With the EQ they are capable of outstanding bass, without not so much. Considering their age the 3's show up fairly often, especially on e-bay for very reasonable prices. Without the EQ I'd pass.
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I would as well, given Unsound's point about these showing up every now fairly often. I owned the CS3s for a while, and without the EQ they sounded about the same as the CS2s that I passed over to get the 3's. The EQ was always criticized in the rags, but I felt that the extra bass extension was worth the slight degradation of the sound caused by the EQ's circuitry, and there were aftermarket modifiers who could improve on it if you really wanted to.
I haven't seen any for years, not since the days of the Audiomart magazine, when they would occasionally show up. In stock form they should command very little, I'd think (a JPS Labs "Golden Flute" modded box might be a little more). I think Unsound's suggestion of checking ebay for the speaker with equalizer is a good one.
The EQ's show up on e-bay every once in a while, figure roughly about $100-125. Even then I'd suggest you have it shipped to Thiel for an overhaul. If you were to go that route, I wouldn't let the worry of a few dollars of overpayment get in your way. These are old units and it might take several months for another to appear. Odd thing is they seem to show up in bunches, but, I wouldn't count on that. Furthermore, if there's a choice, consider spending more on the cleaner lookin one. FWIW, when Thiel still had new replacement EQ's for the 3.5's, they were asking $600 each for them.
With the 3.5's you can cut the boost to 42 Hz, which can work quite well for use with sub-woofers. Of course if you can do without the sheer extra volume subs offer, the EQ'd sub-less bass is just as deep as most sub-woofers (and deeper than many).
Without EQ you'll need subs capable of working beyond "sub" up to about 70 Hz. Not an are where subs typically do their best work.
I had an old CS3 Bass EQ that stopped working so I just bought a new one in the box from Coherent Source Service.http://https//www.coherentsourceservice.com/ I was super happy that Rob had them in stock because there is very little bass without the EQ. If I didn't have the EQ I would save up and get a really nice subwoofer with an auto-EQ.
I have a pair of 3.5's that I use in my main system...absolutely love them. I have always used them with the Electronic Bass Equalizer, figuring that if Jim Thiel designed it to be used with the speakers, who was I to argue? ;^)
Anyway, I began to get some intermittent "crackling" coming out of my system right around late January. I tracked it down to the Bass EQ. Contacted Rob at Coherent Source and he informed me about excess voltage accumulating in the output circuit of the unit, which causes the crackling. Sent it to him, he cleared the pots and repaired the output circuit to eliminate the excess voltage problem from ever happening again.
Without it in my system, it was clear that my 3.5's just wouldn't go as low as I was used to. Putting it back into my system, the repaired unit was not only noticeably more quiet, but had more "impact" and "slam" than before. The bass is definitely fuller, but the speed and definition has improved markedly...couldn't be a better way to spend $165 to get this improvement in sound!
Uh, sorry for rambling...if Jim Thiel designed your speakers to incorporate it, you WANT the Electronic Bass EQ with your Thiels. While Thiels are already remarkable performers, the EQ turns them into truly full-range, reference-quality speakers!
Good luck...Hope you're enjoying the music!