Thiel 3.6 vs. Dunlavy SC-IV/A


I currently own a pair of Thiel 3.6s in my system and like them a lot (their accuracy, imaging, soundstage, neutrality).

However, I have an opportunity to get a pair of Dunlavy SC-IVAs at a great price and wondered if fellow Audiogon members thought I should go for it and make the switch, or stick with the Thiels and save my money (not to mention my back as those Dunlavys are close to 200 lbs each). I haven't had a chance to hear the Dunlavys yet, but have read very positive reviews of them. Wondered if any Dunlavy owners could comment.

From some initial reads, I think the Dunlavys and the Thiels have similar sonic signatures and also require solid matching components. I currently have a Pass X-350 amp in my system so I don't think I have a problem there. Some posters complained of a brightness to the Dunlavys, which is often a complaint about the Thiels. Other posters noted that a solid matching amp will cure any brightness problem.

As I mentioned, I prefer a very accurate, neutral sound. No colorations in the music, and from what I've read the Dunlavys are supposed to do it as well as anyone.

My current system:

Linn Ikemi CD
Adcom GFP-750 preamp
Pass Labs X-350 amp
Thiel 3.6 speakers
I'm a long time Thiel owner. I prefer the Dunlavys. Very similar presentation. The Dunlavys seem to present more height to the soundstage. I much prefer the sealed box bass of the Dunlavys over the passive radiators of your Thiels. If you compare the Dunlavy SC-IVA to the Thiels CS5i, then all bets are off. I would really like to hear those side by side. Dunlavys like a large room, with greater space between them and more toe in than your Thiels. Cabinets are much nicer on the Thiels. Pass would sound great on both. Good luck.
I agree with Unsound. The Dunlavys have more potential,
but it can only be realized with the right kind of set-up.
One thing for sure, though, is that you would never outgrow
the Dunlavys which will always reward an upgrade to electronics and cable. I currently have the Dunlavy SC-V(s)
which perform in my living room well above any system
that I have ever heard in any high-end stereo shop.
don't hesitate switch you won't be disappointed.
I found Dunlavy to sound flat and extremely boxy (shut in). Maybe also a slight lack of low level detail. I wouldn't consider them dynamic, knock your socks off speakers. I thought they were similar to electrostatics in their style. But I'm not saying they can't play loud. Dunlavy's do have nice tonality and an accurate, neutral sound but there's more to a speaker than that.
Note: these are my thoughts based on limited in-store audtions.
Definitely the SC4A! You will not be dissappointed. I have had my pair for years and hav no urge to change them. I had owned Thiel 22 and the 3.6 for a while and I can tell you that the Dunlavys are better in EVERY respect.

Brauser said it the best that you will always be rewarded when better electronics and cables are used.
In my experience I have never found Dunlavy speakers to sound bright, I would even so that they sound a bit laid back compared to other speakers.
You need to go listen for yourself you are asking for opinions and you must realize that is exactly what they are opinions. Thiel and Dunlevy are both outstanding products but ultimately you have to be satisfied with your decision. However, that being said (IMO) your preamp is not up to the level of your amp and that is where you will get the most benefit no matter what speakers you choose. Happy listening.
I've listened to many of the Thiel models and most of the Dunlavy models. I wound up buying the SC-V's after listening to the SC-IVA's. Not to say that I didn’t like the SC-IVA’s. Then I moved up to the SC-VI's, my present speakers.

Now speaking of the SC-IVA's….. Someone else compared them to an electrostat and I agree, there is nothing quite like the sound of the symmetrical vertical array of the Dunlavy's. I felt that the Thiels that I've listened to were too bright (so I agree with Ejlif who stated the Dunlavy's are a bit laid back). To me that equates to the smoothness of the Dunlavy's. I also felt that the Thiels didn't have the bass definition and authority of the Dunlavy's (IVA, V, and VI).

They ARE big and heavy and require a larger room size. But, if you have the room, the Dunlavy's coupled with the right electronics will fill it with music effortlessly. I also agree with Czbbcl that you may wish to consider upgrading the preamp too.

You owe it to yourself to go listen the Dunlavy's if you can. Happy listening!!
Put a pair of the new Thiel 1.6's on top of a pair of Velodyne 15" subwoofers before you make a decision (as much as I love the Dunlavys...).
Keep the 3.6's and upgrade your pre-amp, cd player, and possibly your cables. Also look into adding Sound Anchor stands. They make an amazing difference in bass response and mid-range smoothness on all Thiels. I recommend upper level Tara Labs cables to get the most out of your system. Upgrading your cd player, pre-amp, and cables will always pay dividends no matter what you decide to do later on. Remember that the biggest and most effective changes in your system have to occur closest to the source. You cannot improve a signal down-stream if it is not of satisfactory quality up-stream.
Spend your money on a better cd player and pre-amp before ditching the Thiels. You will be very pleasantly rewarded. Please understand, I am not dissing the Linn or the Adcom, I just think that in your system they are the weak links. I know they are very highly rated by some magazines, but there are better choices if system synergy is to be achieved. The Dunlavys are very nice but they need far more room size and exacting placement criteria than do the Thiels. And, after replacing the Thiels with the Dunlavys or anything else for that matter, guess what? will still have those up-stream components that will still be the problem.
I have owned most Thiel models including the 6's, 3.6's, 2.3's, 2 2's, 1.2's, and 1.5's, ..... and I have heard most of the Dunlavys, including the 6's, the 5's, and the 4a's. and they are all very very good...... but I fear you will not resolve whatever system issues you are seeking to ameliorate until you deal with the front end, pre-amp and cables.
For the record, Thiels are not inherently bright, they are simply very accurately reproducing a second rate component somewhere in the audio stream. In your case if you are sensing brightness or forwardness, I would wager it is the Linn with the Adcom.
I have had a Linn Karik / Numerik combo, and an Ikemi in my system(s) with several pairs of Thiels and I found that neither of the Linns were satisfactory...too cold and dreary sounding. Try a Levinson, or better yet, a Proceed CDP and a good tube pre-amp (or Pass pre-amp), and you will experience smooth, seamless, detailed......MUSIC.
Speakers only reproduce the faults that begin up-stream with the source and the first stage of processing; the pre-amp. Best of luck.
The size of the room seems to me to be a limiting factor. I briefly auditioned Dunlavy IV-A speakers at a dealer and they did sound very good indeed. The only comparison point I have to Thiels, however, are to my 3.5s, which I have had many years now. Hardly a valid comparison, since there are too many years between these two designs and too much difference size-wise. I, also, would be interested in getting Dunlavy IV-As but do seriously wonder about the size of the room required. Every one seems to agree that, unlike most speakers I have ever heard, they benefit from being on the long wall, with plenty of room between the speakers, as well as between each speaker and their respective side wall. Not much of a possibility in my room. What is the downside of placing them at the end of the room, on the shorter wall and listening from a good distance to, hopefully, avoid the problems associated with multi-driver speakers in the configuration chosen by Dunlavy? BTW my room is 12'X 25'. The bad part is that, since it is a split level house, the front half of my room is only 7'8" high, the rear half is fractionally above 8'. I have quite a bit of acoustic treatment on the side walls and above the speakers at present. In closing, although not an indispensable attribute or any form of guaranty sound-wise, the Thiels win the knuckle rap test; the back panel of the Dunlavy sounding especially live. The Thiels have better cabinets overall. Another point, a few months ago, in response to my inquiry, the manufacturer indicated to me that the five year warranty on Dunlavy speakers is no longer transferable. Another point where Thiel is significantly better: their warranty being ten years and, the last time I checked, transferable. Thanks.
hello the downside when placing the Dunleavy speakers with their backs along the short wall is in my opinion is total BS, as long as they are six feet plus apart and 3 feet from the side walls. I never have heard a Dunleavy set up their recommended placement which I liked before. I owned the model 5 and 4 currently. I have wall to wall sound stage width sometimes wider in my 20x23x8 room with the speakers placed approximately 60 inches from the side walls the speakers approximately 7 1/2 feet apart and 7 feet from the wall behind to the front of the speakers.
Wow I don,t know if I qualify having a pair of SC4a,s highly modified but all share my findings with you.
I find the Dunlavys to be highly accurate with a soundstage that well grow and grow with the better ass. equipment one feeds them. I have had them set up in room,s 12x32x10. Speaker,s placed 7ft aprt 3ft.side wall and 5.7ft from the front. At the time it sounded Hi-Fi. At the time I weas running Wadia 861; Pass labs x350. Ic,s were Synergistic Desinger,s ref and matching speaker cable.
The sound was very Hi-Fi. Dry ,and univolving but large deep soundstage.
I then switched to Nordost Quatra-fil and SPM speaker. Big improvement in the soundstage and seperation of people place and things but a tad bright.
I then sold the Pass and grabed a pair of Papworth Audio M200,s. (240 watt tu be monos.) Soundstage and depth of the soundstage tripled,absolutely stagering improvement. Don,t believe anyone who siad,s Dunlavys can,t be driven by tubes. They sound their best with tubes.
I then moved to a roon of 18x15x8ft. The Dunlavys to me sound there best with large seperation between the speakers,
My qurent set up is 12ft apart 38inches off the sides and 46inches off the front, My room is heavily treated with room lenses and absortion panels. Great big and deep soundstage lifelike. I found I could still not stand the bright, thin Nordost cable and tried the Stealth Ultimate Ribbon speaker cable, yes tube amps love ribbon speaker cables. And Jena labs Fugue IC. And had all cabling Cyro treated from Jena.This proceadure greatly improves all area of PRAT.
Although my room is not large the Dunlavys have never sounded there best at this time, tom. is another day.
I have heard many Dunlavys in all diff. setting and ass. equipment. All have sounded there best widely sep.
My findings at this time is given off a system driven off a 15ft. extension cord and a non-dedicated line. I was expecting a package from Jena labs today with a pair of Symphony IC. And 20amp. switch.10g.stranded romenex and a hospital grade outlet all cyro treaded and waiting for instalation. Given the improvement from cyro treatment I,m expecting big improvement in the Dunlavys.
I also think the argument between copper and silver is manufacture dependent.These are diff. questions but all have done nothong but improve the sound of my Dunlavys.
Having heard the Theil 5 some years ago It was not my cup of tea. I,m sure it was equipment and or set up, Theil has a great reputation and therefore must be given great respect in this hobby that doesent put up with High priced shit.
The answer to your question is not easy for anyone, But weather you stick with your Theil or switch to Dunlavys only you can answer.
Pbb, I have always set up my Thiels along the long wall. To my ears the Thiels like the Dunlavys sound best this way. Of course everyones room and circumstances differ. The key issues are space from side and rear walls and distance between speakers and between listener and speakers. The requirements between Dunlavys and Thiels are not that much different. IMHO the Thiels like more distance from side walls and less space from each other with much less toe in. As far as Dunlavy cabinets go, please bear in mind that the outer cabinets are just frames for individual enclosed driver cabinets. The finish on the Thiels as to furniture quality is much better than the Dunlavys. Your Thiel 3.5's are IMHO one of the all time great legends in audio, but as you say time marches on and the SCIVA's are a more ambitious product marketed to a higher price point. I don't think either of these products are bright unto themselves, but neither are they forgiving of preceding components sonic aberations.
Having heard both extensively and owning one(Thiel), I can say that they are different flavors from the same pot. Each has different strengths, both are excellent speakers. The Thiels excell in detail and transparency. They are a little less dynamic and a touch bright. The Dunlavys excell in coherence and soundstaging. They are a little grainy compared to the Thiels and get congested sounding at loud volumes. I think that the Dunlavys are a lateral move(which may be more to your liking,I don't know) than an upgrade. You need to go listen to them along with your amp and cables. Hope this helps. Enjoy listening.

Thanks for all the interesting responses.

Question for pepperdog. Were you referring to the No.39 CD player by Levinson? Also, I may make an upgrade to a Pass pre-amp someday.

Also, interconnects are another area I may look at in the future too.
Yes, the model 39 cd player from Levinson is the one I was referring to.... or better yet (money wise) the Proceed cdp which is based on the No.39 (transport etc). Also if you want to shock yourself try the model 500 special edition Cambridge cd player with Walker valid points and tuning discs......staggering sounds for the money. I am using the Cambridge cd player with a Red Rose Model 5 integrated amp on my Thiel CS 2.3's with all Tara Labs air 1 cables and all I can say is wow!!! This cd player is under $500, and it reminds me very favorably of my Proceed CDP and Levinson No.39. By the way the Red Rose Model 5 is up for sale on Audiogon, if interested. Thanks,, Geo
I own the IVa and love them. I just wrote a review you might read.
I talked with John Dunlavy a few years back and he said"If I wasn't designing speakers, I'd own Theil. They are the closest to his of any speaker made." That is high praise and a great indorsement. I have heard your speaker and believe the IVa will sound bigger and more full. I would say the IVa is more on par with the 7.x series.