Thiel 3.7

I auditioned a few speakers in this price range. Thiel 3.7 is my favorite. I have ordered a pari. I am think about the upstream for these speaksers. It seems although 3.7 has 91 db, it is a pig to drive. I have planned to use Bryston BP 26+14 B SST2 to drive it. I will use Ayre CX-7eMP as CD player, and use Cardas cables to make the whole system a little bit warmer and more musical. Can you please comment on this combo, and give me some advice?
BTW, I am wondering if BP 26 has balanced output. Should I use balanced interconnect cable, to make it sounds better?
Thank you in advance!
The BP26 "does" have XLR and while at a short run it may not cause any appreciable sonic differences, it certainly does make for a better and more secure connection between components.
What other speakers have been on your list for consideration? How large is your room?

Do you already have the Brystons? If so I would just stick with them. There are other amps that will give you more of this or more of that but Bryston is a good brand with a GREAT warranty.

I am not sure where you are getting the idea that the 3.7 are hard to drive. Yes their impedance is pretty low but almost all speakers of the same moderate size that dip as low and flat in the bass with have similar issues.

Anyway I think the 3.7s are great and Bryston is a good buy. My only real issues with the Bryston is the midrange can be a little cold at times and the 3.7 will surly show it of-course this is nitpicking. Some say the sound stage is closed-in on Brystons but my room is way too jacked-up to talk about the small differences of soundstage of amps... I will leave that up to the experts.

Speaking of "experts" James Tanner (VP of Bryston) uses Thiel 3.7s in his personal system (I will post the review for you) at one time and still might. Also Thiel uses Bryston at many of their shows (maybe all of them now that I think about it). Magnepan also uses them at most of their shows too. To me this says good things about Bryston. Two speaker bands that are "hard to drive" both are in cahoots with Bryston.

Anyway if you do not own the Bryston I would save a few dollars and demo something from Wyred 4 Sound. I have really liked their amps with my CS2.4 (much better than the Mcintosh 252). They are fast and clean in the bass. It gives them good punch and control. Mids are full and not lacking. But I have only heard 3.7s on Musical Fidelity gear.

Here is the review by James Tanner.

"THIEL CS-3.7 Review:

Hi all,

Here are my thoughts on the new Thiel 3.7 speakers in one of my listening rooms. The room is 23x16x8. The speakers are 4 feet from the front wall, 3 feet from the side wall and 10 feet apart center to center. I am sitting 10-11 feet back.

The first thing I will say is that I have never owned a speaker that tells me to this degree what is going on in front of it. Change a cable, change an amplifier, change a CD player and the difference is revealed instantly. This can be a blessing or a curse depending on the result and the specific needs of the listener. For my needs I love it as it really is a magnifier of changes in the system - good or bad. Also they need about 300 hours of break in. They will sound ‘raspy’ at first but will start to smoothen out and integrate after about 100 hours.

As I stated in my earlier posting the speaker/room interface has to be considered in totality when evaluating a specific speaker in a specific room and the Thiel 3.7 is a very good example of that. The Thiel CS-3.7 speaker has a very ‘wide’ and ‘even’ polar (frequency) response ‘on and off’ axis and as a result there is a lot of reflected sound information bouncing back from the ceiling, floor and side walls. The theory is that the smoother the off axis response of the speaker the better the tonal balance between the direct sound and the reflected sound will be. In other words, the reflected sound will have the same overall tonal balance and sonic characteristics as the direct sound if ‘on and off’ polar response is smooth and even. Most designers feel this approach also provides the best overall three dimensional soundstage as well.

The Thiel CS-3.7 uses a COAX midrange and tweeter assembly. This has always been an ideal way to provide even and controllable on and off axis polar (frequency) response but has proved difficult to do because of the various small reflections and interactions (comb filtering) between two individual drivers. Jim Thiel seems to have got this right because the ability of the speaker to provide a deep and wide sound stage with specific images floating in space is the best I have experienced. The speaker literally ‘melts’ into the soundstage. You are never aware that the sound is coming from two boxes in front of you. The stage starts at the speaker and extends backwards and outwards in all directions. Sometimes, and this is very hard to do, images would appear to be off my left or right shoulder.

The speaker is very efficient (90 dB) so although you do not need a mega-watt amplifier to drive them the impedance dips to 2.8 ohms in some areas so an amplifier with high current capability is a must. I have always found that very efficient speakers have the ability to provide excellent ‘micro’ dynamics and excellent tonal balanced at very low volume levels. The Thiel’s do this very well – from a whisper level to a concert level you always feel that the overall tonal balance (bass relative to – mids - relative to highs) stay’s balanced as the volume level is increased. The only caveat is because of the large amount of reflected off axis energy at very high volume levels the speakers can start to sound a bit hard if your rooms surfaces are very reflective. So my comments about the acoustical qualities of a specific room with a specific speaker readily apply in this case.

I have stated on pervious post’s that I prefer Active speakers generally because they have an ability to respond to transient information better than most passive systems I have heard. The Thiel is the first passive speaker I have heard that really seems to be able to approach active systems in this regard. A speaker with the ability to stop and start relatively instantaneously has always, in my opinion, been able to provide me with a more lifelike presentation and delineation of fine details. Little auditory clues that tell our brains if a sound is real or reproduced has a lot to do with how a speaker handles transient information. The Thiel’s would sometimes fool me into thinking a sound was in the room as apposed to being in the recording.

Tonal balance on the Thiel’s relative to other speaker’s leans towards the top end. So if your room tends to sound thick and droning below say 150 Hz or so the Thiel will certainly sound very well balanced sonically. If your room tends to dissipate the low frequencies quickly then you may find the Thiel’s lows and mid bass lacking. It is a good example of being cautious when evaluating speakers. The way your room reinforces or interacts with the speaker can greatly affect the overall tonal balance in a room. So a speaker like the PMC IB2 which has more mid and low bass output can sound very balanced in the same location whereas the Thiel sounds thin in comparison. Where the IB2 might sound thick and ill defined in a specific location in the bass the Thiel comes off sounding just right tonally. So again, just a caution that when evaluating speakers moving the speaker around in the soundroom is a mandatory requirement if overall audio performance optimization is the goal. Remember, as mentioned in my earlier post above, the design criteria (wide vs. narrow dispersion etc.) of the speaker has a huge influence over the tonal balance (power response) in the room.

So all in all I find the Thiel CS-3.7 speakers superb in a number of areas. The ability to disappear and provide a huge soundstage with focused life-size images floating in space has to be heard- it really is extraordinary. The ability to respond to transient information with a quickness that rivals good active systems is a major benefit in providing inner details and a ‘you are there’ presentation. The ability to act as a magnifying glass on what is placed upstream is a big plus for an audio manufacturer like Bryston as any small change in our designs becomes readily apparent.

These I will keep.


As always use your own ears. I don't think you can go wrong with the speakers or amps you have chosen. But the Thiels will really show you what is in front of them for better or worse.
I used to have a BP25 + MPS2 with Bryston 7B-SST for a long time. I switched to the BAT VK-42SE pre-amp and kept the 7B-SST. The sound was a little 'warmer' with the solid-state BAT. I am not going to switch anything now and very happy with this combo.

I have not heard the BP-26 which I understand is a little different sounding than the older BP25.

I also used balanced intereconnects with these electonics. My favourite being the Audience AU24. I find balanced interconnets more convenient to use.

Your 14B-SST2 is supposed to be a slightly warmer sounding amp than my older 7B-SST (upgraded). I would love to hear these new amps because there is only a certain amount of 'warmth' that I can tolerate in the sound. I would be curious to see if I like the new amps over the older.

BTW - The Thiels 3.7 are amazing soundiing to my ears and I am waiting until I get enough room space to buy them for myself.
Dynaudio C2, Wilson Sophia, B&W 802D.
James63, thanks a lot for you super detailed response! It's very useful.
I read with great amusement, the explanation of 'how much power', on the Magneplanar site. It's virtually what it was, when I was a dealer, almost 30 years ago, and still VERY conservative in it's language.
Back then, 1983--Jim Winey told me at the CES, (Chicago back in the day) "You're an idiot if you don't play the
Baby Maggies (SMG) for every customer who comes into your store Larry." He was, of course right. First, for thier price they got (now GET) most everything so MUSICALLY RIGHT. All that's missing is deep bass and big slam. For some of the more humble audio purists, put on Yo Yo Ma, and get ready for goose bumps. WOW, what a value.
The amusement part came with my remembering what they said then, 'as now' about power--how much needed etc.
Harmon Kardon back then, had a great line of receivers that produced inordinate amounts of current, even before the 'current' issue became a current problem...uh past problem, no, sorry I mean it was a current 'day' problem back then, not a problem of the amount of current...hmmm. Kinda like lying to your spouse, no end here.
The issue is, the little HK 535(fingers crossed) at 35 WPC as I recall, played the snot out of them, was cheap, and you couldn't break it with a hammer. My wife and I put several 'all girl' systems in homes after hours--babby maggies and HK, and an HK Turntable (no cd's just yet in any number).
Here's where I diverge with some thinking here. 'The maggies are hard to drive', no they're unless they've changed radically, an almost purely resistive 4 ohm load. Todays power supplies, even in Receivers will almost always 1.5/1.75 or even double into 4 ohms. As I said the HK was a trouper and we had ZERO problems matching those baby amps with the SMG.
As to the, "THIEL is a pig to drive". Not that bad, the 3.7 is not nearly as difficult to drive as the CS5's which dropped to 1.4 ohms at about 45 to 100hz region were, the 3.6's were, the 2.4's while not as bad were somewhat of an issue. I think their reputation in this regard, is greater than the reality. They do require a stable amp, which can deliver the goods (with less resistance the need for current goes up)--but these days, amps of that ilk are everywhere, the choices are abundant and vary greatly in cost.
I'll bet you the B&K Receiver can deliver the necessary current.
Anyway, if you love the speakers, you can, IMHO more easily hedge your bet on the amp, and still get better sound than you think.
One other quick example...I used to Demo the THIEL CS5's which in 1988 cost about what the 3.7's cost in todays dollars. One thing I did to make a point, was to play them using the 60 WATT ADCOM GFA535. Ideal, no...but better than virtually any other combination.
Just imagine a $13K pair of speakers with a $400. amp, then reverse and put a $13K amp with a $400 pair of speakers, which gives you more? Fun to think about.
I think I saw your similar post here. Anyway, I think Thiel, Ayre CD, and the carda cables will serve you very well in terms of bringing warmth to your Thiel 3.7. My only reservation will be the Bryston combos. Personally for SS, I prefer the Ayre, Boulder, or Belles lines to match to Thiel 3.7. Bryston has power but does not offer the smooth top end extension the other 3s I have listed. for cabling, make sure to mix-match (eg. cardas golden cross for interconnect & cardas ref. for speaker cables)Bear in mind, this is personal rec. and as always, what matters most will be your personal taste and what your ears tell you
Thank you Pkoh70! I used Cardas golden refernce XLR interconnect cables between CD and preamp, and neutral reference for all other cables. I see Thield used Bryston combo to drive 3.7 in a couple big shows. I assume it's not a bad choice either.
I have the3.7 and i use it with Pass labs XP-10 and XA-30.5 and it works
like a charm.
But the 2.4 didn't work at all with that amp..
Cardas was the very worst cable I have used with my Ayre stuff. Try something else to discover what's there.
A local buddy uses Siltech G3 and G5's with good luck.
Are the 3.7s bright or piercing in the upper mids which I remember the Absolute Sound review mentioned?

The 3.7s seemed to much more highly regarded around here in the forums than the reviews (which I find interesting).

I also remember a Stereophile reviewer saying he very much preferred the Wilson Sophias (2s I think) to the 3.7s.

The 3.7s seem to fit my space & budget but aggressive highs are the kiss of death for me (with speakers or headphones).

(Yeah, I know I should find some place to hear them, so please don't flame me for that. I heard previous Thiels, 2.4s I think, and thought they sounded a little thin. But I have seen so much praise here for the 3.7s I am curious.)
Anthony Cordesman said this in his Nov. 2008 3.7 TAS review that was otherwise a rave:
"You will hear the hardness & excessive upper-octave energy that is actually present in far too many classical recordings of piano, flute, clarinet, violin. You will hear the bad moments on recordings of tenor and, particularly, soprano voice....Accuracy has its costs..."

Whenever I see the word "accuracy," I think it's a code word for fatiguing.

Thiel actually has this review on it's site (a tribute to their honesty, I guess).

Any comments? Are these the anti-Harbeth?

(note: above I said that Stereophile compared them to the Sophias, but I can't find that right now so I may be mistaken about that. Sorry. I will keep looking. A Stereophile review actually said the 3.7s had more "grace" than the Wilson WP8s -- by Wes Phillips posted Dec.15,2008)

TAS, was knocking the recordings not directly knocking the speaker. But there is truth to the review. They are very reveling and can be fatiguing if your recordings are not up to pare. But and it is a big but, if the recording quality is there they are extremely hard to be for the money.

They are not bright in the upper mids and no more bright in the upper mids than the Sophia 3. They do not have the rich color mid of some other speakers. If you want a warmer mid look into Kef or Dynaudio. If you like a flat detailed sound you might like the Revel Studio 2 also.

If you did not like the CS2.4 you will most likely not like the 3.7 either. They share a house sound but the 3.7 is better in every way than the CS2.4

Here is another review from Tone Mag.

"All in all, this is one of the most enjoyable systems I’ve heard. The imaging and dynamics in particular were fantastic. There was no sense of any part of the system struggling to keep up and there was nothing fatiguing about the sound, it got my feet tapping with every track and made me feel good enough to want to start singing ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ and eating apple pie. If this is America the beautiful, I’m there like a bear"
Good stuff James! I really appreciate all that research you did for me. The dynaudio idea is also good. I think my most memorable experience was the Evidences about 10 years ago
(at the late Soundex in Willow Grove PA). Best to you.
It's fitting to me, that Jim's last design was a 3 series product.
My first ownership from him was the 03a, an equalized, 25Hz to 20Khz, loudspeaker of relatively diminuitive stature...then within a couple of years, the CS3, (Coherent Source 3) the 3, was for 3 way speaker.
This speaker was the one that put THIEL on the radar of the mags as well as the higher end audiophiles.
There's a great story about that speaker that I'd like to share with everyone. The story is illustrative of Jim Thiel and Kathy Gornik--how they view business and customers.
A review came out(this would have been circa 1984 fall) in which the reviewer complained about an 'upper midrange GLARE', which was mostly apparent when one stood slightly from the seated position.
Jim was always appreciative of magazines that published specs, as he was the ultimate 'spec' guy--but oftentimes he took issue with methodology.
I remember speaking to him about the 'glare' issue, which he at first said, (to me at least) why does it matter what it sounds like when standing/stooping at a strange height? Who's going to be standing like that? But then, his clinical side took over and he started experimenting.
After several of what had to be painful hours, he found a production error that was to create a seminal moment for THIEL, yet illustrative of what kind of people they are.
Back in those days, THIEL drivers were manufactured to thier specs (Jim would talk to Seas for example for weeks designing, sending drawings etc, and they would send samples to him). As it turns out, the midrange driver at that time was paper, coated with a viscus compound, a plasticized compound which increased the Young's Modulus, defined for this example as 'strength to weight ratio', in simple terms it increased the tensile strength of the driver while not increasing the weight significantly, allowing the driver to act in a more purely pistonic motion, punching the air without twisting. Sorry, but that's what it was.
Anyway, the company manufacturing the driver had put slightly, and we're talking microns of depth, too much of the compound on the driver, changing the response of the driver slightly from the prototypes.
Because of the nature of manufacturing in those days, before 'sample testing' and such, AND the slight alteration, it slipped by Jim's Q.C. efforts.
Understand this, this was back in the day...THIEL was just a struggling young company.
The 'change' in the output really didn't show up on a sweep, but at certain volumes would be apparent, but only when one stood in a crouched manner above the normal listening it was WRONG, but an almost 'who cares' change that only an Absolute Sound listener might notice.(Kudos to the writer, who I can't remember, I'm wanting to say Anthony Cordesman, but not sure).
Anywho, THIEL needing the cash flow from the hundreds of pairs of already completed speakers, elected NOT TO SHIP the speakers out, creating a billing cycle--but chose to let them sit in the warehouse until replacement drivers could come in.
Think about this...a young struggling company, who was dependant on monthly billing cycles, had more than a couple hundred pairs of CS3's sitting idly in their warehouse waiting for almost 2 months for replacements--creating 60 days of delay. This WAS a 'make it, break it' moment for them and they didn't hesitate. The COULD have shipped, sent a 'oh gee' letter to all owners and replaced the drivers in the field, but didn't. They held the products.
How many people would do this in today's business world--in the 1984 business world? They did the right thing without anyone noticing or looking. What's the old saying, 'It's what you do when no one's looking that tells what kind of person you really are.'
Looking back those almost 30 years ago that that happened--knowing the pain that this action created for them financially, I can't tell you how proud I am to tell you that Jim and Kathy were two of my icons and heroes in not only just audio, but in the business world.

It's important that everyone know, when thinking of buying a product, what THIEL does when no one's looking.

Good listening,

Your Ayre player is fine. But I had Bryston components (7BSTs and a Bp25 pre) upfront of my CS7s and I have to say that the Bryston gear will not bring forth all that your 3.7s will be capable of delivering. It's not so much the current capability, but one of resolution. When I upgraded to Krell KCT and 400cx there was a dramatic, and I mean significant, in all dynamics, extension and air. I'm not saying that Krell is the last word in powering Thiels, but I am saying that the Brystons will only get you so far with these extremely fine speakers. Kudos to you for choosing Thiel, they, along with Vandersteen, are my favorite speaker brands.
Lrsky, it none was other than J. Gordon Holt.
I've had nothing but excellent customer service from Thiel on many occasions, often times free of charge even, though the items were well beyond the warrant period.

Sorry to hear about your bad experience with Thiel support. I had a driver damaged (dented from the dealer's show room) on my CS2.4 and I called Thiel and got right though. I had a new driver in 3 days. The driver was $200 including shipping.
I have had the Bryston 4BST (similar to 7bST) and BP25. The old Bryston is harder on the top end than then newer ones. I now have the 7B-SST with a BAT VK-42SE pre.I find the SST line much more enjoyable, I never was a huge fan of BP25 pre, which I also owned, but I hear the BP26 sounds pretty good. The 14B-SST2 is supposed to take the refinement to tube like levels. Which may not be a great thing for me but most reviews, mags and web, have been extremely positive on the SST2 line.

I will be using the Thiel CS3.7 with Bryston 7B-SST and BAT-VK-42SE. Your choice Bryston BP 26+14 B SST2 is not a weak link. I also use Audience Au24 interconnects.
Thanks for that...I remembered that it was an iconic writer, and certainly Mr. Holt fits into that category.
My vivid memories of those days was the angst that Jim and Kathy they shared with me, the devastation of 'holding' those speakers rather than shipping.
It was a special time though--and it gave me an abiding respect for both of them that bordered on, as you can still see today, 'Hero Worship'...
To do the right thing, when it's the hardest thing, isn't something that many people ever do. It helped to shape my business model then AND now.

Good listening,

Any thoughts on choosing between 3.7s and Focal 1038s? Have heard both but in separate locations and times. Have old T 2.2s for a decade and love them powered by ADCOM 200w/ch.
Steveke, What Adcom do you have?

I have an Adcom 5800 (2-ch) with a pair of Hales and really enjoyed the pair.

However, it just did not have the bottom end. I planned to upgrade my speakers but changed out the Adcom for a McIntosh first. Really glad I replaced the amp first.The Hales are a completely new speaker - although 3.7's are still on the radar.