@jafant Writing of my speakers cables. Sold the NR to help pay for the GR. That said, Cardas ICs are also excellent, IMO.
Showing 50 responses by beetlemania
Cardas Audio recommended 11 ga input on the woofer but Tom T steered me to this solution:
Woofer: input 15 + 17.5 twisted together (effective gauge 13)
output to woofer: 15
Coax: input 15
Note that you have to tin the Cardas Litz. I bought a solder pot for this purpose (Cardas charges $5 per end). PM me if you want my solder pot. Tom also instructed me to hand twist +/- wires to, IIRC, three turns per inch.
The final result was very satisfying. Hard to describe in words . . . Sort of snapped the soundscape into a coherent focus. A nice culmination to all the upgrades I made to the XO.
Also, I used the opportunity to make my 2.4s bi-wirable, replaced the single pair of OEM binding posts (which were partly brass) with two pairs of Cardas CPBP (rhodium over silver). I used Cardas jumper plates to compare bi- vs single runs of speaker cables. IME, the biwire solution sounded more liquid and engaging.
I’m a happy camper. Had my DAC upgraded (Ayre QB-9 Twenty) and that is probably the last change I will make to my system other than to try Tom’s baffle treatment on the 2.4s.
My amp has only one output per channel but they are Cardas binding posts (identical to what I put on the Thiels) which accept spades from either side. No issue to hookup two runs. Even tri-wiring would probably fit on a single post if your speaker had a corresponding XO.
If I understand your other question, no. And I can longer try that as I sent my jumpers to Tom Thiel for his experimentation.
I have a couple of pics on my system page.
I chose red and black wires and one of them had a slightly less flexible jacket, making the twisting a bit asymmetrical. Helped to have one end anchored as I twisted at the other. You definitely need to add length. I didn’t take notes on my raw and finished lengths. Maybe add 25%?
I am bi-wiring, not bi-amping. The latter probably results in the very best sound but I’ve been told that most of the benefit comes from the more affordable solution. My wife already thinks I’m crazy. I suppose it’s true :)
I re-configured my cables per your suggestion last Tuesday. That night there was a subtle echoplex sound but I knew that these changes can take time to settle in. With the quarantine it’s been hard to have the house to myself but I did listen a bit yesterday with a critical ear.
I have to say my system sounds better than ever: more open, clear, and dimensional . . . but that was also my opinion before I made this change. My modded 2.4s really sound great with my electronics. I plan to listen this way for another week or two then change back before declaring one or the other better. Regardless of possible sonic differences, the current configuration is physically more obtrusive with the cables extending out to about speaker width rather than promptly dropping to the floor.
But the more I think about it listening in mono might have limitedAdding the Cardas hookup wire and binding posts was my last change. As with my other mods, I did one channel and let it burn in ~200 hours then compared in mono using the same 15 or so reference tracks. I sent my listening notes to Tom and proceeded to perform the Cardas upgrade on the other channel. When I listened in stereo, a *big* smile formed organically on my face.
The B speaker has the same cables, but one cable is ++ and the other is --. Those cables are separated by more than 12" in configuration B, and they are taped side-by side in configuration C.My configuration is not so defined. The ++ and - - (2.5 m lengths) are speaker width apart as they leave the 2.4 binding posts, close to about 2” apart for maybe 60% of their length, then touch and cross each other about a foot out from the amp binding posts. I could increase that 2” gap but would have to get creative to avoid the constriction near the amp.
Listened more tonight and played some of my reference tracks. Yeah, they sound better than I remember. Open, clear, dimensional, sure, but the character that grabs me is the ultra-relaxed presentation. Unstrained is another word I think captures the sound. Just great sound!
But I’m not ready to declare this configuration as better. I had my DAC upgraded in December and there are reports that this version needs many hundreds of hours to fully break in. So, it’s possible I haven’t played these reference tracks since my DAC fully settled in. I’ll probably switch back to standard configuration by the end of the weekend and listen again a few days later.
After that, I’ll open the cabinets and untwist all the hookup wire.
OK, probably not that.
I widened the gap to more like 6” until close to the amp. I will listen critically again before switching back to the “standard” configuration.
The SE version has an oversized backplate, so I didn’t have to drill the veneer and MDF. But I probably would have if I had the regular 2.4. Then again, much of what I did was probably not for the faint of heart. There was a time or two when I worried I was in over my head. All smiles now! In most ways, my modded 2.4s sound as or nearly as good as the be$t I’ve heard.
I do have a few of the myrtle blocks but most of my blocks are random pieces. Charles Hansen used to advise people who balked at the myrtle price to pick up a Jenga set at a garage sale. Pretty much all of my gear is on some kind of block, even my speakers which is supposed to be a no-no. But that’s a compromise to protect the hand woven rug I inherited from my parents.
@jafant Have you ever compared your CS2.4SE to Vandersteen 2Ce Sig II, 3A Sig or Treo?
I used to own CS1.6 and loved them except there was no low bass (essentially nothing below 50 cycles in my room) and an occasional distortion in the upper mid-range most plainly revealed on some recordings of female vocalists. I wanted more bass and considered CS2.4 at the time but opted for the 2Ce Sig II which was much more affordable. The 2Ce is clearly a much better speaker than the CS1.6 except it doesn't have that last bit of Thiel transparency and resolution (I found that bi-wiring with high-quality cables helped a LOT but still a hint of veiled midrange).
I have since upgraded my amp and the 2Ce - which I still consider the best speaker available for <$5K - is clearly the weak link in my system. Specifically, I would like the midrange transparency and resolution I heard with the CS1.6 but with the overall fullness I get with the 2Ce. The CS2.4 is back on my radar . . . please share your thoughts on the relative strengths and weaknesses of the Thiel and Vanderstreen (assuming you have heard Vandy).
Stevecham: CS6 could be interesting; i don't doubt you're happy. I rank the CS7.2 just a notch below the very best speakers I've heard (Vandersteen 7, TAD Ref 1, Vivid Giya, and Avalon Ascent) but better than Wilson W/P 7 and 8, Revel Studio and others. Of course, it's always tough to say for sure when the room and electronics are always different, not to mention the intervals between my auditioning.
IMO, Thiel made some of the very best drivers but he failed to tweak the crossovers and wiring as much as he could have. There is a pair of CS2.4 on ebay for a reasonable price but it is missing the speaker cable nuts. I half-tempted to buy that and trick it our with Cardas binding posts, upgrade the crossover (per posts earlier in this thread), and make it bi-wireable.
Thanks for the reply, jafant
If you enjoy the Vandy soundI do except they have a somewhat veiled midrange, IMO, probably because of the plastic driver. The latest versions use a "tri-woven" driver which is said to be better but I haven't heard it for myself. The Treo CT with the carbon tweeter is well-reviewed. I've only heard the regular version. I quite liked it but it is a bit more than I'm willing to spend. I actually have heard the standard CS2.4 but it has been 10+ years ago. I recall very much liking it but went with the 2Ce Sig IIs because it was much more affordable and mimicked the sound of the 3A Sig (except for bass) in a much less imposing package (as you know the 3A is a 48" monolith, the 2Ce is 40"). IMO, Vandersteen's low-end models are easily the best value in high-end speakers. But they do have their weaknesses, as should be expected at these price points.
As I wrote above, I want the fullness of the Vandersteens but with as much transparency and resolution as I can afford.
the problem here is because Vandersteen is affordable it gets treated with entry-level Band-aid wires and gear and suffers the consequences.Yeah, the consequence of building to a price is that you can't have everything. The 2Ce and 3A are remarkable at their prices - they do everything competently or better (and one or two things at near SOTA levels). There are no glaring weaknesses, IMO. If I were to rank the SQ parameters of the 2Ce Sig IIs I would give most things an 8 or 9. It is supremely well-balanced, I am unaware of any other speaker that gets so much right at it's price (or, even, 2X its price). Unfailingly musical and a flat-out bargain.
I'm just at the stage where I'm ready for more performance. Specifically, I want more transparency and resolution, especially in the midrange, and better defined bass would be nice, too. I don't doubt the woven midrange is better than the plastic one and I'm confident the Treo CT is a great speaker. I guess I'm trying to cheat the system by getting something more affordable than the Treo CT but still a step up from the 2Ce. Used CS2.4 seems like a good bet to achieve that.
Jim Thiel made some fantastic designs. In particular, some of his drivers were and still are among the best ever, IMO. I think his main shortcoming was relying almost exclusively on measurements and not so much on listening. The CS2.4SE seems to be an acknowledgement that SQ can be improved by tweaking the crossover, if not the wiring. Jim Thiel in the UltraAudio review of the CS2.4SE:
The improved resolution is not the kind of thing that shows up well in measurements; the magnitude of the difference between the CS2.4 and the CS2.4SE is more easily heard than discerned from graphs. The new capacitors allow more nuance, air, detail, and decay to be reproduced by the coaxial drive unit. This was especially evident to us when listening to recordings that contained realistic reverberation, as well as recordings where the instruments were not processed heavily.
Jim Thiel passed too soon, at the height of his abilities. It a shame to see what has become of his company. If only he had groomed an engineer to carry his legacy . . .
The only speakers I've heard that I think are better than the CS3.7 or CS7.2 are far costlier - designs from TAD, Vivid, Avalon and the Vandersteen 7 (I'm curious to hear the 5A Carbon). In the meantime, you'll be seeing me post more often here . . . I've bought a pair of Thiels, should be in my living room this time next week.
Seems inevitable that they will fold. Why did they ever bring on a new designer that threw out pretty much every one of Jim Thiel's principles? Crazy! I hope that one of the employees will buy out the legacy parts and continue to offer service and repairs (altho' this may make that person a target for people demanding warranty repairs).
Looking forward to your review on Thiel speakers- beetlemaniaWell, you've already read my opinion on the CS1.6 . . . Today, I received my CS2.4SE. They're a bit rougher cosmetically than the seller disclosed but the drivers are flawless. I've listened to a couple of dozen songs - I would still be listening instead of typing if my wife had not gone to bed early due to illness.
I've heard many really good speakers over the years, in different rooms with different electronics. It's tough to directly compare under such circumstance. So, most of my comments will be relative to the speaker I've lived (and loved) with for the past 10 years, the Vandersteen 2Ce Signature II. First off, I doff my hat to the Vandy's. I still think they are the best speaker under $5K, a flat out bargain at $2750. I suspect I can only notice it's slight deficiencies because my electronics are now close to top-shelf (Ayre AX-5 Twenty, Ayre QB-9 DSD, and Cardas cabling).
I wanted to upgrade because I remembered, going from the CS1.6 to the 2Ce, that the Vandies had a veiled quality in the midrange. This was almost completely cured by getting high-quality cables and utilizing its bi-wiring capacity. Still, with my recently obtained AX-5 I wondered what the Vandies might be obscuring. Well, not much. The CS2.4s are more transparent but not by as much as I had guessed. I stand by earlier opinions that the 2Ce gives you a fat helping of high-end sound at not much more than mid-fi pricing.
The first thing that struck me about the CS2.4 was the tight and well-defined bass. This might be the parameter wherein the Thiel most clearly separates itself from the 2Ce. I was hearing bass detail that I've only heard on speakers many multiple times the price of the 2Ce. That said, the 2Ce does reach a bit lower. The deep organ tone on Tracy Chapman's "3000 miles" was notably truncated by the CS2.4. On the other hand, this was the only song I played wherein I noticed the Thiels limits. It had plenty of bass for the other songs I sampled including some Peter Gabriel, typically replete with bass and percussion.
The CS2.4SE is also more resolved than the 2Ce. Decay of chimes, bells, and triangles is superb via the Thiels. Subtle vocal inflections of backing singers are more apparent. On at least a couple of songs I sampled, I became aware of subtle percussions from shakers and the like that had previously gone unnoticed. *This* is what I wanted in an upgrade! I'm quite happy after the first evening.
Still, I very much doubt that the Thiel's advantages over the 2Ce would be notable without top-notch electronics. For those whose budget cannot fit a killer amp and source, get yourself a pair of the latest 2Ce Sig IIs and don't look back. For me? I think these Thiels might be my last speaker.
@bcarr38 The best single place to check is hifishark. Type in the model you want and it will show you a compilation of listings from Audiogon, eBay, Audiomart, and many others. Plus, you can review previous listings and get an idea of the market value of the speaker you want.
You might consider the CS2.7s that are for sale here.
Looks like there was a Les Paul - Gibson sunburst pair of CS3.7 for sale last fall. What a great looking speaker!
OTOH, I've read that the CS3.7 (and by extension 2.7?) were made in China, both the cabinets and drivers. I recall the delays Thiel had going from prototype to production with the CS3.7 . . . I'm super glad my Thiels, including the drivers, were made in Lexington.
you and me share one of the last pairs built.Did they not make the full 150 pair production?
Wow! Well, I'll consider myself lucky despite the less than ideal condition of my pair's cabinets. I seriously thought about just getting a standard pair and modding them but really wanted the outriggers and I dig the "vermilion maple".
Yes, please let us know about driver availability. Cross-overs can be repaired/upgraded, even by a dummy like me, but not so much the drivers!
Another fine evening with the CS2.4SE. They sound even better tonight, maybe because everything is warmed up after the ride in the FedEx truck. I played a bit with location and toe-in, found a spot I like and put the outriggers on.
Other than zero audible output below 30-32 cycles, I don't hear any notable shortcomings from this speaker! Near SOTA neutrality, resolution, transparency, and soundstaging. Can't ask for more at this price point.
the outriggers are very sweet and very heavy. I have heard the 2.4, 2.4SE and 2.7 models with and without outriggers. To my ears, there is a slightly improved sound and presentation using the outriggers. I venture to report that the difference is not day vs. night.I hear a small but worthwhile improvement with the outriggers (plus, they look bitchin' and improve stability). It could be because they better couple the speaker to floor, reducing resonances. Or it could be because they bring the tweeters up a couple of inches. You definitely want your ears no more that tweeter axis, maybe a scotch lower depending on how close you sit, your height and the height of your seat.
I tried some Iso Acoustic Iso-Pucks under one of my Thiel 2.7s tonight.I'm not familiar with this product but, as a rule, isolation footers should be used only for electronics and, maybe, cables but never speakers. I'm not surprised you didn't have good results.
I am using small wood blocks under the spikes of my CS2.4s but only because I am protecting the rug they sit on . . . I'm not willing to damage the rug. At some point, I will take the rug out and listen for how much, if at all, the wood blocks are degrading the SQ.
Good luck, bcarr38
In your previous post you wrote:
I have a pair of CS 2.3s with upgraded coax speaker which sound great but I am interested in upgradingWas the upgrade the driver or crossover?
I am *really* happy with the CS2.4SE. It can't reproduce the left-most 2 or 3 keys on a piano but I can't hear any other weakness or shortcoming. I'm very curious to listen to a Vivid Giya or TAD Ref One or Vandy 7 again to discern how those designs are better (of course this will be confounded by changes in electronics and room). To be clear, I'm not imagining the CS2.4 is their equal but surely those speakers are near the horizontal asymptote on the performance/price graph.
have you thought about what might be the weakest link in your system? ie, consider upgrading you source or amp first? IME, these are just as important as the speaker.
On my 2.7's, i had been using the outrigger with the spikes that came with them. Replaced them with big brass feet from Mapleshade and that was a nice improvement.Also, Avalon makes some cones (aluminum? stainless steel?) that I might try down the road. Probably the best result is obtained by using three per speaker but that seems a gravity risk!
In fact, he is working on becoming the owner/operator, solely, of Thiel Customer Service where our legacy products will continue to receive the care.I figured that was the more realistic scenario, thanks for sharing jafant! Great news, indeed, Seems like a sketchy proposition for Mr. Gillium, though. Will he honor warranty service for products still under warranty? If yes, he can't possibly pay the bills, much less make a profit. Maybe there is enough post-warranty repair service to generate revenue?
Also, what is the remaining stock of drivers? Can he fabricate more? That would be cool if he is in possession of the machinery needed for that! From there, he is only a cabinet maker away from . . .
Alternate timeline fantasy . . . What if Kathy Gornik had hired a tweaking engineer ca. 2010. Keep the drivers and cabinets pretty much the same but tweak the crossovers, wiring, and binding posts to the nth degree. Here's @lrsky in another thread
Back in the day, I used to ask Jim Thiel why he didn't use better caps and air core inductors, resisters, etc, in his crossovers. He would coyly say, 'Because they measure as they do with the components I'm using.'
I'll venture to guess that a tricked-out CS2.4 would retail for $10-15K but compete sonically with other designs up to $40K. A tricked-out CS3.7 might retail in low $20Ks but be considered as among the best speakers available.
But back to reality . . . best wishes to Rob Gillium!
@prof Do you think Jim Thiel was insincere when he told Jeff Fritz:
The improved resolution is not the kind of thing that shows up well in measurements; the magnitude of the difference between the CS2.4 and the CS2.4SE is more easily heard than discerned from graphs. The new capacitors allow more nuance, air, detail, and decay to be reproduced by the coaxial drive unit. This was especially evident to us when listening to recordings that contained realistic reverberation, as well as recordings where the instruments were not processed heavily.?
Though I would have been interested in a longer conversation with Jim, to draw him out on the subject and see how he may nuance things.Well, I think it's telling that he called the Clarity Caps "boutique" capacitors. That sounds quite condescending to me. My supposition is that he was pretty firmly in the "objectivist camp" (measurements tell you everything you need to know) for most of his career and only reluctantly admitted, towards the end of his life, that measurements don't tell you everything.
There is no doubt that his designs measure superbly well (except as measured by Stereophile - JA's "quasi-anechoic" method limits the mic distance to a mere 50"). Soundstage's measurements of the CS2.4, for example, are among the best they have examined in terms of flat frequency response and low distortion. And I consider his drivers to be among the best ever made - near-pistonic behavior albeit handicapped by the slow roll-off of the first order filters. But that quote to Jeff Fritz, shortly before Thiel's passing, clearly indicates that he recognized that not all sonic improvements can be quantified by machines.
For those of you with electrolytics in your Thiel crossover (is that all of you except me?), you might watch this new “pints with Ayre” episode:
Around the 22 minute mark, their engineer describes EL lifespan as affected by heat, current, and age. And, apparently, bad things can happen to ELs if stored in your basement for years.
There is an improvement between the CS 2.4 / CS 2.4SE, believe me, I spent many hours of listening to ensure that nothing was remissed.So, you directly compared the two models? Neither of the webzine reviewers were able to make that comparison. I heard the original CS2.4 probably 12 years so I really don't have a reliable reference for how the SE version is better. All I know is that the SE version is incredible! Gotta give credit to my source and amp, but the Thiels are reproducing their signal superbly well.
FWIW, eBay lists a "crossover upgrade service" for Thiels -- I have not explored this though.Yes, I saw this and exchanged a couple of e-mails with him. Me:
I am considering buying Thiel CS2.4s and am curious about your crossover upgrade. What does this entail? Is it similar or better than the CS2.4SE crossover with Clarity Cap capacitors? Do you need the speaker or would I install the new crossover myself? If the former, can you upgrade the wiring at the same time? Also, there is a pair of 2.4s on ebay right now but they lack the cable nut. Do you have any ideas for replacement of those (I have Cardas cables with the spade connection)?Him:
You get clarity cap with vishey bypass in the tweeter section. Electrolytic capacitors will be replaced with new ones as they go bad after 20-30 years, also where possible electrolytics will be replaced with film caps or bypassed to improve performance. Inductors will be upgraded as needed with larger awg wire type and resistors in the tweeter section direct path will be replaced with film resistors or mundorf type.Me:
So, $420 for the pair. Is this done in your shop or do I install the new boards myself?Him:
Yes this will be done at my lab and fully tested on the analyzer before shipping.Seems promising to me. Who wants to go first? Might also be worth asking Rob Gillium if he offers upgrades for the crossovers. What we really need is a geek who took the time to experiment and listen with a bunch of parts combinations (it sounds like Jim Thiel did this when he selected the Clarity Caps). This is why, IMO, Wilson speakers perform as well as they do. The basic technology and drivers are, um, basic. But Dave Wilson, apparently, is a careful listener and finely tweaked his cabinets, crossovers and wiring accordingly. The final products is not without flaws but far better than otherwise.
I interpreted that as he does all the work in his shop - you have to ship the speaker to him. But I don’t know why you couldn’t instead remove the crossover yourself and send only that to him. Maybe it depends on how comfortable you are removing and re-installing the crossover. Also, I imagine he would want to be sure his mods work! In my case, I was thinking about buying speakers that needed to be shipped to me anyhow, so only 1 extra ride in the cargo truck.
If you’re serious, I suggest asking him directly including how many he’s done and ask his opinion of how the mods improve the SQ.
OTOH, if you comfortable removing and installing the crossover you're probably also comfortable upgrading the capacitors (and other parts) yourself. A good place to start might be the latest top-shelf Clarity Caps.
If Rob Gillium has the machinery to fabricate the drivers it seems not far-fetched to at least start making CS2.4s again (I know they had problems with the more complex CS3.7 drivers and cabinets at the Lexington facility). Surely, at least a few of their old dealers would be willing to sell some, especially if the crossovers are updated with the latest parts.
Thanks for the reply, prof
6.5' seems close for Thiels. Seems like most listeners prefer at least 8', so I'm surprised to read about your set-up. Sounstage's measurements of the CS2,4, however, were taken at 2 m (~6.5') and the frequency response was outstanding at that distance (as opposed to Stereophile's inadequate measurement at a mere 50"). I hope your diffusor gives that result you want!
Attn CS2.4 owners:
I’ve been thrilled with the performance of my "new" Thiels. One parameter lacking, however, was image density. My front wall is ~19’ wide altho’ confounded by a 4x4’ wall jutting in for the rear door exit in one corner. It is ~18’ on the sides. The ceiling is vaulted, 8’ on the front wall and ~12’ on the rear wall. There are two large openings on the rear wall, one just above my head; I sit within 2’ of the rear wall. I think the openings really "save my bacon" from unsatisfying sound with this room.
I did have the speakers about 10’ away from my ears to the tweeters and played with speaker spacing 7-8’. ~7’ sounds best but image density was not satisfying. I just spent most of the past hour experimenting with distance to the listening position, now have the speakers ~9’ from my ears and spaced at 7’ (7’ to the front wall!). Zero toe in. Image density is notably improved.
Anyhow, curious to read what other have for their placement. Thanks.
EDIT: Looks like my spacing is similar to what Shane Buettner used in his review: http://www.vandersteen.com/media/files/APJ%20Files/APJ13_Proof.pdf
Thanks for joining this thread, Tom! My apologies for my role in incorrect speculation.
Thiel was always about finding the optimum point on the cost-performance slope so that real music lovers could afford our products.I certainly appreciate this attitude. Thiel's top models were out of my budget, so I was glad to afford CS1.6 and, now, a used pair of CS2.4SE. Still, and I intend no offense, I've never had the impression that the CS3.7 and CS7.2 were a full-out attempt to deliver the ultimate in SQ. And, IMO, the area where these came up just a bit short was in the passive parts. As I've written elsewhere, it's also my opinion that your brother engineered some of the best drivers around. I suspect a tweaked CS3.7 or CS7,2 would sound pretty much as good as anything available.
I am stoked to read that Rob is planning upgrade service! Please make him aware of this thread. Thanks for taking the time to post.
Yes, I’m just nit-picking.
1 a : a small shop dealing in fashionable clothing or accessories b : a small shop within a large department storeIMO, different word choice would have made it clear that Thiel thought the Clarity Caps improved SQ rather than imply a mere esoteric nod to neurotic audiophiles. Jim Thiel’s words in the UltraAudio interview were plenty clear regarding improved SQ but "boutique capacitor" as a bullet in a promotional brochure? Not so much. YMMV.
Regardless, I’m thoroughly enjoying my CS2.4SEs, boutique or not! I will contact Rob Gillum or Dave Garretson at some point and see about boutiquing them even more ;^)