To comment on one question, Thiel are more harsh and detailed, Vandy is more musical and forgiving, and I think both are moderate loads for amps. For what it is worth I would prefer the Vandy hands down.
45 responses Add your response
Very different sounding speakers. Lots of commentary, run a search. In a nutshell, Thiels are considered more forward and detailed, requiring high quality upstream components, lots of current in the amp, which must have ability to drive low impedence load. Vandersteens considered more laid back, mate well with a variety of components, but show improvement as upstream components improve.
Chad n' Liz,
I don't think it's fair to stereotype Thiel's as harsh. The current Thiels, CS2.4s, and even the CS2.2s and CS 2.3s are extremely capable loudspeakers. It is this quality that, when not set up correctly, may result in the owner stating they are harsh. I think they are very fine speakers, and can, in the right setup be very musically satisfying indeed.
In general with ANY audio component, it is all about synergy with the rest of the system, and maybe most important, the room-acoustics. It blows my mind (not directing this at you) that all over the map people make blanket statments about this or that b/c it did not work out for them, or they heard it in a poorly setup dealer showroom, perhaps not even broken in...whatever.
There are lots of ways to get any speaker to sound harsh, and as you know, when you climb the resolution ladder, the source gear and room can make or break the overall result.
Well, I've lived with the Vandersteens and I have to agree with the messages so far.
I strongly preferred them to the Thiel 2.4, with the following caveats: the Thiels are the best finished and best looking speakers I have ever auditioned, if that's a consideration. I have also never heard better imaging than the 2.4. The Thiels were just too ruthless for me, and I found them somewhat fatiguing.
I think it is fair what I said, I said Thiels are more harsh and detailed compared to Vandy, I also think giving my opinion doesnt hurt anyone, I have equipment that doesnt always get positive feedback from others and it never bothers me....why does it bother you? Sometimes detail equalls harsh, sometimes musical can be boring it is just a matter of preference. Audibleguy asked for comparisons and thoughts about the 2 speakers, and those are both what I think.
Cool man, no bother(s) here. I loved my Thiel CS 2.2s but now moved on to Dynaudios for a change. I don't however agree that it is the Thiel that was harsh, probably some songs and associated equipment. I know they are revealing, and this means the owner needs to pay close attention to system matching. Vandy 3A Sigs are laid back, but also very capable and will probably be easier to design around, all things considered. FOr me, I like the up-front style of Thiel CS 2.2 to 2.4 maybe going deaf from all the years of loud music-lol.
Chad, maybe it is a matter of language usage, but I have heard the Thiel CS2.4 driven by a Bel 1001 Mk V amp and the sound was bright and exceptionally revealing, but not harsh. This is the combo owned by my former college roommate. He plays classical piano and the sound of the Thiels playing his own recordings sounds surprisingly close to the real thing. In an acoustically-deader room than his, the Thiels could be tonally dead-nuts accurate.
FUNK & WAGNALLS ENCLYCLOPEDIC COLLEGE DICTIONARY: harsh adj. 1. Grating. rough, or unpleasant to any of the senses: a harsh tone; a harsh light. 2. Unpleasing to the mind or the artistic sense; ungracefull; crude. 3. Manifesting severity and rigor; cruel; unfeeling:a harsh punish-ment. [ME harsk.prob.
Boy I wish I had room to carry around a Dictionary so I could pour over every word for exact definition, I am also jealous of how much time you must have on your hands. When I listen to Thiels if the complete package isnt exactly ideal they are unpleasing to my mind and my artistic sense and they can seem rather ungraceful and crued in their presentation, they can also sound rough and grating on my ears and tone is harsh. I hope this makes Unsound happy.
Sorry Chad, don't mean to pile on but I've had Thiel 3.6's for several years, 2 systems and many cables, Harsh would not be a description I would use even if not properly matched up. They are very revealing, uncolored IMO which means they pass through what is fed, that is precisely why I am a Thiel owner.
All systems need careful attention to detail to synergize and make music that makes you forget about equipment, Thiels fall in the category of "need a little more work" to accomplish that.
I've heard both, although months apart and in a different room. I think they both sound terrific. My impression is that the Thiel is quicker with, perhaps, a bit more resolution. Also, I think the Vandy is slightly more coherent and musical. Tough call - I could live happily with either. I would have figured out how to pay for the 3As a long time ago if the WAF wasn't so low. I was ready to pull the trigger on the 2.4s last year but was set back with some unexpected expenses. . . I also know someone who has lived with both. Although he used to prefer the Thiels, he has recently concluded that they tend to overemphasize sibilance and now thinks Vandys are better overall. I have been enjoying my Thiel 1.6s for almost 5 years but have been wanting more bass. I've recently decide to try the new Vandy 2ce Sig II, which is supposed to be nearly identical to the 3A Sig from the midbass up, but in a smaller package.
With an incorrect amplifier match (I won't name any lest I start a war) I agree that Thiels CAN sound a little edgy or grainy BUT any speaker can be mismatched.
Also, and this is very important, it could be Thiels simply don't suit your preferences. There are some very popular speakers (again no names) that I would never buy because they don't please my ears.
Given the assumption that each speaker would be set up properly with the proper ancillary equipment, this is probably a chocolate and vanilla issue; however, to MY EARS, the Vandys are easier to integrate into an existing system. IOW, there is a wider range of gear out there that sounds more like what I want to hear. I prefer a more coherent, relaxed sound and to me, the Thiels are more analytical than I prefer.
I demoed both the Thiel and Vandys at a dealers showroom. To my ears in his room the Thiels were indeed more revealing but not pleasantly so. They also had a strange sounding bass. The bass was similar sounding to the base of the Soundlab U1s (somewhat bloated). Not horrible but not accurate either. I ended up with the 3A sigs which I incorporated with my 2WQ subs and model 5 X over. They image well and I believe have a very accurate tone for most instruments. Voices are outstanding. The 3A sigs even with stereo subs are not dynamic. If slam is your thing stay away from the 3A sigs. In my environment the 3As do not really open up until played at around 90 db and higher so keep this in mind as well. The only Vandy model with slam and resolution is the model 5A which I hope to own in the next few years unless something else at a similar price point comes along. Of course this is all just MHO. Everyone please keep in mind my comments on the Sondlabs and Thiels are from limited experience in unfamiliar rooms set up by persons other than myself. The Soundlabs were run with EL34 tube amps which is probably why the bass was not to my liking. I think the 3Asigs are a good value but just dont quite do it for me. The only way to know for sure is a demo in your room. Hope this helps.
Over the holidays my audio and music loving friends came up for the weekend and we listened at relatively high levels to my CS6s for hours on end playing much vinyl and enjoying the wonder of great music and sound. They have Vandersteen 5As and I do the same with them whenever I go to visit them. Neither speaker type, Thiel nor Vandersteen is harsh. I power mine with Krell, yes with the "harshest" of amps through the "harshest" of speakers. Can you imagine? Oh the humanity! And it all sounds so damn good, warm and detailed. Man, I must be doing something wrong.
While ancillary equipment is important I don't think you can change the fundamental characteristics of either of these speakers. Thiel's = cool, dry, analytical, revealing. (Not a "harsh" word here for them). Vandersteen 3A Sigs = warm, lush, involving. It really does come down to personal preference. I lean toward a warmer, more involving sound at the expense of precise imaging and ultimate detail retrieval--and therefore the Vandy's. However, unlike the 5A's (and to a lesser degree the Quatro's) in which the bass response can be tuned to the room, the 3A is overripe, fat and ponderous. To my ear this is the fatal flaw of all the Vandy designs below the Quatro. In addition, the sub-Quatro models also are lacking in their ability to portray dynamic gradations (micro and macro). These speakers are like warm cozy slippers--great for a Sunday morning but you wouldn't want to work in them all day--or at least I wouldn't. The Quatro is really the starting point for this brand (and as such is a costly "entry level" model) and the 5A is in an entirely different league. Ultimately, having heard both the Thiel's and the Vandy 3A Sigs with the "right" ancillaries, I believe there are far better choices out there that present somewhere between the two extremes.
Wadia 861 - No mods
Supratek Chennin Pre - single ended
Parasound JC 1 amps
Vandy 3A sig
Stereo 2wqs - Model 5 xover
Audioquest Cheetah and Cardas Golden Cross inter
Alphacor MI2 bi wired spk cable
A few GIK panels at 1st and 2nd reflec points
13' ish X 35' X 8' room with spks on 13' wall
I have had the 3As and all over the place for the last year or so and have them sounding quite good. I have settled on positioning that gives a little more slam and bloom in the upper bass lower mid but at the expense of some resolution and precision. This tradeoff is worth it for me as a more dynamic presentation "fools" me more often than perfect imaging. I am somewhat suspect of my pre amp. Last night I removed the pre from the system and ran direct from the Wadia and bass slam did improve but the layered, 3d, realism thing that I find tubes do so well was gone. If I could get these spks to rock I know I would be happy for a long time because they do so many things right.
It's interesting that your preamp had that affect. It would have been my first question anyway. You may want to try some other options in the tube arena. For cheap $$ the PSE HL-1 was always a good match...especially with upgraded tubes. The Aesthetix gear is fun too. In any case, I wouldn't run the Wadia direct because of how they do (or, I think they still do) their volume control in that unit.
The only other suggestion I have is to try all Audioquest wires. That way you'll know what the components are doing...using different cables ends up like using tone controls.
Good luck, you should be able to achieve what you want without a lot of hassles.
I think you underestimate the affect the ancillary equipment and room have on the speakers. However, your point does have some merit with the 3As. They can easily over power smaller rooms. Really any room under 15x20 is too small. That and needing to couple them with good medium to high power amps are the only caveats really.
The 2Ces don't have this problem, but also don't go as low.
My point really is that I respect your opinion. However, I think that wherever you heard them on the "Right" equipment could have been better. I've heard what you're talking about and it's down to system and room. The Vandies are superb at disappearing and showing you what you have around them.
Happy New Year!
No matter how much opinions we give you, you are highly recommended to audition both speakers yourself. It is a matter of personal taste. Some like it open and detailed, but some like it laid back and relaxed. Both are very decent and capable speakers. If you pay attention to upstream components and cabling, I am sure you can make either speakers sing.
I have owned CS2 and CS3.6. I could make the 3.6 dull sounding and boring by mismatching amps and cables. Good luck and hope you make the right choice.
Chadnliz, I posted the definintion in response to Tafka_steve's post; ...."maybe it is a matter of language usage". It got me thinking as to the true meaning of the word harsh. Surprisingly, I found the the definition to be appropriate for both sides of the argument, and yet not in the way you chose to use it. Where I found the definiton appropriate was: ..."3. manafesting severity and rigor;"...
I find Thiel's to be somewhat severe and rigorous in pursuit of accuracy.
Best Regards, Unsound.
I have 1.6s sw-1 sub, I had it downstairs, rec room, concrete floor with full rug, 18x22 great sound with minumal fuss. I than moved everthing upstairs to an area, country kitchen and small rec.16x28 hardwood floors, lots of windows and blinds etc. What a dissapointment, terms like harsh, fatigue disorentated sound, fitted right in. I stayed with it using placement, some sound absorbing, etc, and now have fairly great sound. Crazy business this high end. Jerry G
Bartok, I still am puzzled about no tubes with Vandy, the 3A and 5A were both tube powered at the store I checked them out in, and although it was the model down from the 3A (2C OR A???) they were tube powered for part of the Stereophile review in june 2006 issue..... yes it would take a great tube amp to get SPL's kicking but to say you cant use tube power is just plain wrong.
I' was only stating what my friend said about his V 3A's. "the V3A's prefer good a good source of power, ss is best" this is what he said.Regardless of how much tube power is required to get results, I find the V 3's too warm for my preference. Too much midrange presence in the room. Ken loves the V 3's, whereas he finds my speaker a bit "cold/thin". Its all about personal preference. Can't recall his ss mono blocks, but he had the Red rose M3 Sig Silver preamp.So I guess you could track down a power tube amp for the job, but then you are working under more restrictions. IOW, trying to match a tube amp to DRIVE EFFECTIVELY the V3's. Whereas they are countless big ss amps that will perform the task. This is what i meant.
Hope that clears things up abit.