Haven't heard them yet but TAS just gave them one of the best reviews ever.
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I heard them about 1.5 weeks ago at Innovative audio in NYC. Came out pretty impressed, seems to be a very musical speaker, while giving gobs of detail. To me, this is rare for Thiel, they usually lack a certain emotional impact for me. Maybe it was familiar music, but I was definitely toe-tappin' !
Tonally, from upper bass on up, this is lovely. No brightness as in some earlier Thiel designs, and the mids were very dynamic and clear (I own Lowthers right now, and no the 1.6's aren't up to that level, but they probably don't have the spikes that lowthers can have, either).
One thing that didn't seem to come thru, and that was bass. This is supposed to have great quality bass, but it seemed a little soft to me. I wasn't expecting super deep bass, but there was a slight muddiness to it IMO.
Other stuff seemed good, though it's not paramount in my book of priorities. Soundstaging was very good, past the edges of the speaker. Depth was OK, not great. Definitely a problem with the room (too busy), not the speakers. I'd say this little speaker did HiFi very well, as well as playing some good music.
FYI, the electronics were all Arcam: Diva 85 integrated, CD92 cd player (with the dcs RingDAC technology). Not the best system to show off the 1.6, but it was very enjoyable anyways. I'm thinking the integrated had something to do with the bass problem.
Lastly, the music was pretty loud, but not congested, and I didn't have the volume turned up a lot. It seems the efficiency rating is pretty accurate; these don't look like they need a ton of power to drive them. I may still investigate these for my 22wpc tube amp, and use a subwoofer to gett he best bass.
Overall, very positive feeling, definitely worth looking into.
Todd Samost (chams_uk)
PS - the guys at Innovative were VERY nice.
I own them. I first heard them with an Arcam CD Player/integrated amp. Noticed very natural percussion sounds. Next time I auditioned them with Arcam FMJ CD Player, McCormack pre and power amp, and I compared them to the Proac 1.5 sc. It was surprising - the Thiels did not have the fatigue I expected - the proacs seemed to have more fatigue. As far as bass, I heard more definition from the Thiel than the proac, no contest. I bought them that day. They're breaking in and I've played them with Mccormack and an Arcam alpha A7. They're just getting better. I'm amazed at the detail, the coherence and the bass. I know they're missing some bass on paper but it's nothing I'm noticing. It's the best purchase I've ever made. I think if you wanted to go with tubes, you should get alot of tube power. I've since heard these with spectral - amazing.
Check em out
I own them. They have a LONG breakin but are really very lovely sound. Precise, high resolution. Bass is satisfying but not very deep. I find they maintain my ability to enjoy acoustic and vocals, but, THEY HAVE RETURNED ROCK AND ROLL TO MY HOUSE TOO! They sound very different with different gear, even changing one cable, so be very careful matching gear.
Jim Thiel gave IN to public demand on brightness without giving AWAY what makes Thiel speakers Thiels - my opinion. If only he could do this with his 2.3's and maybe I'd switch from B&W.
I heard 1.6 with Creek CD53 and 5350 SE and sound was very musical. I played my worst brightness CD's and Thiels were absolutely fine. I was very surprised. Note that I like B&W tweeter and consider it realistic not bright when used with smooth English amp's (Musical Fidelity or Creek).
There were "Thiel songs" were this speakers seemed close to my ideal of perfection for what a speaker can do -excluding volume and bass. These songs did not have a pounding rhythmic bassline driving the music along and the Thiels did a great job.
I think Thiel did a good job on limiting the bass extension as trying to get deeper bass as the Revel M20's (which sound bad sometimes -like on kick drums) would have created problems for the few extra Hz. But maybe he did it for better sensitivity not musicality.
So I disagree with Stereophile about the M20 being borderline class "A" if they are saying the Thiel is not also borderline class "A". At least to my few auditions the Thiels did not have frequency, resonant, or boxiness problems like I heard on the M20.
In my search to find a replacement speaker for my Apogee Stages, which take up too much room in my new home, I did get to listen to the 1.6's. People were saying that it sounded diferent from other Thiel's, so I thought what the heck, maybe they do sound better.
I didn't make it 2 minutes and I couldn't take it anymore. Talk about ear bleed.Sheesh. But, their are many speakers that I find are 'hot' sounding to me. I often wish I had the ears of most people. I'd find many more speakers I could live with if that was the case. But, it's not the way it is for me.