FWIW, either one would fit.
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I ended up buying a demo pair of CS2.4 this week. I am enjoying them now and they sound great for the price I paid! I don't feel like I need to move up to the 3.7s but I still want to :).
Maybe next year I will sell my "new" CS2.4 and get a pair of 3.7s but until then I am pretty happy.
PS. I almost walked out with a pair of Magnepans 1.7 but in the end I think Thiel will be the brand for me for awhile. I hope the brand continues to grow, invent, and engineer in spite of Jim's passing last year. They sound good, look good, are priced fair and are made in America! What more could you ask for?
I believe there is around a month wait on all orders of 1.7s. One of my dealers has them on the floor while the other one does not...
They sound very good though. I have never heard the 1.6 so I can not compare them. But I have heard the 3.6R a few times for long demos. I felt the 1.7 had a little more texture in upper bass than the 3.6R and maybe a little more detail in the upper mids too. It is hard to say though because they were different systems.
The highs on the 1.7s were pretty good with nice detail and decay but I did not feel they were as integrated as the preliminary review (Jonathan Valin...) were claiming. They seemed to come from the upper outer edge of the speakers. The power in the bass caught me off guard and was very comparable to the 3.6R (again different systems heard about a week apart).
The mids still had the somewhat larger then life vocal size. Nora Jones sounded about 8 feet tall but siductive at the same time.
Anyway for the price they are a steel, $2095 for the metal trim model.
I am still enjoying them. I have not worked the system around them. I just dropped them into my old system Mac Mini (connected by toslink)-Benchmark HDR-DAC1 preamp/dac-Wyred4sound ST500amp.
My guess is that most people on this site would not like my system but enjoying a system is about knowing what you like and going with it. My system is very detailed and very aggressive for the bottom up. The bass has lots of punch and depth (relative to the size of the speakers/room) and is very good from such a small speaker, mids are sweet but tell the truth on vocals, bad recordings need not apply. Highs are nothing special but still hold there own, in my very damped room the highs are balanced and not bright at all (brightness is common with the 2.4). The driver integration is OUTSTANDING, and soundstage is as good as my room will allow.
I have moved them into a smaller room 12X15X7 and I feel they are a better fit in the smaller room. The bass fills the room better and everything else stayed about the same. I guess I should post pictures of my system sometime.
I really just bought the speakers as a stepping stone but I think they will be keepers for awhile. I have demoed the Thiel 3.7, Sophia 3, B&W 802Diamond (CS2.4 also) again this month in the same system/room. It was my second round of demoing the Sophia 3. I had full intent (still do) to buy new speakers. But the quality of the CS2.4's sound really makes me stop and rethink high priced speakers. I have been looking for a sound that turns out I already have... I guess that is true of a lot of things in life.
The CS2.4 is the first set of speakers that I have had where I do not focus on a glaring flaw. I have over 3000 CDs on an external drive and use my iphone as a remote. I love to change songs/albums/genres on the fly. I like that I can go from a soft Tori Amos album "Under the Pink" to something like Dream Theater at the drop of a hat. So all in all I am enjoying the music and that is what it is all about.
I may just skip mid priced highend ($15000ish) and hold out for a deal on something highend I really want. I am not sure speakers in the $15000 range will yield better results in my current room (still in the small house my wife and I bought in college). Once I move I will upgrade.
Hi james.....I'm interested in your impressions/comparisons with those other speakers you listed. I'm in the same boat, I have CS 2.4s hooked up to a McIntosh C220 pre and MC 402 amplifier. I also have 2 Velodyne DD 10 subs which pretty much take care of the bass. I was also thinking about upgrading to the next step of speaker....some of the choices I've been considering are the CS 3.7, the Verity Audio Parsifal Ovations, Sonus Faber Elipsas, and Avalon Indras/Transcendents. Are our CS 2.4s really that good that they do compare to some of these much higher priced models? What do you think? I haven't really had a chance to do any comparisons yet.
I used to have Thiel CS 2.3 and then 7.2s. The 7.2s are still a great value - probably could find a pair in the $5-6k range. With the 7.2s, I would listen to new speakers, and could never convince myself that any under $30k were truly any better, IMO.
I think you need to go out and listen, and ask yourself, is this really $x better than what I have.
In the end, it took me quite a bit more to find a speaker that provided what I really needed to justify a step-up. I think the Avalons provide a higher level of refinement compared to Thiel, giving away nothing the Thiels provide, while bringing more new experiences to the table.
I have to agree with Rtn1 and say that refinement is what you gain with higher-end speakers. The issues is not messing up anything else in the process. IMO materials do not over shadow engineering, but when you have both things get very nice.
Now to answer your question directly. "Are our CS 2.4s really that good that they do compare to some of these much higher priced models?" Yes in the appropriate setting.
Consider the room:
What I mean by that is my room is about 1/2 the size of the demo room. So my CS2.4 fill and load my room about the same way a larger speaker (Sophia 3) filled the much larger room. The end result it that my system in my room was VERY comparable to the sound of the Sophia 3 in the larger demo room. Now where I will ruffle some feathers is where I thought my system was better but I will get to that later.
Also when you think about room size, in my smaller room I need less energy created by the speakers to achieve the same loudness of a bigger room. The speaker can play softer for the same volume. This creates less stress on the speakers and build quality (inertness, distortion, etc) is less of a factor.
One advantage of a larger room is soundstage and imaging. Small rooms have too many close boundaries to really let the imaging and soundstage do its thing. So all in all my point is, if you have a large room big expensive well engineered speakers will out perform an over achiever( CS2.4) but if your room is like mine (limited) I do not think many of the pricy speakers are better.... just different. Also we all know the down side of huge speakers in a small room so I will not get into that side of the discussion.
Concerning the speakers:
Thiel has engineering that other "small" brands could only dream of. The difference between Thiel and some of the other higher-end brands is they design around a price point. Good for me, bad for people will a lot of money. Engineering is easy when price is not limited but when price matters and you still have a good product they have done something very right.
Brands that put as much into engineering as Thiel and also bring unlimited quality of parts will outperform them.
Audioguy3107 I will be more than happy to write you a little review of my demo (with music used etc). I have not demoed may of the speakers you are looking at but as a fellow CS2.4 owner I could give you my take on what I have heard. It will take a little time though. Just let me know if you would like my opinion on any of the following demos and what aspects you are most interested in. What do you feel you are missing with your current system?
I have demoed the following speakers in the same room/system several times over the last year and mixed and matched electronics on occasion.
Sophia 3 vs 802Diamond (Two weeks ago, This time the Sophia 3 was spiked and set up fully with Audio Research/Classe' gear).
Thiel 3.7 vs Sophia 3 (about two months ago... I wrote an over view but the thread seems to be gone now, not sure why??, Musical Fidelity/Audio Research gear)
Thiel 3.7 vs CS2.4 ( two months ago, same room but slightly different systems. Systems were on opposite sides of the same rectangular room).
Attention ALL Thiel owners.
Regardless of your favorite Thiel model (I have CS6s and 2.4s) you MUST, I repeat MUST, give them ample time to break in, if you don't then you will miss out on what they can do when they finally do (extended and clear bass, sweeter mids and highs and deep and wide soundstage).
With daily playing, it took me almost three years to break in my 6s and almost two to , finally, break in the 2.4s.
Give them time.
last year I auditioned CS2.4s in Vienna. The setup was with Electrocompaniet electronics, the room was perfectly tuned as was the sound - absolutely perfect (when feeding a good record).
The same dealer has now Avalon Indras on display in the same room and I auditioned with a very expensive dcs digital source, a Pass pre and Electrocompaniet power amps. They sound more relaxed, bass is not as powerful, fast and detailed as compared to the Thiels.
In terms of 3dimensionality, detail, etc. the speakers are very similar.
So my clear personal conclusion is that I like the Thiels much more and then consider the price tag...
you always have to be careful when it comes to these "break in" comments because they often have more to do with the listener's perceptions than anything concerning the equipment. the fact that it took that long for the "speakers" to break in is most likely more indicative that it took you that long to get used to the sound of the speakers.
you hear these "break in" comments when it comes to electronic equipment, but you never have any factual basis for what changes in the equipment itself that would lead to the claimed changes in the character of the sound over the "break in" period. when you buy audio equipment that equipment has it's own sonic character and it can take a while for your ears to get used to the sound. if you were to change the parameters of a phono stage that you have had for 2 years you would likely experience another "break in" as your ears got used to the sound. it has nothing to do with the equipment. yes, some equipment is submitted to a "burn in" period before being shipped but the purpose for the burn in is to identify component failures. yeah, the marketing of the equipment may make claims that the burn in "matures" the sound of the equipment but that's largly bs.
i can believe that there might be some "break in" with speakers because of the mechanical nature of speaker operation, but 3 years is not a credible break in period and i can't imagine anyone who could legitimately claim that a break in would take that long.
Thanks for your comment, I was starting to wonder if I was losing it by thinking my $10,000ish system was out performing $30,000+ systems. I understand that people like different things but sometimes different is not better.
I was listening to the song "Lacrymosa" by Evenanesence on the Sophia 3. This song has a very low rolling bass note from a base guitar throughout the song and on the Sophia 3 I was not even sure I could hear it. But at home it is very defined and clear, down to where I can hear the individual string move. Also on the song "Layla" off Eric Clapton's unplugged album the bass drum lacks some impact on the initial hit of the head (bass is pretty low on this album too) when played through the Sophia.
After many demos of different types of speakers I have come to think passive radiators have real advantages over ports. They simple have a more pistonic movement (air flow) and seem to have more definition over a ports.
Anyway I am done shopping for now and will look again when I have a bigger house. I will most likely move up to the 3.7 (or go for broke with a good deal on something used), it sounded a lot like the 2.4 but with more bass, a more detailed/warmer mid, and had cleaners highs. But all in all more of a refinement over the 2.4 than a giant leap.
Also a huge Thiel fan here. One thing you may want to consider before upgrading to the 3.7 is demoing a Thiel sub with your 2.4's. I am not generally a proponent of subwoofer's in 2 channel systems however Thiel is an exception. It's one of the very few subs that I have heard seamlessly blend...Thiel speakers+Thiel sub. I own JL and have had Velo and it amazes me how big of a difference there are between them and Thiel. The 2.4 + Thiel sub combo could give you much more than the 3.7.
Regarding the powered sub integration in a system... The low tones if properly crossed over will be sent to the sub, therefore freeing your amp to drive a much easier load on the mids and highs. Therefore, the whole audio spectrum is improved. Actually, using multiple subs is good as well to smooth out the lows.
"I am enjoying them now and they sound great for the price I paid!"
But do they sound 'great' emperically?
When one equivocates based on 'price alone' I'm always wondering--at what point, 'one hundred', 'two hundred'dollars more, would they sound, just really good, then good, then OK, then not so great?
To paraphrase Freud, "Sometimes a piano is just a piano".
Do they make 'piano-like noises', with a sense of realism?
I enjoy them and it is really that simple for me.
Do they sound like a piano... I have no idea, pianos all sound different, what one do you want it to sound like and in what setting? The question for me is, does the recording sound like a real piano? I play piano for what it is worth.
As for the price question it is a grey area. Would I pay double, triple, or more for better sound? Yes and I will sooner than later. I was just very disappointed with many high-end speakers in the $15000 price range. Where I was most disappointed is I felt many companies just throw money at their designs and get the fundamentals wrong. More money does not fix design issues.
The 2.4 do have some issues but they are not that offensive to me because I feel for the most part they are deductive. The bass could be lower and the highs could be more extended. I am sure a better box would help too but I never listen above 75-80db so it might be less of an issue for me than others. My only real issue with them is I feel voices are thinner than they should be. Sometimes I also like unrealistically larger than life bass and wish I had bigger speakers but just sometimes. Other times the Thiels are just right.
i have a pair of cs2.3 speakers and when i listened to the cs3.7 i didn't find the bass to be any stronger than the cs2.3. to me the biggest difference seemed to be in the midrange where the cs3.7 seemed to have a bit more definition. but for my part i like the sound of my cs2.3 speakers and i think that they look better than the cs3.7 also (let's face it, there is an aspect to which audio equipment is sold as an article of furniture). that said, i thought that the cs3.7 is a nice sounding speaker although i probably tend to lean toward thiel; in part because i don't have a lot of motivation to "audition" lots of equipment since what i have sounds fine to me (my ears don't detect strong night and day differences in general).
As a side note to the comment about Sound Labs...some people know this, others may not--Jim Thiel was actually a serious fan of Electrostatics--and once told me that he felt that that was the optimal way to build a speaker.
Crossoverless in the truest sense, no cabinet, perfect time alignment.
However, in his start-up days of THIEL Audio, the limitations of this technology were too significant.
Now, in the year 2011--with dynamics not the issue that it was in 1976--better materials for the panel, greater efficiency, it would be interesting to see what an engineer of Jim's ability could/would do...wait, maybe we already know...Dr. West of Sound Labs...step forward!
I will try and hear the Sound Labs some day. The only electrostatic speakers I have demoed is the Martin Logan line, I thought the CLX was pretty nice but out of my price range. It did many things better than any speaker I have heard but they needed more low-end extension. The mix and match drivers of the lower models turned me off. Ultimately though the panel life of electrostatic speakers bothered me. How long is the panel life on Sound Lab speakers?
I also demoed the entire Magnepan line too. I also liked them but could not get over the build quality. Other panel brands are just a little too exotic and hard to come by.
Ok thanks Larry, I know Quad recommends changing panels every 5 years. Martin Logan was not as direct with my question and said it depends on atmosphere (dust, temp, moisture, etc) but reading though the martin logan forum 5 years seems to be the sweet spot. Some people claim to get 10 years before the sound changes but I would guess they are not listening critically.
Other brands such as sanders have a life-time warranty on their panels and claim they do not wear out but again I do not like the mix and match driver designs (all panel or moving coil please).
Panel life seems to be a grey area with electrostatic speakers. Not sure why it bothered me so much, I have yet to keep a pair of speakers 5 years... but I like to think I could.
I have contacted Dr. West of Soundlabs and am waiting for a reply.
Also, I completely agree with your lack of enthusiasm regarding mix/match, presumably cones and mylar panels, being the weak point of that speaker.
The Soundlabs I owned, the A-1, were not a hybrid, but a full range, (flat to 25Hz) panel.
And, the bass was REMARKABLE--smoothe, detailed, tonal, and importantly, VERY LOW DISTORTION.
It's surprising, the advances in electrostatic technology over the past few years.
I'll write back with Dr. West's response when he gives it.
the thing that strikes me about sound labs speakers is that they are HUGE speakers but if you've got a huge room with high ceilings, they aren't bad looking speakers in my opinion. from the information on the website it sounds like they are interesting speakers. one of the advantages that they cite is because of low mass of the electrostatic sheet, the speakers can maintain relatively high impedance levels even at low frequencies, which reduces the strain on power amplifiers. on the other hand, because of the low mass you need a huge sheet to move enough air to drive low frequencies.
sound labs has an faq on the website that addresses the lifetime issue. according to them, the speakers have "heirloom" duration and are not particularly influenced by things like moisture, &c. the have some technical papers that you can also access from their website.
As promised, I have the response from Dr. West of Soundlabs, as to the 'life expectancy' of Sound Labs' electrostatic panels.
I told him in an email, that the issue was posed on Audiogon, a site that I post on regularly, and asked his permission to post it, unaltered. Below is his response.
It's nice to hear from you. I've been away from the facility and this is the first opportunity I've had to reply to your note. I'll do my best to answer your question about the life expectancy of stats. There are several things that affect the life of an electrostat, but if I were to suggest the most dominant one I would say that it is the production of internal corona discharge. Our approach has been to minimize the sharpness of anything that's within the electrostatic field. That's why we chose to have stator wires that are round in cross-section as this is the best geometry for minimizing corona. It's just about that simple.
Of course, the insulation material of the stators and the conductive coating on the membrane along with the insulation factor of the framework of the panel, all have an effect on the life of the panel. The insulation we use is a cross-linked polymer that's about the toughest one available. We started using it with our new PX panels about 5 years ago and we've not had a breakdown in the insulation since. It's been wonderful. Secondly, the conductive coating we use on the membrane tenaciously adheres to mylar, and the conductive material is smooth and doesn't invite micro-corona as sharp-edged carbon particles would. Also, the coating is covered by a micro-thin Teflon coating to make it immune to humiditiy. Lastly, the framework of the panels is very strong and stiff. Where the stators and membrane are in contact with the frame, the material is a high-resistivity plastic chosen to prevent internal leakage paths. The frame is very sturdy and uses adhesives that weld the frame members together. Steel fasteners are used also. Intersections of panel members are buttressed so that joints are very strong, which virtually eliminates panel resonances.
Our goal has been to manufacture a panel that, used in a non-hostile environment and is not pushed beyond specs, is a forever panel. We have been very pleased with the reliability of our PX panels. I feel under the circumstances that I can say that I don't know of any limitations to their longevity. This is supported by the exceptional reliability that our PX panels have exhibited over the years. However, even our previous technology was good. We still have some customers that contact us who have speakers that are over 30 years old and they are still functioning well.
If any parts within the panels have sharp edges or small radii, it invites corona discharge. Corona is extremely oxidative and can destroy almost any material, including metal. The battle is to avoid this circumstance, which has been a major part of our technology. I hope that this adequately answers your question. If not, please let me know.
For further information regarding corona in this context, simply use Google to search, 'electrical corona discharge/damage, and so on.
It seems fairly obvious that Sound Labs is doing all that is currently technically possible, to minimize foreshortened panel life...and further, based on this answer, that we may be at the point at which this is not an issue...as he states, "I feel under the circumstances that I can say that I don't know of any limitations to their longevity."
I thank Dr. West for his forthright and timely response to a sincere question.