I'm a proud owner of a pair of 2 2s. I love that space. On a separate note, I got my viewpoints set up at the office and am enjoying them for over an hour most mornings. I was very worried after having to glue the magnet back on the frame but they seem to be working fine. No rubs or distortion. They have very little bass so I bought a tiny PSB "sub" that fills in to about 40hz. It's not "high end" but it's a sealed box and it doesn't let high frequencies through to muck up the midrange. And it fits behind my monitor. Overall it's a thoroughly enjoyable little desktop system. The viewpoints are serial numbers 59 and 60. I wonder how many of those they sold. They were putting that fantastic coax in a bunch of different boxes.
Showing 50 responses by jon_5912
I'm curious if anyone has bought or knows anyone who has bought a pair of post Jim Thiel speakers from Thiel. There is a 4 store chain here in Chicago that was a Thiel dealer for decades but they aren't any more. Does anybody know if the new speakers are selling at all? Thiel has quite a few dealers listed on their website.
If you go over to Thiel's facebook page there's far more interest in older Thiels than in recent models. Lots of pictures of systems with real Thiel speakers and people talking about how great they are. Virtually no interest in the current stuff. It may have been impossible for the company to improve on Jim Thiel's designs and they may have needed to go a different direction but it's clearly a bummer for a lot of people.
I certainly hope my 2 2s, 3.7s and mcs1 will still have parts and service available for a while. Once the abomination that is the current version of Thiel croaks I have to think there are enough Thiel owners and fans out there to resurrect some remnant of it. Maybe Kathy Gornik will buy it back for 3 cents on the dollar. That'd be fun. It'd be great if another manufacturer of unique audio products could buy it. Thiels would make a great alternative to Magnepan. Both great products offering great value but with different sounds and looks that will appeal to different people.
I'm definitely of the opinion that my 3.7s are good enough for me. They are so great that I never feel the slightest urge to upgrade and I've had them almost six years. Part of it is that by the grace of God I'm not a neurotic audiophile anymore but mainly it's because they just don't do anything significantly wrong.
I bought a very early set of used 3.7s back in 2012. Serial numbers in the low forties. I blew the mid in the first couple of months, thanks a lot Beethoven. I took it to the dealer, they sent it to Thiel and I got a brand new mid/tweeter back free of charge. Been going strong the last 5+ years. I went from a single Cambridge 840 amp to two and that may be the difference. Maybe one didn't have enough power and was clipping. I also have a pair of 2 2s that I bought 7 or 8 years ago that have never had a problem. They've been used every day for a while now. They're great.
I believe they sold off their manufacturing equipment for the most part when they moved to TN. Maybe they could join up with Tyler for the cabinets? Was the 2.7/3.7 driver made in China? I seem to remember reading that somewhere. I wonder how much it actually costs. My 3.7s are an early pair, SN around 40/41. I actually blew a midrange and even though I bought the speakers used they sent me a new one for free. I haven't read about anybody else blowing one, though, so I'm thinking it's pretty rare.
I'm thrilled to hear that their will be service for current Thiel owners. The idea of getting upgraded crossovers also sounds great. It would be a real upgrade for a reasonable price. A pair of speakers that would be significantly better than my 3.7s would probably cost 30k or more and I might ultimately decide it wasn't an upgrade at all.
The question rolling around in the back of my head is whether there is anyone out there who might carry the brand forward? Any possible successors? Anybody interested in acquiring the name in order to continue Jim's work in any way?
I heard the Ayre integrated with the 3.7s when I was auditioning them and I definitely wouldn't recommend that combination. It'd be fine at low volumes but lost definition when you cranked it up a little bit. I was surprised at the difference I heard when I went from a single 200 watt at 8 ohms power amp to 2 running bridged mono. There was a definite improvement in low end torque.
@beetlemania, I don't think it did too badly at low volumes but I cranked it up pretty quickly to see how it would do with something loud and meaty and it wasn't up to it. I was at the dealer and I didn't spend a whole lot of time listening for subtle differences. I find that it takes me a long time to make up my mind about whether something is different, better or worse and I can't really do it at the dealer. I listen to make sure it's about what I want and then take it home and usually need weeks to make up my mind 100%.
I'm also a believer in having too much power. It might be my imagination but I think having what would seem to be way more power than necessary makes a difference. My current setup has 2 200 watts@8ohm/channel amplifiers running bridged mono. I've had this setup for 10 years or so and I prefer it.
I definitely remember reading that Jim thought that biwiring caused more problems than it solved. Sounds like he tried it once, decided it was a bad idea, and never did it again.
"A single pair of five-way binding posts on the loudspeaker's bottom panel provides signal connection. Thiel believes that bi-wiring can cause detrimental interaction between the cable and loudspeaker, and therefore offers only a single input (footnote 2)"
This thread is a great example of why brands like Thiel that stay on top of the cost/performance tradeoff are likely to have better products than the cost no object "luxury" brands like Wilson or magico at any price points where they compete. A lifetime of value judgements and performance oriented engineering vs primarily just putting the most expensive parts in a box made of something exotic is bound to result in much better performance for the money.
@andy2 - I thought that's the direction new Thiel should have gone. Thiel had great drivers, great cabinets, but nobody who could do the crossover design. If they had gone with computer based crossovers they could've had multiple crossover settings where one was phase correct and the other higher order to allow for increased dynamic range. It may have been the best of both worlds and I think achievable. Give some big Thiels a fourth order crossover and I bet they'd have incredible dynamic range due to the fantastic drivers built for far wider bandwidth than they'd need to handle. I wonder if they discussed it before deciding to make the most unnecessary products ever conceived.
@andy2 - I have both. I have two (or so) stereos and one is Thiel. The other has some active ATC 110s. I love both but I think there's no way to say one is better because there are inherent tradeoffs. The ATC system has dynamics that the Thiels can't come close to. The Thiels have a different kind of realism with unamplified, acoustic music that the ATCs can't touch. I like a variety of music and for any particular recording one system is almost always a clear winner.
That series of Classe amps definitely doesn't double into 2 ohms. I have a pair of the 200s and they were 200/400/500 watts into 8/4/2 ohms. It's hard for me to imagine 600 watts/side isn't enough. Much more than that and your amp will be in danger of blowing a fuse. If you're listening to a full orchestra loud on the 3.7s you may be running up against the limitations of the speakers. They do fine at a pretty high volume but first order crossovers definitely have volume limitations.
I've wondered why I've found that using speaker level inputs on a sub frequently sound better to me than using the low level or sub inputs. In some cases, it's definitely been that the line-level source I was using couldn't run the two sets of interconnects well. When I used two pairs of interconnects on a benchmark dac1 or dac2, the quality of bass was definitely degraded. On the other hand, this problem isn't there when I have a bryston bp25 preamp between the benchmark and the power amps/subs. I recently bought a bryston bp26 so now I have two bryston preamps and two benchmark dacs in two systems. I hope to be able to do some meaningful comparisons at some point. Little kids keep me too busy for much audio hobby stuff.
prof, you need to listen to just your sub without the speakers playing. Use the online tone generator to see if the sub is producing sound at midrange frequencies. If it is, something is probably wrong with it or the setup. In my opinion it's illogical to fuss around with sub setup and dissatisfaction with the sound without measuring the room. If you've got a big hump somewhere that could be your problem. I recently got my old Behringer ultracurve out, hooked it up to the sub and measured the room. The room had some big bumps in the deep bass that definitely made it sound thick and slow in certain spots. I cut the two bump frequencies by 3 and 4 db and it sounds great now. I didn't come anywhere near equalizing it completely flat but I cut enough to get rid of the overloaded room sound. In the past I eq'd my system completely flat using huge cuts and it doesn't sound right. A little bit of moderate eq can be a definite improvement, though.
It seems to me that the eventual future is all digital crossovers and active speakers. The idea of active crossovers doing the basic separation and then passive components being added to perfect the signal is interesting. You could have time/phase correct active crossovers that have higher than first-order slopes and then fix driver anomalies passively. If that's ever been done I've not heard of it.
I've got some big active ATC 110 ASLs in another system and they use simple active crossovers. The designer's philosophy (I've read) is that if you make the drivers well enough, you don't need to have complex crossovers. I imagine if you combined the two types you could drastically reduce passive component count and complexity, have the benefit of higher order slopes, and maybe not lose anything.
I'm not a circuit designer so I don't know the details either but I've read a number of places over the years that one of the advantages of active designs is that they can actively correct phase so they can remain phase correct with higher than first order crossovers. The active ATCs, for example, describe the filter as "4th Order critically damped with phase compensation." which I think means they are relatively phase correct. After a few Google searches it looks to me like this is a controversial topic. If I were independently wealthy I might spend some real effort trying to understand this but...
Regarding color, my 3.7s are Morado and I also have an MCS1 in what they call dark cherry. If there is any difference between these two finishes it's subtle. When I bought the MCS1 I was hoping it would be a matching center with the 3.7s as fronts and, for all practical purposes, it is. I didn't set them side by side and do a careful comparison but they look the same. I'm just posting this in case anyone else has wondered if mixing these two finishes in a multichannel setup would look ok.
It seems a lot of people have old Classe amps sitting around. I've got a pair of CA200s from 1996 that haven't been used in 5+ years. They developed intermittent crackling sounds that I couldn't get fixed. I replaced them with a pair of Cambridge 840s that I run bridged mono. They've been good. I find them more neutral than the Classe and they seem to have plenty of power, at least for my purposes. Cambridge tends to be high performance/marginal quality from what I've read but these amps have worked perfectly since I've had them. We'll see how long they last.
I'm not surprised that it's tough to sell the 2.7s. I decided a long time ago that most "audiophiles" don't actually care that much about absolute sound quality. It's a factor but looks, novelty, preferred colorations, how much attention something is getting in the press make a bigger difference. Thiel was never big on exotic materials or other talking points that may have helped sales but that may or may not have improved the sound. People who want accuracy are a niche within the high end audio niche.
My experience with 3.7s and amps has been that when I got them I had a single Cambridge 840w. This is rated at 200 watts into 8 ohms, 300 watts into 4 ohms. It's not a monster amp but not tiny either. It worked ok but I did blow a midrange, not sure if it was due to clipping or not but it seems likely. Then I got another identical amp and ran them bridged mono for 600 or so watts into 4 ohms and I've been running them that way ever since. When I added the second amp I was surprised at how big of a difference it made in the bass. The definition was better even at moderate volumes.
Prof, how much for the drivers? I've been thinking about that myself as I'd like to keep my 3.7s pretty much forever and I imagine Coherent Source Services won't be around more than 10 years, if that long. My 2 2s are probably 25 years old and get used every day so I imagine the 3.7s probably have another 20 years of life left, maybe more.
I agree about bigger speakers. There is no substitute for big drivers in a big box.
I think there can be a little too much emphasis on doubling into 4 ohms. This is related to gain and I think the total power of the amplifier is a better way to think about it. There are well respected amplifiers that don't double. Ayre, for example. I'd consider two amplifiers that put out 300 watts/channel into 2 ohms comparable, even if one is rated 75 watts/channel and the other 100 into 8 ohms. The 75 watt one doubles twice while the 100 watt/channel one only doubles once. The 100 watt amp will, however, put out 75, 150 and 300 watts into 8/4/2 ohms.
It seems to me that if there were really a significant problem with the power coming from the wall that sources and preamps past a pretty moderate price point would all be battery powered. It wouldn't be particularly expensive to implement. You don't need to turn AC into DC anymore. Low power components don't use that much electricity so you wouldn't need huge batteries. It could be easily designed so that it automatically switched between two batteries where one was charging while the other was in use and the battery in use was completely physically isolated from the dirty AC.
I've thought about trying it myself with my Benchmark DAC2. I don't think a lot of people realize it but they'll accept DC so you could, if you wanted, string some batteries together and power it that way. Complete isolation would be better than the best power cord and power conditioner. The DAC only takes 15 watts I think.
I'm a fan of having a couple of sets of speakers or a couple of systems. I think there is some difficulty in getting a single system to do everything well. Thiels excel at lower to moderate volume, acoustic music. I don't use them to really crank, though. I've got some active ATCs for that. They don't sound as nice at low volume or image as well but they will play very loud without distortion or fear of breaking anything. That's what they're made for. I can get on my 17 year old noisy treadmill and crank up something loud enough that I forget the treadmill even makes sound. It's fun.
I blew the midrange on my 3.7s the first few months I had them. I was listening to Beethoven The Revolutionary loud. I took the driver out myself and it didn't look scorched or anything to me. That was back in 2012 and they've been fine since then. They were an early pair I believe. The serial numbers on the boxes are 41 and 42 I think. I bought them used from Audio Consultants so it's possible they weren't the original boxes that came with the speakers.
pops, I love both the ATCs and the Thiels. Both are great products intended to be as accurate as possible but with somewhat different ways of going about it. ATCs are usually active and the company is mainly known for pro audio. ATC has been building its own drivers for a long time and their philosophy is that if you build drivers well enough you don't need a complex crossover. I think Thiel is not that far from that. Thiel produced passive speakers for home audio so they have different strengths. Thiel had complex crossovers for a long time to fix drivers that weren't as good as they could have been. When Thiel came out with their own drivers the complexity of the crossover dropped significantly per Tom Thiel in this thread.
The founders/designers of both companies were piano players. They're both hard science guys. I get the impression that Billy Woodman isn't quite the obsessive perfectionist that Jim Thiel apparently was. Both companies use small diameter midranges which I've found that I prefer. Not sure why, lighter weight leads to faster response or maybe better dispersion.
The 3.7s are kind of difficult to get in the boxes, I've done it twice I think. They're only around 100 lbs, though. I replaced a pair of B&W N802s with the 3.7s and I almost killed myself getting the B&Ws up the basement stairs. My back was messed up for a couple of weeks. I had to get them around a corner and those stairs have a big lip so every stair was hard.
Now that I think about it I have a number of heavy speaker moving memories. I've moved my Velodyne dd18 a number of times and that thing is unpleasant to carry. I bought it as a demo from a closing tweeter when I was in my twenties. I hadn't planned on buying anything but I went into the store to see if there were any screaming deals and there it was for 60% off. I remember when the sales guy was helping me get it in my car I told him I paid the same amount for the sub that I did for the car. You gotta have your priorities straight. I carried it into the basement, out of the basement into an apartment, out of the apartment into another basement, out of the basement and up the stairs in another place. Finally, down the stairs and into the back of the family room where it is now.
Right after college when I was still living with my parents I bought an Infinity HPS1000 from ubid. I carried that 100 lb thing up the fire escape to the third floor. I was excited enough I probably could've done it with broken arms and legs. I had always wanted ATCs but I was never willing to shell out the money for one of the big active three ways. When a pair of 110s came up a few years back for an obscene price I jumped on them. I picked them up at the distribution center with my infant in the minivan. They loaded the pallet with a forklift. I got home and I carried those ridiculously heavy things into the living room to try out. A few months later I dragged them up the stairs to a bedroom that we used as a family room. Then down the stairs and into the family room where they are now.
I bet a lot of us have stories of physical pain we've endured due to our attachment to hearing music reproduced well.
I hate to always be contrary but from what I've read the PS audio BHK amps are voiced similarly to most Classe amps. Both tend to be slightly on the laid back side. It seems to me that the Classe amps should be balanced by some crystal clear solid state amps that some would find bright. I'd probably go with Bryston. I've never owned a Bryston amp but I do have BP25 and BP26 preamps. They're extremely unsuperstitious and flat. I would think that Bryston stuff could be used to make sure that crossover upgrades aren't making the speakers too bright.
My first Thiels were the 2 2s. I bought them from Audio Consultants in Chicago around 2010. I consider them the audiophile end of the rainbow. They were old when I got them. They are supremely well balanced. If you listen to unamplified acoustic music and aren't a billionaire this is as far as you need to go. I understand why my 3.7s are better but they aren't all that much better.
I had a similar experience with the bass in my 3.7s sounding a bit weak. I got out my measurement mic and real time analyzer to measure it and it measured fine on sine waves. Still, it bothered me enough that when the store I bought the amp at was selling off their demo I bought it and ran two amps bridged mono. The difference was pretty striking. Even at moderate volumes the difference in definition was very noticeable. I don't know if doubling the power supplies or capacitance or what made the difference but the improvement was big enough that I didn't second guess having spent the money.
I'm using a pair of Cambridge 840s. They're a lot smaller than the CA-300. Their combined power is probably comparable to a single CA-300. I have my doubts about whether a pair of CA-300s would be significantly better than one. That's 1,700 watts/channel into 4 ohms, a lot more than you can get out of the wall.
I used to use a pair of Classe CA-200s but they both developed some intermittent crackling that the shop couldn't fix so they've sat unused for about the last 8 years. They are very good and powerful amps but they definitely have a bit of a warm sound. I prefer the sound of the Cambridge amps as I find them a bit more neutral. The build quality isn't as good as it's a Chinese made, more budget conscious brand. They've operated flawlessly for about the last eight years so I can't complain.
I've found my 3.7s to be power hungry but not so power hungry that I thought I needed a huge, super-expensive amplifier. I have a pair of Cambridge 840s that I think drive the 3.7 great. You can get a pair of the current model 851w for 3-4k. These are, if anything, bordering on too punchy. The transients are very sharp, bass doesn't lack definition at all. I've been using these for 8-10 years now with no problems so I can't complain about reliability. I was listening to a mid nineties hard rock album the other day, it was an excessively punchy, in your face recording and it was hard to listen to because of how jarring the bass was. The Bryston BP26 preamp contributes to this quality as well, it had me thinking about digging my Musical Fidelity tube buffer up to soften up recordings that are like this.
I'd hate for people to think that you need to spend a mountain of money to get a good setup. My 2 2s are hooked up to a $900 Yamaha home theater receiver and this is, in my opinion, a great little system that I could enjoy immensely. That is, if it weren't hooked up to the TV and used mostly for kids' shows. It just finished cranking out the Moana soundtrack and the bass was not lacking. I'm sure a bigger amp would be better but it's still very good the way it is.
@Jafant - I agree about the cost effective implementation. There's a lot of value in making something people don't need to be rich to own. That approach is why this thread exists. There'll never be a Wilson or magico equivalent. So many people have been able to own and appreciate Thiel products. So few Wilson or magico. People with widely varying backgrounds, tastes, budgets, etc. own and appreciate Thiels. Oil sheiks and stock brokers own the vanity brands.
@jafant we're entirely different species of humans who appreciate what Thiel was trying to do. It's worth noticing I think. You and I are on opposite ends of a spectrum. I don't mean to be critical or demeaning at all. You have something I do not. You have a unique ability to interact positively with people.
All this talk of amplifier power got me curious so I checked the measurements of some of the stereophile reviews. The 3.7s have a minimum of 2.4 ohms which is pretty low but they are also pretty sensitive so overall the are a difficult load but not exceptionally so. The 2 2s are actually not that difficult of a load with a minimum 3.5 ohms impedance. This is in line with my experience as I have found that they do fine with a Yamaha Home theater receiver. I'm sure more would be better but they're pretty darn good this way. I can see why the 7.2 would be an amp killer since it's a tough load impedance wise and also has low sensitivity at 85db.