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Thiel TT1 Tower Speakers Official AVS Forum Review



Mark Henninger takes a critical listen to Thiel's new tower speakers, first introduced at CES 2015.

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Audiophiles know the Thiel brand thanks to the instantly recognizable designs of the company's late founder, Jim Thiel. Over the company's nearly four decades of operation, it has earned a loyal following pursuing designs that use a coaxial/coincident driver and a first-order crossover.

If you follow the brand, you know that Thiel underwent major changes recently. It emerged from a revitalization effort with a new line of speakers, the Third Avenue Collection. At CES 2015, the company unveiled the TT1, a $6000/pair, 3-way tower that represents a fairly radical departure from the company's past products.

I dove into this TT1 review with fresh ears and no preconceived notions of how a Thiel speaker should sound or perform. I have no nostalgia for the company's legacy speaker designs, which I've heard only a few times at high-end audio shows.

The TT1 eschews two defining features of its prior speaker designs, namely the use of a first-order crossover and a time-aligned driver layout. Thiel's stated design goals for the TT1 are: achieve flat on-axis frequency response, assure a uniform response within the listening window, minimize distortion (intermodulation and harmonic), achieve a good balance between efficiency and bass extension, and keep the output linear—even at high volume levels. Let's see if it achieved these goals.


Features

The TT1 employs a 1" custom SEAS titanium-dome tweeter paired with a Scanspeak 4.25" fiberglass midrange. Twin Scanspeak 6.5" aluminum woofers handle bass duties. Thiel rates power handling at 2-250 watts, and nominal impedance at 8 ohms.

The titanium dome is mounted in a CNC-machined aluminum trim ring that acts as a waveguide. It's very shallow, and there's no horn loading involved; the purpose of the waveguide is to reduce in-room reflections and in this way reduce image smearing.


The tweeter and midrange are mounted in CNC-machined aluminium trim that acts as a waveguide.


Notably, the tweeter does not use a first-order crossover. Consequently, it can handle quite a bit of power without fear that midrange frequencies will overtax it.

After extensive computer modeling and prototype testing, Thiel chose fiberglass for the cone of its Scanspeak 4.25" midrange driver. According to the company, simulations and measurements showed that aluminum cones used as a midrange suffer from cone breakup, resulting in intermodulation distortion at higher amplitudes.

The two 6.5" Scanspeak woofers use aluminum cones. Each woofer resides in a discrete rear-vented chamber and features a motor customized specifically for the TT1.


Here's a close-up view of one of the rear venting ports on the TT1.


A complex, customized crossover is at the heart of the new speaker's design. According to Thiel, the passive crossover offers a blend of multi-order filters, equalization, and impedance compensation. The result is a smooth blending of the drivers to produce a flat frequency response.

The cabinet is curvaceous and attractive as a function of its design. Eliminating diffraction and resonance is the name of the game, and to that end, the enclosure avoids parallel surfaces to reduce internal standing waves. Furthermore, the curved exterior helps mitigate baffle edge-diffraction artifacts.

The TT1 cabinet features generous internal bracing. An informal knuckle-rap test reveals that its enclosure is substantially more inert than many other less-expensive tower-speaker cabinets. I happen to have a number of speakers in the $1000-2000/pair price range on-hand, and the difference between the Thiel and the less-expensive speakers is like knocking on a marble countertop versus a wooden door.

Each TT1 supports bi-amplification, although the manual notes that a single amplifier of sufficient power and quality works just as well as bi-amping. The binding posts are finely machined and easily accessible.


The Thiel TT1's easily-accessible binding posts support bi-amplification.


An aluminum grill attaches to the TT1's front baffle with neodymium magnets. The low-profile grill uses a hexagonal perforation pattern that the company says is acoustically inaudible.

Depending on your floor type, you can choose between spikes, spikes with pucks, and rubber feet.

The pair of TT1s I reviewed came in Piano Gloss Black. The finish was impeccable and complimented the modern, minimalist, sculpted TT1 cabinet.


Setup

The TT1 towers arrived in mint condition, each in its own double-boxed package. Inside the boxes, I found the speakers wrapped in velvet bags. It's a decidedly fancy presentation, but the bags do protect the speakers' mirror-like glossy finish.

The only required assembly involved installing the rubber feet or spikes. I opted for the rubber feet since I place speakers on a hardwood floor. Screwing in the feet took but a minute.


A box contains the manual as well as white gloves (how fancy), rubber feet, spikes, and spike pucks. I installed rubber feet, seen here are the spikes and pucks.

I placed the towers four feet from the back wall and two feet from the side walls, in a classic equilateral-triangle configuration. I wired them to my reference amp, a Crestron Procise ProAmp 7x250. A Procise PSPHD pre/pro handled digital decoding and bass management. My primary audio source was a PC running Tidal lossless streaming and iTunes.

I tested the TT1s with and without subwoofers. When running a 2.2 system, I used a pair of JL Audio e112 subwoofers. Each sub was located between the speaker and the side wall. I configured the Crestron PSPHD to use a 50 Hz crossover and ran the subs in stereo mode.


I paired the TT1s with twin JL Audio E-sub e112s for true 2.2-channel playback.


I decided not to use EQ with the TT1s. My studio is not acoustically perfect—no room is—but it does not require the use of EQ, either. If a speaker's response is relatively flat, it will sound balanced.


Performance

The Thiel TT1 towers' sound is smooth yet highly detailed, and they maintain those qualities as the volume goes up. Indeed, I noticed an absence of dynamic compression and distortion—the TT1s get out of the way, leaving you with nothing but music.

Quick near-field measurements confirmed that the TT1 offers excellent performance. When it comes to treble, my UMIK-1 is rated at 20-20,000 Hz (+/- 1 dB), it recorded flat output past 20,000 Hz.

I measured the frequency-response linearity of several less-expensive speakers; the TT1 outperformed them handily. Although I do not have an ideal space for making measurements, the superior linearity of the TT1 was self-evident.


Even though my room is not the ideal place to perform measurements, you can see the TT1 is flatter and more linear than a (well regarded) $1500/pair speaker.

Thanks to room gain, the TT1 easily met its bass-response spec of 39 Hz and exceeded the rated low-frequency limit of 27 Hz (-10 dB). In fact, I found the TT1's bass output was more than usable down to 25 Hz or so. Below that frequency, I could start to hear a bit of distortion creep in when playing a sine wave. From 25 Hz on up, output was clean, even when pushing the drivers hard. Furthermore, the TT1's mid- and upper-bass response was tight, impactful, and linear.

I'm a big fan of using subwoofers to augment the bass response of most speakers. For my listening sessions, I paired the TT1s with twin JL Audio e112 subs using a 50 Hz crossover. The subs and speakers blended perfectly, creating a sublime full-range 2.2-channel system. Once relieved of deep-bass duties, the TT1 is ready and willing to test the limits of your amplification—without worrying about overdriving its twin woofers.

Treble-wise, I typically enjoy the qualities of horn-loaded compression driver tweeters and AMT (air-motion transformer) ribbon tweeters. Nevertheless, the TT1 showed how smooth and detailed a well-designed dome can be—it is resolute yet offers no hint of graininess or sibilance. The tweeter maintains its composure at any sane volume level, and it—along with the TT1's midrange—managed to tease an extra bit of nuance out of many of my favorite recordings.


Listening

While audiophiles tend to gravitate to jazz and classical music, my taste in tunes tilts toward dub, hip-hop, electronic, rock, pop, and other genres that typically don't appear on audiophile-show playlists. Indeed, here on AVS, I've received more requests to include death metal in my review-music queue than jazz, classical, and opera combined.

I'm not going to change my listening habits just because a speaker costs a lot, so I delved right into the TT1 listening sessions with some of my favorite hip-hop tracks. It's important to note that a lot of the music I listen to contains bass that dips below what the TT1s can handle.

The Roots always sound excellent, thanks in part to the fact that their music comes from real instruments instead of a DJ. The potent combo of "Double Trouble" and "Act Two (The Love of My Life)" from Things Fall Apart are among my favorite Roots tracks, and the TT1s helped me find new appreciation for Questlove's drumming. And Black Thought's lyrics came through with perfect clarity.

I listened to the tracks twice, once in 2.0 mode and again in 2.2 mode. Adding the twin subs made a significant difference. To the TT1s' credit, the 2.0 presentation was very satisfying—you don't need a sub to enjoy them. However, with the inclusion of subs, the system truly shined.

Nas sounded better than ever on "NY State of Mind" from the 20th-anniversary edition of Illmatic. It's a recording that often sounds sibilant on cheaper speakers, but the TT1s acted as neutral arbiters, doling out precisely the right amount of sizzle. It helps that the Thiels measure as flat as they do; you can trust in the verisimilitude of a TT1's output because it performs a lot like a high-end studio monitor.

Squarepusher's brand-new album, Damogen Furies, tested the TT1's capacity to handle highly textured IDM-flavored drum-and-bass. In what became a familiar theme, the Thiels handled the album with a gratifying combination of precision and smoothness. I quickly forgot that I was not listening to a surround-sound system because the mix evoked 3D space. That illusion—of image depth as well as width—is a crucial trait of every great-sounding speaker I've auditioned.

The synthesizer wash that opens "Exjag Nives," the fifth track on Damogen Furies, lead straight into a buzzy, glitchy drum-and-bass anthem that invites critical listening. The reward? A greater appreciation of how resolute stereo systems have become these days. At 50 seconds into the track, the glitch dubstep kicks in and forces the TT1s to get gritty. It takes a stout speaker to handle the track's cacophonous complexity, and once again the TT1s delivered. However, there was no question that the subs helped complete the experience—listening in 2.2 was a fair bit more gratifying than 2.0.

I've long marveled at the production value of Coil's album, Love's Secret Domain. "Further Back and Faster" uses phase-shifting trickery to project sounds throughout the listening space, and even beyond the walls. Coil used very little dynamic compression in its tracks, so you have to turn up the volume to experience the full impact of the recording.

The reward for attentively listening to Coil is hearing through all the layers of the composition. "Further Back and Faster" is a track I've played countless times—on every single speaker system I've ever owned or reviewed. I rely on deep familiarity with content when performing a subjective performance analysis of a speaker system, and in my opinion, the TT1s pass the Coil test.

Death-metal fans may be disappointed to hear that I am not going to add that genre to my collection. However, I do have a few industrial albums, and Skinny Puppy's Last Rights contains a lot of intense passages. "Knowhere" combines beastly drums, epic organ, and nearly indecipherable screaming/singing to achieve a decidedly gothic effect. Lesser speakers choke on the complexity of the mix, but the TT1s dug right through the mess, revealing hidden textures within.

"Rivers End" is the seventh track on Last Rights, and it is my favorite. It's an instrumental track with an attitude, and it puts the grand in grandiosity! The only catch is that Skinny Puppy's tracks feature bass that demands the power and bass extension of high-quality subwoofers, and the 2.2 renditions had more impact than playing them in 2.0.

On the smoother side of the music spectrum, I enjoyed DJ Krush's "Kuon/Far and Away" for its crisp and funky jazz vibe. At it's best, DJ Krush's music sounds effervescent, and the TT1's transparency highlighted that quality. It was the audio equivalent of expensive champagne.

A musician friend of mine stopped by during a listening session and convinced me to audition some audiophile-friendly music on the new Thiel towers. He suggested "Here and Heaven" from The Goat Rodeo Sessions, featuring Yo-Yo Ma on cello and Aoife O'Donovan on vocals. While it's not necessarily my style of music, I appreciate the way the TT1s handled the female vocals as well as the banjo.

"Here and Heaven" sounded fantastic; there was no sense that the speakers were re-interpreting the recording. Yo-Yo Ma provided the bass with his cello, and the overall effect was akin to being at a live concert. Notably, there was little difference between listening in 2.0 and 2.2 mode since the instruments used in the recording do not dip below the TT1's rated bass response.

The Beatles' "I Am the Walrus" is a timeless track with a fascinating stereo mix that veers into the realm of the strange after the two-minute mark. A good system will make the most of the phase-shifted soundfield and the thick montage of high-pitched sounds and voice samples that close out the track. I found the TT1 rendition to be very revealing without sounding at all harsh. There's no need for a sub when listening to the Beatles; the TT1s do quite well on their own.

"Come Together" from Abbey Road provided another opportunity for the TT1s to strut their stuff without a sub. When I play the track through a great pair of speakers, the illusion of having the Beatles playing in your living room is the prize—all you have to do is turn up the volume.


Conclusion

I listened to a lot more music through the TT1 towers than what I've discussed in this review. Not once did I find the TT1 speakers unable to provide a deeply satisfying rendition of whatever track I threw at them. These are great speakers, and I want to get as much out of them as I can during the relatively brief time I have a pair to play.

The TT1 is a thoroughly modern speaker—no surprise given its CES 2015 debut. Thiel's approach to speaker design is meticulous, and the result is measurably and audibly superior performance.

I expect existing fans of the Thiel brand will look at these speakers with skepticism. Thiel acknowledges it is veering into the luxury segment of the audio market, and away from catering to pure audiophile sensibilities. In addition, the Third Avenue Collection includes a center-channel speaker, the TC1. If you combine a pair or two of Thiel's TM3 bookshelf with some TT1s and the TC1 center, you have a full-fledged surround system—audiophile heresy in its purest form!

If you plant yourself in the sweet spot and listen carefully, the TT1s will deliver a high-end 2-channel experience. If you have some friends over and start a party, you can simply turn the TT1s up and rock the house without worrying about frying a tweeter when playing some dubstep. Furthermore, the aesthetics of the TT1s are very decor-friendly, despite the fact that form followed function. The TT1's sexy curves help it stand out from the boxy tower-speaker crowd, both visually and aurally.

I'm going to hold on to the TT1s for a few more weeks. Thiel offered to send me a pair of the CS1.7 towers that the TT1 replaces, and I'm seriously considering taking the company up on the offer. Please leave a note in the comments if you are interested in reading about a direct comparison between old-school and new-school Thiels. If there's enough interest, I'll set the wheels in motion to make it happen.

The ultimate question is whether the TT1s are worth $6000/pair. With so many great speakers available at a fraction of the price, it's hard to answer. However, I found the TT1s level of refinement seductive—they outperform most speakers I've heard, regardless of price. I found them to be a reference-quality speaker system.

On their own, the TT1s are impressive—albeit not full-range. They are a manageable size and look fantastic, but adding twin subs that reach below 20 Hz—such as the JL e112s—elevates the whole system's performance to a rarefied territory often occupied by speakers that cost as much as luxury cars or even a house! When you consider the refined full-range performance achieved by adding a pair of good subs to the TT1s, they suddenly look and sound like a (relative) bargain when compared to audiophile-oriented full-range passive speaker systems. If the TT1s fit into your budget, they are sure to please a wide variety of audio enthusiasts as well as casual listeners.


REVIEW SYSTEM


Sources

DIY PC (Windows 8) running Tidal and iTunes

Amplification and Processing

Crestron Procise PSPHD pre/pro
Crestron Procise ProAmp 7x250

Cables

Monoprice 12-gauge OFC speaker cables
Mediabridge Ultra Series subwoofer cable
Mediabridge Ultra Series HDMI cable

Additional Components

Two JL Audio e112 12" subwoofers




Mark Henninger
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post #2 of 115 Old 05-04-2015, 02:24 PM
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Mark, Thanks for the review. I had PM'd you this before, but will repeat it here. If you want a go-to CD for testing any speaker setup, pick up a copy of "Moodfood" by the group Moodswings. Basically electronica although some of the songs do have lyrics (most notably Chrissie Hynde - a very unique female voice). This CD will provide some of the highest highs and lowest lows which is why it is the one disc I always use to evaluate or set up any audio equipment.
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Originally Posted by They_call_me_Roto View Post
Mark, Thanks for the review. I had PM'd you this before, but will repeat it here. If you want a go-to CD for testing any speaker setup, pick up a copy of "Moodfood" by the group Moodswings. Basically electronica although some of the songs do have lyrics (most notably Chrissie Hynde - a very unique female voice). This CD will provide some of the highest highs and lowest lows which is why it is the one disc I always use to evaluate or set up any audio equipment.
Ha, I forgot but I promise I will check it out. I'd never heard the band before, but half an hour ago I started playing their album Psychedelicatessen which is streaming lossless on Tidal, and I just realized it is what's still playing and it sounds really great. So thanks!

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That tweet looks awful similar from a design standpoint to my older Seas Lotus tweets I used to incorporate in my previous car. Their 6.5 and titanium dome tweets run active was the best SQ experience I had ever experienced in a car and I tested a LOT of different components.
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As a musician I prefer to test my speakers with music that contain real instruments and great vocals, that's how I judge the speakers,Virtual instruments\sounds or anything that is created by software is a no ,no, for my critical audition.

after I first listen to great vocals and instruments then I listen to many other music genres.


IMO this music is not only specific for audiophiles that spend 100,000 dollars on speakers.
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post #6 of 115 Old 05-04-2015, 04:56 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by losservatore View Post
as a musician I prefer to test my speakers with music that contain real instruments and great vocals, that's how I judge the speakers,Virtual instruments\sounds or anything that is created by software is a no ,no, for my critical audition.

after I first listen to great vocals and instruments then I listen to many other music genres.


IMO this music is not only specific for audiophiles that spend 100,000 dollars on speakers , musicians also prefer to test speakers with music that contain real instruments and great vocals.
That's why I led off with The Roots... "The Roots always sound excellent, thanks in part to the fact that their music comes from real instruments"

But I do not agree that synthesis is not as valid as acoustical instruments for critical listening. I happen to love synths, and as a rule I like instrumental music at least as much as I do songs.
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Mark,

Nice review. I'm glad to hear Thiel is offering a well designed speaker. Though the pedigree of the new designer suggested it would be competently designed.

At the same time, your review had a few elements that I had minor issues with...

Quote:
Thiel offered to send me a pair of the CS1.7 towers that the TT1 replaces, and I'm seriously considering taking the company up on the offer. Please leave a note in the comments if you are interested in reading about a direct comparison between old-school and new-school Thiels.
I'd be interested. Though in a sense it's not really a direct-level comparison; the CS1.7 was the company's smallest, most bandwidth limited floor stander, rated at 52Hz-20kHz. The TT1 is bigger and rated more than a decade lower in bandwidth. I'd bet that, especially given room lift, the 2.7 would have been a closer comparison.

Quote:
According to the company, simulations and measurements showed that aluminum cones used as a midrange suffer from cone breakup, resulting in intermodulation distortion at higher amplitudes.
Hmmm...I wonder here if they are including the aluminum cones actually used in the 3.7 and 2.7, which would go against Thiel's previous claims for those drivers, claims whicih, when combined with their crossovers, motor/voice coil design etc seemed to be born out by measurements.

Quote:
While audiophiles tend to gravitate to jazz and classical music,
Well, yes and no in my experience. If there is any trait that ties together the many audiophiles I've known, it is an exceedingly diverse range of musical interests. It's not so much that audiophiles orient more exclusively to jazz and classical music; it's that they INCLUDE lots of jazz and classical music in their collections - genres that are much more shrunken in interest to the more general population.

When I go to my pal's place - he's definitely an audiophile, writing for an on-line audiophile publication - we will listen to anything from John Zorn, to Rachmaninoff, followed by Zeppelin, Peter Gabriel and Rush. He loves huge volume levels and rocking out.

He was over at my house a couple days ago checking out my newly acquired Thiel 3.7s. We listened to some jazz, classical, and also a bunch of EDM and other varieties of electronica - genres I absolutely love. (I'm also a fanatic about old disco and funk music).

A major reason why lots of audiophiles will use acoustic-oriented music in evaluating systems is because acoustic sources act as a sort of marker, or touchstone, for understanding the voice, character, and fidelity of a system. For purely electronic instruments, there is no "real thing" to compare against, only that source being played through all manner of different systems. But with voices or saxophones, other sounds with which we can be familiar, we can get a sense of how well a system can reproduce those sounds. I personally have used recordings I've made of my family's voices, my son playing his trombone, the other his sax, me playing my acoustic guitar etc, to get a sense of how close or far away a speaker system is reproducing those sounds. (Some remarkably close - others sound distinctly "not right.") My electronic keyboard does not provide such a handy touchstone.

Which brings me to this:

Quote:
Indeed, here on AVS, I've received more requests to include death metal in my review-music queue than jazz, classical, and opera combined.
So either these people are very interested in audio equipment reviews, and interested enough to become members of an AV-enthusiast site...but aren't audiophiles. Or, perhaps you have misread the breadth of music audiophiles are interested in? :-)

Quote:
I'm not going to change my listening habits just because a speaker costs a lot, so I delved right into the TT1 listening sessions with some of my favorite hip-hop tracks.
This stopped me in my tracks somewhat. Yes, I get that you would not want a speaker that won't sound good with the music you listen to. But a reviewer has to review the capabilities of a speaker, not only how he might use it. Someone could listen to only ukalele music and say "I'm not going to change my listening habits just because a speaker costs a lot," which is fine...unless he's reviewing speakers. If he's reviewing speakers, he owes it to the reader to test the speaker with a range of musical styles that not only might capture more of the range in the various readers, but which might bring out weaknesses or liabilities with certain types of sources.

In other words, while it's nice to know the TT1's worked for hip-hop and some of the other music you mentioned, I'm glad your audiophile friend showed up, to diversify the listening content, and include acoustic sources

The last thing I'd mention is a personal pet peeve: adding subwoofers to speakers being reviewed. This drives me nuts, frankly.
I get that there are people who like to add subwoofers. But the subwoofers are not being reviewed: the speaker is being reviewed. Of course adding a sub will fill out the sound of a speaker. But I want to know how it sounds alone, not with a sub. The speaker designer has gone to lengths (hopefully) to produce designs with good quality bass, well integrated with the rest of the frequencies. I want to hear mostly about how well the whole design has been pulled off. That a speaker sounded richer with a sub, or more satisfying especially to someone used to subs, is not a particularly enlightening observation: it's what I would expect.

Further, once you introduce a crossover, you are fiddling with the original design of the speakers under review - now you are removing frequencies, and sending them to another speaker, now reviewing both the speaker and whatever sub the review happens to have paired it with. Subs can really alter the sound - not only adding richeness in the bass, but a sense of richness in the midrange, and even adding more sense of ambient space (depending on the recording). Therefore I am frustrated in a review when a sub has been added: I don't always know whether any particular remarks referenced "with sub" or "without sub" and I would certainly prefer the vast majority "without sub."

Finally, there was this puzzling statement:

Quote:
Thiel acknowledges it is veering into the luxury segment of the audio market, and away from catering to pure audiophile sensibilities. I applaud the company for taking the leap.
What does that mean? It's great that the new Thiels are excellent performers, but that statement is just puzzling.

Jim Thiel's design goal had been to re-produce the source signal as accurately as possible, with as little distortion as possible. He noted that the signal traveled from source, through the amplification system with virtually no distortion, but once the signal hit speakers the signal was distorted, broken up, even before it had a chance to hit room boundaries or reach your ear. He wanted a speaker to act more like an amplifier in terms of minimizing signal distortion, hence his goal of flat frequency response, low time/phase distortion etc. And he was renowned for applying no nonsense engineering to that goal, with ever increasing success. Add to that, Thiel speakers had always been lauded for nice aesthetics and impeccable craftsmanship. Those were the "sensibilities" Thiel was aiming at.

What, I wonder, is there to "applaud" about the company leaving behind such goals to veer into the "luxury" segment? Aside, that is, from what seems to be a sort of (misplaced) jab at "audiophile sensibilities"? As in, once you say you aren't targeting those "audiophiles" that somehow deserves applause?
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post #8 of 115 Old 05-04-2015, 06:16 PM - Thread Starter
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Two things you can count on to always be a part of my reviews—even when it's 2-channel towers: Electronic music and subwoofers.

IMO, unless a speaker claims to be truly full-range, you may as well add subs. And if you add a sub, why not give the woofers on those speakers a break and use an appropriate crossover? I chose 50 Hz because I did not want to cheat the TT1s out of a chance to take care of business for most of the audible spectrum—they can handle it.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post
Two things you can count on to always be a part of my reviews—even when it's 2-channel towers: Electronic music and subwoofers.

IMO, unless a speaker claims to be truly full-range, you may as well add subs. And if you add a sub, why not give the woofers on those speakers a break and use an appropriate crossover? I chose 50 Hz because I did not want to cheat the TT1s out of a chance to take care of business for most of the audible spectrum—they can handle it.
Again, of course subs will increase the volume and frequency range of the sound. But then what you start doing is reviewing a speaker system that you have started to re-make (e.g. taking frequencies out of the speaker under review, adding your own lower end woofer system, choosing your own crossover points, relieving the drivers of strain where they might otherwise not perform as well, etc). And, again, adding a subwoofer can go beyond simply extending the bass; it can alter the character of the general sound.

I don't want to read about the speaker system you've put together; I prefer to read about the speaker-under-review
that represents the goals of the designer for that speaker. And which would represent what I'd buy.
Not to mention lots of people don't want to bother with or mess with the added complexity, wiring and space required for a subwoofer, or just don't care to add a subwoofer to every speaker that doesn't happen to go down to 20hz.

You can say that your reviews are necessarily narrowed to people who you will presume add subs, and who perhaps also don't listen to much acoustic-oriented music. But IMO it would be a shame to limit the usefulness of speaker reviews that way.

(Again, I have nothing against a reviewer adding a sub at some point in the review; but if too much of the review is a review of the speaker + sub, I feel the above objections apply).
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A major reason why lots of audiophiles will use acoustic-oriented music in evaluating systems is because acoustic sources act as a sort of marker, or touchstone, for understanding the voice, character, and fidelity of a system. For purely electronic instruments, there is no "real thing" to compare against, only that source being played through all manner of different systems. But with voices or saxophones, other sounds with which we can be familiar, we can get a sense of how well a system can reproduce those sounds. I personally have used recordings I've made of my family's voices, my son playing his trombone, the other his sax, me playing my acoustic guitar etc, to get a sense of how close or far away a speaker system is reproducing those sounds. (Some remarkably close - others sound distinctly "not right.") My electronic keyboard does not provide such a handy touchstone.
Thanks! you hit the nail right on the head ,English isn't my first language ...

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Two things you can count on to always be a part of my reviews—even when it's 2-channel towers: Electronic music and subwoofers.
Thumbs up!

I think it's horribly closed-minded old-white-man groupthink to be surprised that people who buy nice-looking expensive speakers won't listen to electronica or hiphop. Of course such music should be used to review speakers!

Nice review, though remember that there are angles beyond on-axis! Still, given the waveguide loaded tweeter and that small midrange, I'd expect the polar performance to be similarly excellent as the on-axis performance. Also, the treble linearity with level with that tweeter loaded in a waveguide will be much better than those wretched joke Goldenear things you've reviewed...

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Every time i see your reviews on speakers i want to recommend the album Forward Escape by Tipper. Some insane 3d imaging and fantastic sound dynamics on every track. Great review!
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Thumbs up!

I think it's horribly closed-minded old-white-man groupthink to be surprised that people who buy nice-looking expensive speakers won't listen to electronica or hiphop. Of course such music should be used to review speakers!

I listen to every music genres but for a critical audition test ,The speakers have to accurately reproduce the sound of the instruments and vocals.

electronic ,dub or hip hop is a music that is mainly concentrate on very low frequencies.

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I listen to every music genres but for a critical audition test ,The speakers have to accurately reproduce the sound of the instruments and vocals.
While I agree that good speakers must be able to reproduce the sound of acoustic instruments and vocals well...if you choose to limit your program material in a given situation ultimately that's your problem, not ours.

IMO, the most important criteria for auditioning material is listener familiarity.
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Thumbs up!

I think it's horribly closed-minded old-white-man groupthink to be surprised that people who buy nice-looking expensive speakers won't listen to electronica or hiphop. Of course such music should be used to review speakers!
Just curious: do you see anyone here exhibiting that type of thinking? I don't.

As I said, most audiophiles I know enjoy a wide range of music that includes electronic/non-acoustic music.
And you'll very often find such music mentioned in audiophile review magazines.

(Not that I'm sticking up for all of audiophiledom, which has lots of crazy within it. But I think sometimes I see
dismissive attitudes toward high end audio that sort of overreach).
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Hi Mark,

Thanks again for taking the time to do a thorough review. I always enjoy reading your observations.

If I might be so bold as to nitpick just a tiny bit (sorry!), and correct me if I'm wrong, but couldn't the difference in the frequency response between the two sets of speakers be because 1. when you set the second pair up you didn't place them in the exact same position as the previous speakers (inches count, right?) or 2. if you DID place them in the same position, couldn't one set of speakers perform better closer / further to the wall etc? ... Were these near-field measurements?

I know you've actually pointed out in previous threads how a less expensive speaker can measure VERY well (I think you mentioned Andrew Jones Pioneers while I mentioned Paradigm Atoms) vs. a more expensive set - however in your contrasting the two in this article with your graphs, combined with the following statement:

Quote:
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"I measured the frequency-response linearity of several less-expensive speakers; the TT1 outperformed them handily. Although I do not have an ideal space for making measurements, the superior linearity of the TT1 was self-evident."
it seems you're making a case for paying top dollar for superior linearity - alluding to the fact that speakers that cost *just* $1500 can't compare.

I'm not sure that's always true.

Anyways no harm no foul, just a comment. I'm not trying to be rude, just hoping for a little clarification

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Thumbs up!

I think it's horribly closed-minded old-white-man groupthink to be surprised that people who buy nice-looking expensive speakers won't listen to electronica or hiphop. Of course such music should be used to review speakers!
Closed minded old white-man groupthink? Seriously, you sound very open minded and must be straight from a Benetton commercial with that diversity quest.

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I never buy just fronts any more. I always buy fronts and a matching center. I find stereo to be empty compared to multichannel. I need to know how good the front 3 sound, not just the front 2 since the center has a huge impact on overall sound.
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I never buy just fronts any more. I always buy fronts and a matching center. I find stereo to be empty compared to multichannel. I need to know how good the front 3 sound, not just the front 2 since the center has a huge impact on overall sound.
Interesting, and you find this is true for stereo playback of music? Funny, because these days I'm doing most of my listening with Atmos Dolby Surround upmixing, but using a phantom center.

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Closed minded old white-man groupthink? Seriously, you sound very open minded and must be straight from a Benetton commercial with that diversity quest.
In his defense, I've been to high-end shows and listened to many anti hip-hop, anti-electronica, and anti-subwoofer rants from older males who self-identify as audiophiles. I'm loath to draw off a stereotype, but there's something to it.

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Great review Mark. I appreciate the detailed review structure, as well as the fact that you reviewed this two channel system without EQ. I'm impressed with tne linearity of these Thiels. As an audiophile, I've followed them and many other brands over the years, and I am particularly proud of Theil's willingness to take a chance, offering something they never have. I, for one, would love to see how the TT1 compares against the model it replaces. Not only is it an opportunity to compare two speakers, it's also an opoortunity to quantify the effects of an evolving design philosophy. We can see what sacrifices (if any) were made, and what the sonic benefits (if any) of the innovations are. It also allows us to determine whether the innovations and resultant performance were worth the design changes or sacrifices made elsewhere.

Thanks for reviewing these speakers.

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Hi Mark,

Thanks again for taking the time to do a thorough review. I always enjoy reading your observations.

If I might be so bold as to nitpick just a tiny bit (sorry!), and correct me if I'm wrong, but couldn't the difference in the frequency response between the two sets of speakers be because 1. when you set the second pair up you didn't place them in the exact same position as the previous speakers (inches count, right?) or 2. if you DID place them in the same position, couldn't one set of speakers perform better closer / further to the wall etc? ... Were these near-field measurements?

I know you've actually pointed out in previous threads how a less expensive speaker can measure VERY well (I think you mentioned Andrew Jones Pioneers while I mentioned Paradigm Atoms) vs. a more expensive set - however in your contrasting the two in this article with your graphs, combined with the following statement:



it seems you're making a case for paying top dollar for superior linearity - alluding to the fact that speakers that cost *just* $1500 can't compare.

I'm not sure that's always true.

Anyways no harm no foul, just a comment. I'm not trying to be rude, just hoping for a little clarification
I took nearfield measurements and I moved the speaker(s), keeping the mic in the exact same spot. And yes, you can find cheaper speakers that measure well, especially if you look at bookshelf models and studio monitors. And because my room is not anechoic, you can't compare bass response in those measurements—at all. It's an imperfect measurement that merely shows how well that dome tweeter performs.

As for whether $1500 speakers can or cannot compare... the answer is yes, you can find $1500 speakers that offer just as much musical satisfaction. What is harder is finding a speaker that uses a dome tweeter that performs as well at the same volume levels without shelling out big bucks. And yet I am sure it can be done, just like I'm sure you can find even pricier speakers than the TT1s that do not exhibit as flat a response in the treble.
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In his defense, I've been to high-end shows and listened to many anti hip-hop, anti-electronica, and anti-subwoofer rants from that precise demographic. I'm loath to draw off a stereotype, but there's something to it.
Fair enough, but whatever happened to judge a man on his character and not on his skin color, or is it only swing one way? Anyway I don't wanna drag this any further, I've said what I wanted, back to topic.

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post #24 of 115 Old 05-05-2015, 05:49 AM - Thread Starter
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Fair enough, but whatever happened to judge a man on his character and not on his skin color, or is it only swing one way?
Indeed, skin color has absolutely nothing to do with this. The criticism is against the predilections of older males who self-identify as audiophiles. Because that's the demographic you (overwhelmingly) find at high-end shows and lurking in high-end audio stores.

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I personally don't understand the comparison of the TT1 to the small original 1.6, a two way speaker.
Unless I'm completely missing something, the TT1 is a replacement for the original 2.7.

I appreciate the effort in the review, but the persistent comparison to the 2.2 set up didn't help me understand the new speakers. Like you, I very often will add subwoofers to a two channel listening experience, but my interest was in the speakers, not your particular package.
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I personally don't understand the comparison of the TT1 to the small original 1.6, a two way speaker.
Unless I'm completely missing something, the TT1 is a replacement for the original 2.7.

I appreciate the effort in the review, but the persistent comparison to the 2.2 set up didn't help me understand the new speakers. Like you, I very often will add subwoofers to a two channel listening experience, but my interest was in the speakers, not your particular package.
Since I am not familiar with Thiel's legacy speakers, I was going with what the company said. Namely, this quote from an email I received...

"Also, you made mention in the forum of wanting to compare legacy THIEL to the review sample that you have. The TT1 was intended to replace the CS1.7, and we have some CS1.7s in the warehouse we could ship to you if that would help you editorially."

As for the subs, they only entered the picture for the listening portion of the review, and I noted when a sub made a difference and when it did not. For most speaker brands, I'd choose a sub (subs) from the same brand, but with the TT1s there was no matching subs, so I decided to go with the JLs.

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Interesting, and you find this is true for stereo playback of music? Funny, because these days I'm doing most of my listening with Atmos Dolby Surround upmixing, but using a phantom center.
All my music is played in stereo. I don't have any multichannel discs. I think the surround processing does a great job and I prefer it over straight stereo.
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Quote:
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Which brings me to this:

So either these people are very interested in audio equipment reviews, and interested enough to become members of an AV-enthusiast site...but aren't audiophiles. Or, perhaps you have misread the breadth of music audiophiles are interested in? :-)
As an audiophile since the 80's let me see if I can explain. I think most of us who are into metal or extreme music understand in many cases the sound will not be "audiophile-optimum", but what comes first and foremost to us is the music, not the equipment. So we're not going to conform to "audiophile standards" by sacrificing the music we truly love for the music that might sound the most impressive. But we do want the best sound within our preference.

Rock has been a dominate form of music for 50 years. And metal-heads are usually very devoted to that genre. I think it makes perfect sense that rock and metal would be an extremely popular form of music for anyone, including audiophiles.

While I appreciate classical music, frankly after 15 minutes it bores me to tears (expect classical Spanish guitar). I'm sick of hearing about Diana Krall and I don't like jazz, so why would I listen to it just because I have good equipment? When I audition speakers I take a range of music with me ... Sade, Thomas Dolby, Doobie Bros.' Steamer Lane Breakdown and Exodus' Shovel-headed Kill Machine. What's funny is my first post in the Audio forum was asking why reviewers don't use metal. I was sick of reviewers stating "I tested rock (The Little Rascals) on these ..." Truly laughable. Tells me nothing. I'm glad to see reviewers like Mark use a wide range of music and I don't have a problem with him not using death metal if that's not his cup of tea, as long as he tests those speakers with some form of music(let's called it "congested") that will really push them.
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post #29 of 115 Old 05-05-2015, 06:08 AM - Thread Starter
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Mark,

Which brings me to this:

So either these people are very interested in audio equipment reviews, and interested enough to become members of an AV-enthusiast site...but aren't audiophiles. Or, perhaps you have misread the breadth of music audiophiles are interested in? :-)
When I ran a poll, the result was close to 50/50. https://www.avsforum.com/forum/92-com...udiophile.html I voted yes BTW.

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Re: subwoofers

The short form version of my sentiments is as follows: TT1s work great with many music genres, but there's enough stuff out there that dips down to 20 Hz or lower, so you'll probably want to add a sub or two if you listen to that sort of music (which could include organ music), or plan to use the TT1s in a Thiel-based surround-sound system.

Unless a speaker is truly full-range by design, IMO it should be accompanied by subwoofers. And even with full-range speakers, subwoofers are a desirable addition because they are a useful tool for smoothing in-room bass response.

I'm not aware of a single audio-related topic that isn't fodder for debate. I tested the TT1s with and without subs, which IMO is more informative than simply testing them without subs, but I respect the opposing viewpoint.

Also, with the Third Avenue Collection, Thiel is clearly aiming at the AV market as well as the 2-channel market by including a center channel in the lineup. And in the world of AV, subs are de-rigueur.
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