Same question here, except Thiel 1.5, Proac 1.5, and Soliloquy 5.3. They will be driven by an as yet undetermined integrated such as Rogue or Plinius.
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I can't give you precisely the comparison you're interested in but you might find some of this useful. I've got a McCormack 0.5 Deluxe and the transport, DAC and pre-amp are McCormack, as well. I'm driving a pair of Proac Studio 150's, similar in physical size to the Response 1.5 but not quite up to the Response line in quality. I auditioned a pair of Response 2s's for awhile and got a good sense of how they sound.
My previous speakers were Thiel 2.2's. Assuming you can broadly generalize about the Thiel sound and the Proac sound, there is a clear choice in character between the two.
The Thiels had lots of impact, better bass and were very accurate in revealing the quality of the original recording, sometimes brutally so. The Proacs image better and have a wonderful, natural mid-range and high-end compared to the Thiels.
Both sounded great with the amp and which pair you prefer will be absolutely, entirely based on what thrills you. I like the Proacs a lot better, they engage me in a way the Thiels never did, and there is no listener fatigue. The best part is that they always sound better than I expect them to, I'm constantly hearing things in the music I haven't heard before. The Thiels always sounded as I expected them to, which isn't bad, they're wonderful speakers, but not nearly as engaging for me.
If I listened exclusively to rock and roll and/or big orchestral music the Thiels might have been my choice but for everything else the Proacs do it better. Listen to both with music you know well and you won't go wrong.
Hmmm, "maximum information" and "minimum listening fatigue" are a tough combination to ask for, at least at this price level. Given that the rest of your system tends toward the analytical already, I would probably avoid the Thiels, they will eventually drive you out of the room. Proac is a better match, and IMO just plain more musical (whatever that means...). For the other post, if considering the Rogue, the Thiels might be a good match.
I had an opportunity to listen to the new 1.6s driven by a McIntosh MC2102 amp the other day. The sound was anything but fatiguing. My initial thoughts were that the new 1.6 is a departure from the stereotype Thiel sound. More open and musical midrange, less emphasis on detail, and a sweeter, less sharp treble. I'm sure the Mac contributed to this impression, however I thought the MC2102 was actually to relaxed, and a bit opaque sounding with the new 1.6.
Tom, I'd suggest that what you are hearing is that the 2102 (or other tube amp) is a much better match for the Thiels because its particular colorations tend to cancel the speakers' own colorations. Neither one of them are perfectly neutral, but when paired they can sound better than either alone. The opposite will occur with the McCormack/Thiel combo, where the colorations will be additive and thus much more noticeable.
Break-in! Which-ever you get, please make sure you break the speakers in very thoroughly. My unbroken in Thiel 2.3's had no bass for a few hours, then one-note bass for a dozen or more hours, then finally, remarkable bass. Same for lean-ness in the midrange, except that this took well over 100 hours to disapate.. Similar experience with my Proac 2.5's. Unfortunately, given how new the Thiel 1.6 is, any in-store demo will likely be with unbroken in models. Sigh.
Both speakers want 150W plus in a medium sized or larger room. Use a warmish amp like the Plinius 8200 and warmish cables like Cardas and the Thiel 1.5 is not at all harsh. Can't comment on the 1.6. The Proac 1.5 needs a bit more open accompaniments to get them to be lively.
Personally I find the Thiel 1.5 to be very musically engaging, more so than the Thiel 2.3.
I wonder how many of these respondents have actually heard the new 1.6? I'm guessing that most are just generalizing about the Thiel "house sound".
I listened to the 1.6s a couple of weeks ago and found them to be a far departure from most Thiels that I've listened to (1.5, 2.3, 3.5, 3.6, 6). They sounded quite warm and...could it be?...a bit dark. Excellent soundstage (a lot more height than the 1.5s) with a lot of depth, too. On the negative side, they were kind of boring...at least to this listener. I followed up the audition with a pair of Sonus Faber Concerto Homes. The SF line is just so darned musical. My foot began tapping and I found myself becoming much more emotionally engaged in the music.
Front end, by the way, was all ARC. CD-3, LS-25, VT200.
While we're talking about the 1.6's, I spent about a half-hour listening to a pair a couple of weeks ago and was very unimpressed. They sounded flat and constricted. Compared with a pair of Meadowlark Kestrels, the Thiels hadn't even come to the dance. "What gives?" I asked. Turns out that they were, indeed, fresh out of the box. I suggested to Mr. Singer (as in Sound by...) that they obviously needed to be broken in, to which he begrudgingly agreed, but he mostly seemed bemused that I could possibly like the $1.7k Meadowlarks more than the $2.4k Thiels (or the $2.7k Audio Physics, for that matter). Imagine then asking to hear the $1.5k Vandersteens . . . he claimed they were technically inferior and wouldn't even deign to plug them in. I think it was about at that point that I pleasantly wished him a good day. (Just for the record, before purchasing a pair of Thiel 2.3's, I extensively auditioned them against the Meadowlark Shearwaters and preferred Thiel -- so I fully expect that the 1.6's will dramatically improve from the virginal pair I heard, after a little use. Virgins can be fun in most arenas, but when it comes to speakers, a little "experience" goes a long way...;) From there, (and via splitting a pitcher of margaritas) went and listened to a pair of ProAc 1sc's which, though a really different sound , were exceptionally alluring....haven't heard their 1.5's yet, though.
I listened to the meadowlark kestrels at the same place you did, and I found them better than the Audio Physics and the jm Labs. A great package - no glaring shortcomings. For a while when I lived in NYC they were on my short list, along with the proac 1sc's which are exceptionally alluring, but I got a really bad vibe from the Proac dealer...saw a salesman there sell a "demo" stax headphone outfit to a customer - and then another salesmen passes him a note reading "aren't those the defective ones". From the first salesmen's reaction to the note, I'd have to bet they were the defective ones, sold as a demo, all sales final.
One of the frustrating things about choosing speakers is that I'll prefer x to y in one session, then the next session prefer y to x. This has happened many times with me between Thiel, Proac B&W and revel. I really like the 1.6 - very natural and detailed and I've been pretty amazed with the music I've listened to so far.
You got that right, can't say that I've gotten a particularly warm and fuzzy feeling from any of the dealers I've encountered in NYC. As for picking a speaker, as much as I try to be methodical and deliberate about it, at some point I just can't help throwing in the towel and it really becomes a leap of faith. When I was deep into it, I managed to narrow it down to the Thiel 2.3, B&W 804 and Meadowlark Shearwater -- partly for various, arguably valid, subjective and objective reasons, and party just because I found a place where I could listen to all three of them on the same gear. So, I spent an afternoon with all three and went with the Thiels (I think I left a discussion of why on the forums someplace in a "Thiel v. Meadowlark" thread, if you have any interest).
I certainly agree, it's not unlikely that I could have come to a different conclusion on a different day for whatever reasons, so I elected not to try again and just go with it. For me, there's just so much obsessing and second guessing that I can stand before going for it (though, I must admit, my average percolation perior for this type of decision averages over a year and the "final shootout" for the speakers was a LONG time coming). If you've found that a particular speaker has it in it to make you happy, that's a pretty good indication that's exactly what it will do, if given the chance. In retrospect, though deciding (and re-deciding) what to listen with is certainly a major (and fun) part of this silly hobby, I'd likely prefer to have spent less time deciding and more time listening. From your selection, you really can't go wrong. Why not just go with your gut and let the listening enjoyment begin? Hell, if you've really got the virus, you'll end up wanting to upgrade soon enough no matter what you do...;)