Thiels or Von Schweikerts

Hi All,'

Alas, I live in a place where it's almost impossible to easily audition the audio gear I lust for. I'm very soon going to be in the market for a new primary pair of speakers, and I know I love the Thiel sound. Any thoughts on how they compare to Von Schweikerts as a rule? I'd be looking for speakers that retail new for under $3500 or 4K

As usual, muchos gracias,

the rustler
Ag insider logo xs@2xrustler
I don't know if anyone can tell you how one speaker sounds compared to another. I am sympathetic. I lived in Wyoming before moving to rural Missouri. I just bought the Von Schweikert VR-4 JRs and love them. Unfortunately, I know of no dealer that has a return policy for either speaker. The trick would be to audition both (buy and return?) in your home. I took a chance and bought the 4-JRs through an internet dealer. Who knows, maybe if you bought both used, you could turn around and sell the one you don't like on Audiogon. Good luck!
I loved the sound of Thiels too until I got them home. Once I sold them I was even happier. I have owned Von Schweikert VR4 gen II for about 4 to 5 years now and love them.

The Thiels were the most finicky speakers I have ever owned and it took me away from the music. They had me focusing more on upgrading the sound than the sound itself. I could never get them to sound like what I heard in the dealer showroom and some music sounded just terrible on them anywhere. The final straw was when my brother brought over the Klipsch Forte and Academy center he had just bought used to try out as he had no receiver yet. This was about 7 years ago so I connected his speakers to my system which included at that time a Proceed AVP, Plinius for the front and Parasound HCA-2205 for the surrounds. I actually preferred the sound of the Klipsch set to my own speakers by a long shot. His $200 Academy bested my $2,200 Thiel MCS1 center channel.

I did try 3 different pre-amps, 4 amps, 2 or 3 cd players and a variety of interconnects and speaker cables on the Thiels but could never get them to sound the way I wanted.
I know the room has a lot to do with it and set-up but having tried 5 different speakers in the same room with a good amount of success I could only draw the conclusion that the Thiels were not for me or anyone else who listened to them.

I have heard other set-ups with thiels and they sound really nice but I had a horrible time with them and would never buy another set.

The Von Schweikerts are great as they do a lot very, very well and the center is the best I have ever owned.

Thiels are one of the most loved or hated speakers I have ever come accross but I have never met anyone who hate Von Schweikert's.

Good luck
Another option for you may be Ohm Acoustics. They have a 120 day full money back gaurantee. Your purchasing factory direct. Theey are very nice people to work with. I happen to love my 100 mk3's and have had them for about 6 months Good Luck with your search.
Mjaudio: That's a great story, glad it had a happy ending. I used to own Klipsch KG4's not too much more expensive than your brother's center (shyeah, I wish they'd sounded like an MCS!), and also auditioned VS VR4's at the time I bought my Thiel 2.2's, which I've owned for 9 sufficiently-contented years now :-)
Both are excellent speakers, but have to agree w/ mjaudio, the Thiels are system sensitive. I'd do a search in members system's to see which amps & cabling synergize w/ the Thiels. I've owned the vr4jr's for over a year and can highly recommend them. Supurb sound and seem to mate very well w/ a variety of amps. Only requirements being 1) that they require a lot of clean power for them to open up to thier full potential 2) load w/ lead shot 3) biwire.
My vote goes to Von Schweikert, too, for many of the reasons noted by Mjaudio. As a bonus, they're way more efficient than Thiels, so you don't have to spend megabucks on an amp capable of driving them.
I heard both the Thiel 2.4 and the Von Schweikert VR-4 JR. My vote goes to the VR-4 JR. I was more impressed by the Von Schweikert than the Thiel. Since you mentioned you can't audition them yourself due to your location, try to read the professional and consumer reviews that's out there ( for these two speakers and see which one is more of your flavor/style of listening. They both are different in their own way. But like most have already said, Thiels are notoriously hard to drive in general, so make sure you got a good amp to support it if you go that route.

Good luck !
The designers of these two brand of speakers have rather different perspectives. I'm not at all surprised that you are getting very polarized opinions. At least for me, at these prices, I'd try and find a way to audition them. BTW, I fall into the Thiel camp.
Rustler has said he knows he "love(s) the Thiel sound". I haven't listened to VS recently enough to know how they compare, but they'll obviously differ from that sound. What I don't know is how well they'll appeal to a Thiel fan.

In any case, the two Thiel floorstanding models that fall within his stated budget are the 1.6 and the 2.4, and despite the reputation alluded to above, neither of these models are terrible bears to drive, particularly the 1.6, which is fairly easy to drive and the one I'd choose for a smaller room. The 2.4 will work in up to generous mid-sized rooms, the kind where you'd want some beefier power anyway (at least 100w or more).

As usual though, quality power will be rewarded with quality results. The corollary to the unspoken inference of the cautionary comments would seem to be that if your amp's not really great you'll be better off with Von Schweikerts. I don't know if that's actually true, but Rustler appears to have Adcom amplification, so this might apply, at least in the case of the more demanding and revealing 2.4.
Ive had both the Vr4jrs and Thiel 3.6,and 2.4 -I returned back to the 3.6 (should've never sold them) and have been smiling ever since -The 3.6 has more dynamic range than the jrs or 2.4s -All are good speakers, however, you will not see me going away from Thiel...P.S. "New and improved" doesn't always sound better
Although not side by side I have had the chance to audition both the VR4jr and Thiel 2.4 recently. To my ears in the systems they were in the Thiels were the better speakers. A sence of ease and flow the VR4jr could not compete with. Systems were both ampified with Ayre and the the preamps were VTL 5.5 with the Thiel and Ayre K5xe (I think) with the 4jrs. Sources were digital and analog with both. I admit to loving the Thiel sound. But I thought I would be more impressed with the VS speakers than I was.
Thanks to all of you; obviously I have to go and find speakers to audition! I love the way this split almost down the middle, with Thiel coming on strong down the stretch.


the rustler
I have owned Thiel CS 2.3's and VSA VR-2's and VR4-JR's. Both designers make fine speakers. I do think they are very different flavors though. Overall I prefer the Von Schweikert sound. You really have to hear them with your own head though.
Please let us know what you eventually decide on and why. As a Thiel fan, one of these days I'm gonna have to hear some VS speakers to learn what all the fuss/excitement is about.
Will do; although, my decision might be a few months down the line. If/when I make the call, I'll start a thread to that effect.

I knida see it as an even call. Half like the T's half like the VS sound. ach side hates the others choice.
Who's right , who's wrong?
Bartokfan, in his inimitable way, writes:
"I knida see it as an even call. Half like the T's half like the VS sound."
Brilliant analysis, so glad you shared.
"ach side hates the others choice.
Who's right , who's wrong?"
We're right. You're wrong. Hope that clears things up.
Boys, boys, boys!!! We can make this thread into a monster if we all pull together as a team!
Cause if we tell you the name of the game boy, we call it ridin' the gravy train.
Never heard the VS. I am a happy CS 2.2 Thiel owner. Most places I have heard them they always seem to do everything right. To my ears they just have the sound i'm looking for. Happy Hunting.
I know the CS3.5, CS3.6, and VR4-JR speakers intimatly from listening in many systems, including my own. Thiels can sound harsh, aggressive, and over analytical with the wrong equipment. I hate them with Audio Research electronics. But with the right equipment they have incredible detail, dynamics and imaging. VSs can sound boomy, rolled off, and boring with the wrong equipment. They NEED the High Definition of Audio Research to come alive. Only then can they provide their musical warmth with the detail that audiophiles seek. Thiels require careful equipment matching to present some warmth; VSs require the same effort to avoid sounding boomy and rolled-off. But they bouth can sound absolutly fantastic with the right equipment. Of course, this is my opinion from my listening experiences.
Did I read in one of the responses that Adcom electronics will be used with one of these speakers? Well, this would change my whole approach to answering the question. With an Adcom amplifier any Thiel or any VS will vividly show its weaknesses and hide its strengths. In other words, either choice will sound bad with this amp. The Thiels will be thin and aggressive, with very little hint of their capabilities in the areas of dynamics and imaging. The VSs will be dull and boomy with no sign of their ability to sound like real instruments. For ANY speaker, the right amplifier is paramount in importance. I would say that any good speaker can sound bad with the wrong amp and any good speaker can sound great with a well chosen amplifier. Don't bother auditioning these speakers with Adcom. You will not get a sense of what they do well with this amp. It will only become a choice of which sounds less bad. There probably are some speakers that would be well served by an Adcom, but not the two brands mentioned in this thread.
I could not agree with you more. You pretty much nailed it. Adcom amplifers, though decent quality mid-fi amps, will not do it when driving Thiels. This has been my experience. In fact I have never really heard any system with adcom power amps truly sing. It's just not in their designed nature.
I have had very good results driving the 2.2s with McCormack amps and Aragon 8002.
I do not agree with you on the ARC / Thiel match, as I have the ARC LS 15 tube preamp and I have never heard such beautiful results in my room. The gentleman I bought my 2.2s from drove them with ARC VT 100MK III's and has reported spectacular results.
There are several folks with ARC solid state (100.2 in particular) that have reported similiar stories with the mid-sized THiels. Some ARC solid state models, perhaps are not a good match with Thiels. It is unfortunate that you have had this negative experience with ARC and Thiels.
The Parasound JC-1 monoblocks have been a real treat paired with my Thiel CS7.2 speakers. I was worried when I bought the speakers if this pairing would work out or not. Very, very, good together.(Bat phonostage and preamp) I would think they would drive the heck out of a pr. of 2.4s.
May I use this thread to bash Adcom a bit more? My friend bought a pair of Acoustat 2+2 speakers from a guy that had Adcom electronics. When we auditioned the 2+2s in his home, it sounded so dead and boring, that my freind di not beleive me Acoustats are any good. There was no bass at all, and the highs were obviously rolled off severly. I assured him with good electronics they can be fantastic... as good or better than my Thiels. He bought them brought them home, hooked up Bruce Moore tube amps, and WOW what a difference... not subtle. The sound went from VERY bland to VERY dramatic. How does this apply to Thiel vs. VS speakers? Whatever good speaker you choose, you MUST mate them with a complimentary amplifier. Do NOT expect them to sound good with whatever amp you happen to like with your previous speakers.
Yes, as I posted on 8/6, demanding and revealing speakers are going to show 'mid-fi' amps like Adcom in a somewhat less than flattering light. But that's mostly in comparison with something better, and if I were Rustler, I wouldn't for a minute let that fact stop me from getting the speakers I want first, then using those speakers to help choose a higher end amp in the future as budget allows.
FYI-I've been using an PS Audio HCA2 amp w/ my Thiel 3.6s for almost three years- a match made in heaven, in my book. The sound is everything I've been looking for for 35 years. So - you don't need to spend a fortune on an amp- just get the right one- Thiels are very demanding.
Boys, boys, boys! I unloaded my Adcom relics quite a while ago. I'm in the process of buying a Cary SP81 integrated, which should pacify even the most audiophillic among us, either that or a Manley Stingray.

The rustler
I guess you mean SLI 80? (There is no SP81 AFAIK.) I used to power my Thiel 2.2's with a 45w tube amp, and that actually worked quite well compared with the 70w-100w mid-fi SS amps I'd had before. But the combination was only suitable for a small space -- a space technically too small for the speakers themselves -- and that amp quickly ran out of steam in a larger room. Though the sound was enjoyable in the previous room, the speakers definitely thrived when given both the bigger space and several times the power. Moral? For best results choose speakers appropriate to the room, then power them accordingly.
Rustler, Rustler, Rustler! May I humbly suggest you choose your speakers before you buy an amp! I don't know how big your listening room is, or how how much ultimate sound pressure you seek, and maybe those amps will power the VS's, but, I suspect you will not appreciate what the Thiels can ultimately do with the power output of those amps. While I agree with Warjarret re: matching Adcom with Thiels, you might actually be better off with the Adcom than low powered tubes.
Zaikesman good advice; Rustler good move. Back to the original question. I believe, as a rule, VS speakers will be warm and pleasing, with a tendancy towards blandness. Thiels will be detailed and exciting, with a tendency towards edginess. But a given amplifier can render one of these tendancies moot. Every amplifier will complement the speakers' qualities differently, so for a given amp NOBODY can predict which speaker will sound better without actually hearing the combination personally. Both manufacturers make speakers that are capable of fulfulling any audiophile's dreams, and many fine amplifiers can make either speaker sound terrible. If you cannot audition the speakers and amplifiers together, then its a crap shoot. You'll probably have to end up changing something again later. These are my personal experiences, specifically with both the Thiel CS3.6 and VS VR-4JR. Let me say it this way: you cannot choose a great speaker and a great amp and expect them to sound great together.
Rustler, I might be completely wrong here, but I dont think I would risk my investment in either the Manley or the Cary int. amps in hope they would drive the Thiels to what they are capable of. I think if you do hear and decide on the Thiels you would be better off with a used mid to high power SS amp in the same price range you had set for either of the tube amps you mentioned.
Tom: We don't know if that applies as a blanket statement. Say Rustler's room is on the smaller side, he listens mostly to small-group acoustic music, and he gets a pair of 1.6 -- in that case a nice tube integrated may be all he would ever want or need. But if his room is bigger, he listens mostly to rock or symphonic music, and he gets the 2.4, then yes, making the investment in that same amp might not be the route to go. Rustler, please let us know about your room and tastes, and also what is your amplifier now...
I have to clarify that the 3 systems I heard using Thiels that I really enjoyed were all using Krell KAV series amps and there HT pre-pros. I did hear a set-up recently using Thiel 1.6 and a Krell integrated that sounded really good in a friends home. I also heard a set of Thiel 3.6 with Krell Class A amp (older model I can't recal) Mark Levinson pre-amp and Meridian CD player which did nothing for me, sounded rather flat and lifeless which I never expected.

I have owned Krell KAV amps in the past and did try them with my Thiels. They did have a very good synergy but I would get listener fatigue after only about an hour.

When I auditioned the Thiels I also used my Jazz CD's and favorite female vocalists but what I should have done is brought over a wider variety.

I like the Thiel sound but I cannot live with it for a long period of time. It the same reason I don't own a cat as they are both too damn finicky and I just want to enjoy the music and movies.

I still think Thiel makes a quality speaker but make sure you realize they really are high maintenance and don't like to be fed anything other than the best sound quality CD's and the like. I still maintain that the VS speakers are WAY more forgiving and when you really give them quality they reward you in spades.

I have to admit that I would jump on a deal for some Thiel Powerpoints for the living room HT. At $1,300 each though it better be a real gooooodddddddd deal. They are the best in-wall/on-wall speakers I have heard which is not saying they sound nearly as good as floorstanders but a much cleaner living room.

Good luck Rustler, just remember to bring all of your music with you when trying out either speaker, not just the best recordings.
Mjaudio wrote:
"Thiel makes a quality speaker but make sure you realize they really are high maintenance and don't like to be fed anything other than the best sound quality CD's"
Everyone's entitled to their opinion, but:

A) As an owner I certainly don't find Thiels to be particularly "high maintenance" (whatever exactly that's supposed to indicate -- I'll assume it refers to set-up and system requirements and wasn't meant literally), or at least not any more so than other wide-range, low-coloration speakers tend to be if you want optimum performance.

B) I'm a music lover first, record collector second, and an audiophile last, and believe me when I say I play material that isn't "the best sound quality" (often by a long shot) through my Thiels every day and enjoy it. But then again I've never shared the philosophy of some audiophiles that the better your system gets, the less material sounds good enough to play through it. If I thought that were true I wouldn't even be an audiophile at all, but thankfully I've learned just the opposite to be the case, having consistently found that material which is less than well-recorded from an techno-weenie standpoint has always been rendered more listenable and communicative, not less, as my system has improved.
Zaikesman's comment (B) is fantastic, and I agree 100%, as another Thiel owner. Any Thiel can make beautiful, and pleasing music with no listener fatigue. But with the wrong equipment they can send you out of the room. VS presents exactly the same issue, although results are very different. The right equipment will make beautiful music, anything else will bore you into losing interest in listening. Unfortunatly, you just CANNOT believe reviews, or other's opinions, because every system needs different medicine. Owning Thiels, I learned to chose each component carefully by auditioning and comparing IN MY SYSTEM. Krell and ARC sounded too analytical in my system, but others LOVE this stuff with THEIR Thiels. I would have never guessed any of my final decisions without hearing them first IN MY SYSTEM.

" Tom_hankins
Rustler, I might be completely wrong here, but I dont think I would risk my investment in either the Manley or the Cary int. amps in hope they would drive the Thiels to what they are capable of. I think if you do hear and decide on the Thiels you would be better off with a used mid to high power SS amp in the same price range you had set for either of the tube amps you mentioned."

I have a pair of Thiel 2.3s used in a 23x14x8 room. I play jazz and classic rock. Presently I drive them with a Cary SLI-80, 4ohm taps, ultralinear mode and the sound is lovely. I usually listen at 80 to 85 db, and sometimes 90 to 95 db. as mesured at the listening position at 12 feet away. The speakes are placed 12 feet apart 2 feet from the side and back walls. I measurd the bass resopnse with this set up and the response was +/- 3 db down to 32 htz and down 6 db at 25 htz.

Prior to the SLI-80 I used a ss amp rated at 230 watts into 8 ohms and 380 into 4. It could play louder, but I like the
Theils with the tube sound better.

Just wanted to relay my experience.

Larry, your room is exactly the size of mine, but my erstwhile small tube amp used a pair of EL34's per channel (in ultralinear, for a rated 45wpc) and my speakers are 2.2's. I agree the sound can be very nice, but in my experience some detail did go wanting, and the bass could have been better controlled. The acid test for me was that I could no longer play back solo acoustic piano at a lifelike volume without incurring midrange breakup, although programs with less-concentrated frequency response and more compressed dynamics, such as most pop group recordings, could actually go somewhat louder before apparent strain set in. I suspect that in a situation like ours the Cary could probably be expected to work better than the Manley based on their power ratings, though I hasten to add that I haven't heard either amp myself. Another possibility -- which I have heard, paired with 1.6's in a large showroom, with quite impressive results -- is the VTL IT-85.
Glad you're thrilled with your new purchase Rustler, what speakers were you able to audition the Soliloquy against, and what do you like about these better?
Post removed 
I've been lurking out here reading these posts and as a thiel guy since '82, observe the following: I had 03a's for years, then bought 2.2's, had them 8-9 years, & went to 2.3's recently. The biggest and greatest change for the best was when I added an AES signature DJH tube preamp.(Cary) It warmed up my Rotel 1095 and expanded the soundstage to the point that I don't even care where the "sweet spot" is..I have the gain at 9:00 0'clock and can rattle the walls if I want room is the size of Larry510's, and I do not want any more power. Can't wait to find a Cary tube CD player!