I've heard the 7b and I believe the 2.4 and personally I would go with the Aerials. I found the Thiel's I listened to to be a bit too bright for my taste.
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IMPO, the last comment on the Thiels is likely unfair! DEPENDING LARGELY ON ASSOCIATED EQUIPMENT, it's way too easy to take a speakers as revealing as the Thiels(that goes with Wilson's, Magnapan's, JMlab's, NHT's, and other neutral gear), and mix em with gear that will "push them over the edge" in terms of brightness!
I must have heard it a 1000 times over the years...speakers that walk the edge of "neutrality" in tonality as being called "bright", by someone who heared them in A SYSTEM(you can't judge speakers without considering the gear their connected to..and that includes wires!) at one time!
Anyway, I don't think it's a fair shake. I sold the Theils over the years, as well as owned the 2.3. I also had the 1.5's and SCS3's in my home at one time "for a try". And while I've also owned other gear, and have long since sold the 2.3's(for various reasons), I wouldn't call them bright speakers by any means! They were very "clear canvases" with which to play sound through. The 1.5's might have been a bit pushy in the lower/mid trebble, but marginal. The 2.3's were just "smooth" and extended, and clear of course.
As for the 2.4's, I've only heard them once. I heared them on some marginal gear however and the sound was a bit dull, but not bright! Infact, my first thought was they were a bit supressed on top. But I figured the gear/setup as the problem.
I'm sure Thiel wouldn't release "junk" or "lesser speaker replacements. But you never know.
My experiences with the Aerials, is that, yes, they were more intentionally laid back and "non-fatiguing" sounding. And I heard them on many occasions, in many setup's. I must say I was never offended by the Aerial sound. Infact, they always reminded me of the Vanderstein's, only more revealing and refined sounding.
However, as a home theater speaker, I would NEVER USE THE AERIAL's! Why?...because they are too laid back and soft sounding! They aren't desinged to reach out and "grab you", are recessed in the "pressence reigion", and are basically music speakers! That's my thoughts. The Theils aren't necessarily my first choice there either. But they are WORKABLE I find. In the right room(medium preferably) they do well (refering to the 2.3's, which I've experience first hand there). INfact, of all the Theil's, I though the 2.3's had the best pressence, and involvement for movies! But you still gotta set em up right for best performance and solidity of immage.
Another consideration is that the Aerials are a bit lowish in sensitivity. The Thiels also, but not as bad I think.
Don't quote me on this...it's just from past rememberence.
The lower sensitivity speakers need lots of help in the dynamic reigion, which doesn't boad well for a quality HT experience.
Anyway, I've designed a lot of high end home theaters over the years. And I personally would't chose the Aerials for my choices. I just think they don't offer the "strengths" of a good HT speaker. They're more typical audiphile laid back music speakers to my ears...others might differ.
While Exertfluffers comments above make good sense, but I reach the opposite conclusion.
I've owned both Thiels (3.6s) and the Aerial 7Bs/CC3/SR3s, and have also auditioned the Thiel 2.4s(2 channel only) at a top Thiel dealer w/good matched gear & a treated room.
IMHO, most DVDs are mixed too bright to begin with, this done intentionally to "create excitement". For me, the result is an exciting 20 minute demo for speakers like the Thiels, but more fatigue over time. The mellower balance of the Aerials helps to compensate, resulting in a more relaxing presentation that lets me focus on the film/storyline in a more natural way. Granted, explosions etc. might not have the same "jump factor" as through the Thiels, but I prefer dialogue through the Aerials, and music integrated into film has a rightness that doesn't force itself on you. For my ears, there is plenty of involvement w/the Aerials, but only when the material calls for it. To each his own...
As to the above comment: I listened to the Thiels at a local high-end shop - I can't remember the associated equipment, but I have to believe the associated equipment would have been such that they were designed to put the Thiels in a good light. And besides, just my opinion - like Exertfluffer's opinion concerning the Aerials being used for HT -- I have yet to read a review in any magazine that the reviewer didn't go head over heels for them - then again Robk, you would be well advised to listen to both speakers before you invest the kind of money you would need to spend on either.
I've owned both Thiel 2.4s w/MCS-1 center, and LR3s w/CC3b center. Both are very good, and essentially you've identified the main difference. I never had a problem with fatigue setting in with the Thiels, however system matching is more problematic and prone to sounding thin or bright if not matched properly. Generally this is more expensive to achieve with Thiels. I do think the Aerials have an advantage in timbre matching, seamlessness of the front stage, and the ability to play louder without strain during bombastic scenes. The Thiels are fine, and can handle a fair amount of power, but their smaller drivers w/1st order xovrs sound less relaxed when the going gets very demanding. Both need solid power. The Thiels need refined power, whereas the Aerials need an amp that is of good quality, but is a little more crystalline in nature, and has good slam. In either case you will need a good sub since you should be high passing both alternatives at 80hz. For music I prefer the Thiels overall, just more potential imo for 2 channel stereo.
Sutts: Interesting observation about pairing up Theta amps with Aerial speakers. I have found that Theta amps also combine quite well with Thiel speakers. In my case, a pair of Enterprises driving my 3.6's and an Intrepid driving my SCS3 and (soon to come) PowerPoints. Thiel and Theta pair up very well. It sounds like Theta and Aerial do as well. To me, this says something about Theta amps. They certinly have impressed me.
Yeah I like a lot of the coments here. I just goes to show that you need to listen/TRY for yourself! To each his own.
I could easily see one persons taste/experience/preference in one dirrectio or the other.
I guess in the back of my mind, I have experiences with certain equipment/combo's, and setup's....and just take mental notes as I go along.
Either way, I agree with Tom Munro's comment about crossing these speakers over at 80hz to a powered sub for HT, yes!
Still, as certain as the tonality of the Thiels needs to be adressed, as well as the 1st order crossover situation/powerhandling/distance requirements/associated, for best sound/setup, I tend to shy away from audiophile speakers that are intentionally laid back sounding for HT dubties! This is the antithesis of what a good cinema (even THX) speakers is designed to do! I've heard simply too many speakers like this over the years that just didn't work well for EXCITING home theater pressentation. But, that's me.
I just liked the Thiels here, because I know what they can do for HT. But, some, like with the Vandersteen's popularity, like the more approachable sound.
Still, as for the comment from Sbank regarding "bright soundracks", you will find that a bright soundtrack will not be dulled by any means by a slightly more mellow sounding speaker! The things will still sound bright!
You can't tell me that the Aerials are dull enough on top that bright material will come across more smooth! These speakers are fairly accurate enough sounding transducers that they will let that "brightness" play right through as well as the Theils!
My solution to that is either "Re-EQ circuit" on the Pre/pro, or making sure you use forgiving amps and/or interconnects and such for your home theater needs mostly.
That way, when I 'm listening to music, I don't bother. But movies are all over the place sometimes...although not to he degree I think is being infered above. Most movie mixes are much more managable when transfered now. I can't remembe the last DVD I heard that was "overly bright/mixed". I think most that are comming out now are done well for remastering.
Still, when it comes right down to it, I choose neither of these speaker options for HT speakers. I go other routs myself. But if you favor music, then I understand the choices.
Back to the original point though, I can easily see where the Theils wouldn't be someeone's cup of tea, in fav of a speaker like the Aerials, or more approachable sound. You do need to take care with a speaker like the Thiels to balance the sound with the gear.
BTW, as "Sbank" commented..."DVD's are mixed bright to creat EXCITEMENT" is incorrect. If anthing, a DVD would be bright if it wasn't re-mixed well. A movie is mixed to be bright only for the purposes(when applicable) of playing through the perforated screen at the movie theater, for tonal correction!!!...not to create excitement or whatever!
Movies have been traditionally mixed this way for just that reason, and that's to commpensate for the fact that the speakers are hidden behind the screen.
Yeah, I guess we are in "violent agreement" here, furthering your point that Robk really should try to hear these before deciding.
As to the DVD mix sub-topic, you raise an interesting fact about perferated screens w/speakers behind them driving how they mix the top end of films a tad to the hot side. Makes sense. Regardless of the motive of those mixing the films, I still prefer the Aerial sound partially because it does present the sonics of bright material in a fashion that's somewhat less bright(maybe not smooth -- but with less emphasis on that area of the sound. Alternatively, I could see how others prefer the Thiel sound.
Robk, get away from the computer and go listening! Cheers,
Theta Amps pair well with just about any good high end speaker! (And they should since they go to great lengths to avoid colorations and global feedback).
But to put my 2 cents in - if you are willing to "feed" them - the Thiels will reward you many times over - they remind me of Maggies in that respect. If they aren't paired with good equipment, they won't be as good as they could be.
If you are using good amplification (Krell ought to qualify - thought you said that you were using them) then the Theils ought to sound fine. Thiels tend to like good cables too, and their time coherence might disallow something like the 10ga. Romex - though a multistraded speaker cable ought to do well - you will find the Thiels repsond in the bass mostly with the various cables - so pick the most neutral/natural you can find!
Aerial makes a good speaker - so if you like them, then great. I would hesitate to buy an expensive speaker to equalize bright DVD recording - it would be like buying a high end turntable with a particular cartige to make the Dynaflex records sound better! That kind of thing is what Receiver/Preamp Tone controls are made for.
I audition speakers with music with good dynamic range a good silences in parts - I do find that DVD-V sound to be too spotty for me.