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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I haven't seen much discussion on Thiel speakers on this forum...So, I'm just curious to hear what opinions others have regarding Thiel.
 

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Mad Dog,

From what I have read in months past, Thiel speakers are very good though they are particular in how they are set up. You need to make sure you have room behind and around them for them to sound their best. I have only heard the PowerPoints and they are awesome little (but very expensive) surrounds with great imaging. I'm waiting for a pair to show up on audiogon to use as my rear speakers. Hope this helps a little.


Mike
 

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Thiel uses very high quality drivers, crossovers, and cabinets. Jim Thiel is considered to be one of the most exacting designers. Thiel speakers have very good imaging and resolution, the lower priced speakers giving up a bit of low bass extension but maintaining very good bass resolution in the mid-bass. I think of them as being very "clean" and well-resolved, with an extended high end.


That said, while I have great respect for Jim Thiel & his speakers, they aren' t my cup of tea. They sound too clinical to me, with highs that are too crisp. I don't find them as musical or enjoyable as many other speakers. However I can understand why some people would love them, if you like a bit of an aggressive high end and treasure highly resolved reproduction, these are among the best. They have garnered several very positive reviews from audiophile magazines over the years.


Tom B.
 

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I've had the 2.2's for over 5 years in my home theater and

audio room. I use them as the main L and R speakers for 2

channel and as mains in a 5.1 channel setup. They are great

speakers, but as others have pointed out are very revealing

of the sources in your system. They require good quality

upstream components and careful system matching to sound their best. I got the Powerpoints last year for the surround speakers. They are expensive but well worth it. The coaxial drivers used in the Powerpoints and new 2.3's are phenominal. I plan to upgrade to the 2.3's when the budget allows. I am using the SCS-2 center channel that also has a coaxial driver. It is placed on a stand below the screen and has an uncanny ability to lock voices onto the screen right where they should be placed. The brightness that some people hear with Thiel speakers is often the result of bad system matching. I use a Levinson amp and Cardas cables and the system sounds wonderful. Sweet highs, natural midrange, and tight tuneful bass. Rock solid image placement and wide soundstaging requires careful setup, but is well worth the effort. Place them well away from room boundaries to sound their best.


Bruce
 

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Many of his traditional floor standing designs had difficulty handling the high output and dynamic range that are consistent with home theater play- back at reference volume. Many of the speakers can be considered difficult to drive, with a nominal impedance of 4 ohms and places where the impedance is between 2 and 3 ohms. Wimpy amplifiers need not apply.

To address this they have produced a number of speakers that are somewhat more efficient and can handle the abuse of home theater at reference volumes.


In non floor standing speakers-

Powerpoints

PCS

MCS1

SCS3

Powerplane (in wall)


Floor standing (newer generation)

CS 1.6

CS 2.3


Traditional line

CS .5

CS 3.6 (to be replaced in less than a year by the 3.7 hopefully)

CS 6

CS 7.2


Subwoofer

SW1 (sub is available, but the control box/crossover is still in the works-- 2 10 inch cones in a single enclosure)



General statements without putting my foot in my mouth:

If you place any of the floor standing speakers in close proximity to a room boundary or sit exceedingly close to the speakers you will compromise the sonics of the intended speakers design. (When you read reviews, keep in mind that first order crossover designs do not measure well within 1 meter--and PS nobody sits one meter away-this is the nature of phase coherent/sloped baffle first order designs)


Unlike the floor standing speakers, the bookshelf design of the SCS 3 and MCS1 are more tolerant off axis (both horizontally and vertically because of the coaxially mounted midrange/tweeter-2seperate drivers with a mechanical crossover). This arrangement allows for coherent arrival time between the drivers because you are always sitting the same distance from the 2 drivers. This design is extended to the powerplane and powerpoint.


In addition, the powerpoint is specifically designed to allow for on wall or ceiling mounting, while avoiding many of the colorations associated with this type of mounting.


I must say that Tom B was very fair to a speaker line that does not suit his particular tastes. These speakers will not hide or warm up any of the lackluster software that is available. I find this criticism is particular true in rooms that have little or no acoustical treatment; "the lively room".


If you are going with a bookshelf design, the MCS1 is the most efficient speaker in the line, at 90db. Compared to the SCS3, an excellent speaker in its own right, you will require half the amplifier power to produce the same sound pressure. This is not a light (65 pounds) or inexpensive (2200 dollars) speaker, but they do sing with quality amplification that has good output into a 4 ohm load. Nothing less than Rotel, and great with the likes of Bryston and Classe'. My own listening convinced me that these speakers are far more tolerant vertically off axis (a common problem in home theater) than most bookshelf speakers I have listened to. They are also more tolerant of placement in close proximity to room boundaries.


Hope that helps. Give us an idea about your room,listening preferences, budget, amplification, pre/pro etc and maybe I can be a little more specific.
 

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Quote:
I think of them as being very "clean" and well-resolved, with an extended high end.
I definitely have to agree. I had a pair of CS2.3s before moving to Revel Studios. On the high-end, I found 2.3s of nearly the same calibre as the Studios.

Quote:
The brightness that some people hear with Thiel speakers is often the result of bad system matching
...and lousy source material. I use Levinson amps as well. With good material, the 2.3s are wonderful (they've been sitting pretty in their boxes at home for months as I haven't had the heart to ship them off to my brother).
 

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I listened to a Mark Levinson all "reference" setup while visiting the Kansas city area. It was a No. 31.5 transport feeding a No. 30.6 DAC, into the No. 32 preamp, to a pair of No. 33 monoblocks and finally into a pair of Thiel 7.2 speakers.


Perfect sound!!!! But it should be for that kind of money. $100,000


I then walked into another room a listend to the rest of the Thiel line. All were wonderful, very musical speakers. They got better as the price went up but I found that the speakers were a little overpriced in general. I would put them into the same category as Sonus Faber. They sound great but I get the sense that higher price is the result of the cabinet materials and not necessarily better performance.


I thought the best speakers at the store were the Wilson Watt Puppys. (about 40% cheaper than the Thiel 7.2)
 

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- after getting past my 'Lexington, Ky Bias' -


I really like the sound of the entire line, but they're out of my price range. If I had the money, there's no doubt that this is the brand I would have.


As far as build quality, I would guess that there is none better!


AVS member 'GLUEGUN' has a set (2.3?).
 

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Jumping back in with a couple of followups ...


While I'm personally not enamored of Thiel's speakers, I believe they are reasonably priced for what you are getting. If their sound is one that turns you on, then the quality you get for the dollar is good.


When properly setup, the imaging is superb. I've heard recordings of quartets and jazz trios that were exquisite.


On the down side, to my ears, no amount of room taming is sufficient for me to warm up to these speakers. Twice I've heard them in rooms that were setup by Jim Thiel himself. At other times in a long-time Thiel dealership that used various corner and wall acoustic treatments. I've heard the .5, 1.6, 2 2, 2.3, 3.6, and 6 and found all of them to be overly bright for my taste. As I stated above, I've heard some cuts that raised the hair on the back of my neck. But everytime I find myself relaxing after the music goes off. I once spent 30 minutes in a room with the CS 6s driven by top of the line Audio Research tube gear and my favorite CD demo cuts. By the end I was suffering from listening fatigue and had a headache for the next couple of hours. I've since seen benchtest measurements that show a peak of +8dB or so in the 18K-20K region from the CS 6 - and even though I didn't consciously detect it, I suspect it wore me down.


So I do agree that equipment matching and room acoustics are extremely critical with Thiels. And if you like the overall sound and get your system setup correctly, you'll love the result. I know this is true for many speakers, but the overall quality and resolution of a Thiel is right up there at the top. Even the low-end .5 is a very high quality piece. Just last week I was listening at a moderately low volume to a violin piece through a .5 and it was strikingly clean with wonderful imaging.


Tom B.
 

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I have heard the 2.3, 3.6, CS6, and MCS1 using several different setups and while the 2.3 (to me) where just OK, I really liked the 3.6 & CS6 towers...I heard them using McCorrmack and Krell amps/pre-amps and found them to be VERY strong contenders to my favorite speakers (Revel F50/F30's) in that price range. The MCS1 mates very nicely to either of those. Back to the 2.3 comment, I prefer a speaker with a nice tight bass and the 2.3 just and I say JUST missed having enough for MY tastes. The Powerpoints/plates are really good too!


Mike
 

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In one of my HT set ups I have a pair of 3.6s for l/r and their big center.


If I'm not mistaken (no flames if I am please :)), the original review of the 3.6's in Stereophile eons ago was one of the first (if not *the* first) use of the term 'ruthlessly revealing' to describe speakers.


I auditioned the 3.6's with different amps, pre-amps, cd transports, DACs, even cables (don't go there). I found that the best combo for my ears, budget and room was a Theta Casablance and Krell KAV series amps. From there, the rest (e.g. cd transport, dvd player, etc) made only marginal difference.


The Thiels tend to measure flat flat flat in a controlled environment which is why they can sound bright, harsh, analytic, even screechy to some ears when playing real world sources. Soundtracks (DVDs) especially are mixed brightly to compensate for the fact that in theaters the speakers are behind the screen. Take that screen away and yikes!


All this said, with the pre/pro-amp combo I have I love the thiel front array. The HT itself if furnished in a rather 'rich' way with a thick area rug (about 1.5" thick), ultrasuede window coverings and a dropped ceiling with fabric wrapped acoustic panels rounding it out. The room sounds hushed and quiet but is by no means 'dead' and the sound is phenomenal.


If you're planning a purchase I would absolutely take long, deliberate time to demo the speakers with any upstream stuff you own or are considering for purchase.


TM
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
WOW!!! Thanks for sharing your abundance of opinions and info...Since you all have been so generous, I feel obligated to share about the new addition to my system...coming to this decision was in part due to the positive responses I have received from everyone...I had the opportunity to listen to a pair of older Thiels and was very impressed so I consulted with my better half (significant other) and was given the approval to pull the trigger on a pair of CS1's (mid '80's model, i think) in excellent condition. I've never been a big fan of metal dome tweeters so I was fascinated with the older Thiels that employed the soft dome tweeters. After bringing these home and hooking them up, I'm totally enamored by their imaging capabilities. For a frame of reference as to where I'm coming from, these Thiels are replacing a pair of DT BP10B's which I thought were pretty good for HT but I always felt they were lacking in warmth and imaging for stereo. They seemed thin and sterile in the midrange but nicely weighted in the lower frequencies. The small floorstanding Thiels on the other hand are so sweet and involving, VERY revealing indeed, in the mids while still providing decent bass for the size of the cabinet. Since they are not as efficient as the DTs, they do require a capable amp to drive them loud. The DTs would start sounding harsh at high volumes IMO, whereas the Thiels maintain their composure. I guess what really surprised me was that a mid '80s speaker would sound so good still. I would write more if I had more time, but I do want to thank all those members who have offered their opinions and advice. Thanks everyone!
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by R.Thompson
They sound great but I get the sense that higher price is the result of the cabinet materials and not necessarily better performance.



I thought the best speakers at the store were the Wilson Watt Puppys. (about 40% cheaper than the Thiel 7.2)


The cabinet design is an integral part of the improved performance. The fact that it has the look of a fine piece of custom made furniture should be expected at the this price point. Heck he made the baffle of CS5i (now defunct) out of marble to assure no resonance from the cabinet. But those speakers were frequently damaged in shipping

The Watt Puppys are $14,900, putting them at the same price point as the 7.2s .
 

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Thiels are certainly not as forgivng as some other speakers. With a bad recording some other speakers will make it sound listenable, not Thiels. They are also extremely sensitive to what is put in front of them as far as electronics and cabling as compared to many other brands. A couple of the new models are not as taxing on amps as some of the older ones as noted above. So they are not for everyone. I have 3 SCS2s in the bedroom system and putting back together the main system which will include 7.2s, MCS1, Power Points and an SCS2 as the rear center. I have also owned the 2.3s. I talked a couple of friends out of 2.3s when I had them. they loved them but would not have been happy with the electronics and the room they were going in.
 

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Hello there, fellows.


...Just curious: Have any of you had the opportunity of comparing the Thiels vs. the Aerials in terms of type of sound (ie. revealing, forgiving,bright, dark, dynamic, congested, etc), cabinet quality, overall construction quality, etc....but always in the context of home theater?


Other than an ocassional listening to some 3.6s (in audio-only context, not HT), I am not very familiar with the

performance of the Thiel line. However, I remember a couple of cases of friends/relatives of mine shifting from Thiels to other reputable options upon their repeteadly blowing up their Thiels' tweeters when playing them in home theater rigs at very high volume levels (THX-ref. level or so). If memory serves well, it seemed that the first-order drivers used by the Thiels, although supposedly very good for audio-only applications from a purist standpoint, are not that good when pushed very hard to drive the great dynamic whacks present in today's soundtracks.


Can anybody cast some light on this issue? :)


J.V.
 

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J.V. Gomez,

he has created completely new designs in order to try to address that issue, but it has not trickled down to a number of the floor standing designs.

The 3.6 is an excellent speaker, but when asked to produce 105db SPL at the sitting position with HT, it tends to give up the ghost. The MCS1 is a very large book shelf speaker, that has tremendous output capability while still maintaining comparable 2 channel quality, though the lowest octave is lacking. I have had the MCS1 to reference volume with the most challenging DVD passages while utilizing Bryston Monoblocks, and the MCS1s do not sound congested and do not blow up. The 3.6s would start to have difficulty at about 6-7 db from reference. I have crossed the MCS1 over at 80 and 60 hz and find I like 60hz better.
 

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Don O:


...you are absolutely right! The friend of mine's Thiels I was specifically referring to were the 3.6s, which in ALL cases gave up their ghosts when asked to reproduce soundtracks at HT levels.


I personally own Aerial maxi-monitors (LR5, CC5), subs (SW12) and surround speakers (SR3), which I like very much for HT task. They are truly impervious to the most savage dynamic whacks! I routinely played them at THX-ref.+4 to 6 dB (that's loud!).


Thanks for your input!


J.V.
 

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Don O'brien -


I apologize for not being clear. I am well aware of the the impact cabinet design has on the sound, I was referring to finishes and little details. :) I felt that Thiel and Sonus Faber are a little more concerned with their speakers being a beautiful piece of furniture than other companies are. First on Thiel's list is sound quality, but I think they also spend a lot on final steps. I just prefer the look of piano finishes as opposed to the look of wood.


Also, I was told that the Watt Puppies could be talked down to $10,500 and that the Thiel 7.2 went for $17,000. Obviously I got my prices wrong... probably because I have no chance of getting a pair anytime soon.:rolleyes:
 

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I think the Watt/Puppies6 are more like $19,000 pair . . .The new replacements are to be around $23-24K if I remember right.

I agree with most of what has been said about Thiel: very high quality, very revealing (too much so IMHO). Sound best in very well damped rooms with softer sounding front end/amp. Older models not the ultimate for HT because of 1st order slopes.
 
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