Who is "they?" Thiel doesn't exist any more.
Showing 50 responses by prof
I have the 2.7s and some jl audio e110 subwoofers....but haven't really set them up yet. Been too lazy and the 2.7s sound so good on their own.
I've had the 2.7s back in my system for months (sidelining my JA Perspectives for now) and just love the things.
I'm sooo glad I jumped on this pair of 2.7s a couple years ago. They've become rare as the proverbial hen's teeth, and in my favored ebony finish, this was a unicorn find on the used market.
Nice thread! I've actually been thinking about "where are the Thiel owners these days?" as well.
I was on here quite a bit last year as I fretted about which set of Thiels to buy. Huge fan of the old CS6s, and struggled between buying a second hand pair of the "newer" 2.7 or 3.7.
I ended up with a nice pair of 3.7s from audiogon and have had a great time pairing them with my CJ monoblocks and even sometimes with my tiny Eico HF-81 (flabbier bass...but oh that huge, golden Eico midrange combined with the Thiel clarity and transparency is pretty magical).
I've got them working very well in my smallish room, very even sounding, no bass bloat. But at this point I'm wondering if I might have been better off with a pair of 2.7s that I had been interested in. They had my favorite composite ebony finish. They would have probably been a better fit aesthetically for me.
So sad the real Thiels are no longer....
(And the Thiel website doesn't even seem to be up to date or working either. I wonder how they are doing).
As I've written before: my CJ Premier 12 monoblocks are driving the Thiel 3.7s very well. If one wanted more "slam" to the sound, especially the bass, I suppose one could go to much more powerful SS amps or something. But in terms of the evenness of sound, and bass articulation it's been a great combination. That smooth CJ sound aligned with the see-through clarity of the Thiels is pretty magical for an "all the detail you could want, presented musically" presentation.
Benchmark Dac, custom built tube pre-amp and also a CJ Premier 16LS2 pre-amp. Also Eico-HF81 integrated. I like tubes :-)
Cabling...I'm not a "cables" guy (I've had access to as wide a range of cables as you can imagine, due to contacts in the industry, and have found my money better spent elsewhere). I'm using Beldon 10 AWG
speaker cable. (My friend often thinks my system sounds better than his, even when he has $18,000 speaker cables in his system).
I guess that is another reason Jim Thiel's products appeal to me - more of a no-nonsense engineering approach vs the more fringy part of audiophiledom.
Been I while since I posted in this thread, happy to see it still going!
A few things:
1. Has anyone noticed that the sales of the Thiel flagship 3.7 and 2.7 speakers has almost totally dried up???!!!
I’d decided I had to have the 2.7 or 3.7 soon after Jim had passed away and after Thiel changed hands to the new speaker design. So in early 2015 I had to go into the second hand/dealer demo market to get them. And there were lots available at that point. I missed out on some sales of the ebony finish I favored, so I grabbed a morado/red pair.
I’m glad I grabbed that pair when I did because having continued to monitor the market..I noticed that shortly after that they became very sparse in the second hand market - like I got in at the tail end of the fire-sale. It now seems damned hard to come across those classic flagship models for sale anymore - specifically in North America. It’s like whoever owns one is keeping it! And owning the 3.7s, boy do I understand that.
2. That said...I may be selling my 3.7s - and if so I already feel regret! - due to a rather idiosyncratic set up that causes me some ergonomic problems. Basically, I have a smallish room that does double duty as my home theater and two channel listening room. So it’s already full of my surround speakers, and I have to drag the 3.7s in and out to listen to them. I’ve thought of some possible solutions to the issue, but none seem as good as just trying to find a smaller speaker to work with. This comes at a time when I’ve currently dialed the Thiels in to such a degree in my room that my mind is just blown by these things.
But...before I decide on whether I’m keeping them, I’ve started to seriously research and demo other more portable alternatives to the 3.7. So I’ve read a lot about and auditioned: Harbeth speakers, JM Reynaud, Audio Note, Audio Physic, Vivid (kind of, just quickly), and Joseph Audio thus far.
I plan to do start another thread with a detailed post about what it is like living with the 3.7s and my impressions of those other speakers. And if I’ve found anything worthy of replacing the Thiels :-)
Ah, got it.
Sometimes I wish I'd grabbed an early pair of 2.7s that were available to me, if only because they are a bit smaller and they had the ebony finish I coveted.
Still, it's simply astonishing how well the 3.7s work in my small room. In terms of "room problems," frequency bulges or nodes they are as perfect as I've ever heard in any speaker anywhere. There is literally nothing in any track I can play that trips them up and calls attention to the speaker.
And, again, that's driving them with the CJ tubes. Though I used to own a smaller CJ tube amp many years ago before the Premier 12s, and it didn't control the bass of larger speakers like the Premier 12s do.
As I may have mentioned earlier in the thread, I've also sometimes hooked up my tiny Eico HF 81 14Wpc integrated tube amp and, aside from the bass getting a bit overwarm, it sounded glorious with the 3.7s.
I thoroughly agree about Thiel's and bass. I've enthused about this often. It is the most tonally controlled bass I've ever experienced.
When a stand up bass plays there is none of that added bit of blur/bloom at the bottom that you hear with most speakers. You hear that vibrating string and soundboard resonating - and only that - all the way to the floor as it were. And all the bass energy remains focused right where the instrument is coming from, making even low bass just as holographically placed as any other part of the spectrum. They are such an achievement!
I went into lots of detail about the Thiels and (my) tube amps in this thread a while back:
My speaker cables are still 10 awg Belden cable ;-)
I never had the 3.6s, though I heard them many times "back in the day."
I preferred the CS6's over the 3.6, and had the CS6's for quite a while.
(They worked well in my small room; the 3.7s work even better).
Nothing I miss about any previous Thiel's over the 3.7s. Jim's final designs somehow managed to keep all the great things we love about Thiel speakers - the aliveness, believability of transients, instrumental timbre, etc, but increasing coherency and smoothness in the upper mid/treble, for an even more organic sound. It's seems ironic to me that Thiel over the years has had the reputation for ruthlessly revealing and being bright. I have very sensitive ears - including Tinnitus - so if a speaker is bright or hashy sounding at all, I have real problems. The 3.7s (especially combined with my CJ amps) have been about the smoothest, most fatigue free sound I've ever had in my room. I can listen for hours without my ears getting too tired or sensitive.
BTW, as I mentioned, despite my adoration for my 3.7s I may have to sell them for ergonomic reasons. Not that they don't work perfectly in my smallish room (13 x 15), but rather because I have other speakers in there
taking up room for home theater, I have to place the 3.7s right at the room opening, which makes it awkward getting in and out, among other things.
I really need a smaller speaker only in that regard. Sonically, they are as close to perfectly balanced as I've heard in my room or anywhere else.
Understandable. We all have our own criteria. I personally like a near field, or close to near field listening set up because I love being enveloped in the sound, I get the most realistic sound staging, and to my ears usually the most natural, relaxed and realistic timbral qualities to voices and instruments (since near field reduces the influence of the room).
But more distant set ups do tend to sound more dynamic and lifelike in that way, so I can see the appeal in how you prefer to listen.
It's been a long time since I heard the 3.6s - or the CS6 for that matter - but what I remember is the 3.6s having just a bit more "shine" to the upper frequencies that could be a bit detached to piercing, whereas the CS6 had a smoother, more sophisticated sound. No doubt the coaxial design had something to do with it. But I also remember some mild issues with the CS6, a bit of hollowness that could creep in in the high midrange/low tweeter frequencies, especially dependant upon seating height/position. It could add a sort of thinning, cardboard/papery sound to instruments when they travelled in to that range (e.g. high register woodwinds). But it wasn't frequent or bad enough to be a bummer. The 3.7s have none of that, I was happy to find.
Listening to the Thiel 3.7s again last night...boy I don’t know if I can give these things up! It’s amazing the degree to which you can dial in a speaker (especially like the 3.7) to one’s taste - far field, near field, toed in, toed out.
As I’ve said the 3.7’s wide, even dispersion allows me to have them very wide apart, quite close to me, and faced almost straight ahead. The balance I get is lush and warm, with an utterly massive width and depth to the soundstage, yet with perfectly dense, focused imaging of all the voices and instruments across that span. Anyone who ever doubted that the Thiels could sound warm, lush and inviting hasn’t heard what they can do when set up that way. I listened to some live Everything But The Girl - they do lots of quiet, solemn music with one or two guitars being played, and the voices and acoustic/electric guitars were just astonishingly warm, human and clear. I played some Joanna Newsome (talk about an acquired taste! Her voice! But that harp playing!) and her harp simply "appears" a out 4 feet behind the speakers, as if she has just beamed down into my room to play for me. At least in my experience, certain instances like this are probably the most tactile sonic reproduction I've ever heard from an audio system. (I'm not saying other systems can't do it - of course they can - but simply in my own experience with many speaker systems, and hearing many show and store systems, it's among the best I've heard with certain recordings).
I have an audiophile pal - who writes for an online audio mag - who said the first time he heard the Thiel 3.7s at an audio show it sent him running from the room - too bright and aggressive! But when he comes over to listen to my 3.7s he is thoroughly pleased by completely smooth and gorgeous they sound. I’d told him that (due to ergonomic issues I’ve mentioned earlier) I may be looking to replace them with a smaller speaker, but after he heard a couple of cuts played on the 3.7s he turned to me incredulous "And you intend to get better sound than THIS...how???"
I told him, I don’t intend to get better sound. Not for anything remotely close to the price and I’ll probably never have better sound than I have with my current Thiel set up. That’s just a pill I’ll have to swallow (IF I sell them...)
My 3.7's are:
7.10 inches apart. Face mostly straight ahead.
6 1/2 feet from speakers to my head.
And they sound even better if I lean in a bit more. I keep wanting to go more nearfield :-)
BTW, as to setting up: With the Thiels, as with just about every other speaker I've owned, I prefer not to have them toed in toward me.
Of course the more toed in they are, the more focused the image and the more brilliant the high frequencies become. But what I perceive is a brightening sort of across the whole sound - sort of like there is a whitening applied to everything. It's exciting to the ear, but to me individual timbral qualities start to actually homogenize somewhat with this bright scrim sprayed over everything. As I toe out that "whiteness" starts to dissolve, the deeper tones of, say, an acoustic guitar, come more into view, the sound gets a bit fuller, the imaging more rich and spacious.
But I don't like a "dark" rolled off sound - I like a believably extended airy top end.
So I play with toe in and my distance from the speaker to maintain a believable sparkle (e.g. acoustic guitar, drum cymbals etc) but also get that richness of higher midrange info. This is also where moving closer to the speakers comes in to play. From a greater distance, you get more "detail" by toing the speaker in, getting that high frequency energy. But, again, to me it sounds more "hi-fi." As I move closer to nearfield, yet toeing the speakers outward, I'm not getting "hyped" type of detail of bright frequencies, but rather I'm reducing room induced influence and hash, getting closer to the recording, and therefore hearing that super low level detail in the recording. So for instance, a recording of acoustic guitar will be more relaxed, fuller, with a more natural sense of detail where I just hear the sound of fleshy fingers plucking strings as I would real life, not "hi-fi."
But, it's not for everyone. I think you get the greatest dynamics, "punch" and bass depth when further away from the speakers. Fortunately the Thiels are by nature pretty dynamic, and keep a lot of that character even when moved close.
-- "prof and michaeljbrown
sit those speakers 7-9 feet apart for best effect. Toe-in may be required as well. Otherwise, kick back and enjoy the music!" ---
Check out my post just above yours. I already have mine just under 8 feet apart. No toe in required (or desired).
After a couple years dialing the 3.7s I have a pretty good idea of how to get them singing in my room ;-)
Your comments are excellent regarding the sound of the Thiels. (Though, again, associated amplification/position/acoustics can come into play, of course).
But I hope you don’t mind if I take some issue with a statement like this:
---"All Thiels need to be at least 8’ from speaker directly to listener for proper driver integration, and the time coherence that is such an integral part of the Thiel designs." ----
That is clearly advice given with helpful intent, and no doubt some theoretical rational behind it. However, if I had taken such admonitions for keeping 8 feet from the Thiels I may very well not have bought my 3.7s.
I’m as fanatical about coherence as any other audiophile you’ll meet (starting off with the Quad ESL 63s will do that to you). So coherency is vital for my listening.
I’d seen this "you need to keep a good distance for driver integration in the Thiels" stated before, so I worried somewhat about the Thiels being right for me as my room forces a closer seating distance, which is my preference anyway.
The first thing is it didn’t really jive with my previous experience of the Thiel CS6’s. I can’t remember the distance exactly, but it was closer than 8 feet and they sounded terrific. And before buying the 3.7s, I contacted another audiogon member who said the 3.7s at 7ft from his listening position sounded perfect.
Wes Philip who raved about the 3.7s in Stereophile’s sat only 7 1/2 feet from the Thiels. Further, if you read JA’s measurements, you’ll see that getting waveform coherence is more about situating at the right height relative to the tweeter/mid, rather than distance. At a height of 34" and only 50" away, the output of all the drive units arrive at the same time, for a proper step response.
In terms of presenting a seamlessly integrated sound, this meshes with my experience in dialing in the 3.7s. I’m now averaging 6 1/2 feet from the 3.7s and they are only getting more coherent. If I lean in some more - say another 6 inches or more - they remain coherent (and in fact sound even more seamless and natural IMO).
So it would be a shame if someone who had a smaller room, or who liked closer listening, wrote Thiels off their list thinking they won’t work
On a similar note, there is the oft-repeated claim "Thiels NEED tons of power" in terms of amps. Well...yes...and no. Depends on the sound one is interested in getting from their Thiels. No speaker is perfect and different people have their own things they are trying to achieve for the sound they like, which is why synergy (per someone’s own tastes) is so important. If you want to hear the upper limit dynamics a Thiel is capable of, then...like most speakers...a powerful amplifier will do that for you. But, with lower powered tube amps Thiels still retain most of the character that attract people to Thiel - that clarity, honesty, neutrality, specificity of imaging, density, tone, aliveness, etc. With my CJ tube amps, the bass remains phenomenally controlled and tight, as well.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve even driven the Thiels with an Eico HF-81
14w/side tube amp. Will that allow the Thiels to play as loudly and dynamically as they are capable of? Heck no. But you will rarely hear the Thiels sound as gorgeously rich and lush and HUGE, yet clear, detailed and lively, as with that little amp. In some ways I even prefer it to my much bigger CJ amps. As long as you don’t need earth shaking volume, and in a room like mine, and since I don’t tend to listen really loud, it’s a rewarding amp/speaker pairing.
Do you mean you worked for Jim Thiel?
I had a conversation with Jim at a CES years ago and we got into his motivation regarding speaker design. He told me that he'd originally been very enthusiastic about panel speakers (stats and ribbons) because of what they did so well. But ultimately he concluded there were some inherent design limitations that he couldn't see getting past, and that though he felt box speakers were not quite at the level of planar performance, there was more potential to be exploited in future designs, so he went with box speaker route.
I have to say that Jim was certainly right. To my ears the limitations of panels remain to this day, especially electrostatics. That is a certain weightless lack of air-moving quality that, though transparent, doesn't excite the room. It's like watching musicians perform in another room, as it were. This is just were good dynamic speakers excel - Jim's designs being a perfect example - of bringing forth that density and presence in the sound. This I think is behind the comments we often hear about Thiels being like "maggie's with bass." It's not just the bass region, but Thiels produce a transparency and tonality quite like maggies, but with the air-pushing presence through the whole spectrum.
I am sympathetic to the desire to squeeze any more performance out of our systems as possible. I certainly succumb to that desire myself.
I have come to my conclusions about cables through having paid close attention to the technical arguments regarding cables and having followed the results of blind tests for decades, as well has having participated in some. I used to review audio gear for a while, and have been heavily connected within the audiophile community, I have friends and acquaintances who are high end audio reviewers, etc, and so I've had the opportunity to use, audition, test, including blind testing, a large number of high end cables - from the cheapest to speaker cables/interconnects costing $45,000!
That's not to say that anyone here has to or should believe anything just because I believe it. Rather, it's simply to point out that my stance on cables doesn't come from a position of inexperience with high end cables - as if I have dismissed them out of hand or never tried them. Just the opposite. (And the immediate reaction of many audiophiles to doubt about the relevance of expensive cabling is usually something like "You must not have experience with great cables, don't knock it until you've tried it." I've tried it, in many systems, for decades).
I'm not going to claim no (competently designed) cables can make a difference. I'm open to the possibility. But in my own tests...this has not been born out, nor does it seem any consensus has been reached by more rigorous controlled methods of testing cables. Unfortunately beyond that we have anecdote, and audiophiles generally have about the worst protocols you could have for actually getting to the bottom of these type of issues (even as I count myself among that group).
But, again, to be clear I'm not trying to say no cables can possibly make a sonic difference. But it's a rather huge leap to the claim that cables amount to the MOST important component in the sonics of an audio system. That is a particularly dubious claim, to say the least.
In the realm of anecdote: the first high end system I heard as an adult were Quad ESL 63s, hooked up to a cheap amp and zip cord. It blew my mind. I'd never heard such transparency and realism. Did the cheap equipment hold the Quads back from showing their distinct benefits? Heck no. It was the speakers, not the cables, that were doing that work.
Another time I remember an audio pal and I visited the home of Waveform Mach 17 Speaker designer John Otvos, and had a demo. He was notoriously against the idea of high priced amps and cables making a difference, and the system was powered by - as I remember - cheap amps like Kenwood (or something similar). And cheap speaker cable.
The sound was utterly mind-blowing! I'd heard every big named system you can mention, hooked up to the highest end amps and cables, and the sound coming from Otvos' speakers were a revelation in dynamics, clarity, imaging, natural timbre, etc. Now...am I open to the possibility that some amazingly designed speaker cable could rend slightly "better" sound in some way in that system. Yes, perhaps. But even granting the possibility, it's still a fact that it HAD to be the design of the speakers that was responsible for the head-of-class performance of that sound, not the cables that were used or not used. The competency of the speaker design utterly swamped the importance of cabling, as it should be.
As for Thiels, yes they are revealing, but most high end speakers are revealing. (I also tried Nordost and other cables on my Thiel 06s when I had them, BTW). I've had nothing BUT revealing speakers in my room.
My friend (audio reviewer) has bought my cast off speakers before. Did they sound at all better at his place on a panoply of super expensive speaker cables than they did at my place with Belden cable? Nope. Not that either of us could detect. In fact, the speakers tended to sound better at my place, because I have a room with better acoustics, and that swamps possible cable differences. (Though he does have good acoustics - it's just that my room was designed with an acoustician. My Thiel 3.7s with simple belden speaker cable sound better than pretty much every speaker he has reviewed at his place, with all his expensive cables).
I can make my current Thiel 3.7s sound anything from bright, incisive, lively tight and focused, to dark, lush, looser and less focused...just by where I place or angle them in the room. An alteration of literally an inch can change these parameters, rendering all the similar types of differences one reads for cables. All of us who have played with speaker positioning know this.
So, again, I'm not out to claim all cables sound alike. In rigorous empirical terms, it seems the jury is still mostly out on that proposition.
But I have to admit to feeling some discomfort when I read recommendations that suggest cabling is among the most important
sonic components in an audio system. That, in my view could mislead newbies into thinking they HAVE to join the crowd in spending lots of money on cabling to get their system sounding excellent. I certainly support jafant and anyone's right to make that claim, and to cite their own experience. I'm simply adding my own as counterbalance.
The more voices the merrier!
Having got that off my chest...back to Thiels...
....and I've been going through quite an audition process to attempt to replace my Thiels. I even have Harbeth speakers in at the moment.
Very interesting...(I plan to post my comparisons once I've made a decision).
- "The best part, one does not have to spend big money, to make it happen. In fact, always buy used or demo and save a bit of coin. Every audiophile can afford quality cabling -you would be foolish otherwise." -
As an example of this: I had the opportunity to own some very highly regarded - and expensive - Shunyata power cables. Universally praised at that time. Did I detect a difference? With one of them, the most expensive, yes! I was just about sold. Then to double check, I had a friend help me blind test them against a standard military grade $15 power cable. Turned out I couldn't actually hear any difference. I often detected just the same "improvement" when the $15 cable was in the system. The mind is funny like that :-)
So as you say, I didn't have to spend big money - that cheaper power cord was all the quality I needed - and agree it would have been foolish of me to choose otherwise ;-)
I don’t suppose anyone here has heard the heretical new Thiel speakers?
Maybe at one of the audio shows? If so, any impressions?
I admit that the technical goals of Jim Thiel’s time/phase coherence are compelling to me. And one of the chief characteristics I hear in my Thiels vs other speakers is that last bit of tidyness and focus, where all the acoustic energy related to an individual instrument or voice seems all lined up in the right spot to create a palpable focus and density to images. Other speakers tend to sound somewhat more "vague," imaging-wise.
I want to attribute that to the time/phase coherence of the speakers. But I have to allow that it may not be, as there are debates about the audibility of such things, and maybe even some of my listening positions mean the time/phase is less coherent. But whatever causes it, the Thiels certainly seem to have the characteristics I’m talking about.
I also find the concept of timbral accuracy a fascinating and vexing one.
The Thiels sound exceedingly "right" tonally for instruments and voices.
Though I have also heard some speakers with an almost opposite approach - e.g. Joseph, Hales, Waveform, MBL and others - produce a tremendous sense of timbral realism as well. So which aspect of speaker design is most important in reproducing accurate timbre is still an unanswered question to my mind.
Cool. Again, I'm sorry if I'm asking you to repeat info that exists somewhere in these 30 pages of posts....but did you try the last models - CS 2.7 and/or CS 3.7?
If so, what did you find more compelling about the older model's sound?
I'm certainly not trying to second guess your decision, I'm simply curious. (I happen to have been auditioning many possible replacement speakers for my 3.7s and it's been very hard for me to find something competitive).
It's been quite a while since I had the older CS6s which I loved, or heard the 3.5/3.6s. But one of the things I immediately heard from the 3.7 is a smoother, more coherent midrange, and less fussy about the listener positioning. There was always something of a slight "combing" effect I heard on other Thiels, and a hollowness that could appear in the upper midrange, which I never get from the 3.7s. Just my impressions...
I get that this is a Thiel thread, but since amplification and cables are being made part of the discussion...
If you ever wonder why our hobby isn’t taken seriously by the majority of
sensible people on earth, watching an audiophile recommend that someone should spend $100,000 on amps and a minimum of $50,000 on cables for a high end speaker should be your first clue.
It seems those of us with a skeptical bone in our body are supposed to button our lips in the face of such conversations, for the good of the clan, but sometimes that’s not easy to do. Especially insofar as it makes a hobby that you love seem crazier than something you want to be involved in. This tends to be when I need to step away from the hobby just for the sake of my sanity.
Did anyone here notice that nice pair of Thiel 2.7s in ebony on audiogon a few days ago?
I bought them!
(Sorry to anyone who was bidding, I know it sucks to not get an item).
When I first joined the forum it was right after Thiel stopped production of Jim’s designs and I was tormented as to whether to buy a second hand pair of 2.7s or 3.7s. At that time, due to hemming and hawing too long, I lost out on the most gorgeous ebony pair of 2.7s - probably the nicest looking speakers I’d seen, with a finish that is a perfect match for my room.
I ended up with the 3.7s in a gorgeous Morado and as I’ve expressed here, they sound extraordinary but because it’s a living room that also shares duty as a home theater as well, and home theater speakers are already taking up a lot of space, the larger Thiels have to be placed in a non-ergonomic part of the room. If I can downsize at all I can help that issue, as well as the aesthetics of all those speakers in a smaller room. I’ve continued to demo quite a number of possible downsizing speaker replacements...but the Thiel 3.7s are too good for the money and hard to beat sonically.
Seeing this incredibly rare pair of 2.7s come up in the ebony finish I’d lusted over before was something I couldn’t resist. I have to give these a whirl - see if I can keep a good helping of the Thiel sound I love, but allowing a bit of downsizing (even a bit can help out).
I’ve read the very few comparisons on here between the 2.7 and the 3.7 and all come out in favor of the 3.7, so I’m going to go in presuming this will be the case. I’m spoiled by the scale of sound put on by the 3.7 and that may be tough to overcome. Though I’ve also heard from some others who preferred the 2.7 (some say they actually like the 2.7 midrange a bit better).
So, this will be fun, to compare the two. And as a heads up for Thiel lovers: once I’ve decided between keeping the 2.7 or 3.7, one of them will be up for sale after!
I will certainly report my impressions here. It would be cool if the 2.7s work out for me.
After a lengthy auditioning process of numerous smaller speakers, the one left that I'm still considering are the Joseph Audio Perspective speakers - far smaller than the Thiels, but big sound (not as huge as the 3.7s) with gorgeous tonality.
I also played around with the idea of grabbing some JM Reynaud Offrande Supreme V2 monitors, which sounded quite nice.
I've also recently become quite interested in Kudos speakers which have an amazingly vivid and palpable sound, with great tone, but auditions of their higher end models are very hard to come by in North America.
Jafant...while I appreciate your enthusiastic input in to this thread, I do find it frustrating that you keep saying things like this, especially to me:
"a room size of 20x20, minimum, is the starting point for owning the CS 3.7 speaker. It throws that size of a sound stage."
Why are you trying to tell me that when I actually have lived with the 3.7s for years now, and I’ve explained a number of times why it simply isn’t the case they need a room that large to sound superb?
I mean...you are you are saying that to an audiophile (me) who has had decades of experience tuning systems (I also work in professional sound for film). And, unlike you, I actually own the 3.7s and so can talk from direct experience as to how well they can sound in a smaller room, when proper care is taken.
I really think it does something of a disservice to keep repeating the idea that large speakers like the 3.7s inherently require a large room to sound excellent.
As anyone in this hobby should know, the final sound will always be a combination of factors, especially the speaker design, the placement in the room, and the room acoustics. The 3.7s are actually EASIER to set up in a smaller room than other large speakers, due to their exceedingly well damped bass region.
In my room with correct placement, the 3.7s are not activating any obvious room nodes, and go rumbling-under-the-feet deep when required, while room reflections are controlled meaning the sound is super low in added hash for extremely fine tonality and super precise imaging. Soundstaging-wise: the entire front of the room melts away with the biggest, deepest, most life-sized soundstage I’ve heard from a speaker anywhere near their size (and I’m not talking "heard in my room" but in anywhere, from a similar sized speaker). It’s like being wrapped in sound. Play the right orchestral piece and the back wall is "gone" with an almost life-sized sounding orchestra stretching side to side, off into the distance. I’m not compromising the soundstaging of the 3.7s - I’m deriving the level of soundstaging they are actually capable of!
My room was renovated in consultation with an acoustician, and so it is treated carefully (and I can modulate the level of reflectivity in the room). I’ve had many large floor standing speakers in there, some flat down to 20Hz and all have exhibited superb sound, with excellent bass - in every instance, better than the larger rooms in which I’d originally auditioned them - cleaner, more spacious, more in control, bigger, etc. Because...that’s what paying close attention to placement and room acoustics can do.
One of the best speaker experiences I ever had was at a reviewer’s house for The Absolute Sound. He had the big full range MBL 101D speakers in a hilariously tiny room - comically so. It felt like a closet. But...he’d treated the room well and finely tuned placement of the speakers. I’ve heard and auditioned the MBL 101s many, many times in many different room sizes. Nothing ever came close to the performance I heard in that guy’s tiny room.
I’ve had plenty of superb smaller speakers in that room - smaller floor standers, monitors of all types - the size of which you may have recommended over the 3.7s based on your assumptions, and I can tell you none came close to what a large floor stander like the 3.7 can do in the room.
I know you want to be helpful, but I do think you could update your thinking about speakers and acoustics, and take into consideration reported experiences like mine and others that doesn’t fit with your preconceptions - because you keep giving out confident-sounding advice that doesn’t seem very nuanced and thus can be misleading.
BTW, I think perhaps your reply mixed up the Joseph speakers I referenced? I said I was interested in the Perspectives not the larger Pearls. The Perspectives sounded beautiful when auditioned in my room, certainly better than in the larger store demo room.
Yeah, my wife...and especially one of my audio buddies...mock me if I suggest I will end up with "the speaker." If I haven’t by now, I probably never will. I always start pairing down my speaker collection, but then build back up again.
Especially since I renovated my 2 channel room into a home theater/music listening room, the tension between "big and fully satisfying sound" and "discrete enough to work in the room aesthetically" has been a real back and forth. I switch between floor standers and stand mounted speakers. When I set up one of my monitors I always love the sound and think "this is so great, what more do I need?" That happened again recently when I put my old Waveform (egg shaped) monitors in my system. The tone was so gorgeous, the dynamics so convincing, it was only when certain sections of a song would hit where I would miss the drama I was used to with the extension of the bigger speakers that I’d say "Oh yeah...that’s why I tend to go back to floor standing speakers."
I still have one of my all time favorite speakers - the Omani-directional MBL radialstrahler 121s. Within their frequency range they astonish me.
But then I ask myself "Why do the MBLs have so much less time in my system when I have a floor stander like the Thiel 3.7s?" I seem to eventually crave what a big speaker can do. (And adding subs to my monitor speakers is a non-starter for several reasons).
So this time of trying to downsize somewhat, I’ve tried to find an in-between: a speaker that is smaller than the 3.7 but which has *enough* frequency range to make me not feel I’m missing something.
That’s why I’ve been auditioning mid-sized speakers like Audio Note, Audio Physic, Joseph audio Perspectives, Harbeth Super HL5 Plus, and some monitors that are larger and go low for their size - e.g. JM Reynaud Offrande Supremes, and others. And that’s where the Thiel 2.7s come in - they may look good enough in the room to leave there, while giving enough sonically of what I desire. Though, I’m no longer under the delusion that anything will be my "last" speaker.
I picked up a pair of Harbeth Super HL5 Plus speakers to check out in my home and while they were excellent, I couldn’t pass up the deal on those Thiel 2.7s, so I’m selling the Harbeths to finance the Thiel purchase.
BTW... I mentioned earlier in the thread my interest in Kudos speakers as well. There is almost no talk on Audiogon about that brand, it seems because they are a small British company that doesn't get much word outside Britain. But a couple years ago at an audio show, walking through the hall, I heard the most life-like symphonic sound coming from inside a room. I popped in and there were these huge horn speakers which I presumed were making the sound. As the tracks switched to - I think Stevie Wonder and other tracks - there was that incredible clarity and palpability of sound, and dynamics, that had me say "Yup, that's why some people love horn speakers." Turns out it wasn't the horns playing at all, but the modest, slim, non-descript wooden two-way floor standing speakers right beside them. They blew my mind and I took note of the brand.
Recently I was in an audio store and noticed they had the elusive Kudos speakers - smaller, cheaper models than the one I'd heard at the show.
I listened to some tracks and there it was, that sound I remembered from the audio show. They really wowed me. It turns out Kudos has introduced a series of flagship speakers, one of which may be within my reach, so it's now on my radar. In my mind, thus far, my "smaller speaker" solution has come down to between the Thiel 2.7, Joseph Audio Perspective, and the long shot Kudos Titan 606 (if I ever get to hear it...and I might).
I mention this partially because, as a Thiel fan I found the Kudos pushed many of the same hard-to-find buttons (though the Kudos are brighter and less neutral) as the ones Thiels push for me.
I was just thinking yesterday "Now I see why some people get into DIY."
That way you can attempt to build speakers that do the things you are looking for. If you have the talent, time and persistence (which I don’t...I have zero interest in DIY).
As for sub/monitor combos, I’m pretty much allergic to subwoofers - heard the combos in many set ups, including my own. No matter how many times I hear someone claim "it’s a seamless match" I immediately hear the sub and it annoys me. (The best blend I ever heard was actually a combo I owned: Quad ESL 63s that attached to Gradient subwoofers, specially designed to match the dipole radiation of the Quads. But that was a very room dominating system, like big, black room dividers).
It’s possible if I had enough time and resources on my hands I could end up with a subwoofer that mated well enough with some monitors, but it’s a no-go for my room. I’ve tried my best to make the technology invisible in the room (even my home theater speakers are covered in black velvet, against a black velvet screen wall). Subs would mean doubling the amount of speakers put in the room, when I’m looking to reduce (and I would not have the flexibility of placement options necessary to optimize the subs to blend them with stand mount speakers).
The problem is the Thiel 3.7s must be placed well into the room, where I like most of my speakers, for best sound and also to allow traffic into the room. The right speaker sits essentially blocking 1/2 the room entrance and if you saw a picture, you’d understand immediately why I’m trying to find a smaller speaker solution. Any inches I shave off the depth/height of the speaker helps.
I do think it’s possible smaller floor standers could satisfy me for several reasons. One is that they obviously help solve my aesthetics/ergonomics problem. Two, the 3.7s aren’t bass monsters to begin with. They are rated only down to 33Hz, yet I find this adequate to satisfy. The Joseph Perspectives, for instance, are similarly rated despite being much smaller and I found them generally satisfying in bass depth. Imaging was also terrific as well, though falling a bit short of the imaging size and precision of the Thiels.
The auditioning I had of the JM Reynaud monitors left me intrigued, but I have to say I really don’t care for their looks, especially their selection of wood finishes, so that’s a bit of a hurdle.
And on that aesthetic note: as I mentioned I have a pair of beautiful Harbeth speakers in Rosewood that I'm currently selling in another web site. I figured that the Harbeths, being smaller and more traditional looking than the Thiel 3.7s would be an easier sell for her. But she surprised me, saying she much preferred the look of the big Thiels in the room. I find she's right: the room has a contemporary decor and the more modern, sleeker lines of the Thiels actually blend in better. Hence...promise for the 2.7s.
I should have the Thiel 2.7s in house sometime after next weekend.
Auditioned the Raidho C 1.2 monitors today. They would normally be prohibitively expensive but a dealer has a great demo pair deal so I gave them a listen.
Very nice high end frequencies in terms of smoothness combined with subtle detail - open, lifelike, while not too bright (generally). Bass quite surprisingly big and impactful from a monitor. Decent soundstaging.
But...didn't care for them over all. Tonally I found them somewhat bleached and bland. They also sounded somewhat sculpted (as they actually are) with a BBC-like dip, which made lots of vocals and orchestral music sound naturally smooth, but showed up as a more obvious tonal and dynamic reticence elsewhere: for instance drum snares, rim shots I knew to have excellent presence in other more neutral speakers like the Thiels were dulled and made more distant. Acoustic guitar finger picking attack was made too polite - one classical guitar piece by John Williams which has shows tons of effort and energy on the Thiels and some other speakers sounded weakened and far less exciting on the Raidhos. Also, even when there's significant (apparent) bass extension there's something about a small monitor trying to sound big that I never quite buy.
Once I got home and played all the same tracks on the 3.7s I was amazed by how much better I thought the whole presentation was - clarity, organic quality, control, imaging, dynamics...just everything seemed better. Played the same John Williams guitar track and it simply sounded more like a real guitar in front of me, being played enthusiastically. It seems to me Jim Thiel didn't have to sculpt the frequency range to make for smooth sound - the 3.7s just are smooth, yet full and exciting at the same time.
Your post reminds me that a leanness has always been the characteristics of Thiel speakers I listened to (and it's a very common description of Thiel). Virtually every Thiel I ever heard always sounded amazingly accurate, but also like it had somewhat squeezed the sound of each instrument just a bit too hard into a thinner element. (Contrast that to something classically "big and rounder" in the midrange like a Harbeth or older Spendor). It was one of my few complaints, and it was also jut about my only complaint when I had the big CS6s, which I otherwise adored.
That's an area I've found different in the 3.7. It does not sound lean; completely the opposite, it sounds more rich and full than most of the speakers I've been evaluating. I even just expected the Harbeth speakers to at least sound more filled out in the midrange, if only because they sounded so midrange rich in the store and that is their reputation. Yet the Thiels sounded even richer than the Harbeths.
One of many tests I use is a recording of John Williams playing classical guitar. No other speaker I've auditioned yet renders Williams' guitar with such realistic weight and size.
I’m sure you’ve mentioned it in the thread somewhere, but what amplification are you using for your Thiel 2.4s? Did you go solid state or tube?
I read through a lengthy thread on another forum about Thiels an amplification and it’s always interesting: some insist Thiels are current-hungry monsters that can never get enough power; others say they’ve tried all the powerful SS amps and always come back to tube amps as sounding best with Thiels. (When I had the CS6s in my room, I preferred tube amps vs SS, e.g. a powerful Bryston).
It’s been too long since I had my Bryston amplifiers so I can’t speak to direct experience with the Thiel 3.7s. But the combination with the CJ 140W tube monoblocks blows my mind. I don’t remember ever hearing Thiels of any model sound this good - liquid, huge, dynamic, precise, controlled, you name it. (And as I've mentioned before, I even tried 14W of Eico tube amp with the 3.7s - they didn't sound remotely anemic dynamically, at least subjectively, and they sounded huge. I only really lost some fine control in the bass).
"Audio Research preamps ( slightly bleached tone to me)"
That is always how Audio Research amps sound to me. From the day I first heard them in the 90's to even today (my pal uses Audio Research amps). There's just this sort of bleached sound - which in my mind invokes "gray" - that makes me not care to sit in front of the speakers for too long.
At one time my friend was testing an amp - I forget if it was solid state, or maybe it was his Audio Research, and I brought over my CJ Premier 12 amps to try in his system. As soon as they went in and we started the same song, we looked at each other like "aaah...THIS is the experience that keeps our butts planted in the seat." Just so damned musical and rich.
I have the Premier 16LS2 pre-amp, for maybe a couple years now. It sounds gorgeous - super clear, very low noise floor, tons of detail and spaciousness, and though fairly neutral just enough of that CJ magic glow. My one criticism would be it lacks a bit of the density and balls of my other tube preamp (locally made) but the other pre-amp doesn't have the detail and finesse of the CJ.
My own subjective impressions, especially of amplifiers, aren't much use to other people I think. We all have different tastes, different hearing, different criteria; what I hear as uninvolving will be someone else's musical nirvana.
And by "bleached" I'm talking of timbral or tonal color, nothing to do with dynamics. I tend to sort of see colors when listening to sound (and clearly so do some other people, which is why lots of audiophiles refer to colors in describing sound). When I listen to my acoustic guitar I always "hear" a golden sparkly tone. I'd take that recording around to various systems and speakers: from most of them, I don't hear that tone. It's more silver/gray. And that's my main complaint with most systems: they sound "bleached" of tonal color, which is what I always perceived whenever I was able to compare Audio Research amps with, say CJ amps, over the years (and that's only a few times, really).
That doesn't mean someone else will hear the same thing. Although...it was interesting to see it described that way here, and I have seen the Audio Research sound described similarly over the years. Just like the CJ sound is often described as "golden."
My pal loves his Audio Research amp - had it forever, doesn't want to part with it.