A New Audio Enthusiast
a Audio Enthusiast
Date Reviewed: November 20, 2014
I got a pair of CS 2.2 last year when I restarted this hobby again and found it's not so good with my existing amplifiers at the time, so I sold it. After a year of listening and having some better speakers and amplifiers, I again bought another CS 2.2 pair for my secondary setup. I especially like its female vocal sound with a better powerful amplifier.
Highly recommended for the money that you can get. You do need a good powerful amp for it.
I upgraded my Theil CS.5's to these CS 2.2's a few months ago. I got them used in mint condition for about $1200. Now I realize how amazing the .5's with their own limitations. The 2.2's are very big and heavy. Believe it or not, the overall listening experience is not that much better than the smaller, 2 way .5's, just with alot more bass. Also, the smaller CS.5's had a better and more satisfying top end!! Maybe it's because the 2.2's have a seperate midrange driver that cancels out some of the higher frequencies.
Bought used in '97 from an authorized Thiel dealer. (My speakers were bought new from same dealer the previous year, but the original owner traded down to 1.5's because the 2.2's were too big for his space!) The ten year warranty has bailed me out a few times so far - the tweeter in particular can be somewhat fragile, but a resistor upgrade in the crossover network will help with this (call Thiel for details). Unfortunately, some of the Vifa-supplied drivers are longer being manufactured - time marches on. But Thiel still has many replacements on hand, and they can often rebuild failed drivers. The grilles can also be a weak point for durability over time, but Thiel is a company that is famous for standing behind their products and owners regarding any service issues, whether you have a warranty or not.
Regardless, for the prices these go for now that they've been discontinued for a while, they're a definite bargain. 2.3's and 2.4's are only equivalent or incremental improvements in many ways, and 2.2's are easier to drive than both those models. You need the right size room for these first-order floorstanders - not too big and not too small. Too small, and the bass will overwhelm the room, plus you must sit at least 8 feet from the speakers, and preferably 9 or 10 feet, in order to achieve correct driver integration and frequency response at the listening position. But the 2.2's aren't large or powerful enough to use in really big rooms, so mid-size rooms are best.
The 2.2's have a very flat impedance curve, so even with tube amps the frequency response will remain smooth and even. Unlike some other Thiel models, they don't get difficult in the bass, so you don't need a current-monster amp to keep them happy. But they're only of moderate sensitivity, so for most appropriately-sized rooms you should try to give them at least 100 watts. However, the watts you do give them must be of high quality, and you should err on the side of quality over quantity if you must choose. Amps with cheap power supplies will be exposed by these speakers. I successfully used them with a stereo tube amp featuring one pair of EL-34's per side for a rated 45 watts, but that was in a room that was really too small for the speakers. In my current larger room, they work well with good tube or solid-state amps of 100 watts or above.
Thiels are for listeners who value precision and accuracy. They do not sound colored or euphonic, and do not smooth over the details. They are more about letting you hear the specifics of the performance than about immersing you in a wash of sound or making everything sound pleasant. To that end, they do not misbehave on transients due to resonances or overhang. Clarity is here in abundance, but not the kind that comes from false treble emphases - rather, the 2.2 do the little things correctly, like avoiding the cabinet diffraction effects that many other speakers let go to chance. They are also extremely coherent; you will never have the sensation of listening to separate drivers with this speaker. Imaging is extremely dense and solid, which probably has something to do with both the lack of diffraction and the phase and time aligned response of the design. As a result, the soundstage is deeper as opposed to wider compared to many other speakers, and the speakers should be set up as wide as possible while still keeping them away from sidewalls, and toed-in toward the listening position.
Dynamically the 2.2's are good but not top-rank. They won't give the sense of impact and distortion-free high-level reserve that larger, more expensive designs can manage. But powered properly and played at normal volumes, they do quite well at revealing the fine dynamic shadings that make music come alive. They will go loud - just not stupid-loud. Similarly, they won't fool you into thinking that their bass capabilities are unlimited, but they do very nicely for a design of manageable size utilizing one 8" woofer. While the low end won't blow you over, it does go low enough with authority to be satisfying on full-range material, and more importantly the bass is of high quality - not boomy or ill-defined, with real tonality and well-integrated into the total spectrum. The mids are open and uncolored, and the highs provide plenty of airy extension without noticable flaws (the tweeter is the same unit that was used in the more expensive 3.6 and top of the line 5i models).
These speakers are sensitive to listening height; you must listen on an axis between the mid and tweeter for full response without suckouts that depress the mids. A lot of listeners don't cotton to Thiels because they are not designed to add false warmth or weight, or with an easy-listening dip in the lower treble, but if you power them with quality electronics and wires and listen from the correct distance, you'll probably find that their reputation as unforgiving is mostly undeserved. Tough to beat now for $1K.
I recently got a pair of used Thiel CS2 2s off audiogon after selling a pair of NHT 2.9s. The NHTs sounded great and had excellent bass response; however, at 21.5" deep, they protruted too far into my small listening room.
The Thiels are tall, slim-looking speakers that are 42" tall, 12" wide, and 13" deep. Build quality is very, very solid, with a highly inert cabinet that appears very vibration resistant. They also look good, and the wood veneer is beautiful and warm. The rear-sloping baffles mean that this speaker, while fairly tall, does not intrude into the room as much as a conventional speaker of comparable size.
I set these speakers up fairly close to the back wall and about 6-7' apart. Since they are used, no break-in was necessary, and they sounded fantastic right out of the box.
It's cliche at this point, but the imaging of these speakers really needs to be heard to be believed. I'm never going back to speakers that aren't time and phase coherent like these.
Deep bass response is also surprisingly powerful. I haven't really cranked them loud yet, but these speakers will plumb the depths on bass and drums. I suspect that their proximity to the rear walls has something to do with it, however. At any rate, I didn't expect them to have the performance in this range that they do. I believe that Thiel's freq. response specs are true, indicative, and conservative.
Listening to Billy Joel's 'The Stranger', Roxy Music's 'Avalon', and Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue" on SACD really revealed these recordings. In particular, I really noticed the articulation of the bass strings of the electric bass parts on 'The Stranger'. If you've ever heard a bass live and heard it over a system, you know how certain bass lines get lost or muddy on the latter... I hadn't even noticed the bass line on this song until I played the SACD through these speakers!
I've had my fair share of speakers over the years, including Infinitys, JBLs, NHTs, etc., and this one beats them all HANDS DOWN.
It's just a beautiful sounding, beautiful looking, well-crafted, well-designed speaker. If you can find one used in decent condition, I don't think you'll find a better speaker for the money anywhere. This is seriously world-class sound. They sound far better than I had hoped for.
Absolutely spectacular! For the money I cannot believe there is a better speaker, any maker, any era. Never really knew what my McIntosh 2255 could do until I bought these. Suberb detail and imaging. Perfect lows. So transparent you'd can't tell they're there. Wonderful construction and quality. Best money I've spent on audio, period.