Get a used Bryston 28B-SST2 for about 10 grand or a 7B-SST2 for half that used. Thiel has used this combo many times for demo. James Tanner of Bryston has an excellent review of this combo on the Bryston Limited section of AudioCircle. One of his personal systems.
After many days of research last week I have decided to narrow my next purchase down to the Thiel CS3.7 (new) or a TAD Evolution 1 (used) to use with the 28B-SST2 amps (used). My preamp is the BAT 42-SE
Wow. 210 views and no posts. If you know any 3.7 owners, please forward this on to them. It's just a poll and the results might help others.
Just for fun 1 more,
"We shared a demo room with Thiel at the recent Vegas Hi-Fi show in January (CES 2008) and used the 28B's on the Thiel CS 3.7's. Jim Thiel himself told me that it was the best sound they had ever had at a show. Also George Cardas of Cardas cables was so impressed with the setup he was sending people to our demo as his quote was - 'that's the best sound I have heard at a show in 20 years' "
Thanks SO much. I have also been interested in TAD speakers, but I've not
had a chance to audition them.
I have immense respect for Bryston. I've just had a small reservation about
whether they would be too forward and analytical for the totally transparent
3.7's . Your research definitely gives me courage to try some out. The
mono's are unfortunately beyond my financial reach, but I could probably
swing the 14BSST2. I assume it would have a similar sound as the 28's. I
use a Conrad Johnson CT5 preamp....which should mate well with A
I'd love to hear what you end up choosing on the speakers and what the
differences are in your opinion.
The 14B-SST2 may not work too well for you if are concerned about the sound being too forward. If you read Mr Tanners comments (and review) he highlights one aspect of the sound differences between the 7B-SST2 and the 28B-SST2 as the soundstage on one being forward and the other further back. The 7b and 14B are almost the same technically and supposed to sound the same.
There is supposed to be more of an audilbe difference between the 7B/14B and the 28B vs the 4B and the 7B/14B. Today, there are 3 sellers on A'Gon selling the 28B's for $10,000. If you get the original sales receipt from any seller you are essentially buying a new Bryston for 1/2 price. If anything goes wrong with the amps can send it to repair in either Canada or USA. They will fix it and return in brand new shape (or better with some older gear). I wish I had the funds today to buy one of these used amps at this price but I don't have the funds yet (working on my second job as I write this).
I am not sure how your pre-amp would work with the Bryston's but if you were to consider these amps you need to spend some time conversing with the people on Audiocircle and they can give you some guidance. So you don't waste your time and money. One thing you may find interesting is my concern that the new Bryston SST2 amps may sound too tubey. I don't like tubes.
I currently have the Thiel SCS4 with my BAT and a 4B-SST and I know that the pre-amp and amps work well together. This system, sans the pre-amp, will hopefully be relegated to my home office once I get my main rig together.
I was also considering the big BAT SS monoblock amps and the Parasound JC1 but decided on the Brystons because of good experiences with this brand in the past.
The TAD line has intrigued me as long as the Thiel CS 3.7 but prior to the Evolution 1 it was not financially doable. I am a big fan of Beryllium drivers and the reviews of the TAD's have been great. Not sure if The Evolution 1 is 2x greater than the Thiels. I have not spent enough time with the TAD's to make a decision.
Vhiner great question and big decision. I have almost bought these speakers twice! I am a long time 3.6 user and have become so accustomed to the clear, coherent and transparent sound other speakers just leave me grappling for more! Including my Eggleston Andra II's.
I have been using Mcintosh 501 mono's for several years and think it is a great combination. Before that Classe - both in the musical high current realm. You also have to be careful with cabling - tons of good options. I cannot use my Tara Labs The One speaker cables for example - too lean and gives the upper midrange a glare.
I have heard the 3.7 in 2 different settings and they sounded great - would love to do a side by side comparison to my 3.6 before spending 14 to 15K. I do know they are reputed to be more forgiving than jim's former line.
I will probably spring for a pair eventually - curious what is up the new owners sleeve in regards to innovation and a possible statement speaker. Good luck in your decision!
Thanks for sharing your experience! I owned the 3.6's prior to the 3.7's and can attest that the 3.7 is a serious upgrade but cannot advise as to whether it's worth the money...that's very subjective. I can say that the 3.7's are more transparent, balanced and natural. They don't produce bass below 35hz as the 3.6's do, but what they do with upper register sound is simply sublime. The new tweeter is amazing. They are also more efficient, which widens the range of amplifier choices.
I would love to audition some 501's.
As Mr. Tanner noted in the audiocircle thread, the 3.7's pass along whatever is fed to them....with NO interpretation. This is a double-edged sword, so I am being very careful in my decision making process.
I thought Mr. Tanner implied that the introduction of the squared series allowed more filter down of the 28's sound. That aside, I heard a 4BSST2 with some Maggie 3.7's last week and I thought it was a bit "cold" in presentation but the session was not long and the Maggies have their own issues. I simply can't afford the 28's unless they decide to double my salary at work. That'll be the day.
As a long-time Thiel owner, I have found that the Thiels sound really sweet with high quality tube amps, particularly if you listen to a lot of classical music (which I do). I have auditioned, but do not currently own, the CS3.7 with both solid state and tube amps, and the tubes produce the more natural sound IMHO. Solid state electronics produce a more "etched" sound with almost holographic imaging, which can be impressive, but live music does not sound like that in my experience.
VTL and ARC are good choices but others may work well, too. I don't care for E.A.R, which I find to be very dark sounding. Just be sure the amp is good at driving low impedances because the Thiels are not particularly easy loads to drive.
Bryston is too lean/forward for thiels for my tastes (own Theil 2.4CS) but they are good amps. I would looks for amps with a warm rich sound.
As good as the 3.7s are I would take the TADs (never heard them). They have a similar design principle and have a cost no object approach.
I wonder where all the actual 3.7 owners are? Guess they're happily enjoying their systems. ;-)
Not sure how many owners are really on here. At just shy of $14,000 there are a lot of speakers out there. I demoed them a number of time with a number of amps (Audio Research, Classe, Musical fidelity). They are very nice but I just wanted more bass and could not justify spending the money (my 2.4s are surprisingly good/close).
I had Thiel 2.4, Sophia 3, 802diamonds all in the same room/system for comparison and spent a few days listening at a local dealer.
In the end I liked the Revel Salon 2s the best (different dealer) but never bought them, intended too.... Such is life I guess.
But back to the subject thiels are truth tellers and can get lean in a hurry so amp matching is very important. Make sure know the frontend before you judge thiel good or bad.
...well I have to apologize. I ment to post these comments in the other thread asking about TAD vs Thiel... Sorry.
So to answer your question. I have heard the thiel 3.7 on a few amps.
Mcintosh MC252. Poor bass control and did not inspire me. Maybe a bigger Mac would have worked.
Very pricy Audio Research ($35,000+) dull, I could have fell asleep. It just lacked dynamics. The sound stage was nice and details good but no slam, no life. I felt the same way when it was hooked up to the Sophia 3 and I know it is a common pairing.
Classe, can't remember the model but it was around 400 watts. It had good body and texture. Lacked some of the fine detail of the AR but had more life for my modern/rock music.
I would try to demo Ayre gear or Pass Labs if you have the money.
Thanks for sharing your experience with those models. It's very instructive and tends to support some of my prejudices. I am currently auditioning a number of amps and will post my impressions when I've finished this phase of the quest. In the meantime, keep the stories coming, please!
Thiels are very good speakers, but they can be bright and forward. They are difficult loads for amps. Bryson tends also to be bright and forward. I would look at a used Audio Research, Mac, BAT, the more power the merrier. Whatever you decide on, either pre-hear it all together to see if it is to your liking, or have the option to return it.
A friend drives 3.7s with Parasound JC-1s. The combination sounds pretty great to me and is, comparatively speaking, reasonably affordable.
"They don't produce bass below 35hz as the 3.6's do, but what they do with upper register sound is simply sublime."
That is the main reason I have not committed, I listen to a lot of classic rock and blues in a large room and the bass performance worries me a little. The 3.7's with a sub would probably be awesome, but now your are in the 20k range and the choice in speakers begins to get really interesting.
Thiels are bright? Maybe 10-15yrs ago with the older models. Ive not heard the new CS1.7, but anything since CS2.4 are not bright, Id call them natural sounding. Maybe they heard them with some bright sounding sources. Anyway, Ive upgraded from a pr of CS2.4s to CS3.7s recently, driving them with a Krell int. amp KAV-400xi and I can listen to them all day long without ear fatigue. I thought the CS2.4s sounded good, but the CS3.7s are so much better, I dont think I can go back to a pr of CS2.4s anymore.
Thanks Richardyc. I agree that the 3.7's are far from bright. They're simply
the most truthful speakers I've ever heard. Ever so occasionally, the truth
I've wondered how the Krell 402 might sound. Would be able to describe
the Krell's character a bit as you hear it?
I wish I could afford to own and operate something like the ARC 250's, but alas, they are beyond my reach. Ditto the big VTL's. Bob Carver's Black Beauties might make it down to my neighborhood one day.
What preamp does your friend use?
Mark Levinson amps works really well with Thiel's. My ML334 and my CS2.4's can really sound magical. I've heard that amp on a pair of 3.7's as well and amazing doesn't even start of cut it...
Other amp that I've heard with 3.7's were a pair of McIntosh MC1.2kW's. Really, really nice, but oh so expensive.
Vhiner -- he runs direct to the Parasounds from a Metric Halo DAC, which has analog volume control.
How would you describe the Macs' sound with the 3.7's as opposed to the Levinson?
I think Richardyc is on to something for all of the thiel owners, the 3.6 and 3.7 owners in General, If eanything can fix the sound of thiels and handle the loads, It would be Krell by a long shot!, Good Luck!
Big Thiel fan here. The CS 3.7 are power-hungry monsters!
One needs a very big power amp or mono blocks to gain (no pun) all of the aspects that Thiel has to offer.
Keep us posted on your journey.
You are correct about the 3.7's need for power in order to perform optimally. Perhaps it goes without saying, but they also demand high quality watts. I've listened to some megawatt amps that weren't very musical. I wish I knew someone with Krells.
I own 2.4s with an (underpowered) Pass Labs XA30.5 and feel like that series mates very well with the Thiel sound. I heard a pair of 3.7s at RMAF that were powered with Hegel, and that room convinced me that I will eventually upgrade to the 3.7s, and that I will try out a Hegel amp if I get the chance. They really sounded great together. A lot of similar qualities to the Pass amps, but cooler running, and (I think) a bit cheaper watt for watt.
Someone at Thiel told me awhile back that they were very, very pleased with how the Hegel drove the 3.7's. Do you remember which model it was? Their flagship is out of my price range.
Vance, if the Hegel H30 at $15K is too steep I'd strongly suggest checking out their H20 which lists for $5,750. It is an excellent amp that has received universal praise in reviews worldwide. I can't answer your question as to which amp Thiel recommended, but several speaker manufacturers have chosen to demo with the H20 at various shows.
Always good to hear from you! The HD20 does 375W into 4 ohms, which, based upon past auditions, is the very lowest power I'll consider for the 3.7's. I will look around for an in-home audition opportunity. The buzz I'm hearing about Hegel is promising. I hope it would mate well with a tube preamp.
I've had a chance to hear the 3.7s with alot of gear. IMO, hearing them with the Hegel H30 at RMAF a couple years ago, was the best I ever heard them sound.
Regarding matching the H20 with a tube preamp, I have heard it used with the Manley 300B preamp several times and it proved to be an excellent combination.
Maybe if I'm patient, an H30 will come up on A'gon for $8k....and not from some unknown character in Germany. ;-) There was an H20 up for $4100 on Audiomart a while ago and I believe it was legit. Hope springs eternal.
I just bought Thiel CS 3.7s last week. I auditioned them at my local dealer with a 100 watt Macintosh tube amp and a Mac pre, which reproduced wonderful sound and were at least somewhat comparable to the performance of my VAC gear at home.
I also auditioned the CS2.7s, which sounded great in so many ways... but when we hooked up the 3.7s and played the same reference track... well, after the first three seconds of listening, I knew I was done for. I had to spend the money, as I've never heard anything like what these speakers pulled out of my records. I believe this speaker is a true breakthrough in high end loudspeaker design and will come to be known as the best value because to get this quality of sound, you could spend three or four times the $15k these cost. Which of course, means that matching amps is critical. 100 watts of high current tube power is the starting point.
I thought i had an idea what they would sound like at home, but i wasnt prepared...what I'm hearing with the 3.7s being driven by my VAC gear (Signature 2a pre and Phi 200 amp) is breathtaking. it's actually hard to describe the magic coming out of them. The sound is just gorgeous! And that's right out of the box. They will continue to improve for the next 400 hours of use.
Paired with my amps, these are the most natural sounding speakers I've ever heard. Powerful, articulate, revealing micro details without brightness or edge, a midrange to die for, excellent feel in your bones bass, incredible soundstage and holographic imaging... I know, you've heard all that before, but when you hear what they can do with strong tube amps like VAC, well, like I said, impossible to describe the experience fully...like mailing a haircut.
As for reports of being bright or lean -- well, everyone's ears and systems are different. In my home, right now, listening... I'm blown away by how alive and real my rig sounds. The bass is musical, effortless and taut, with absolutely no bloat.
Been doing this crazy hobby (read "obsession") for forty years and I've never been more excited about my sound system.
I think that aside from some tweaks here and there, my system has reached a level that is completely satisfying. I know, audiophile heresy, right? I am now going to rediscover hundreds of my albums. So my recommendation, the VAC Phi 200 or any other VAC component you can get your hands on... They will make your Thiels sing.
Interesting, I have the 2.4s now. I have been going back and forth between the Revel Studio 2 and Thiel 3.7s. I have heard the Salon 2 and 3.7 a good number of times.
Anyway, back on topic I don't think you need 375 watts unless you listen very loud. You just need an amp with stable current output. I have heard the 3.7 on tubes (150ish watts worth) but it was a little boring for my tastes. I listen to hard rock mostly (some audiophile stuff ) and value bass impact and tend to like amps with a high damping factor.
Honesty, I have really enjoyed class D amps because they handle the bass so well. However I don't know that I would recommend them to some one that listens to jazz and classical (I don't) because you give up some of the cleanness in the highs.
Isn't it great when a purchase pays off? Thanks for sharing about the VAC
gear. Just curious as to what types of music you generally listen to and how
big your room is. Congrats on joining the 3.7 fan club!
My preference for watts is not meant to be a statement of orthodoxy. Every
system and room is different. I simply know what I need in my room and in
my system. With the 3.7's, I don't covet more watts in order to raise the
volume; I have found that the "ease", "finesse" and
"agility" of the 3.7's cannot be fully realized with the lower watt
amplifiers I've auditioned. That is not to say that the 3.7's can't sound great
with lower watt amplifiers.
After five years of living with these incredible
speakers, I'm now shooting for something that will help them do their very
best with all types of music. My musical tastes are quite diverse and
eclectic, so it's a tall order. As you say, If I just listened to jazz, I'd get a
great 150-watt tube amp and call it a day.
My musical tastes are very eclectic, so I need a speaker that can load my 23X23 room for listening to all my musical genres. In my reference collection that I use to audition sources, components, cables and speakers, you'll find some amazing tracks from superb classical recordings, old jazz, as well as brilliant cuts like ZZ Top's La Grange, Ted Nugent's Stranglehold, Jeff Beck's Goodbye PorkPie Hat and other well recorded uncompressed rock. When I demonstrate my system, I use every genre, and invariably, my guests are stunned, especially by the sheer power of the hard rock tunes. The room just lights up with music that sounds live and sweeps you out of the room and to the recording venue. I usually have to clean up the drool on the carpet after the demo.
The Thiels replaced Von Schweikert Audio Unifield 3 and a pair of REL subs. The U3s are amazing in near-field listening, and with the subs they really rocked, but they don't compare with the ridiculously good performance of the 3.7s in my open plan living space. I still have the subs and will audition them with the 3.7s after the break in period. I believe that most, if not all systems benefit greatly from correctly set-up subs. I'll keep you posted on that.
My next upgrade is adding another VAC Phi 200 so I get all 200Watts for each channel... I just don't have a place for another amp right now due to WAF considerations. VAC amps are known by fans as being able to control and drive excellent bass from power-hungry speakers. The 100W per channel they put out doesn't sound like much until you realize the massive amount of current they generate. There are no wimpy amps in the VAC line-up. Current is king for bass impact. I fantasize about the VAC flagship amp that puts out 450 per channel, but the monoblocks are about $80,000.
I read the specs and a few reviews of the Phi 200 and it's clear the monoblocs have what it takes to handle the 3.7's 2 ohm dip. Not many tube amps can do that. How many hours do you get out of a tube set?
VAC is indeed powerful tube amp. My VAC sigma 160 is a LOT more powerful than my 200 watts aragon amp.
I Set my sigma volume at 10 o'clock position and it sounded louder than 200 watts aragon set at 12 o'clock position.
As for thiel 3.7, I would go for HEGEL H30. The CS 3.7 speakers are power hungry speakers.
Some even said that the H30 is better than amps costing 2-3x more.
The specs are good, but they don't do justice to the sound. The Phi 200 is one of those special amps (it was just reviewed in the UK's HiFi Critic) that those who have heard it become part of this weird club of crazed enthusiasts (or maybe that's just me...?). Kevin Hayes doesn't design for specs (like low distortion as an example)... they hand make and hand wire each amp point to point and then he personally voices each amp against their reference before it is packed for shipment. Even repairs and upgrades get the same treatment.
Ah, the pleasure of dealing with a small company who knows your name... VAC's customer service is legendary. Once you've experienced it, there's nothing like it.
As for tube life... the amp is so stable that I've not exhausted tubes in less than 18 months, and I have my amps on every day for hours. I've biased the tube set once in the last year and found that it didn't even need it.
Steve Hoffman (the recording engineer) just got a pair of Phi 200 mono blocks and he's amazed (that says a lot!). To think that this is VAC's entry-level amp...
Sigh. I guess I'll just have to bide my time until the VAC and Hegel gear begins to fall prey to someone's upgrade fever. ;-) New is beyond my grasp.
Don't despair, Vhiner,
If you're fast on the draw, you can sometimes find a used VAC Phi 200 on A'gon for about $5000. Not chump change, but better than $10,000! But you do have to ready to pull the trigger right away, as it's rare that someone will part with their amp unless they're upgrading to a bigger VAC.
If you find yourself in San Francisco, come over for a listen. But don't blame me if you sell your car...
Someone at Thiel told me awhile back that they were very, very pleased with how the Hegel drove the 3.7's. Do you remember which model it was? Their flagship is out of my price range.
It was actually their H300 integrated (with DAC, $5500 new), not even the big boy.
Also, I heard the 2.7s at last years RMAF, and simply didn't like them. Could have been the room, but it was setup by Thiel and was supposed to be the speakers' "unveiling ceremony," so I was sad not to be even slightly moved. I was happy that it solidified my desire to finish my speaker upgrade path with the 3.7s though. I hope I'm wrong, but I feel like they will go down as the last great feat of the company now that Jim is gone.
And dammit, I don't usually fall prey to people talking up components, but I'm going to have to add a VAC amp to the list of interest. That was effective effusement.
BAT VK-600 is also another option.
It is more affordable than VAC and HEGEL.
You wont find many used HEGEL or VAC at 50% discount. But BAT frequently seen on AGon.
Cal3713: "And dammit, I don't usually fall prey to people talking up components, but I'm going to have to add a VAC amp to the list of interest. That was effective effusement."
Thanks. I've been told I may have potential as a door to door religious cult rep. Tempting as that may be, the audio cult is more than enough for me, and I've been paying dues ( in the $thousands every year ) for a long time! I'm sure others on this thread can relate.
Anyway, I loved your use of "effective effusement," a term I have not heard before. Thanks for recognizing my effective effusement efforts! Gotta love alliteration!
A trip to San Francisco is a joy in and of itself...hearing the VAC/3.7 combo would be sublime. Next time I'm out there, I'll drop you a line. Thanks for all the info!
There is one VAC PA100/100 100W selling on AGON now. $1800