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What I feel is the defining factor of the 3.7’s presentation is the music seems to be appear magically out of thin air with the natural attack and body you would hear from live instruments. This is obviously an illusion, but like the very best components and speakers, it is as close as we can get. The CS3.7 is as close as I have gotten, but to be fair, I have not heard some its competitors in my own room, but only in unfamiliar settings.
What really made it clear to me how the 3.7 was creating this illusion was when I put on Sunny Side Up, by Paolo Nutini. It is one of my favorite albums of the past two years, and I thought I had become intimately familiar with the nuances of the performances and recording. But hearing it through the 3.7 was a surprise. There was so much separation between instruments, texture, and depth that it stopped me in my tracks. The 3.7 was actually beginning to change how I listen, in that I can accept nothing less than a natural, relaxed, and transparent presentation when evaluating high end audio components. The 3.7 has provided me with a new benchmark.
I found my self gravitating towards a broader spectrum of music. I think this was because the 3.7 was such an honest and real world performer that sounded great regardless of program material and did not sound its best only with audiophile approved recordings. One interesting thing that kind of had me scratching my head is that recordings that I initially thought were sub par, and would sound even worse on the 3.7, actually sounded better. I think this was because, far from smoothing over flaws, it was revealing more of the positive aspects of the recording which led me to the conclusion I had prejudged some discs, and the 3.7 actually provided another dimension, which turned out to be complimentary. Kind of like an old photo that you initially thought was out of focus and worse for wear, but when dusted off and framed properly, actually looked quite good.
It is difficult to write about a proven, universally praised product that has been around for a number of years; especially when that product comes from a highly respected, engineering driven company. Several major audio publications have reviewed the CS3.7 positively, along with various e-zines. However, I feel that the Thiel CS3.7 has still not gotten its just due. Thiel is not a flashy company. They do not take out pretentious space ads, they don’t do dog and pony shows, and they don’t introduce new products every two years. Their designs are also less art deco and more functionally elegant. I would like to say that Thiel speakers are the best kept secret in high end audio, but the truth is they have a loyal following, have been in business for over 30 years, and are one of the champions of fairly priced, high performance products.
The proof for me, is in the listening. And that is really what matters. I enjoyed every single minute of my time with the Thiel CS3.7, minus the initial break in period. And this break in period, as noted above, is not audiophile hocus pocus. The fact is that the 3.7 uses advanced materials in the drivers that are stiff, yet, light and delicate, and require some use to arrive at their optimal state.. Once they do, the CS3.7 is a tour de fource. It excels when pushed near its limits, and with much quieter, more intimate music, and at lower volume settings.
Take note that all my above observations, and the superb performance I enjoyed from the 3.7’s were in the context of my small listening room, which I am absolutely sure did not even show the big Thiel’s at their very, very best. The CS3.7 gets my highest recommendation. Not just because of its performance, which was excellent when measured by any parameter, but because I just don’t think there are more than a handful of speakers that can compete with at its $13,000 price point. Sure, there are way more expensive speakers that go lower in the bass, but I will take quality over quantity.
I would bet quite a bit that those can afford the CS3.7 will make it their last loudspeaker. Now I will say that it is certainly possible not everyone will love the CS3.7, after all as noted, this is a subjective hobby. So those seeking artificial warmth, or a smoothed over presentation, look elsewhere. However if coherence, delicacy, natural treble, stunning midrange clarity, and super articulate bass is your bag, it is all here!
Bandwidth (-3 dB): 32 Hz - 35 kHz
Frequency response: 33 Hz - 26 kHz ±2 dB
Phase response: minimum ± 10°
Sensitivity (2.8v - 1m, true anechoic): 90 dB
Impedance: 4 ohm (2.8 ohm min)
Recommended power: 100 - 600 watts
Size (w x d x h): 12.5 x 21 x 45 in /32 x 53 x 114 cm
Weight: 91 lb 41.5 kg
Loreena Mckennitt:An Ancient Muse,2006, Quinlan Road
Bert Jansch: Birthday Blues, 2001, Sanctuary
Black Dub:Black Dub,2010, Jive Records
Elvis Costello:National Ransom, 2010, Concord,2010
John Lennon:Walls & Bridges,2010, Capital Records
Eric Johnson: Up Close, 2010, EMI Records
Paulo Nutini: Sunny Side Up, Atlantic Records, 2009
Ryan Adams & the Cardinals: III/IV, Lost Highway, 2010
Anour Brahem: The Astounding Eyes of Rita, ECM, 2010
CD Player: Naim CD5 XS with Flatcap 2X,
Preamp: Audio Research SP16, McIntosh MA6600
Amplifier: Audio Research VS55
Speaker: Harbeth Compact 7ES3,
Cables: DH Labs, RS Cables, Kimber/QED/Acoustic Zen (AC)/Transparent (AC)/Element Cable, Shunyata, Pangea, Audience
Accessories: Symposium Rollerblocks, Shakti Stone, Sound Anchors stands, Timbernation platform, CablePro Noisetrapper, Audience Addept Response Power Conditioner