A legend lives

Thiel CS2 2 and CS 1.5 Floorstanding Speakers

If you looked at the website for Thiel Audio late last year with any kind of knowledge of what Thiel used to be, you might have shaken your head and cried. Before shuttering completely, the amazing company that Jim and Tom Thiel put together was reduced to making a single Bluetooth speaker.

Why, Universe, why??

The thought of a Bluetooth speaker by Thiel kind of tweaks me off right now, because I’m sitting in between a gorgeous pair of Thiel CS 2 2 speakers and remarking on just how much they remind me of current state-of-the-art offerings.

These came out in the early 90s, and judging from period reviews (pun intended — note the space between 2 and 2. Bose threatened a lawsuit to reclaim the dot, amazingly) of the 2 2s, they sounded as good to audiophile ears then as they do now.

And earlier this morning, a flawless set of CS1.5s (they were permitted to keep the period here — thanks Bose) blew me away with the same kind of modern sound.

There are simple qualities that the best speakers exhibit, but which are hard to achieve. Simple in my context here would be simple to identify.

One of these is transient response. You know from a few seconds of listening to good speakers that they reproduce a kick drum accurately and convincingly, but you may need to listen deeper and longer before you notice that great speakers can put a bass transient together with the striking of a triangle.

Another is spatial information. On well-recorded music, believability of reverb decay is something I listen for. This effect can’t all be laid at the feet of the speakers— it’s a system thing, involving the amp and the speaker cables especially. But it starts at the speakers. If there isn’t a phase-neutral crossover and some kind of attention paid to diffraction (more the former than the latter), changes in amplifier or cables won’t affect this much.

So how do these ~25 year old speakers measure up?

My goodness. If I didn’t know better I’d think I’m listening to a new set of top of the line PSB, Revel or Sonus Faber. There’s a bit of the Dynaudio spirit in there too.

This is the amazing thing about buying gently-used audio equipment that has been curated to include only excellent offerings, as we do. These speakers represent such a good value, most of my readers could shake out their shelves and trade in whatever falls out and cover the entire cost.

Under close inspection, both pairs of these Thiels appear to have a lot of life left in them. Save your speaker money for some good cables, why don’tcha!


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