old 11-27-2001, 07:06 PM
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Since you have the sub issue covered then you'll get a good blend using minitowers over a bookshelf sized box.

You're certainly correct regarding using a MTM in a horizontal position as center speaker, this is a poor option.

Of the 3 brands listed the Aerial has the best arrangment for a proper center channel. That alone could be a determining factor.

Frequently certain electronics will have a synergistic relationship with certain speakers. So if possible, arrange an in-home audition of the speakers with your electronics.
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post #8 of 14 Old 11-27-2001, 08:34 PM
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Being that I've put a progressive DVD player on hold until I move into a house early next year (same with a FPTV), I've gotten another bug to compensate for it - searching for speaker upgraditus.

I've got a venerable (but I'd hate parting with it) KEF HT system (Model 104/2's, a Model 200 center, and a pair of Model 70S surrounds), that's getting a bit long in the tooth. Right now I've no reason to replace them... but hey... that wouldn't be any fun, now would it? :D

I've listened to a pair of Aerial 8's a while ago in a home theater setting, and was quite impressed. More so when I learned they were metal tweeters afterwards (I remember the titanium ringing of MB Quart car speakers and JBL monitors during college days - they just grated on me). Now the CC3's another matter. I thought my Model 200 was quite the center, but after hearing the CC3, revealed my KEF to be VERY slightly "chesty" in the lower midrange (a trademark of KEF speakers, I know).

Audio Physic Virgos were auditioned for a short while - too short - I was torn from the seat since we had to hit a mall sale next door (LOL). Can't comment too much - though I remember a sharp, well defined soundstage. A bit thin, I remember, too. But outstanding speakers as well.

Thiel's are my paradox: I know they're held in high regard, but I auditioned a pair with Classe electronics AWHILE back (I think they were the CS7's? CS7.2's?). I found speakers that hit me as just "competent," which disappointed me given their caliber and reputation. It may have been, as I grew into this hobby, that I found them too "clean" for my tastes, and I was just judging them downward subjectively from a bias.

In any case, I'd opt for the Aerials, given your three choices. They excelled as well in an HT setup... I'll use their presentation of "The Fifth Element" as a reference to get my system there eventually.

For my eventual upgrade (maybe in four to six months), I'm looking at Aerials and Martin Logan. But the one set of speakers that have floored me twice for me to covet: Dunlavy SC-IV's (not the "A" variant - haven't heard that improved version yet).

Good luck... let us know what you eventually pick, Linda. :)

Christian
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post #9 of 14 Old 11-28-2001, 04:37 AM
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Hallo,
Interestingly I have been using a combination of Thiels and Aerial speakers for my 26' X 20' dedicated HT. My configuration is as follows:
Mains Thiel CS 7
Centre AAccoustic CC3
Sides and Rears Thiel SCS 2
Subs: Velodyne ULD 15 X 2 & Triad InRoom Platinum
All the equipment are one generation older than present models.
Formerly I tire using an SCS 2 for the centre but found it insufficent in dynamic range and with the CC3 headroom is better though at high volumes distortion do set in. I have to switch dialogue normalization off in the Lexicon DC 1 to avoid distortion. The question is of course timbre matching. There is a difference but on the whole this was not noticeable. I believe the MCS 1
is a better match. Linda, this speaker as you know is not a true
D' Appolito design because the tweeter and midrange coaxial design which gives as good horizontal dispersion as any normal 3 way centre speakers.
The problem with Thiel speakers is that with the lower 2 or 3 way designs, Dynamic range is somewhat limited due to the use of first order crossover. This will not be a problem with smaller rooms. What is gained is that phase is preserved in the waveform at the sweet spot. How important this is in a multichannel set up is debatable. This was emphasize as extremely important critera by Greg Rogers in the new Widescreen Review
reference HT room. They use Dunlavy SC V's rather than Thiels for the higher dynamics.
I think Thiels are wonderful speakers and if transparency is a priority, you should go for it. The newer Thiels do not sound too hot at the top frequencies. Older models used to have this character. The only disturbing fact is that all newer Thiel models which use a coaxial disign have not measured as flat in the frequency range according to Stereophile (CS 7, 7.2, 6, 2.3, PCS)
though most have glowing recommendation. Hope this helps!
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post #10 of 14 Old 11-28-2001, 04:56 AM
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Oh I forgot, Jim Thiel in real life looks like his speakers: tall, thin,handsome and elegant. His voicing is a mellow top end, a smooth midrange and adequate bass though not subwoofer territory. Definitely first class crossover!:D
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post #11 of 14 Old 11-28-2001, 11:44 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the many replies! There sure are a lot of aerial fans out there!

In my soul searching, I think the Tempo's are likely to get eliminated because Ii won't be ale to hear it with it's center. It's a bit of a shame as I really liked the Tempos.

I liked the 2.3's almost as much and though I've also heard the MCS1's, I haven't heard the two together, so I need to add that on my to do list.

I also haven't heard the aerial 6's yet - that's also on my list of things to do. Given the aerial enthusiasm, I'll have to make sure I do that sometime soon.

Unfortunately, with the busy holiday season approaching, it may push my decision making out in to January, but fortunately, I'm not in a position where I have to make a choice today.

Thanks, again!
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post #12 of 14 Old 11-28-2001, 01:28 PM
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Philip,

"- According to latest research from J. Johnston at ATT Labs, LF extension down to 40 Hz in ALL speakers yields big dividends in natural sounding bass reproduction (the THX-style 80 HZ crossover is way too high). Some rooms may dictate other crossover settings, but it's a good goal to shoot for."

You give good advice, especially suggesting using less than ideal material to audition speakers (or any other audio component). I would only expand a bit on your comment above. Jim Johnston's findings you cite above apply only to non-mono, incoherent bass, which is unfortunately relatively rare in commercial recordings. If you play back only mono bass, like almost all pop and studio recordings, then relatively bass-capable speakers will not be useful, and in fact may be detrimental in the promotion of bass nodes and nulls (bass boom and suckouts).

Fortunately, as you know, we don't have to suffer through mono bass these days if we use Lexicon's Bass Enhance feature, as found in their DC-1, version 3.0 and newer, and all DC-2, MC-1, and MC-12 processors, which alters mono bass signals to alleviate the problems of mono bass. If Linda is using one of the Lexicon processors mentioned before, then I'd definitely encourage her to seek out 40-Hz capable speakers.

Linda,

I'm a big fan of Aerials as well. It's a good thing that you are well aware of the limitations of an MTM speaker set on its side as a center channel. When I got my CC3, that was one of the most important criteria I looked at, because one of the main jobs of a center channel is to anchor the audio image for off-axis listeners. Given that, horizontal off-axis response is very important for a center channel, and a vertically oriented tweeter-midrange arrangment, like what the CC3 has, is the only correct way to design a center channel.

--Andre
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post #13 of 14 Old 11-28-2001, 07:40 PM
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I have no experience with the Audio Physic speakers, but do own Thiel CS7.2s, and have owned Aerial LR3s that were used with a CC3b center. Prior to the Aerial setup I was using the MCS1 with the 7s. The latter combination is a good match tonally, and the MCS1 has excellent resolution and sounds very natural with the human voice. On absolute terms the MCS1 sounds a tad softer and less dynamic then the 7s do, and in that regard the MCS1 is noticeable in this setup when there is heavy action. Although I would imagine the MCS1 would be an excellent match with the 2.3s. It uses the same mid/tweeter driver, and shares the slightly sweeter character of the 2.3, comparatively speaking.

The LR3s and CC3b center are an excellent match. I also debated whether to get the Model 6, same cost, but decided to get the LR3s for a better match with the center, and to also gain higher output with two 7" drivers vs the 6's one 7" driver. Stand alone the Model 6 is better on music then the LR3 due to its deeper and more articulate bass. With the aid of a good sub that may be a moot point.

I have since sold the LR3s, and now use the CC3b with my Thiels. Not at all the mismatch it looks like on paper, the CC3b actually blends quite well, and has never drawn my attention away from enjoying a movie. I find the CC3b to be more robust sounding then the MCS1 was, and in this regard is more in line with the 7's character. Aerials are quite neutral sounding, so their centers can actually work well with a wide variety of other manufacturer's speakers.

Both Thiels and Aerials will require stout amplification to get the most from them.
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post #14 of 14 Old 11-28-2001, 08:48 PM
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Linda
I agree with tjmunro. I have the Model 6 speakers as rears in my system and they do a fine job. If you were just looking for a stereo setup the 6 would be fine choice. In a H/T setup with subwoofers the L/R3 would be a better choice as it will handle the dynamics better and give a better blend with the CC3. One thing to remember in your budget planning is good amplification. The Aerial's are great speakers but it takes good solid state amplifiers with adequate power for them to sound their best.
Earl
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