I've heard both the 1.5s and the 2.3s. I owned the 2.3s for about 7 months. Both are great speakers, but the 2.3s are definately an upgrade. The 1.5s are very lively and very space concious (i.e. a small footprint) The 2.3s were much more dynamic however, and presented a bigger soundstage. What does the rest of your system look like?
The 3.6s are also a wonderful speaker, though an older model. You can get a used pair of them for the same price as the 2.3s - probably around $1800.
I owned the 1.5's for about a year. I really liked them in a small room with an integrated 100-watt amp and some decent MIT cabling.
After I sold the 1.5's I picked up a demo pair of 3.6ers. These babies rocked the house, but 100 watts just didn't cut it any more, so I upgraded to separates with a Classe Ca301 (That’s 300 into 8 ohms) powering the system.
I then tweaked all the cabling to balanced Mit 330's with 750-shotgun speaker cable. This did a nice job of taking the bite out. I'm currently tweaking the cabling up one more notch to MIT 770 twin speaker cables with 350 twin reference interconnects.
Thiels with MIT cabling are a match made in heaven. Especially if you’re running all solid state.
I've owned the 2.3's and auditioned the 1.5's in my house. I went for the 2.3's in a heartbeat: More natural and dynamic and a heftier bottom. They do sound better with a beefier amp (I moved from the Bryston 3B-ST to the 4B-ST and loved the improved imaging and ease). I absolutely agree with the MIT cable assessment shared by Glen.
At the end, it's all up to your acoustics, your ear, your budget and your significant other acceptance factor. I like more powerful base so moved up to the CS-6's but I'm sure the 3.6's that Glen suggests would also provide you more in that department (though the 2.3's are no slouches).
Thiel's demand increasingly more power as you move up (I ended up with Bryston 7B-ST's with the 6's). Given a choice between 1.5's and 2.3's, I'd go with the latter even if you can't swing more power right away (you may already have enough), since you can always move up in amps later and they sound better with any amp power level capable of driving the 1.5's. Good luck.
Hello I owned the Thiel 1.2, 2.2 and 2.3s. All are very good speakers, excellent build quality, but the 2.2s sounded the best with the 2.3s close behind. The problem with the 2.3s is they need quality power and they tend to sound extremely bright to the point that they do not sound very natural and fatiging. I tweaked all I could within reason, Krell, BAT, PASS amps, various tube preamps, MIT cables etc, endless placements, all helped but in the end they wore me out and I sold them in favor of Audio Physic Virgos. They just sound better. If you are insistant on the Thiel route the 2.2s and 3.6s are not quite as bright, if you go with the 2.3s make sure you give them a good long addition on your oun or similar equipment and that they are the sound you seek.
I used 1.5s for three years and just acquired 2.3s a few months ago. I'm very happy with the 2.3s; they offer a "taller" and somewhat deeper soundstage than the 1.5s, although not any broader. I currently drive my Thiels with a Bryston 9B-THX (rated 120w/ch, but delivers more like 170w), and have not felt shorted on power...but then again, i haven't tried a larger amp. I use Transparent Super, and have heard that Thiels perform best with a good networked cable (such as Transparent or the MIT Glen mentioned).
Thanks very much to everybody who replied. I have some space limitations, which make me lean more to the 2.3 rather than 3.6, but I will think about this again in light of what's been said. I do _not_ like bright/harsh sounding gear (but neutral is good, i.e., not syrupy, which Thiels certainly are not). I have a Modulus 3A preamp, a VPI HW-19 Mk IV turntable, and at the moment a set of Golden Tube SE-40 monoblocks (80 wpc). I am aware that I would probably need to upgrade the amps. I also appreciate the cable recommendations, particularly if this helps tame excessive brightness, as I have not used MIT or Transparent cables before (I have an older pair of Tara Labs at the moment).
I have auditioned both side by side, w/same system setup. The 1.5's lack any low freq resp. The 2.3's(I now own) are better balance and synergy all the way down to 32hz or so. Make sure you get the updated drivers, if you purchase an older pair of 2.3's.
I even like the 2.3's better than 3.5 or 3.6's. Remember Thiel speakers require great componets.
If you want to keep the amps for a while, and given your taste, I suggest that you listen to mellower speakers like Meadowlark, Vandersteeen or Spendor.
I have auditioned the 2.3 at lentgh, they were the brightest, most upfront speaker in the store. Looks like Thiel designed them with the home theater market in sight.
BTW, I am not anti-Thiel, I own and enjoy Thiel 3.5s.
I have owned many Thiels, including 1.5, 2.2, 2.3, 3.6 and also Spendors and Proacs. 1.5 and 2.3 are both wonderful speakers, within the Thiel "style" of being very linear and bright sounding, and requiring a lot of current to sound their best. The 2.3 had more bass, more height and more detail than the 1.5. It is much more a full range speaker. It is also the most coherent of any of the above. The 3.6 is substantially older design than the 2.3, much more current hungry, and less linear and coherent. It does offer more thundering bass than the 2.3, but you have to have power to drive it.
It is hard to make Thiels sound seriously musical - everything in the line must be high quality and it helps to have at least one warm sounding component. Warm sounding cables will help. I used Cardas.
Owning Thiels is a commitment to endless tweaking, and hearing the flaws in your averge recordings. Your best recordings though will sound fantastic.
Thiels need long breakin. I suggest doing several overnight sessions where you wire one speaker out of phase and place them face to face. You can then crank up the volume loud but the midrange and bass energy cancel out. Caution that you don't crank them too loud and damage a driver though.
This kind of rapid breakin process can make a huge difference in sound of a speaker.
Art, thanks for the break in tip. Sounds like you can really shave off some time and still sleep at night!
Thanks again to everybody, and particularly to Art for the very clear comparison of the various Thiel models. It sounds like the 2.3s would do what I'm looking for. I'm trying to walk a fine line here; not bright or harsh, but not euphonic or or otherwise colored. I've never had trouble making my 1.5s sound good (probably because I have always had some tubes in the system), although I agree that they like all Thiels are very revealing of what's on a recording.
I love my Thiel 1.5's with CJ Premier 11a tube amp. I also have Audio Research VT100MKII which has more punch and dynamics but I think the CJ is a better match for my taste. I like the Thiel sound so this thread was helpful to me too in that I am thinking of getting bigger Thiels. Not sure if the CJ Premier 11a will drive a bigger set to their fullest potential (so thats why I have the VT100MKII waiting in the wings). If I find I don't like the sound, I may get CJ monoblocks and sell the ARC amp. Both are outstanding amps, just different sound.
I love mine also. However, one of mine has a "failed" 6.5 woofer that is essentially impossible to replace. If anyone knows of a source, or someone with damaged cabinets, etc. and hoping to part out the internals, please email me.