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Among the discs I spun were Herbie Hancock's star studded tribute to Joni Mitchell, River: the joni letters. It features contemporary interpretations of some of her classic songs with help from icons like Wayne Shorter, Dave Holland, Tina Turner and Mitchell her self. Some newer, hugely talented names like Norah Jones, Corinne Bailey Rae, Lionel Loueke and Sonya Kitchell also help out. A stand out track for me is "Court and Spark" featuring Jones on vocals and brilliant horn work by Shorter. There is a lot of stuff going on in this track, with percussion, superb drum work by Vinnie Calaiuta, and of course, exemplary piano playing by Hancock. The whole album is beautifully recorded and was a real showcase for the Thiels. It was easy to pin point each instrument and every impressionistic brush stroke painted by the whole band. I can honestly say this was one of the very few times I have been transported out of my listening chair and inside a performance. It does not happen often, and when it does, I take note.
To keep things consistent, I used several of the discs I have had in my rotation for the past few months, including albums by Broken Bells, Lisa Hannigan, Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, Yo Yo Ma, and a few others. Whether it was female singer songwriter, scorching guitar heroics, electronic pop, or classical, the CS2.4 did not blink. Again, to drive my point home, this is not a "specialist" speaker that caters to certain genres of music. Come one come all. I also decided, despite their weight, to move them into my bedroom system, to hear them in a different set up with more modest, yet still excellent sounding electronics. The results were just as I had expected, stellar. The Thiels showed me they could work with any program material, in different rooms, and they can be mated with a variety of source components.
When I see press releases from high performance loudspeaker designers about new models costing as much or more than a year of mortgage payments for an average family, I roll my eyes. Why? Because after having been exposed to such great speakers as the Harbeth Monitor 40.1, the Sanders Electrostatic designs, and the big Magnepans, all costing under $15,000, I really believe spending significantly more is foolish unless you are one of the very fortunate ones. I have not heard the Thiel CS3.7, but everything I have heard about it would put it in the aforementioned group. The point being that there are a few companies out there that may not have the glamorous reputations as some speaker manufacturers, but they make outstanding products that are relatively overlooked.
Thiel, to my mind, is somewhat taken for granted. Their speakers sound fantastic, are expertly engineered, and are beautifully made for prices that are absolutely fair. And that may be understatement. The Thiel CS2.4, at $4900, has won me over with its gorgeous overall balance, versatility and musicality. It has been three years since I have heard a speaker that had a presentation that I like as much as my Harbeth Compact 7ES3. At $1500 more than the Harbeth, the CS2.4 does everything as well, but some things much better.
Audiophiles are always looking for a speaker that offers the dynamics, scale, and power of a floor stander, but with the precise imaging of a monitor. The CS 2.4's are that speaker. And I must not be the only one that feels that away, as the CS2.4 has been in continuous production since about 2003. I think that perfectly reflects Thiel's reputation as an engineering driven, rather than a marketing driven company. New products come to market when they are legitimately improved, not to move boxes. As a big plus, the Cs2.4's are very easy to integrate into any decor, and are available in a number of finishes. Some high performance speakers dominate the room, but the Thiel's elegantly blend in. I consider this a good thing.
Are there a few things to consider before purchasing a pair of CS2.4's? Of course. First, after having used them with 2 tube amps and a high current solid state design, I felt the latter had better control of the speaker with better bass definition. Secondly, they will work better in a larger room, although in my smallish listening room they were superb. With more room and air around the speakers and a listening position of a minimum of eight to ten feet from the front baffles they would be at their very best. Lastly, be prepared as you may be locked away in long, non fatiguing, musically satisfying listening sessions. Highly recommended, without reservation.
Bandwidth (-3 dB): 33 Hz-37 kHz; Amplitude Response: 36 Hz-25 kHz +/-2 dB; Phase Response: Minimum ±10 degrees; Sensitivity: 87 dB@2.8 V-1m; Impedance: 4 ohms (3.0 ohms minimum); Recommended Power: 100-400 watts; Cabinet Dimensions: 11 inches wide x 14 inches deep x 41.5 inches high; Weight: 70 pounds
1026 Nandino Blvd.
Lexington, Kentucky 40511
Reviewers Associated Equipment System 1:
- CD Player: Naim CD5 XS with Flatcap 2X,
- Preamp: Audio Research SP16, Marantz SC-11S1
- Amplifier: Audio Research VS55, Rogue Atlas Magnum; Marantz SM-11S1
- Speaker: Harbeth Compact 7ES3,
- Cables: DH Labs, RS Cables, Kimber/QED/Acoustic Zen (AC)/Transparent (AC)/Element Cable, Shunyata, Pangea
- Accessories: Symposium Rollerblocks, Shakti Stone, Sound Anchors stands, Timbernation platform, CablePro Noisetrapper
Reviewers Associated Equipment 2:
- CD Player: Marantz 5003
- Music Server: Squeezebox 3
- DAC:CIA VDA-2 with XPS
- Tape Deck: Revox A77, HHB CD Recorder
- Preamp: Belles Soloist 3
- Amplifier: Revox A722, Belles Soloist 5
- Speaker: Spendor S5e
- Cables: Kimber/QED/Transparant/Shunyata(AC)/PS Audio(AC), Pangea Audio, RS Cables, Element Cables.
- Accessories: Atacama Stands, Wiremold power strip