Thiel CS2.3 vs 2.4 -- my 2 cents

Having owned 2.3s for over a year, I've wanted to know how the 2.4s compare, probably like most 2.3 owners. A couple insightful posts on forums, but no direct references in the "mainstream" reviews. So I just drove my 2.3s 200 miles to the nearest Thiel dealer to hear for myself.

Nice room all to myself, and certainly good equipment: $5K Cary 306 CDP, $8500 Krell KCT preamp, $10.5K Krell 400CX pwr amp and stupid-expensive Siltech cables. I ultimately didn't get my head around the differences as well as I'd like despite the 2+ hours. I should have switched between spkrs more often, tedious with the 2.3 terminals beneath the base. So all this is just another data point for everybody to take in; as always, YMMV...

What hit me first, and is still the most defining difference, is the 2.4 vocals seem more relaxed and open. Male vocals especially had a bit more richness and weight as well, less obvious with most female vocals, and not readily apparent through the mids without vocals to focus on. This is still a lean midrange compared to the B&W warmth and body (that I prefer), but it's a step in the right direction vs the 2.3. Vocals on the 2.3 seemed compressed and even a little 'grainy' in comparison. Not night and day by any means, but consistent across a variety of music.

I found the bass in the normal musical range to be a *bit* stronger and possibly slightly more dynamic. Sub-40Hz bass had noticeably more output, though this might be worth it only for electronica and the HT crowd. Bass on the 2.3 seemed shallower (in dynamics, level and extension) in direct comparison, though I've never found it lacking on its own.

The Thiel bugaboo for many, their 'forward' upper mids/lower treble, that can be a hard, edgy glare with mismatched components, rooms or source material, was unchanged. I couldn't detect any real difference between the two in this area, though it wasn't a problem with what I was listening to and my familiarity with the 2.3s.

But surprisingly the 2.4 seems a little hotter on top, added sparkle and brightness - without any more apparent 'air' - which I'm surprised at given Thiel's reputation for sizzle. Again, subtle, but noticeable esp due to knowing my 2.3s so well.

The other attributes of the sound were identical, no surprise as it's basically the same speaker: imaging, coherence, resolution, speed, dispersion and the overall 'voice', all of which made it easier to focus on the differences, but harder to come to any solid conclusion, as even these differences are quite subtle compared to A/Bing a 2.4 vs a 1.6, much less altogether different speaker manufacturers.

So the more relaxed mids are the biggest benefit, the enhanced lower mids and greater bass output an improvement, the same forward upper mids and hotter top end disappointing. For some folks the styling and easier amp loading are in the real-world 'plus' column. As mentioned, these were NOT big differences, but certainly an audible evolution of their design. When I got the 2.3s back home, they sounded as good as ever. I feel I'd prefer the 2.4s, but not at the resale loss I'd take now. That $1500+ might be better spent towards a top-notch phono preamp, CD transport, or psychotherapy to prioritize other things in life :-O

Thanks sdecker, that was interesting...well done. I have 3.6's and enjoy them thoroughly. I'm thinking about moving up to the CS6 soon although I haven't had the pleasure of hearing them. Anyone know the difference between the 3.6 and CS6?
I agree with your evaluation, sdecker. Last week I went to audition the 2.3 and 2.4 models also in a private room, this time powered by a nice Proceed set up. I didn't think the 2.4 was vastly better, however, more open and acurate is how I'd describe them. My problem was overall size of the speakers, just physically too big for my room, I chose to go another direction. I did audiotion the 1.6 as well and although a nice speaker, just no comparison to the 2.3 or 2.4 models. One last thought... being that this was the first time I had auditioned the Thiel brand, I was very impressed with the build quality of these units. Probabaly the best I have seen in speakers of this price range. Eventually when either I remove some of the furniture in my living room or convince my wife, I definately will re-visit the 2.4s.
Sdecker: excellent write-up. Very thoughtful of you to share your
experience with us. Thanks.

I bought a used pair of 2.4's about 3 months ago. My first Thiels except
that I had a pair of 1.6's in the house on loan for a few months. I liked
the 1.6's a lot, but wanted more bass. But as others have commented,
the 2.4's are not 1.6's with more bass, unfortunately.

I was finding the 2.4 rather disappointing. The midrange was too
forward, for one thing. Mainly they were not engaging me in the music
(sorry to be so vague) as the 1.6's had.

Anyway, to get to the point of this story: I was using Valhalla speaker
cables, which I think are as terrific as everyone says. They worked
wonderfully with the 1.6's and with other speakers I have tried. I
had an old pair of Cardas Golden Cross laying around, which I was
planing to sell. A friend and fellow 'Goner beat me about the head
and shoulders until I finally stuck the Cardas in the current system.

I've used a lot of Golden Cross over the years and I know its sound very
well. And with the Thiel 2.4's, the Cardas certainly sounds like Cardas:
warm, dimensional, soft on top, "organic." But I had never heard it
change the sound of my system as much as it did this time. I don't
know what to make of it, really, and it's too soon to reach any final
conclusions. But with the Cardas, the 2.4's no longer sound forward at
all, nor do they exhibit any of the characteristic Thiel brightness or
thinness. They sound downright warm, rich, and "woody", like a cello
sounds. And they have become musically engaging in a way that
transcends all of these sonic particulars. Plus the tonality is often scary-
real. They are almost unrecognizable as Thiels, except that they retain
the detail, resolution, and image specificity that Thiel does so well.

There's some downside, too (too fat in the upper bass, a bit blurred,
slow), so I may start playing with some other speaker cables, but I will
tell you that this experience surprised the hell out of me. I really do
think that Valhalla is very neutral and that Cardas is not, but the
Cardas with Thiels seems more "right", without question.
Drubin, good idea to try some different cables, it's amazing how the Thiels pass along what's fed. My experience with 3.6 has been: Kimber 8TC - too lean, Alpha Core Goertz MI2 very nice, fat midrange with extension on both ends but almost too warm with my CJ preamp/mullards, MIT V3 - Thiels on steriods, had a problem with my Classe shutting down, maybe related to the preamp passing DC, this is the only cable that was problematic, MIT T2's much of the 750's with a little less of everything including refinement, finally MIT 750 s 3's with reference MIT IC's have been the most balanced from top to bottom with excellent imaging. I know the 2.4 is a different speaker but sounds like it has the Thiel house sound. With some work I believe you can get Thiels to sound the way you want them to and when you do they are hard to beat IMO.
I was wondering about MIT. Have never tried it except for some modest ICs many years ago. It's always seemed prohibitively $$$ for the good stuff.

(Waitaminute, I own Valhalla...)
Pops, I had a pair of Oracle V3s that I used with Thiel 7.2s and a Classe Omicron amp. Never had a problem. However, the person I sold them to kept blowing fuses on his MBL amp when he used the V3s. Nothing wrong with the cables, but obviously some amps are not compatible. BTW I felt the same way about the V3s and my 7.2s as Drubin does with the Valhallas and 2.4s. Although not as resolving or extended, I enjoyed my Transparent Ultras more.

As far as 2.4 vs 2.3 goes, I thought there was a noticeable increase in soundstage width, height, and depth in my 22 x 16 x 9 room compared to the 2.3s.