Any Thiel CS3.6 owners?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by BossCo, Jul 31, 2015.

  1. Don Parkhurst

    Don Parkhurst Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    I would have liked to hear that combo. I wasn't very impressed as you can tell and my Classe Audio combo had worked very nicely with Apogee Stages (remember them?), Magneplanar 2.6R, Proac Response Two, Kef, etc. I found them (Thiel) to definitely be in the cold and analytical camp.

    I'm not surprised that you managed to make them sound good though. You have that determination and talent to make it work.
     
  2. Rick58

    Rick58 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Tracy, CA, USA
    goldwax, sorry, I don't have an answer for your question. It does sound like there's a "chance" your amps may provide a nice combination, of course I would advise to not try to get live metal concert volumes with them tho.

    Sounds like a good tube amp could sound very good, but those can be expensive too. I seem to recall reading that Rowland gear sounds a little 'soft' (maybe compared to other high power SS gear?) so maybe tubes could be a good thing. I've lived with 8Wpc 300B amps for a long time now so yes, I think low power tubes can give very satisfactory results! (of course, I use tube friendly small speakers in nearfield listening setup, not Thiel 3.6s)

    http://www.stereophile.com/thefifthelement/304fifth/#dSiplDbSpQuMVfc2.97 John Marks liked the Model 5 and I'd have to agree. http://audiokarma.org/forums/index.php?threads/i-got-my-jeff-rowland-model-5-and-consummate.558891/ more kudos for the Rowland gear.

    I'm only saying all this because my only experience with the 3.6s were with the Rowland Model 5 amp, and that combo made a very positive impression on me.
     
    goldwax likes this.
  3. BossCo

    BossCo New Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Surf City, CA USA
    goldwax - Though I'm not familiar with the Kenwood M2A personally, it reads well in various reviews. Lowest impedance rating I found is 350 @ 4ohms which will likely put you in the game with the CS3.5. How it will react at 2.6 ohms, I dunno. It's a class G amp that may have current limiting problems. What I do know is that my B&K EX-4420 amp, also 350W @ 4 ohms rated, produced enough current to generate decent levels of very nice warm sound. At $450 it was a best bang for your buck steal! Not wall - shaking but louder than my family usually appreciated. LOL ;-) The matching MC-101 preamp & excellent source material kept it sweet. For the levels that I want to be able to produce (when home alone for some concert volume enjoyment) it took a move up the food chain to a pair of Bryston 7B-ST monoblocks. FWIW - I use all balanced I/O which does make a difference. I'm now comparing preamps between the MC-101 and an Emotiva XSP-1.
     
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  4. Six String

    Six String Senior Member

    This is a question re:system synergy that some have mentioned in this thread. I recently switched out a Sony Dolby surround ES receiver rated at 200w/channel in 8ohms with an Adcom GFA 5500 amp rated at 200w/channel in 8 ohms too with a McIntosh C29 preamp. The power and volume seems greater with the Adcom. What factors would make that so? I was using Paradyme Studio 20s I've had since the 90s and I've never heard them sound as good as they did with the new set up. They produced more bass as well. I was happy enough without my sub if I had to do it. I upgraded my speakers last week to floor standing Paradyme speakers so I'm getting rid of the subwoofer. I knew the new amp would sound better but I couldn't believe how much better they actually sounded.
     
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  5. BossCo

    BossCo New Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Surf City, CA USA
    6 string - this is exactly why amplifier design specifications beyond just wattage output are so important (e.g. current capability, minimum impedance, dampening factor, slew rate and then the usual sonic quality data ... S/N, THD, etc...). Multi-channel theater receivers aren't going to have current capability (not much room for the size of transformers and capacitors required). My dad's Vandersteen Model 2's enjoyed his Adcom setup but his 555 wouldn't push my CS3.6 adequately at all. We then tried a Carver TFM-45, which did well, but I preferred the B&K that I settled on for quite a while before the Brystons took over.
     
  6. psulioninks

    psulioninks Forum Resident

    Location:
    Kansas City, USA
    I've never heard Thiel speakers...and I have Magnepan MG-12's. I've often hear people describe Maggies as somewhat bright and lean. I realize that a planar speaker radiates from both the front and the back, but can anyone tell me how these two brands compare/differ in sound? How about in terms of being able to be driven. Similar constraints?

    I might be interested in seeking out a vintage pair of Thiels.
     
  7. Warren Jarrett

    Warren Jarrett Audio Note (UK) dealer in SoCal/LA-OC

    Location:
    Fullerton, CA
    I own three models of vintage Thiels, and three models of vintage Maggies. These are two of my favorite brands from the 1980's to 90's. But, the sound is VERY different. Thiels are typical (but extremely well executed) dynamic speakers. Maggies have the typical advantages and disadvantages of planar speakers, similar to electrostats. So I must have both, and appreciate both for different reasons.

    Maggies are smooth and romantic. They have beautiful inner detail that is never distracting or "ugly", but never missing either. They sound like magic is this ability to be romantic and clean at the same time.

    Thiels are also magical, but in their abilty to recreate dynamics and a 3D image (width and depth). They are even more detailed, but not smooth. The details jump out into the room: behind, in-front, inside, and outside of the speaker locations. The speaker locations disappear, and the excitement in the music is abundant. But, again, they are not smooth or romantic.

    "Bright and lean"? They have about the same in tonal balance, but this really depends on each specific model. Thiels can sound harsh in the upper midrange without just the right electronics. Maggies are not so finicky about choice of associated equipment. I gave up using transistor amps with Thiels, they sound hard (to my ears) without tubes ahead of them. Maggies are fine with either.

    "Power constraints"? Also about the same. Both will sound fine with medium power, but come more alive with higher power. Again this depends on each specific model.

    Thiels seem to sound best as the volume is turned up. Maggies seem to sound best as the volume is turned down. But this has nothing to do with the power they require.
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2016
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  8. Tullman

    Tullman I prefer analog

    Location:
    Boston MA
    I have only heard the Maggies once at a store demo. I did really like the sound they produced.

    I mostly agree with your assessment of Thiel speakers. I definitely feel that Thiel speakers work best with tube electronics and do need a high current amp to bring out the most in the Thiels. I did notice after putting new KT120s in my mono blocks and the Convergent Audio Technology Renaissance Black Path preamp into my system that my Thiels 7.2 became smoother and yet had plenty of detail. So at this point, I would call my Thiels smooth, but not romantic. You are right about the electronics, Thiels really need the right high quality electronics up stream to bring out the best.
     
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  9. Threshold

    Threshold Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Manchester NH
    I had a pair of 2.3's hooked up to a pair of modified Threshold T-50's. They were owned by a former VP at Threshold and put out 100wpc in Class A. The preamp was a PrimaLuna Dialogue. Excellent smooth detailed sound. My local dealer who knew the late Jim Thiel said his amp of choice was Bryston.
     
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  10. psulioninks

    psulioninks Forum Resident

    Location:
    Kansas City, USA
    Thanks for the reply Warren, I figured you might chime in. :)

    I said "bright and lean" because many people feel they lack in bass...which often means the mids and highs seem more prominent. I power my MG-12's with a McCormack DNA 0.5 amp and TLC-1 passive preamp...I find the sound to be well balanced and lovely. The sound is "right" to me, but I have used them for a long time, so this is what I have grown accustomed to.

    That McCormack amp seems to work quite well with just about any speaker I hook it to. But I think you are probably on to something about using a tubed power amp to power Thiels. I wonder how cheap one can get by in that department? I've been looking at a few options:

    Audio by Van Alstine - Ultravalve Amp
    Conrad Johnson - Classic Sixty Vacuum-Tube Amplifier
    Rogue Audio - Stereo 100
    VTL ST-85

    To name a few. Not sure if any of these would work well with Thiels. Also not sure what would make sense from a preamp perspective. Like I said, I'm using a passive preamp now, don't know how that would work with a tube amp and Thiels. I will say, I did briefly try using a set of PrimaLuna mono block amps with my current preamp and Maggies...did not care much for the sound. The bass was very mushy.

    The reason I am leaning towards Thiel is I like the concept of the time aligned drivers. Plus they seem to have a good reputation for their cabinets and veneers...something that could go a long way in the spouse support factor. :)
     
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  11. Preston

    Preston Forum Resident

    Location:
    KCMO Metro USA
    I've owned CS2 2s and currently have CS7.2s. They were both power hungry. I have found the answer to this problem, which is a Musical Fidelity kW500 integrated amp rated at 550 W/channel at 8 ohms and around 1000 W/channel into the impedance of the CS7.2s. They really sing now with outstanding bass. I had an issue with a certain hardness on some music, which was only in the left channel, but improvements to my cabling, room treatments and system power supply cleared that up. I listen mainly to pop/rock with some jazz and classical, so this sound is ideally suited to my listening preferences. Very neutral, very dynamic and extended. I would love to have another system that was warmer sounding, but I'm waiting for my LOTTO numbers to be drawn first ...
     
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  12. Warren Jarrett

    Warren Jarrett Audio Note (UK) dealer in SoCal/LA-OC

    Location:
    Fullerton, CA
    From speaking with Jim and Tom Thiel many times, I learned that the 3 series were the frontier of Thiel's devekpment, from which smaller and larger models sprang. So, the CS3.6 was the start of Jim's least efficent designs, including the 2.2 and 7.2. These do benefit from very high power.

    The older models have less complicated crossovers, which give them more linear impedance curves, higher efficiency, and a dynamic quality that is easy to achieve with less power.

    Going back in time to the CS3.5, (forget the CS3.0), 03a, and 03, efficiency was much higher for each previous model. I use 60wpc (6550 tubes, 2/ channel)) with my 03a, and 120 watts (also 6550 tunes, 4/channel) with my CS3.5. These speakets are extremely cheap on the used market, and sound VERY close to the later models. I think better in some ways, although with less perfect measured frequency response.

    If I could find a pair of original Thiel 03, I would use SET 2A3 or 300B amps.

    The 3.7 was the start of going back to high efficieny. But Jim died before he expanded the concept into other models.
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2016
  13. Tullman

    Tullman I prefer analog

    Location:
    Boston MA
    Which is too bad, Jim Thiel had much to offer in speaker design.
     
  14. Tullman

    Tullman I prefer analog

    Location:
    Boston MA
    That's kind of funny because I had an in home demo with Bryston amps. I thought they made the Thiels even more strident, not a good match IMO.
     
  15. Warren Jarrett

    Warren Jarrett Audio Note (UK) dealer in SoCal/LA-OC

    Location:
    Fullerton, CA
    I had the same experience tryimg Bryston with my CS3.5: aggressive in the upper midrange, lacking in warmth and natural timbre of acoustic instruments and human voice.

    But if anyone remembers the sound in the Thiel demos at CES during that time, that strident and analytical sound was exactly what Jim wanted.

    Just exchanging those Bryston, Krell, and ARC amps that Thiel was using to MFA (later Bruce Moore), CAT, Music Reference, or Conrad Johnson amps would have changed the sound dramatically. Even just using Cardas cable would have toned down that aggresiveness.
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2016
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  16. psulioninks

    psulioninks Forum Resident

    Location:
    Kansas City, USA
    So, if I was originally looking for a CS2 2 or 3.6, do you think any of the tube amps I listed in my prior post would work?

    It sounds like they would with the 3.5 - wasn't that the model that used the external equalizer?
     
  17. Warren Jarrett

    Warren Jarrett Audio Note (UK) dealer in SoCal/LA-OC

    Location:
    Fullerton, CA
    Back to the reason for this post:

    No such problem with Maggies. They sound fine with any of the amps I listed, plus many more. Just plug, play and enjoy.
     
  18. Warren Jarrett

    Warren Jarrett Audio Note (UK) dealer in SoCal/LA-OC

    Location:
    Fullerton, CA
    Well, the 2.2 or 3.6 will require at least 4 power tubes per channel. The older models are cheaper to buy used, sound better to my ears, and will require only 2 power tubes per channel. The original 03, only needs one power tube per channel AND would allow experiencing the benefits of single-ended.

    The O3a, CS3, and CS3.5 all had equalizers. The 3.5's is the least intrusive of these, but I don't use ANY of the equalizers anymore. I found that a subtle roll-off in the ultra highs and lows just doesn't matter to me in actual listening. I think they were just required for Jim's specification fetish: flat to beyond 20 kHz and to below 30 Hz..

    Originally, I installed the equalizer in the pre-amp's tape loop, to facilitate easy in or out of the signal path. Finally, I found I never missed it, never turned the tape switch to "IN", so just retired the equalizer to the closet.
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2016
  19. Threshold

    Threshold Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Manchester NH
    I was in my local dealers store yesterday and he had an excellent pair of 2.2's for just $525.
     
  20. Tullman

    Tullman I prefer analog

    Location:
    Boston MA
    Compare that price to a $525. pair of bookshelf speakers and the Thiels are a great deal.
     
  21. EricT

    EricT Forum Resident

    I have had a pair of 3.5s for 25 years in one of my systems. I too was torn between Thiel and Vandersteen. After listening to the Thiel's with B&K amps I was ready to go get the Vandersteens when the dealer asked if I wanted to listen to them in another room. OK, I said and he set them up with top of the line Spectral electronics. Oh my, what a difference. They sounded terrific and I took them home. Unfortunately, I didn't have the funds to also buy the Spectral gear so I had to make due with lesser electronics but I have enjoyed them for a long time. I have had great customer service from Thiel over the years as others have mentioned. I think the speakers came with a 10-year warranty and they replaced for free a couple of drivers that were damaged in an earthquake.
    I have at times noticed some of the other characteristics of the speakers that were mentioned like lack of dynamic range.
     
  22. Warren Jarrett

    Warren Jarrett Audio Note (UK) dealer in SoCal/LA-OC

    Location:
    Fullerton, CA
    As partial as I am to the Thiel 3 series of speakers, I have never liked the 2.2 or the much older O4a. They look like floor standing speakers, but have sounded (in CES demos) like a bookshelf. They have the Thiel propensity for being analytical and cold, without as much dynamics and bass extention as a CS3.5 or CS3.6. And even though they are even cheaper used, they still require time and money to make sound musical.

    With any Thiel, you cannot buy just any expensive, high-powered amp and expect the right results. You have to COMPARE many amps until you find the one that ties your system to the speakers and achieves your desired result. Again, no "plug and play" with any Thiel. So it doesn't make sense to start with a smaller, inferior model speaker and still have to jump through amp hoops to make it sound right.

    What you'll find is that a cheap amp is almost as likely to sound great IN YOUR system as some super expensive amp that everybody raves about. If you throw some awesome ARC or Krell in, and expect wonderful results, most likely you will be disappointed. You must try a few amps until one just sounds great.

    If the equalizer still worries you, please be assured that the CS2.2's frequency response is considerably more restricted than a CS3.5 with equalizer disconnected. It's only if you demand remarkably flat frequency response (specs on paper in an anechoic chamber), from 25 Hz to 20 kHz, that the equalizer comes into play. It's actual sonic effect is subtle.

    With the 3.6, Jim Thiel was able to achieve his extended and flat frequency response with no equalizer. But this came with lower efficiency, even more finicky amplifier interaction, a very complex crossover design, and less dynamic character.
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2016
  23. Lester Best

    Lester Best Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Bklyn NY
    Since Theil no longer supports Jim's designs, buying used is a risk. These don't use off the shelf drivers. A fine mfg turned into a "me too" co.
     
  24. Warren Jarrett

    Warren Jarrett Audio Note (UK) dealer in SoCal/LA-OC

    Location:
    Fullerton, CA
    First, please let me apologize if I offended anyone about the CS2.2. Many people own them, and I've heard many people speak of them highly. I expressed my opinion, that they are not for me, but I should not imply that they are bad or not good for anyone else BUT me.

    Second, about factory support. The new Thiel is making a VERY reputable and concerted effort to support all older models. They have all the old stock of parts, they retained an original employee specifically for repair and restoration of ANY Thiel model, no matter how old, and they can order fabrication of any driver to match the originals. There may involve some increased risk, for being older and used, but for the foreseeable future it is very safe to own any vintage Thiel. And the used prices in the market reflects the general public's weariness. So the speakers are amazingly affordable for how they sound and for their beautiful craftmanship.
     
    David B. likes this.
  25. Tullman

    Tullman I prefer analog

    Location:
    Boston MA
    I had the tweeter midrange driver rebuild by Thiel a few years ago. They were easy to deal with, but it did cost $500.
     

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