Ignorance affords much opportunity for pleasant surprises - Thiel Model 03 loudspeake

Discussion in 'Equipment Reviews & Opinions' started by Vitopanch, Aug 28, 2006.

  1. Vitopanch

    Vitopanch Super Member

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    Having been involved with HiFi for 30 years now, I like many of you have heard hundreds if not thousands of brand names, but have not had the occasion to sample anywheres near all of the gear that is made by the different companies. Thiel was one of the names that I had heard of for loudspeakers, but never have I bumped into a pair.

    A couple/three weeks ago, I persued a Scott Integrated Amplifier on EBAY that came along with a Scott tuner and a pair of Thiel loudspeakers. It was a local pickup for me and I got the trio for a song. I planned upon selling the loudspeakers and getting my money back for the whole deal and therefore ending up with the integrated amp and tuner for free.

    After setting the trio up, with a compact disk player, whilst looking over the original sales receipts and literature, I was listening to the IA running it through the paces to see as to whether it worked properly. Lost in the literature for a minute my attention became directed to some music behind me. Looking at my rigs behind me thinking that I must have left one on, I noted that it was the same music that was pouring out of the Thiels.

    Folks, I have never been so surprised by a pair of loudspeakers as I was with these Thiels. Odd looking they are yes with the sloping fronts, however, such an effect that they produce is startling. They sound wonderful and the music has a feeling of coming from everywhere.

    The literature states: The three drivers are mounted on a sloping baffle to correct for time delays both of the drivers and crossovers. Higher frequency drivers are thus properly positioned away from the listener, eliminating time delay distortion. Phase coherence is acheived through the use of synthesized first order slopes, the only crossover that provides flat frequency response, flat phase response and flat power response. The drivers are mounted on a vertical line for phase and time coherence over a wide horizontal listening field.

    I decided to keep these Thiels and sell some JBL's to make up the money. The music is crisp, has great definition for loudspeakers of this size 12x12x38, and spooky soundstage, I mean WHOA. They now sit in my home office and sing 7 x 20. The model number is Model 03. They were purchased in 1979 new and cost $775.00.

    If you have not heard Thiels from this vintage, I have no clue as to whether new ones sound like these this being my maiden voyage into Thiels, and you get an opportunity, take a listen.

    Vito

    P.S. Right now my back is to these Thiels and Neil Young is in front of me singing as well as to my back. Weird stuff.
     

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  2. onepixel

    onepixel .

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    Hi Vitopanch,

    I have some slightly newer Thiel 04a speakers. They're 10x10x30 something. These like all Thiels have that sloping face. Mine are two ways and the woofer are only 5 1/2 inches. I don't know what Jim Thiel did but these things can crank! And I agree the soundstage is vast and everything sounds great! I was very surprised when I first heard them too. The new models in exotic veneers look absolutely gorgeous!

    Cheers,
    Carl

    ps. It took me two weekends of messing around to get the finish just right. ReEdger did a great job replacing the surrounds.
     

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    Last edited: Aug 28, 2006
  3. jimfet

    jimfet AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    If I had JBL's I would sell them and keep the Thiels anyday. Jbl has never come close to being as accurate as those speakers.
     
  4. nailer

    nailer audionerd Subscriber

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    I replaced my ADS 710s with a pair of 03s back in the late 70s. You don't mention the equalizer. Also, the original 03 was replaced by the 03a because the tweeter was not in proper alignment. The mod involved inserting a spacer that was around a half inch thick between the baffle and the tweeter.
     
  5. Texas42

    Texas42 Well-Known Member

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    I bought a new (then) pair of Thiel CS2s back in 1986. They are very very accurate speakers which require careful setup and they are very revealing of everything upstream of them. I visited their factory in Lexington, KY when I was visiting family while I owned them and saw all the care and detail they put into their designs. They were one of the first speaker companies that really created 'furniture grade' cabinets. Should last for many years. Glad you are enjoying them!
     
  6. chrisf

    chrisf Active Member

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    Theils have been around a very long time.I have never seen a bad review of Theils in the 30 plus years I have been pursuing the hobby.He holds several patents for his speaker designs.His top of the line speakers that are out of my price range are stunning to listen to.His infinet slope seems to really work well to time align the drivers.I don't know why I never think to look for a used set but like you I have seen many people that stumbled onto a pair and were floored by the sound.
     

     

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  7. Finally a Thiel "Page"

    During my 47+ years in the pursuit of audio satisfaction, no speaker (in my price strata) has provided more excitement for me than my Thiel evolution.

    My introduction to them began with the 03a's in 1986 which provided me several years of audio satisfaction along with my Rogers Ls5/3a's(minus the bass). I had other brands prior to, in conjunction with and in addtion to, but I kept on coming back to my Thiel system to satisfy.

    I moved on to a Rosewood pair of CS-3.5 personnally voiced by Jim Thiel himself, as they were the initial 3.5's delivered to AudioVisions of Bablyon, NY.

    I owned those until last Nov of 05 and quickly sold them upon receiving my CS-3.6's. I did have a pair of CS-6's on a contigency purchase, but they were too large for my space (WAF), My wife preferred the little Martin Logan Arius in the living room.

    So I am quite happy with my CS-3.6e("e" for enhanced with upgraded binding posts special order from Thiel). The previous posts captured much of what the Thiels offer. If its in the front end, it will be reproduced. They cut no slack, favor no music and take no prisoners! They need lots of oommph (current) to sound their best-est! I drive them with Bryston 7b-st's.

    Its common knowledge that Bryston uses Thiels to voice their gear and vice versa.... on a tangential note... the old sawhorse about cables do nothing is just plain BS when it comes to this combination. I have found as my cabling becomes more refined (selective) the Theils continue to improve in their reproduction. I never did get the full measure of my O3a's until I matched them against the 3.5's. The same was true for the 3.5's vs the 3.6's. These have even a deeper, wider more 3d like soundstage. Even before I aquired my Brystons.

    I hope there are others among us who also appreciate the products out of Kentucky! (aside from the Allisons)
     
  8. onepixel

    onepixel .

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  9. kenwood61

    kenwood61 Vintage HiFi Nut Subscriber

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    I know this thread is just over 8 years old, and wonder why posts stopped. Maybe Thiels are enjoyed by a very small sampling of our community here? Don't know, but I have a question about the 04a 2-way model . . . in case anyone sees this thread.

    Anybody have an idea of how well the 04a would sound with my Sansui BA-3000 amp? I just finished the restoration, and was hoping that it would replace my Parasound HCA-1500's that are mono bridged into Vandersteen 2C speakers. The Sansui doesn't sound as good, partially because mono bridging does make a difference in sound quality, and also the Sui is a little warmer, and doesn't have the same detailed high end. Not much, but the difference is enough that I can't push out the Parasounds.

    So I'm looking for speakers that will sing with the BA-3k (170w) and give me a sound option to the Vandies. I can control both setups from the CA-2000.

    I have an opportunity to get my hands on some refinished and refoamed 04a speakers, but have to get a relative to pickup for me, and can't hear them. I have heard that Thiels are similar to Vandies, in being best for jazz and music like that. The Vandies excel at that. So if the Thiel can add something new, I can consider going for them. I didn't mention that my second set of speakers need to have a smaller footprint, since they'll sit in front of the Vandies. These 04a's are perfect.
     
  10. MannyE

    MannyE Exterminate! Subscriber

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    I don't know if anyone ever answered, but to keep the zombie thread going, I have seen this and have an answer. I am running my Thiel 04a pair with a Denon PMA-750. They sound great with it, but I can't help but think a little more power is needed. Take that with a grain of salt however because they aren't set up in an optimum location. I will have a better answer one of these days when the wife and daughters leave me alone in the house and I can pull them out of the prison that is the dining room. Here is a picture of the setup. My feeling is the table and the large buffet are ruining the sound.

    [​IMG]
     
  11. Mike Davis

    Mike Davis New Member

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    I've owned the 04a's since buying them new in 1985. Twelve years ago when moving to a new house I found that one of the foam surrounds on a woofer had disintegrated. I looked all over the web trying to figure out what to. Replacing the Thiels with new was way more money than I could spend. After a while I called Thiel. They had me send the driver to them which they repaired perfectly.

    I just bought a new SVS PB-1000 sub and needed the specs for the 04a's to set the crossover point. So I wrote to Thiel. One of their engineers called me and also sent the specs. I cannot say enough about this great speaker company and would go to great lengths to keep these speakers.
     

     

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  12. MannyE

    MannyE Exterminate! Subscriber

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    Would you be able to share those specs? I have a sub woofer sitting unused in the garage that I would love to bring on on that wonderful "alone time" day.
     
  13. Mike Davis

    Mike Davis New Member

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    Manny,

    Here is what the tech at Thiel sent me. It's of little value. However, he shared with me that the 04a's are good down to about 45 Hz. I set the crossover to 80 Hz and then to 60 Hz. I think I like the setting at 60 Hz best. You'll need to do some trial and error changes to find what settings you like. FYI, I inaccurately said i bought a PB 100 when I should have said SB 1000. The difference being that the PB model is ported while the SB is a sealed enclosure. Good luck.

    MFD
     

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  14. Gunksny

    Gunksny New Member

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    Hello -

    I have the opportunity to save some Thiel Model 03's in black walnut from the dumpster (at no cost to me). The tweeters appear to be fine, but the woofers are in need of refoaming. I contacted Thiel who told me they no longer sell the drivers, but would be happy to refoam the woofers (or rebuild tweeters) for $120 + shipping each.So I"m looking at about $300 to bring these back to life (as long as the tweeters are still sound).

    I've heard these are very accurate speakers but a little light on the low end. Anyone have thoughts on whether the rebuild is a worthwhile endeavor?
     

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  15. MannyE

    MannyE Exterminate! Subscriber

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    If you ask, and if you feel comfortable doing it, you can save a lot of money refoaming the woofers yourself. They will sell you the surrounds for 40 or 50 bucks, which is about twice the going rate, but better than $300.
     
  16. sqlsavior

    sqlsavior AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I would say: Yes.
     

     

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  17. buzshaws

    buzshaws Active Member

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    Thanks for the picture of your new 03's Gunksny. They look to be in good condition, not as if they were tossed in a dumpster! I agree with MannyE, you could do this yourself, also $120 each seems high for replacing 10" woofer surrounds, but perhaps that's the going rate. It isn't a highly specialized task but it does require patience and understanding what needs to be done. Removing the old surround adhesive throughly and making sure the voice coil is centered when reglueing the surround are the two main objectives. Anyone can do that if they understand what needs to be done and even better to know why careful alignment is important so one is conscious of it during the procedure. The good news is it can be redone if it doesn't go well, but at the cost of new surrounds. Even at $300, those speakers (if they are in as nice of shape as they seem and fully functional) are very good and actually fairly rare.

    I have 03A's and love them to death. The 03's are ported rather than sealed as the 03A's are. The 03A's also use an active equalizer, not sure if the 03's do or not. Perhaps not since the tuned port likely reaches its target. Many users either don't have the EQ or choose not to use it. I find it valuable and always use mine. But again, the port in that version is likely already tuned where they wanted it. Good luck on your decision! Look at YouTube for tutorials on surround replacing to see what's involved. If you're not comfortable with doing it yourself then look for a couple sources to send the woofers to. Perhaps someone local does this. Any good audio repair facility will know who to refer you to because it will be who they use. If the cost is more than $250 for a 10" pair, which surprises me), send them to Thiel. The last I knew Thiel ceased operations a year or so ago! Glad to hear they've resurfaced, but it'll never be Jim Thiel's Thiel when he and Kathy Gornick knew how to design speakers and operate a company. Another reason to hang on to those rare early classics you have :)
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2017
  18. Gunksny

    Gunksny New Member

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    Thanks for all the replies - I'm pretty handy, but I suspect my first try would be far from perfect. Great idea to ask and see if I can get it done it locally and cheaper. I'm in the metro CT/NY area if anyone has any suggestions - thx!
     
  19. Gunksny

    Gunksny New Member

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    So after some more research and watching of you tube videos, it doesn't seem that involved and I've decided to take a crack at refoaming the drivers myself. Have removed as much of the foam and adhesive as possible and ordered a set of surrounds for $25. Will take special care to make sure the voice coils are centered, but they seem pretty well aligned now. Hoping to post photos of success in a few days.

    The speakers did come with an EQ although it doesn't seem to be required.
     

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  20. MannyE

    MannyE Exterminate! Subscriber

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    A good going over with some alcohol will get the metal rim of the basket extra clean! Looks good so far.
     

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