Tons of great info on "Thiel owner’s thread".
I bought a pair of CS2.4SEs just a few weeks ago knowing that Thiel was in serious trouble. I figured I’d be OK as long as the drivers were in good shape (they are flawless). Short of abuse, drivers usually last many, many years without issue. I figured I’d buy a broken pair for parts in a worst-case scenario. Capacitors can wear out over time but these can be replaced without much issue. In fact, it’s a good chance to upgrade to better sounding capacitors.
Meanwhile, Rob Gillum has just opened "Coherent Source Service" and says he has the parts and abilities to repair or replace almost anything on a Thiel. In fact, he’s even willing to honor warranty repairs for speakers still under coverage despite that he has no obligation whatsoever. Most exciting for me is he is planning "hot-rod" kits for owners to upgrade the passive pasts to maximize SQ.
I’ve listened to a wide range of speakers over the years and I’m unaware of anything <$10K than sounds better than my Thiels. Upgrading the crossovers should put me on par with most anything up to $20-30K.
To summarize, I'm a recent - enthusiastic -buyer. Zero regrets!
Have to agree with beetle: With the opening of Rob’s Coherent Source Service, legacy Thiel speakers now have a brand new lease on life. Rob is from the days of the original Thiel company & has been servicing/restoring Thiels for years. Since Thiel (in this latest iteration) went kaput, he was able to acquire all the assets to the service part of the business. He has a stockpile of parts, crossovers & drivers that will allow him to pretty much rebuild any model. He is also offering cabinet re-finishing services, which, if you have ever seen a pair of Thiels, is awesome because the cabinetry on them is not only integral to the coherent source design, but in a class way above the price point even when new.
As always when looking at pre-owned equipment, buy the best conditioned pair you can afford. Cabinets are real-wood, so scratches & scrapes can easily be addressed; a good cleaning & polishing will make the wood shine! Drivers are very unique to Thiels...Jim Thiel designed them all himself & in later models, they were completely sourced & built in-house. More importantly, crossovers are First-Order (meaning the drivers handle a wider range of frequencies), so make sure the previous owner(s) didn’t blow out a driver & end up replacing it with something from some catalog. Having said that, if they were treated with care, Thiel’s build-quality & engineering resulted in very robust speaker designs...they are heavy & very well-built. Shipping usually costs a fortune.
I have a set of CS 3.5’s that I bought locally from a vintage stereo dealer this past November. I am only the second owner. Even with their age, the Thiels have been such a revelation, have been such a joy to listen to, that I’ve decided to make them the focal point of my system with regards to components & upgrades. They are ruthlessly revealing of poorly recorded material & poorly engineered components. But, if you have the goods & the high-quality amplification they require (Thiels love watts & especially, lots of current), you will not find better without spending hundreds or thousands more. In the last three months, I’ve swapped out most of my gear for Audio Research seperates (amp, line stage & phono pre-amp), all in effort to make the Thiels sing that much better. Even with all this, I have not once considered "upgrading" from my 3.5’s...the Thiels sound that good.
Good luck in your search...Enjoy the music!
Thiels have always had fairly poor resale value. It's a testament to the bad taste of an awful lot of audiophiles. I got a used pair of 2 2s 7 or 8 years ago and they were a revelation. For a small amount of money I got some fantastic sounding speakers that do nothing wrong. They were laughably better than anything I'd ever heard around the price. It took me a while to admit it but when it comes to enjoying listening to music they were better than the B&W N802s I had at the time. I traded the B&Ws in for Thiel 3.7s and haven't looked back.
I have been pondering some different speakers in my second system.
Amp is 60w/ch Bel Canto c5i. Current speakers in there are 90db efficient Triangle Titus XS and a sub.
These sound great but am interested in trying something different and bigger. Waf is a factor.
Thiel appeals to me. The low efficiency is a concern for me. Its a large family room kitchen area. I do not need to go uber loud in there but do like modest volume levels when I can. Most of the time things are not played loud in there. I go down to my main rig for that.
Klipsch Heresy III has been a leading contender. I have heard and liked these and the higher efficiency is a plus.
I've used OHM Dynaudio and the Triangle speakers with the c5i and they all sound wonderful ( but different).
c5i is very airy and detailed with no edge ever. I feel like most any speaker could work well with it save for volume limits with only 60w/ch.
is that enough for any particular model Thiel?
Enough for many, but perhaps not ideal.
Was an owner of the CS 1.5, 2.2 and 2.3 but the 2.2 were my all time favorite and listening to piano music from another room sounded unbelievably real; newer drivers were not my cup of tea.
Thiel appeals to me. The low efficiency is a concern for me.
The efficiency is about average, actually. Most models rated 87-89 dB. The "problem" is the low impedance. Thiels draw a lot of current. You will want a high quality amp with a decent 4 ohm rating.
Years ago I drove a pair of CS1.6s with an Ayre AX-7e. That amp is rated at "only" 60 W but doubles into a 4 ohm load. That amp had plenty of balls to drive the Thiels as loudly as I wanted.
The amp quality part is very important. Thiels are highly resolving and will reveal weaknesses in your amp, cables, and sources. I'd MUCH rather have a high quality 60 W amp (again, with a 4 ohm rating) than a 200 W meh amp. BTW, a zero-feedback design sounds fantastic with Thiels, IME.
What Thiel models are you considering?
C5i doubles down to 4 ohms according to specs. I don’t see a problem there. It does well with my Dynaudio Contour 1.3mkii monitors which are likely in same class as Thiel in terms of amps needed for best results. SPL is somewhat limited I would say.
I am open to any model though the less obtrusive physically the better. WAF matters in that room.
How much bass can the room handle?
I caught your post, because I have a possibility to get ones to restore CS 3.5. This pair will require at least replacement of one woofer and foam surrounds. I've never been in Thiel camp, but more certain than not that I have proper electronics to push.
Owner will accept trade and I'm planning to trade Technics SL-D3 fully auto turntable only no headshell, dust cover or cartridge in full operational automatic condition. The turntable like that probably has value of $89max, but certainly was picked up by me from estate junk to restore.
mapman - Your Bel Canto integrated should be fine. It's rated at 60 watts @ 8 ohms, but double to 120 watts @ 4 ohms...always a good sign of a well-engineered amplifier. More importantly, it's able to deliver 30 amperes of peak current, so it should be able to handle most any Thiel quite well, even the notoriously demanding 3.6's & 3.7's.
Bel Canto's amplification products typically measure much better than they rate them, so you may be well surprised at how loud you can make the Thiels play. Again, just be mindful that the woofers, mid-bass & tweeters are handling a wider range of frequencies than usual due to the First-Order crossovers, so blowing a driver is a concern if you ever move on to something with 300+ watts. At 120, you should be fine...
What I've found is that, while they instantly captivate & amaze at lower & moderate listening volumes, the Thiels really "clear their throats" as you start going past 12:00 on the volume knob. They LOVE to sing with some real volume being applied. It sometimes becomes a bit "uncomfortable" listening this loud, but it's astonishing how easy & detailed the presentation is at these sound levels. Amazing speakers...
My wife wasn't exactly thrilled when I moved from stand-mount monitors (Martin Logan LX-16's w/Dynamo 300 sub) to the full-range 3.5's, but she appreciated the fact that the wood & cabinetry was much more "high-end", looking more like furniture than electronic equipment. Also, as my Thiels are truly full-range, I was able to ditch the sub as well, which resulted in a much more cohesive sounding system (the Thiels seem to play lower than the ML system ever did with the sub!) One less box in the room made my wife happy.
Please keep us updated as you search for that perfect pair!
No foam surrounds on Thiel 3.5’s.
At the risk of appearing petty, when it comes to Thiel’s I think it best to think in terms of sensitivity rather than efficiency.
Unsound its a large open family room / kitchen area. Probably hard to have too much bass. I always isolate speakers from interaction with the suspended plywood floor as needed to keep bass under control.
After reviewing various models, thiel 2.4 or 2.7 are probably as big as I would go. Might fly without the sub. Or maybe 1.6 or 1.7. I saw a pair of 1.6 s at a local dealer a while back. Website says they are still there. Might have to check those out again.
Hope somebody hurries up and buys that pair of used 3.5 that are on eBay right now for just $500 or I will not be able to help myself.......
I suggest getting as much bass as you can. IMHO, Thiel's might sometimes sound a bit tilted up without lower octave support.
With the various Thiel's models I think you'll find that the heights of the cabinets vary more than the actual footprints. IMHO, the sloping baffles tend make the cabinets less visually obtrusive.
Something to keep in mind with Thiel's is that in order to appreciate all that Thiel's offer; one must be cognizant of placement and listening position.
I'm firmly in the camp of amps for speakers, not speakers for amps, and perhaps even more so with Thiel's.
uberwaltz, been eyeing those myself, even though I don't need another pair.
Unfortunately, Mapman's current integrated amps doesn't have a tape loop to accommodate the 3.5's eq. Too bad, as his room seems up to carrying that down to 20 Hz small foot print, not dropping below 4 Ohms, sealed box bass.
Seller of the 3.5 says he sold the equalizer as he preferred the sound just going with a dedicated sub so one would need to find that.
Probably cause for the low $500 price.
^Still not bad, but not the quite the exceptional value they first appeared to be. The appropriate eq's can be found, though I’ve noticed the prices of which have been escalating.
thiel 2.4 or 2.7 are probably as big as I would go. Might fly without
the sub. Or maybe 1.6 or 1.7. I saw a pair of 1.6 s at a local dealer a
I agree with unsound, get as much bass as you can afford. I went from the CS1.6 (no audible bass below 50 Hz in my room) to Vandersteen 2Ce Sig II (audible bass to mid 20s) and I could never go back to a speaker that can't go below 35-40. Also, the CS1.6 has a distortion/resonant mode in the upper midrange/lower treble. This was only apparent, to my ears, on certain recordings of female vocalists and at high SPLs. The CS1.7 has an updated woofer, so maybe not a problem with that model.
At any rate, the CS2.4 is a great speaker. My CS2.4SEs are as transparent, open, and resolved as anything I've heard south of $10K. In fact, I think they approach the very best I've heard regardless of price in those parameters (tbf, I can't do a direct comparison). Rob Gillum is going to offer "hot rod" kits for Thiels. I'm guessing an upgrade to the capacitors on a CS2.4 would make it competitive with most anything new up to $20K, maybe higher.
The later co-axial 2 series might need more than 60 Watts.
@beetlemania I too am a Vandersteen 2Ce Sig II owner and have long wondered about the differences between them and the Thiel 2.4s. Could you please describe the pros and cons of each and which one you prefer?
@audionoobie I have the SE version with audiophile-grade
capacitors in the coax feed, so can't speak directly to standard CS2.4 in terms
of a direct comparison. I did hear the standard version many years ago and
wanted a pair but unexpected dental bills ate that budget. At that time, I was
also interested in the Vandy 3A but wasn't excited to have those monoliths in
my living room. I knew someone who was familiar with both and listened to the
2.4s in his room. He told me he used to prefer Thiels to Vandersteens but
changed his mind, deciding that the Thiels overly emphasized sibilance. Not
long after that, he moved to Vandy Quatros. I ended up with the Sig IIs as they
had the 3A's midrange and tweeter plus are 8" shorter as well as more
I was super happy with the Sig IIs after some second guessing during break-in.
They weren't quite as resolved as the CS1.6 but my main complaint was a veiled
quality in the midrange. I was able to all but completely cure that by biwiring
with a nice pair of Cardas (no way to know how much of that was because I
removed the low quality jumper or because of the biwiring). The rest of my
system has improved considerably since then. Most notably, I now have an Ayre
AX-5 Twenty which is crazy good. Being an audiophile, my nervosa got me to
wondering how much of that veiled quality was still obscuring the Ayre’s
excellence. I have an early Sig II with the plastic midrange diaphragm. The
natural step would be the Treos. I’ve heard the standard Treos and really liked
them, but never the CT version. Well, I pretty well killed my upgrade budget with
the Ayre so I started thinking about more affordable upgrade options that I
thought would be promising.
After that overly long preamble . . . the Sig IIs do have
more bass than the CS2.4SE. By ear, they have full output down into the mid-30s
with useful output into the mid-20s. Quite amazing at that price point. The
2.4s might have *full* output just a scotch lower but the bass falls off a
cliff below 30 Hz. That means they can’t reproduce the left most key or two on
a piano. That said, I’ve only sampled one song (Tracy Chapman’s “3000 miles”,
with organ tones) wherein that deficiency was notable. In terms of bass definition
and resolution, however, the Thiels are substantially better. That is an easy
trade-off given my sonic priorities. The other area where I *might* give the
Sig IIs a slight edge is soundstaging. The Thiels image beyond the bounds of
the speakers just like the Sig IIs but spatial depth might be just a bit
shallower. I otherwise prefer the CS2.4s in every way.
In addition to the better bass definition, there is greater
resolution into the midrange and treble. Microdynamics can be almost startling.
I’m hearing subtle percussions that were previously unnoticed on familiar
songs. Inflections of backing singers more apparent. Decay of chimes, symbols,
and triangles is superb. The Thiels *are* more transparent than the Sig IIs
(the reason for wanting an upgrade) altho’ this difference is not as big as I
had imagined (the Sig IIs are a really good speaker, competing with other
designs at multiple their price). I think the Thiels are a scotch more coherent
than the Sig IIs and overall better balanced from bass to treble.
My sonic priorities are neutrality, resolution, and transparency.
The Thiels better the Sig IIs in each of these. In fact, I think these Thiels
(again, with the audiophile capacitors in the coax feed) get most of the
performance of the very best speakers I’ve heard regardless of price. Other
than the lack of bass below 30 Hz, the only shortcomings I hear are image
density not on par with the best I’ve heard (might simply be sub-optimal
speaker placement) and, maybe, a slight “glassy” quality in the midrange. Perhaps
this is what Shane Buettner meant in his review when he wrote “slightly on the
cool side of neutral”? I would need a direct comparison with a reference
speaker to confirm this. Regardless, I think I’m getting 90% of the SQ of, say,
Vivid Giya G3s. And I suspect I can get even better performance by upgrading
the crossovers. Highly recommended!
^Bravo! Spot on!
If I might add: IMHO with perhaps exceptions made for the self powered bass Vandy’s, the Thiel’s are more forgiving of room/placement, and the Vandy’s are more forgiving of amplification.
I can tell you that if you were listening to the 3.7s you wouldn't have any reservations about the soundstaging, depth. The 2.7s I have do fore-shorten depth a bit, but the 3.7s sound just spreads massively, seems to go on forever in terms of depth and width. That's one reason they are still sitting in my house and I haven't sold them.
I find the same regarding the microdynamics in teh 2.7 as you do in the 2.4. They really excel in that area and given an aliveness and a sense of the actual changes in effort for a musician, even more than my 3.7s. I continually note how this plays out in vocals as well, like you mentioned.
The the inflections in a singer's performance are more pronounced and it's that much more like listening to a real person sing. When I spend an evening going checking out, say, Tidal tracks of various singers I'm continually struck the the sensation that truly unique and different voices are making appearances in my room.
And the fact the 2.7s produce the most concise, dense imaging I've experienced also makes it all the more palpable. And that's a curious area where our experiences part on our speakers. I wonder if this was an area somehow improved with the 2.7s (thought dense imaging has traditionally been a trait of Thiel speakers), or whether it is due to how you've set your speakers up. I find I have quite a lot of flexibility with the 2.7 and 3.7, and can go quite wide apart while maintaining image focus and density (though a bit less leeway with the 2.7s over the 3.7s).
One local dealer does still have a pair of used black matte cs1.6s for under $1k I believe. This would work aesthetically but I'm thinking more of a lateral move from the Triangle monitors in that the bass extension is limited. Of course I do have the sub....
Another local shop has a used pair of cs2s (listed on ebay) just a tad beat up (pushed in dust caps, etc, for $600. Might work aesthetically with a little clean up. Would have to take a look.
Vandy’s are more forgiving of amplification.
I think that's probably true for the lower end Vandys because the Thiels are more resolved and transparent. Ie, upstream problems are more readily revealed. That probably changes for the carbon diaphragm Vandys. But if you're dropping $30-60K on those Vandys you are probably also getting ARC, Ayre or equivalent amplification.
@prof I would love to hear your 2.7s, My only audition with 3.7 was in the Rowland room at RMAF a few years back. Really good stuff. I would like to hear them with Ayre or ARC.
One thing I didn't write is that I think the Sig IIs soundstage pretty much as well as anything I've heard including the TAD Ref One, Vandersteen Seven, etc. So, it's hardly a problem if I don't think the CS2.4 SE is quite as good!
I'm not giving up on trying to get better image density. I have short interconnects which makes it difficult to change speaker locations but I will continue to try new placements. So far, I've tried listening distances 8-10' with the speakers 7-8.5' apart. So far, "best" results are with listening position 8-9' and speakers ~7.5' apart. Usually image density is improved with closer placement but at the expense of soundstage size.
@mapman Hi-fi shark shows CS2.3 available on audiogon for $1500 or on US Audiomart for $1000. If this is your budget, I would get one of these and see about a "hot-rod" kit from Rob Gillum.
Mapman, in the present marketplace CS 2’s Should be in mint shape to command $600. FYI, the CS 2’s have been Thiel’s most durable and reliable model. The impedance is one of the smoothest I’ve ever seen, 6 Ohms nominal, 5 Ohms minimal with a reasonable 87 dB sensitivity. Minimum suggested power was 40 Watts. Though technically easy to drive, sonically there’s a bit more to consider: the ported bass can be a bit soft if not driven with an amp with good damping, and the treble needs to be treated delicately. I haven’t heard your integrated, and I don’t typically like to over generalize like this, but Class D’s often are tight in the bass,so long as the impedance doesn’t drop too low ( no problem w/ CS 2’s) and the Class D’s often roll off the high’s a bit. Again way over generalizing Class D’s, but if it holds true, just might work very nicely indeed. FWIW, Jim Thiel thought Class D’s sonics should be limited to subwoofers. But a lot of time has transpired since then, and who knows perhaps he might have changed his mind, if he had the opportunity to hear the more recent offerings.
2.3s on US audiomart look very nice. Would only have to ship a few hundred miles....
They are big though. Probably more obtrusive than I’d like in that room.
They have to go in a particular location in that room, would be very close to rear wall and with an even taller solid wood cabinet immediately to the right, and on either side of a big screen TV sitting on a very solid but open wood stand. Not ideal for those I suspect. This is a second system after all in our family room and things need to not be obtrusive.
The cs1.6s would fit in nicely I think. I could just keep the sub. OR maybe hold out for 1.7s?
Gotta get it right. No rush. What I have now sounds very good, but you know how it goes....
Thiel recommended at least 1' from the rear wall, at least 3' from side walls, and at least 8' from the listening position. Thiel recommended ideally, 3' from the rear wall, 5' from the side walls and 10' (he measured at 3 meters) from listening position. The little SCS's with their single co-axial driver was the most forgiving in this regard. Listening height is more of an issue (like most dynamic time coherent designs) than with other designs.
Go for it! mapman
excellent speaker traits and characteristics as above. I chose Thiel speakers for their inherently rich timbre of different instruments. The CS 2.4 is a real sweet spot in the modern line. I cannot comment on more vintage models. Keep me posted on the models that you audition.
Somewhat tight but the placement for 2.3 as unsound describes would probably work well enough. SCS would be an easy swap using my current monitor stands there. WAF of SCS probably better but I’d like to find a way to go more full range and squeeze 2.3 or 2.4 in there somehow.
Mapman, both the 2.3's and 2.4's drop below 3 Ohms. Bel Canto suggests a minimum load of 3 Ohms per channel for the C5i.
On the subject of soundstaging:
I've always owned speakers that were particularly good at disappearing and soundstaging. Which is a bit ironic because my first priority by far is tone in a sound system - the ability to portray beautiful timbral qualities of voices and instruments. If a speaker doesn't do that, I don't care at all what else it does. I remember a formative experience with this in the 90's listening to some massive Infinity speakers at a shop in New York, playing some orchestral music. For the first time ever a hi-fi system reproduced in front of me something like the scale of a symphony orchestra, with incredible depth, transparency and soundstaging "like being there." Except to my ears what was missing was the beautiful nature and variety of the timbral voices of real orchestral instruments. It was the equivalent of listening to an orchestra where every instrument had been replaced by plastic replicas. I quickly learned that without beautiful tone, soundtaging and imaging was a neat trick that would quickly bore me.
But once I'm hearing great tone and find myself compelled to sit and listen, I love great imaging and soundstaging, and "disappearing" speakers. To that end almost every speaker I've owned or has passed through my listening room has been among the best disappearing/soundstaging acts I've heard anywhere, from Quad ESL 63s, Von Scwheikert, Waveform, Shun Mook, Audio Physic, Thiel, Hales and many others, on up to my current Thiels and my MBL omnis.
The MBL omnis are peerless for disappearing and creating a 3 dimensional sonic image. Absolutely spooky, and ultimately the most realistic presentation within their frequency range (that I've experienced in my room and most other rooms). But the Thiel 3.7s are probably the box speaker that gives them the most run for the money.
Back to the Thiel 2.7s - I love their image density and palpable presence at lest as much for electronic music (a love of mine) as for acoustic sources. When I go through various electronic music the ever-surprising variety of sounds, from the tiniest beeps dotting the air around the speakers to groaning upper bass synths vibrating a colum of air "between " the speakers, it feels almost like I've invited aliens right in to the room with me to perform. Hard to give up once heard.
Prof, agree with re: to the MBL's!
And, of course the Thiel's!
I'd offer for consideration John Dunlavy's designs.
both the 2.3's and 2.4's drop below 3 Ohms.
From Stereophile's CS2.3 measurements:
The Thiel featured above-average sensitivity,
at an estimated 90.5dB(B)/2.83V/m. However, like all Jim Thiel designs,
it is quite a demanding load for an amplifier to drive. Its plot of
impedance magnitude and phase (fig.1) reveals it to remain below 5 ohms
throughout the midrange and treble, with a dip to 2 ohms at 450Hz. Note
also the combination of low impedance and high capacitive phase angle in
the upper bass—wimpy amplifiers stay home.
I was big on Dunlavy when they were popular, heard many models, including auditioning some as possible purchases. The Aletha model (unfortunately not many made as Dunlavy folded not long after introduction) was really something. It produced one of the most realistic sound I'd heard at that point. But as you know Dunlavy speakers were always really big, even their "decor-sized" models like the Aletha.
And Dunlavy was a bit more head-in-the-vice in terms of optimizing listener position, Thiels with the coaxial drivers more forgiving.
^More restricted, but not "head-in-the-vice" restricted like some beamy ESL's. I suspect it might be due at least in part to Dunlavy's preferred angled placement. Perhaps, with a higher and denser soundstage than the Thiel's.
The MBL omnis are peerless for disappearing and creating a 3 dimensional
sonic image. Absolutely spooky, and ultimately the most realistic
presentation within their frequency range
I've only heard MBLs once, at RMAF. They sounded good to my ears but nothing special. The room set-up was weird, tho', with the speakers along the long wall. Probably not optimal placement.
beetle one has to hear the MBLs set up properly to hear what prof is talking about. I’ve heard it in a showroom but never at a show.
The OHM F5 speakers I have in my main rig are my attempt to capture that at home. They do quite well for a fraction of the cost. Most peoples rooms, including mine, are limited compared to the dealer room I heard the ultimate mbl demo in, often in practice bringing mbl back closer to the pack mainly in terms of soundstage depth and 3-D holographic imaging.
The OHMs do probably have an edge on mbl in terms of coherency of the sound top to bottom, as do Thiels and a handful of others over the rest. I’m used to that very coherent sound top to bottom and tend to levitate to speakers that exceed in that area.
Thiel 3.6’s impedance drops below 3 Ohms.
A little off the track, but four or five Thiel 3.5's make a superb surround sound system. the various locations tend to cancel out room resonances and without room correction allow their smooth bass to really make itself known. You haven't heard an organ at home until you hear 16hz on such a system.
Another oft overlooked consideration .... the 3.5's equalizers serve as a buffer for high impedance tube preamps feeding low impedance solid state amp inputs. This is particularly advantageous for me as I use ARC SP6a preamps into Outlaw M200 monoblocks (10k ohm inputs) to drive the system.
Re MBLs, rooms etc.
I have a very nice sounding room as fortunately it was a reno done with the assistance of an acoustician. All the acoustic "treatment" is hidden as part of the design, so for instance the ceiling is built down and is actually covered in stretched fabric (you wouldn't even know until you looked because it's so flat), with bass/mid traps at strategic points behind the fabric. And it acts as a first reflection absorber for the ceiling bounce. Big shag rug, huge stuffed sofa, and a variety of velvet curtains, thick and thin, which I can pull along the walls as required. So I can have my room "more damped" or "more live."
I've recently gone "more live" with my room, even have experimented adding a diffusor at first reflection points. I really enjoy the added energy and presence and airiness of the more live rooms in some ways. Though ultimately if I had to choose one, I think I prefer a bit on the damped side (e.g. when I pull my velvet curtain across the first reflection points of the speakers). This cuts out any wall bounce/room hash and the sound becomes lush and smooth, variations in instrumental timbre more nuanced, voices more fleshy and natural, and the finest details of room and reverb on the recording become apparent - different recordings sounding more different.
I'm trying to add a bit of diffusion to see if I can split the difference.
Anyway, I pretty much anyone who ever thought the MBLs sounded bright, harsh, strident or metallic at demos would not find them so in my room. No doubt due to the more damped nature of the room. They sound smooth, easy, yet ridiculously resolving - on a level I still don't think I've heard elsewhere. I agree with Jonathan Valin who long touted the MBL tweeter as the best, or one of the best, in the world. It provides astounding clarity yet sounds so utterly "un-tweeter-like." Sonic objects are just "there."
Back to the Thiel show....and hey, Thiels are pretty good too...:-)
Needing a new amp for my Thiels CS3.7's. Thinking about the Anthem's new STR's amps. Like my previous Parasound's JC1's but too high energy bills.
Currently there are (2) threads taking off of the ground related to the new Anthem STR integrated/separates. Reading other audio forums, Parasound (both integrated and separates) is a sonic match for Thiel CS 3.7 loudspeakers.