Thiel is officially closed!!


In today's Strata.Gee.com Column by Ted Green. Thiel confirmed that they closed operations. A sad day for a great company.
linnlingo
Considering how inept the ownership was I don't really consider this sad.  Now that Thiel is officially closed there is some chance for another entity to resurrect something that is at least in the spirit of real Thiel speakers.  Current ownership is essentially just holding the name hostage.  Let it die or bring back something that can legitimately be called Thiel.  The $900 plastic battery powered abomination is done and we won't be hearing about it anymore.  We can all be thankful for that.
Thanks for the update but the saddest day in the Thiel legacy was Jim's passing.  The second saddest day was Beavis and Butthead buying the company.

i couldn't agree more withjon_5912 more, this is good news, let the good name Rest In Peace.  
Wonder if they will offer drivers and tweeters at the Kentucky facility??
Hopefully, other discussions around this have indicated so.  
Most definitely disheartening, though watching this unfold, not surprising.  I for one, feel sad about how things wound up.  When such a leader of this sort of entity moves on, the entity itself normally passes along, as well.

Jim Thiel sat at the top of the high-end loudspeaker world for a very long time.  He was a man of vision, conviction, and innovation.  His products reflected what he believed, and he refused to compromise
Another iconic brand..... mismanaged,  and run into the ground.....
I wonder what kind of succession planning is done at these audio companies.  It seems like when the founder passes, there's absolutely no contingency plan for legitimately continuing the business.  It's something I recently considered and made me think twice about buying Dan D'Agostino's mono blocs given Dan's age and the size of the company.  I'm also concerned regarding Ayre with the recent passing of Charles Hansen. 
Conrad Johnson did it right. Sold the company to their head technician. Coming out w/plenty of new products. They are in good hands.
I totally agree with jon 5912, this is a good thing :-) Also, I really like the point bar81 is making about audio companys and who what and why is steering them in the current and future direction they might be taking. Looking at a companies history and personal are often overlooked by audio buyers, and I find it a primary reason for my purchases over the years, it says/means a lot when you buy something from a company thats been around for twenty or thirty years, these designs are often solid and truly tested overtime...speaks volumes.Imo. 


Matt M
Just noticed this thread.

As I mentioned in the owners thread, I’m now very concerned about
getting the spare drivers I was just intending to order. I’d been in touch with the legacy parts department just a few weeks ago and the feeling was the drivers would be available for the foreseeable future.

But...now?

On one hand I’m thinking they would still want to sell off whatever they have including spare egacy drivers.

On the others, I’m pretty clueless about how companies usually go about liquidizing assets. Aren’t they sometimes "seized" and that kinda thing, so they disappear?


Aren’t they sometimes "seized" and that kinda thing, so they disappear?
If there are loans, the bank will want their money back. If there are not loans, the owners will want to cut their losses. Any spare drivers will surely be available from someone - they won't be locked up or thrown away if they are worth money. @jafant reported that Rob Gillium has arranged to buy the service aspect of Thiel. There is cause to be alarmed but it sounds like Thiel owners will still get repairs and replacement parts.
Thiel owners, it goes without saying but please take good care of your speakers. Mine are precious reproducers of music and I would be very sad if they no longer worked. There is Vandersteen, of course, but they don’t sound like Thiel, and shouldn’t. I hope that someone from Jim’s inner circle can find a way and have the motivation to restart and carry forward Jim’s design philosophy and expertise. I won’t hold my breath.
RIP Thiel.  You really passed with the venerable Jim Thiel in 2009.  I’ll always have the fondest memories of Thiel.  I still believe to this day my best system ever was with Thiel CS2 2, Classe 200 monoblocks, ARC ls25 preamp, ARC CD3 and MIT cabling.  We move forward.

beetlemania,

Given the way Thiel has been run since the new ownership, I’d presume the worst case scenario in terms of finances.

Jafant mentioned Rob Gillium was working on become a proprietor for Theil legacy parts/work...but I don’t know that was completed, or what the closure of Thiel means for that venture.

Though, I’m guessing that it was clear Thiel wasn’t going to be in the business of servicing legacy speakers and with writing on the wall, I’m hoping Rob was actually preparing with this day in mind, so he could still service legacy Thiels, not linked to the fortunes of the current Thiel company.

I hope.
I'm also concerned regarding Ayre with the recent passing of Charles Hansen.
Ayre has a leg up relative to what happened at Thiel. Jim Thiel pretty much failed to train another engineer that could carry the legacy and vision in his absence. When Kathy Gornik sold Thiel, the new owners brought on an engineer that *completely* threw out all of Thiel's design principles (first-order crossovers, pistonic drivers, sloped cabinets, etc)! Why even keep the Thiel name other than brand recognition?

In the case of Ayre, Ariel Brown has worked with Hansen for something on the order of 20 years. No doubt things will be different at Ayre but I suspect we'll continue to see more designs with Hansen's philosophy (no negative feedback, fully balanced, etc.). We should know very soon - supposed to be a new integrated with onboard DAC released directly.
Jafant mentioned Rob Gillium was working on become a proprietor for Theil legacy parts/work...but I don’t know that was completed, or what the closure of Thiel means for that venture.
If Mr. Gillium has the capital to buy the parts inventory then it seems certain that the bank and/or owners will gladly sell to him. How else can they cut their losses? Sell individually to each Thiel owner hedging against driver failure? I promise you they're not interested in that course especially if there is a buyer for the lot.

I could be wrong - I have no inner knowledge - but don't see how else this might turn out. The inventory is worth real money. Whoever owns it will want to sell it.
Thanks for the insight beetlemania.  Seems reasonable.

As for post-Jim speakers:  Jim must have passed on some engineering as the 2.7s were completed (and I believe designed, or partially designed) after his death.   I can't remember the name of the guy(s) who worked on the 2.7s but I seem to remember reading of them at one point.
We blame the buyer of Thiel but surely they were in trouble before. The enemy of the good is better and the competition in great quality speakers has increased.

For example, I was impressed to see the amount of engineering in Paradigm Persona line! I would equate Paradigm philosophy to Thiel in that it is an engineering driven pursuit.

On the flip side, the move away from performance and measurements towards “trusting ears” has allowed fancy marketing with “good enough” speakers with cheap parts to carve out a large part of the market too. This must have hurt Thiel who focused heavily on quality parts.
RIP jim and your great company, certainly once great! legendary really

Jim must have passed on some engineering as the 2.7s were completed (and I believe designed, or partially designed) after his death.
Good point. I think the CS2.4SE was Thiel's last project that was completed but maybe he had started on the CS2.7 before he passed? Would be interesting to hear the rest of the story.
We blame the buyer of Thiel but surely they were in trouble before. The enemy of the good is better and the competition in great quality speakers has increased.
Jim Thiel died without a protege', the economy crapped the bed (the middle class continues to shrink even now), *and* the new owners didn't know what they were doing. High-end audio has always had good competition and Thiel kept pace . . . while Jim Thiel was alive. I surely haven't heard everything but I'm comfortable thinking my CS2.4SE are as good as anything new under $10 or, even, $15K. YMMV

As I’ve written about in the Thiel owners thread:

I’m not a Thiel-only guy by any means. I’ve owned all sorts of other brands of speakers I love, and I still own not only Thiel, but MBL, Spendor, Waveform, Monitor Audio, Hales.

They all do something great, but different.

But the Thiel 3.7s and 2.7s I’ve owned for a while now are about as close to the ideal as I think I’ve owned thus far, in terms of the things I love: timbral beauty and faithfulness, liveliness and drive, image density, soundstaging and just "disappearing" as a sound source. And their looks for my tastes are just about the perfect combination of traditional and contemporary, refined, elegant, with impeccable build quality and finish.

Before I got the slightly smaller 2.7s I went on a binge this year of trying to find a slightly smaller speaker to replace the 3.7s. I demoed the latest speakers from Audio Note, Raidho, Audio Physic, Harbeth, Paradigm (persona), Revel, Focal (from stand mounted to the Kanta), Monitor Audio, and others I’m sure I’m forgetting.

And every time I returned home from the demo and played the same tracks on the Thiel 3.7s my jaw would just drop again. I found every other speaker I’d auditioned had some excellent quality, but also some sticking point, usually some lumps somewhere in the frequency response or a sense of the cabinet at some points, etc. But the big 3.7s in my room truly disappear as sound sources from the top to the very bottom, with beautiful organic tonality, transient incisiveness, and a mammoth walls-gone soundstage filled with dense, air-moving images.

Every time it was like the Thiels were saying "This is what all those other speakers were trying to do." And I am still left with the feeling that, although of course speakers within the same range as the 3.7s will have their own virtues, in terms of what Jim Thiel accomplished in the sense of low perceived speaker distortion, and fidelity to the signal....he was far ahead enough that many speakers are still trying to catch up. He was just that good of an engineer!


The way people talk you'd think Jim Thiel knew he was going to get sick and die in his mid sixties.  He probably thought he had another decade or more left to figure out how to turn the company over.

@shadorne, as someone who has a very similar philosophy to yours and who also owns some big active ATCs, I can tell you that at least some Thiels really are great products.  I have a pair of 2 2s from the nineties and they are truly great for what they are.  They are just such a joy to listen to and were never terribly expensive.  I've also got a pair of 3.7s and they are a fantastic product.  I replaced a pair of b&w N802s with the Thiel 3.7s and I've been a little bit mad ever since.  The thiels are so unmistakably better.  Better bass, better midrange, better tweeter, better soundstage.  Just way better.  Why did I waste those years on B&Ws?  

I don't know if the first order crossovers are really important.  I suspect it was mainly Jim's passion to make great speakers rather than any particular design philosophy.  Whatever it was, man these things are great.  They won't play as loud as the ATCs and I'm sure if I wanted to do a lot of careful comparing I could find several things the ATCs do better but the Thiels are great.  
But the Thiel 3.7s and 2.7s I’ve owned for a while now are about as close to the ideal as I think I’ve owned thus far, in terms of the things I love
Well said. I personally value transparency, resolution, and neutrality above all else. And, I don't think I can ever live again with a speaker that can't reach down at least into the mid-30 Hz. There might be a handful of sub $10K speakers that are on par with my CS2.4SE (Vandy Treo CT comes to mind) but I'm guessing I'd have to step up to something like the Vivid B1 (>$15K) to notably improve on these Thiels.

@prof

Now that Thiel is gone I suppose it is fair to mention that Phil Bamberg was doing outsource design work for Thiel during the early transition to the new owners. Thiel later brought in an ex-PSB designer full time who transitioned to the non-Jim Thiel models. Phil is a talented designer who understands the importance of phase coherence. You might take a look at the Bamberg Audio site. If leveraged by the Thiel branding, his ideas might have made a positive difference.

I'm with you guys - I have had Thiels in my rig for 18+ years and currently using a CS6 which I love.  I have a 3.6 also that I might love more!  Like prof I have researched other speakers and owned others that just don't cut it. 

What worries me is whats next if my/our speakers crap out?  Usually companies that opt out turn everything to dust and sell anything not bolted down.   Not to mention I am working on original capacitors and resistors in my speakers....

I tried desperately to like Eggleston Andra II's having owned them for a couple of years and thought I would transition out of Thiel and into another speaker, higher end.  That was fruitless and I sold the Andra's.  I have an MBL dealer in my backyard and have spent alot of time listening and almost sprung for the 121's a few years back.  But my amps and preamps are built for Thiels and I was not willing to fork out the money for an entire system change. 

Hopefully some positive news will be forthcoming for legacy parts and services.....sigh....


@dgarretson

Yes, I remember Phi posting about his experience helping design the 2.7
but I’d forgotten his name.

He posted in this thread:

http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=122636.0

Here’s his post:

I designed the crossover for the CS2.7 upgrade to their coax mid/tweeter driver. It was not easy. I was present at the voicing sessions in Lexington, after some listening in my own house.

I can vouch for both the CS3.7 and 2.7 speakers having a 2dB/decade downsloping response from 200 to 2kHz, transitioning back to level in the treble. This is a tonal balance curve similar to many high-end speaker brands. However such a speaker still does not sound dark (there are other more technically involved reasons for this).

One shining performance feature that I can vouch for with the CS2.7 -- the bass is spectacular. Their 10" woofer RULES, and the cabinet alignment is excellent. Play acoustic bass or drums on this speaker to believe me.

Also, the coax unit is impressive in its own right. The midrange is actually flat to 20kHz (without crossover). I think the time-coherent acoustic alignment and fast response drivers may lead to the listeners’ reaction of bright or forward.

Thiel also spends for PP and polystyrene bypass caps for additional transparency. For these reasons, system matching is a bit more critical with the upper Thiel models. Also, all 3 drive units have aluminum diaphragms. I promise you that I addressed the woofer ring, and achieved excellent time and phase coherency - Thiel was quite demanding of this as you can imagine.

While I performed some reverse engineering of a few of their models (part of a technical familiarization of Jim’s work) I am not intimately familiar with the design and history of all their models. I suspect that their models over the past dozen year vary in tonal balance, and that it is a mistake to conclude that the company voices speakers to be bright/lean/forward overall. IOW, I think the time for audiophiles to conclude that Thiel = Bright should come to an end.

I am no longer under contract for Thiel, and I gain no benefit from their sales. These are just my own objective and subjective observations.

Philip Bamberg

I can certainly attest to his comment about the bass of the 2.7s. As I’ve written in the owner’s thread, one of the areas the 2.7s excel over even the 3.7s, at least in my set up, is in the punch of the bass, and the general "drive" to the music. It adds a foundation for everything from kickdrums, bass on up to the midrange, giving a particular density to instruments - especially woodwinds in their lower registers! - that is uncanny. You just feel the instruments are right there in front of you, vibrating the air, vs the wispier version of most speakers.  Most speaker will image a voice between the speakers, but with the 2.7s it's like someone has run in and set up a center channel just for that central image, because the sound is so dense and "there."  There’s also a bit more dynamic life to the 2.7s I find (even though they are lower sensitivity), giving drum solos etc a bit more realism in that sense.

The 3.7s have the overall smoother and more controlled bass though. They do use the updated slightly ribbed bass drivers created for the 3.7s and perhaps that’s part of the equation.

If I want to hear the last word in detail, air, fingertips plucking the strings of a stand up bass, and a purely holographic presentation of a stand up bass - that goes to the 3.7s. If I want to have the sense of the instrument being "there" in the room, vibrating the air, and feel the efforts of the musician playing it, the scales tip a bit more to the 2.7s.

Also, the coax unit is impressive in its own right. The midrange is actually flat to 20kHz (without crossover).
Thanks for sharing @prof

That is super impressive and suggests that true pistonic behavior occurs over the intended range despite the slow roll-off filters. Jim Thiel really knew how to make superb drivers!

And I did not know the CS2.7 has 10" woofers. That is contrary to other reports. Example here.

It looks like Thiel specified the frequency response down to 35 Hz, which is the same as the CS2.3 but a scotch higher than the CS2.4.
beetlemania,

Yes,  Phil's reference to a 10" woofer had confused me.  Thiel's own literature on the 2.7 state an 8" woofer.  (I would open up my 2.7 grills and confirm, except that I've got them fitted so perfectly they are a bit hard to take off).

So I've always wondered if perhaps Phil miswrote either "2.7" when he meant to refer to the 3.7, or miswrote "10" when he meant to talk about the 2.7's 8 inch woofer.

BTW,

Rob Gillum returned my reply and...whew!..he is indeed taking over the THIEL Service department and service will continue to be available for legacy Thiels.


Rob Gillum returned my reply and...whew!..he is indeed taking over the THIEL Service department and service will continue to be available for legacy Thiels.

Thanks Prof! This is indeed great news. With this level of loyalty and demand, this is a good business model, and I'm glad they worked out whatever details. If anyone speaks to him, please convey thanks.
It's something I recently considered and made me think twice about buying Dan D'Agostino's mono blocs given Dan's age and the size of the company.
+1  There's only ONE Dan D'Agostino!
i am very pleased to read all the comments above and also to read that Rob is going to keep things going.   I would suspect that there is no more coverage under warranty given that he is essentially starting a new biz,  but i for one am just grateful to know he is out there for all us Thiel lovers.  I hope to keep my 2.7's going for many a year.  
I would suspect that there is no more coverage under warranty given that he is essentially starting a new biz,
Yes, I hope the handful of Thiel owners still under warranty appreciate the circumstances here. Sucks to lose your warranty coverage but at least it's possible to get service!
true that.   and to be able to get parts as well.   i went ahead about 2 years ago and ordered a spare mid/tweeter unit for the 2.7's as they seem a little touchy (lost 2 in 3 years).   nice to have a back up just in case.
How are you guys blowing drivers?  Too much crank or just unlucky?  Don't want to jinx myself but that has not happened to either of my Thiels.
truthfully i am not sure.  the first time it happened i think it was just a bad driver from the outset as it happened about two months into listening.  was using a reference Marantz amp at the time. second time was using the great PS Audio BHK amp so i know it was not the amp clipping or anything.  granted i play it loud but no more so than when  i had CS2's, 2.2's(blew a midrange once in18 years),  and 2.4's (no problems).  it seems to be the midrange driver and not the tweeter that goes. hard to figure but i am more judicious these days with volume. i measure it and rarely does it get about 85 db. 
I was cranking beethoven when I blew a midrange on my 3.7s.  I also may have clipped as these are a pretty difficult load.  It happened in my first couple of months with them and no problems since.  I doubled the amp and run bridged mono now.  6-800 watts into 4 ohms.  I'm also more careful with the volume.  They play plenty loud but I will say that they were not distorting audibly when this happened so it may be that they don't give much warning before failing.

The store I bought them from said one thing that can happen is the glue between the woofer cabinet and top can dry up and fall out meaning that the air pressure in the woofer cabinet can leak into the top chamber and put pressure on the mid/tweeter.  You can push on the woofer and radiator (gently, obviously) and see if the mid moves at all.  If it does you have a leak that needs to be plugged.  Open up the top and seal up anything that might be leaking from the woofer chamber with wood glue or caulk or something. 
thank you so much.   that is great advice and i will gently push on the midrange driver.  i think the drivers are the same for the 2.7 and 3.7
I guess I have been lucky, I crank my CS6 and 3.6. Good advice on the importance of a good seal.  I do check mine periodically.
i do not think the older drivers were as vulnerable, as i have had four generations of the 2 series,  and prior to the 2.7's,  only blew one midrange one time.  Gary at Thiel said it just failed and was not caused by anything i did.
From posts on this board it sounds like replacement drivers are no longer available. Instead, it sounds like Rob Gillium refurbishes broken ones.

I wonder if he monitors this thread. If yes, may I suggest, Mr. Gillium, that you offer crossover upgrades to help Thiel owners get the best possible SQ and to give yourself a bigger revenue stream. Win-win!
+1beetlemania.  Excellent idea.  Not something many of us DIY weekenders are capable of!
This happens all the time.  Sansui and Nakamichi come to mind.
I'm not sure what you mean?, Sansui and nachamichi are still in business,  I have recently sold new nachamichi sound bars!
Sansui stopped making quality equipment in the 80s...Nakamichi made the best high end cassette decks on the planet in the 70s and early to mid 80s. Both names were "purchased" by other companies to peddle junk equipment.
They switched in 80's because the yen was too strong against the dollar .

Thank you very much Kent!

 

The transition period for the changes are difficult and many. I definitely have a good stock of CS2.7/CS3.7 coaxial drivers if needed. My goals at THIEL are to continue providing excellent customer service for all THIEL Owners. I really do thank all Audiogon forums and customers for their continued support. Without you guys, I would not exist. Many Thanks!

 

Rob Gillum

THIEL Service

615-866-2290

763 Newtown Pike, #130, Lexington KY 40511


@ronkent Thanks for posting that (looks like an e-mail from him?)
yes that was an email from Rob in response to one i had sent him.  he has been great to work with in the past and am glad to see he will be there for us Thiel guys