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You need to burn them in. I'm burning mine in as we speak (40 hrs in). I have auditioned a Meridian pre-amp with the Thiels, and they completely lost the “disappearing factor” that they do so well. I also received the upgraded drivers in my 2.3's. Make sure you get the $300.00 upgrade they are worth it (see audioreview re:2.3's).
Sometimes these threads can get into brand defense...don't want to do that here. I have owned 4 sets of Thiel's.. the 3.5, 1.2, 1.5 and 6. I found the 1.5 to be the best for what I listen to...Jazz and female vocals(Krall, Vaughn, Ella, etc.) I have also owned Martin-Logans..and others.. In the end result, nothing fits my needs/likes better than Magnepans. I have owned the 1.6, 3.6 and 20 models...and would prefer any of them...even the 1.6 over the most expensive Thiel's or Martin-Logan's I have owned. The components, wires, room acoustics..and type of music listened to have big impact on what works for a person. For me, a system based on Magnepans gives the most pleasure. Good luck.
Jim Thiel is one of those designers who compromises in his smaller models by omission - IMHO a good thing. The smaller Thiels will forfeit an octave or so at the bottom in exchange for ruthless accuracy everywhere else. As you climb the ladder, you go deeper into the bass - and all of it is extremely tight and precise. All Thiels need current, and lots of it, to deliver their bass. Some folks who run the smaller Thiels and complaint of brightness often don't have enough current on tap. Your 557 shouldn't have any problem feeding these speakers current. However, most folks I know who run Thiels tend towards warmer SS (Classe, YBA) or tube gear (VAC, Rogue). The classic combo has been an Audio Research pre with Classe power. VAC voices their gear with Thiels - it's a great listen. Your Meridian setup may just be a bad match for this speaker. I've run Taras with Thiels with very good results - others I know prefer Nordosts - Cardas are darker still. I think it's a superb speaker when properly partnered - not romantic, but revealing. Maggies are nice too, but I've encountered ugly sounding ones when poorly partnered.
try a nice tubed pre before ditching the thiels.
if all else fails, try the newform research r645's. 30-day in-home trial; yure only out return shipping if ya don't like 'em. i'm saving for a pair - i tink they'll be giant-killers for the price. check out the owner comments on audioreview, & check out their www.
Interesting comment sgmlaw--the ONLY time I've heard Thiels and liked them was indeed when driven by an all-VAC system, it was a very good match! I think perhaps the slight politeness of the Ren 70/70s were very synergistic with the slight bright/forward nature of the Thiels. Just goes to show it's not the component in isolation that really matters, it's the COMBINATION of components that hits or misses.
I bought a pair of CS7.2s second hand. Occasionally I feel like I bought a Mercedes that I can't afford the insurance and upkeep on. But whenever I audition other speakers it becomes pretty obvious that the Thiels are doing some things that alot of other speakers come up short on. Purity of tone, resolution, superb deep natural bass, lack of coloration, etc. It's addictive. I drive my CS7.2s with Bryston 7B ST monos (Meridian 508/561 front end). I've tried some other amps such as ML 336, Classe CAM 350, Krell FPB 300, and McIntosh MC602. They better the Bryston 7Bs in some areas, but I found recently that adding a tube line stage provides the biggest bang for the dollars spent. So far the ARC LS25 works very well. Cable is also important with Thiels. I use Transparent Ultra ic/sc with good results.
I would first ask how "live" or "dead" is your room. The Thiels like a room on the dead side. I have a live room and the Thiels are no match. I am auditioning the Verity Fidelios and so far has been impressed. They have the speed of elestrostatics, they are small, well integrated, and sound great. I agree the Magneplanars are great speaker and you can not go wrong.
If you have a dealer in your area that carries Transparent cable, give that a listen. You'll need at least MusicWave Plus, preferably MusicWave Super. The Transparent cable really took the edge off my Thiels and provided a fuller sound. It also lifted the soundstage vertically! Don't ask me how. I've been tempted by the Magnepan 1.6s since they get such great reviews; however there is no dealer in my area and the distant dealers I have spoken with say they don't have any on the floor to demo and are six months backordered. Also, I don't think they still make a center channel speaker which pretty much rules them out if your stereo also doubles as your home theater. The only other speakers that I have heard (I obviously haven't heard them all) that I would consider moving to are the Matin Logan electrostatics. Given the level of your system, I think synergy is really important. I have a Meridian/Thiel system and the Transparent cables provided the missing link for me. Good luck.