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JohnRice

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I'm not looking for perfection. Just what makes me sit back, close my eyes and say "Oh Man! That's awesome."
 
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Wayne_j

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I currently am running a 5.1 system and I have an emotive PA-1 monoblock powering my center channel and the emotive BasX A-800 which provides 40 watts into 8 channels or 100 watts into 4 channels powering my fronts and surrounds. I might later add a couple PA-1's for my front Left and Right and add rears.
 

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... in search of The Absolute Sound... or experiencing, embracing and living the love (and journey) of the music itself...?

_Man_
Exactly. I was in the pursuit, within reason of my means at the time. The Hovland group had a good run for about ten years with their first pre and power amps becoming The Absolute Sound reference pieces. They pioneered a lot of the wire technology that is used by many companies today and had great success with their MusiCaps capacitors. They did a stepped attenuator with individual resistors per step in the late 70s that was way ahead of the times. They attached a phono preamp to the underside of the turntable so where the wire leads from the cartridge, through the tone arm was unbroken and soldered directly to the phono stage circuit board, thereby eliminating some RCA connectors. They were very innovative thinkers and were able to apply it for incredible sound reproduction.
About the other part: experiencing, embracing and living the love (and journey) of the music itself....that’s what lead me to start drumming again about 30 years ago and eventually decide to move away from the pursuit mentioned. I found myself listening more and more to good headphones (not earbuds) and playing a lot instead of critiquing my system. That lead to converting my dedicated sound listening room (and taking down the Hovland stereo gear) to a home theatre room. And I don’t regret it, as I feel I have both worlds covered, not necessarily the best of, but certainly very adequately.
 

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Got the XPA-7 installed. To make room Oppo had to go to the top of the rack, gave the Anthem and XPA-7 room to breath (with the help of a pair of AC infinity fans). Overall I think it was a worthy upgrade over the XPA 5, XPA 7 is a bit more forward but mid range is more detailed and dynamics are tighter. The look between the two amps is a little different but my gear is in a coat closet so its not real obvious...
 

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JohnRice

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Got the XPA-7 installed. To make room Oppo had to go to the top of the rack, gave the Anthem and XPA-7 room to breath (with the help of a pair of AC infinity fans). Overall I think it was a worthy upgrade over the XPA 5, XPA 7 is a bit more forward but mid range is more detailed and dynamics are tighter. The look between the two amps is a little different but my gear is in a coat closet so its not real obvious...
Give it some time to break in. I swear my DR2 kept evolving for 2-3 months, which surprised me.
 

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Give it some time to break in. I swear my DR2 kept evolving for 2-3 months, which surprised me.
Ive been pretty impressed so far. Detest horror flicks, wife insists putting them on our Netflix que, but I 'watched' the 2019 release Pet Sematary tonight. The Atmos track had everything from whispering disembodied voices crawling across my living room to maxed-out dynamic stabs from the front stage that made everyone jump in their seats. Despite these movies giving me a nasty case of PTSD I do have to bow to a well-produced horror flick; they really allow a system to shine with subtleties, steering, effects and extreme dynamic range, and all in the same movie. I was happy with the details, channel separation and performance of this new amp. This movie was the first real test and it did quite well, the Paradigms wanted for nothing thats for sure.
 

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Despite these movies giving me a nasty case of PTSD I do have to bow to a well-produced horror flick; they really allow a system to shine with subtleties, steering, effects and extreme dynamic range, and all in the same movie. I was happy with the details, channel separation and performance of this new amp. This movie was the first real test and it did quite well, the Paradigms wanted for nothing thats for sure.
You might want to check out Mother. It was recommended to me by @JohnRice when I was test driving my new Atmos installation. I wouldn't exactly call it a horror film but the Atmos track is pretty impressive in exactly the ways you described.
 

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I might be crazy, but I'm now considering going to check out a pair used Thiel CS 5i's being sold (for ~$3K) in the East Village in Manhattan :eek: after missing out on some well priced, used Vandy 3a Sigs and Thiel CS 3.6s from The Music Room.

Sounds like they might actually be even tad harder to drive than the CS 3.6s and possibly need bit more space as well.

Also, spotted a pair of used, modestly more expensive Avalon Ascent Mk2s not far away in NJ. Always loved what I heard about those back in the day... though they seem to have fallen out of favor over the years. Waaaay to expensive back then to do more than just a little daydreaming, but now, they're more realistic for a 30-yo pair... and they probably aren't exactly easy to drive well either, if easier than the Thiels...

The Music Room also recently put a pair of used Vandy Treos on sale for circa $4K. That seems slightly pricey for those, especially given how much used Vandy 3a Sigs and the Thiels tend to go for -- can't see them being much, if any, better than the CS 3.6s, and at the price diff, one can easily buy an Emotiva XPA-DR2 and then some to go with that.

Meanwhile, think I'm warming up to an Anthem AVM-60 more and more now that I've gone w/ an Epson projector that cost just 1/2 of my original expectation... And depending on exactly what I end up w/ for speakers, the Emotiva XPA-5 Gen 3 seems like a good choice... unless it's not enough to drive the Thiels, if I go that route -- I'll still have my old B&K AV5000 for height speakers at least...

_Man_
 
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JohnRice

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Give the CS 5s a listen. I’m curious to hear your comments. The XPA-DR2 has rejuvenated my music listening. I’m just startled how good the combination sounds.
 
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Dave Upton

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I might be crazy, but I'm now considering going to check out a pair used Thiel CS 5i's being sold (for ~$3K) in the East Village in Manhattan :eek: after missing out on some well priced, used Vandy 3a Sigs and Thiel CS 3.6s from The Music Room.

Sounds like they might actually be even tad harder to drive than the CS 3.6s and possibly need bit more space as well.

Also, spotted a pair of used, modestly more expensive Avalon Ascent Mk2s not far away in NJ. Always loved what I heard about those back in the day... though they seem to have fallen out of favor over the years. Waaaay to expensive back then to do more than just a little daydreaming, but now, they're more realistic for a 30-yo pair... and they probably aren't exactly easy to drive well either, if easier than the Thiels...

The Music Room also recently put a pair of used Vandy Treos on sale for circa $4K. That seems slightly pricey for those, especially given how much used Vandy 3a Sigs and the Thiels tend to go for -- can't see them being much, if any, better than the CS 3.6s, and at the price diff, one can easily buy an Emotiva XPA-DR2 and then some to go with that.

Meanwhile, think I'm warming up to an Anthem AVM-60 more and more now that I've gone w/ an Epson projector that cost just 1/2 of my original expectation... And depending on exactly what I end up w/ for speakers, the Emotiva XPA-5 Gen 3 seems like a good choice... unless it's not enough to drive the Thiels, if I go that route -- I'll still have my old B&K AV5000 for height speakers at least...

_Man_
If you're looking at speakers at that price point, you might also want to check out Legacy Audio, Salk Signature Sound and ATC. All very solid speakers that deserve an audition before you make any investment. Thiel's and Vandersteen speakers are nice - but they aren't going to whip the floor with any of these either. I always recommend folks listen to as many options as possible to make the best purchase.
 
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JohnRice

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Well, I certainly have never encouraged anyone to buy Thiels, even though I've had mine for about 28 years. In fact, I tend to discourage the idea.
 
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ManW_TheUncool

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Well, I certainly have never encouraged anyone to buy Thiels, even though I've had mine for about 28 years. In fact, I tend to discourage the idea.
Sure. It's all subliminal and/or subversive on top of reversed psyching... ;) :lol: :laugh:

At least I won't likely need to also spend thru the nose on amps (NVM cables) for them like it used to be. I had a very smart, former coworker buddy (both of us in our mid-20's then) who's generally the refined-though-not-at-all-snooty, Ivy-League-wine-sipping-to-Miles-Davis-Thelonius-Monk sort, but kinda went a bit nuts back in the day and upgraded from some KEFs to Thiels (probably the CS3.6s, but I forget now)... and then moved cross country back to West Coast w/ them.

Funny thing is he'd regularly bring this other curmudgeony coworker buddy who was not a "believer" to audition gears, and they'd almost be like the Odd Couple, except they're not the animated sort, at these often very snooty, NYC highend shops. But one time, even the curmudgeony buddy could supposedly hear the diff the dealer was trying to sell on these small, supposedly acoustic tuning, wooden discs one would put on top of the speakers "just so" (or something like that). He didn't end up shelling the couple hundred(?) bucks for them even though they both heard a diff though -- I guess he couldn't quite get over what seemed a bit irrational to them both, LOL... :lol:

_Man_
 
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ManW_TheUncool

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Give the CS 5s a listen. I’m curious to hear your comments. The XPA-DR2 has rejuvenated my music listening. I’m just startled how good the combination sounds.
Ok, corresponded a bit w/ the owner's wife and arranged for an audition this afternoon as they can only do weekends. I guess I woulda prefered a bit more time to prep for it, but since I already have plans for next weekend plus it's Halloween madness (though I would've loved going there and check out the nearby parade again if not for this pandemic)... and I didn't feel like waiting 2 weeks (and asking for the weekend after)... As is, if I buy them, I probably couldn't arrange to pick them up right away and might need to wait til the weekend after...

Anyway, the husband is the original owner and apparently drives these "babies" w/ this rare combo and don't wanna sell them (for good reason... and yeah, I just had to ask before finding out what they used):


Intriguing combo. And never heard of tubes having that kind of lifespan, but they're a rare breed (at least as of this late-90's review anyway), so...

Sounds like the speakers were reasonably well cared for and not overly used (nor moved much)... though cosmetics are not the best. Some scratches perhaps from pets as I do see what looks like possible pet hair on a nearby futon(?) in one pic, but probably fine enough as far as I'm concerned -- I can probably treat the scratches a bit myself as I sometimes would w/ our violins/violas.

They're quite tall at reported ~5ft4in and will need to be spaced at least 10ft or more apart to flank my new (probably 135ish-inch) screen. I'm reading they could probably use more spacing than that, but my "new" dedicated room probably can't accommodate more at its current ~18.5ft width (unless I have some additional walls torn down and maybe ditch the small bathroom and fanciful notions of a small jetted tub and/or sauna nextdoor, LOL). 10ft apart would probably leave ~3ft on either side from the side walls -- probably bare minimum for best results... and maybe still need some room treatment, especially wrt the back wall (where the screen is) as it's probably not too feasible to set them more than a couple feet forward from that wall (and screen). And then, (main) seating will probably have heads roughly 13ft from screen and 9-10ft from these speakers -- probably can't move main seating significantly further back since the room's ~17.5ft depth and this would leave ~4ft behind the main listening position...

Now, to figure out what to bring for auditioning them...

_Man_

PS: Sorry I've been pulling this thread off into (used) speaker shopping... even though some of the details are relevant to the topic, eg. amp needs for difficult loads like the higher end Thiels...
 

JohnRice

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Ok, corresponded a bit w/ the owner's wife and arranged for an audition this afternoon as they can only do weekends. I guess I woulda prefered a bit more time to prep for it, but since I already have plans for next weekend plus it's Halloween madness (though I would've loved going there and check out the nearby parade again if not for this pandemic)... and I didn't feel like waiting 2 weeks (and asking for the weekend after)... As is, if I buy them, I probably couldn't arrange to pick them up right away and might need to wait til the weekend after...

Anyway, the husband is the original owner and apparently drives these "babies" w/ this rare combo and don't wanna sell them (for good reason... and yeah, I just had to ask before finding out what they used):


Intriguing combo. And never heard of tubes having that kind of lifespan, but they're a rare breed (at least as of this late-90's review anyway), so...

Sounds like the speakers were reasonably well cared for and not overly used (nor moved much)... though cosmetics are not the best. Some scratches perhaps from pets as I do see what looks like possible pet hair on a nearby futon(?) in one pic, but probably fine enough as far as I'm concerned -- I can probably treat the scratches a bit myself as I sometimes would w/ our violins/violas.

They're quite tall at reported ~5ft4in and will need to be spaced at least 10ft or more apart to flank my new (probably 135ish-inch) screen. I'm reading they could probably use more spacing than that, but my "new" dedicated room probably can't accommodate more at its current ~18.5ft width (unless I have some additional walls torn down and maybe ditch the small bathroom and fanciful notions of a small jetted tub and/or sauna nextdoor, LOL). 10ft apart would probably leave ~3ft on either side from the side walls -- probably bare minimum for best results... and maybe still need some room treatment, especially wrt the back wall (where the screen is) as it's probably not too feasible to set them more than a couple feet forward from that wall (and screen). And then, (main) seating will probably have heads roughly 13ft from screen and 9-10ft from these speakers -- probably can't move main seating significantly further back since the room's ~17.5ft depth and this would leave ~4ft behind the main listening position...

Now, to figure out what to bring for auditioning them...

_Man_

PS: Sorry I've been pulling this thread off into (used) speaker shopping... even though some of the details are relevant to the topic, eg. amp needs for difficult loads like the higher end Thiels...
Take your best stuff. Demanding stuff, but especially delicate, nuanced stuff.

In general, spacing on Thiels seems to usually recommend a unilateral triangle, which is what I do for music, but then I move back a little with movies. I also don't toe them in, but your room would influence that. Don't get them too wide, because you don't want them too close to the side walls. They're asking $3K. I don't know what 5s generally go for, but 3.6s are almost always around $1.5K these days, so that might be a bit high.

Just don't jump to anything. If you do decide to buy them, I obviously highly recommend the Emotiva XPA-DR2 to drive them. That amp has renewed my love of music.
 

ManW_TheUncool

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Take your best stuff. Demanding stuff, but especially delicate, nuanced stuff.

In general, spacing on Thiels seems to usually recommend a unilateral triangle, which is what I do for music, but then I move back a little with movies. I also don't toe them in, but your room would influence that. Don't get them too wide, because you don't want them too close to the side walls. They're asking $3K. I don't know what 5s generally go for, but 3.6s are almost always around $1.5K these days, so that might be a bit high.

Just don't jump to anything. If you do decide to buy them, I obviously highly recommend the Emotiva XPA-DR2 to drive them. That amp has renewed my love of music.
Yeah, couldn't find much on used pricing, but they're probably rare enough (and just plain hard to sell due to their size anyway), so... Actually, a quick google doesn't even find that much info on the actual 5i's themselves instead of the 5's (though online manuals are available) -- I'm guessing the 5i's are slightly improved/updated versions released a couple years later that might originally cost slightly more than the $9.2K of the original 5's. I did just now find a couple old offers to sell around the low-3K mark from a few years ago (but not sure they actually sold) and another recent, quite-possibly-still-going offer on USAudioMart.com for the 5's at 2.9K ask (but might be willing to go a bit lower since they say "make me an offer").

And this owner actually dropped the price by 10% for me as soon as I inquired and asked to audition. Maybe I can ask them to drop to 2.5K even and maybe even throw in the speaker cables, if we hit it off well enough, LOL...

These speakers (and setup) seem to be relegated to weekend duty nowadays... though not sure if it's because of the pandemic or they moved to the burbs long ago, but kept this as 2nd home possibly for his wife's small business purposes(?). They could also be looking to completely move out now due to the pandemic... though they probably shouldn't sell the condo(?), if they own it and don't really need to, especially at this time... Maybe I'll find out more...

I read up some bit about the Thiel CS 5i's, and they seem to need the extra space, including separation to each other.

The online manual itself recommends spacing similar to what I mentioned although more space away from walls would likely be good as you noted. IF this setup is dedicated just to audio, I could probably move them closer together... though again, all the recommendations I've found on the web indicates they could use more spacing between them (usually at least 10ft, which just happens to work fairly well for flanking a screen). I'll probably have to experiment and do some room treatment, especially along the wall and probably corners behind these speakers.

I may just completely remove all the existing, now quite old, wood/veneer panels and see what works best to reduce reflections -- was originally considering just repainting and throw up thick wall curtains along at least some parts of the walls.

_Man_
 
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JohnRice

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Well, if you take the plunge, I can see that treatment on the side walls at the reflection point might be good.
 

ManW_TheUncool

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Well, if you take the plunge, I can see that treatment on the side walls at the reflection point might be good.
Yeah, good thing is I can pretty much do whatever I want w/ the space, including some gut reno... though can't realistically make it bigger beyond removing the wood veneer panels and maybe gain just a few inches -- the panels are probably too pliable and reflective. But I'm thinking full height, thick wall curtains could probably also help besides whatever other treatments.

And there aren't particularly big windows in this space -- 2 fairly regular size ones on one side facing the small backyard w/ a little northern sky exposure (and other neighboring small yards and 4-story townhouses/brownstones) plus a small one in the far, recessed corner on other side (off beyond where the front-right speaker would go) that I can easily block out (maybe even make that into a small storage or A/V gear closet)...

_Man_
 
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ManW_TheUncool

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Sure. It's all subliminal and/or subversive on top of reversed psyching... ;) :lol: :laugh:

At least I won't likely need to also spend thru the nose on amps (NVM cables) for them like it used to be. I had a very smart, former coworker buddy (both of us in our mid-20's then) who's generally the refined-though-not-at-all-snooty, Ivy-League-wine-sipping-to-Miles-Davis-Thelonius-Monk sort, but kinda went a bit nuts back in the day and upgraded from some KEFs to Thiels (probably the CS3.6s, but I forget now)... and then moved cross country back to West Coast w/ them.

Funny thing is he'd regularly bring this other curmudgeony coworker buddy who was not a "believer" to audition gears, and they'd almost be like the Odd Couple, except they're not the animated sort, at these often very snooty, NYC highend shops. But one time, even the curmudgeony buddy could supposedly hear the diff the dealer was trying to sell on these small, supposedly acoustic tuning, wooden discs one would put on top of the speakers "just so" (or something like that). He didn't end up shelling the couple hundred(?) bucks for them even though they both heard a diff though -- I guess he couldn't quite get over what seemed a bit irrational to them both, LOL... :lol:

_Man_
Since I'm apparently jumping off a bit in the deep end, found this humorous tidbit while doing some more homework... :lol:


The humor is brief -- just 1/2 min or so at the point I linked (at 2:20 mark).

IF interested, he does also briefly talk about the inexpensive, (still) audiophile quality, speaker cables (from Parts Express) he uses for that setup during the 1/2 min just before my linked time. I'll probably try them out myself...

_Man_
 

ManW_TheUncool

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Well, some mixed feelings about my "audition" of those used Thiel CS 5i's. Plan to go back for another brief "audition" and testing (maybe w/ a basic spectrum analyzer app? or the like) maybe this Saturday morning.

I generally liked them, especially at the price I can probably get them, but there are definitely some niggling issues, including how hard they'll be to drive. They're actually rated at 3 ohms and drop near 1 ohm towards the lowest bass frequencies, and no idea what else I'd try for under $2K if the Emotiva XPA-DR2 don't do well enough for them. And if I eventually give up, they might be pretty hard to resell since they're not likely shippable w/out shelling out big $ -- it probably helps somewhat though that I'm in NYC.

Anyway, they were apparently, originally designed w/ Krell FPB-600 as their reference. I actually got that info (along w/ a basic impedance vs frequency chart) from Rob Gillum, who was one of the very few long time, top Thiel employees/associates and now owner of the spunoff Coherent Source Service repair/servicing company in Kentucky (following bankruptcy closure of Thiel back in 2018). I had to contact him about possibly servicing these "babies" because one tweeter has a small dent on one side and might need replacing. Thankfully, his CSS company exists... and he seems extremely responsive (and seems very well regarded in this bizz).

Here's a pic of the tweeter w/ small dent:
567514A9-4621-4B65-A164-801754420938.jpeg


Would cost ~$320+shipping to replace (and I might buy 2) -- I'd probably have to do the replacement myself, but probably easy enough to do. The owner doesn't think it's necessary (and didn't even realize? til I noticed upon inspection), and I didn't hear any readily noticeable issue w/ it -- there are plenty of mixed views on the matter -- but he did offer to knock $150 off the price for me (w/out knowing cost of repair/replacement).

Also, apparently, the owner hadn't (significantly?) used this setup in roughly 6 months until my visit(?), so that may have contributed somewhat to my very lukewarm impression of its imaging capabilities. Other than the gear itself, it also seems the space just wasn't set up ideally for them to do their best (anymore?) near as I can tell. I guess he moved out to the burbs because of the pandemic even though his wife and her college-age son still seems to live there near the Village (for now?), and they might actually be doing a gradual, (more or less) permanent move. He apparently has a setup w/ Genesis G1(!) (or maybe their successor? I forget) at his home out in the burbs, so yeah, overkill to bring these CS 5i's out there as well even if he has space for them. :P

The other niggling issue is their seeming lack of bass and general punch, which are all at least partly attributable to the various setup issues on top of me being used to a possibly somewhat exaggerated bass in my own livingroom HT setup. At one point, I suspected whether one or both speakers actually had polarity accidentally reversed (since the owner probably only very recently reconnected them, and the binding posts are under the speakers and not readily visible) to yield this kind of result, but apparently not.

Ultimately, if I want them, I'll probably need to just commit to buying them and trying to get them performing optimally (w/in reason) in my own dedicated HT room w/ associated gear/setup -- and I probably won't actually have that ready for a few months yet... though I could maybe get barely enough of that done (just for stereo playback) in the next month or so perhaps. It does seem to be the kind of (fairly) rare opp and speakers that deserve such to be the center piece to build around -- and they did sound pretty wonderful beyond the imaging issue and lack of bass I experienced in their current setup...

FWIW, I did hit it off pretty well w/ the owner (and also his wife)... though not sure if that will mean all that much for the final sale price -- they definitely want to sell them to me, so...

_Man_
 
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ManW_TheUncool

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If you're looking at speakers at that price point, you might also want to check out Legacy Audio, Salk Signature Sound and ATC. All very solid speakers that deserve an audition before you make any investment. Thiel's and Vandersteen speakers are nice - but they aren't going to whip the floor with any of these either. I always recommend folks listen to as many options as possible to make the best purchase.
I took a quick look at those offerings, but near as I can tell, the few models under $3K probably aren't in the same league as these 5i's. They might be competitive w/ John's 3.6s perhaps (along w/ similarly priced Vandy 2Ce Sig Mk3, et al), but then again, those 3.6s seem readily available (enough) for $1.5K-or-less. And it seems better to me to get a well-cared-for, used pair of 3.6s + Emotiva XPA-DR2 for roughly $3K than just a new pair of those others and still need to mate w/ whichever solid amp I need to acquire, if not that Emotiva...

The other problem w/ those others is I'd also still need to hunt them down for proper auditioning anyway... which is trickier and more cumbersome during this pandemic. I'd probably need to pass these (seemingly rarely available) 5i's up and wait for a better time for that -- and honestly, I'm not crazy about visiting most highend shops in NYC, if any are actually open right now, even before the pandemic...

I suppose I could eventually give those others some try, especially if I can get free in-home trial, to compare w/ the used 5i's (or used 3.6s, Vandy 3A Sigs or whatever else I end up with) in my specific setup...

_Man_
 
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