Thiel CS2.2 Floorstanding Speakers

CS2.2

Three way floor standing speaker

User Reviews (20)

Showing 1-10 of 20  
A New Audio Enthusiast   Audio Enthusiast [Nov 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.

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
AaronNJ   AudioPhile [Jan 23, 2007]
Strength:

That great Theil sound and coherency. I am driving them with an Adcom 535 amp and a Conrad Johnson tube preamp. They are not that hard to drive. I get plenty of volume at just 60 watts per channel. BTW, the Adcom 535 blew my Hafler DH 200 out of the water as far as sound!!

Weakness:

Top end could use a little more energy. Bass can be a little strong.

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.

Similar Products Used: Meadowlark Shearwater(dark sounding speaker), Theil .5's(a great speaker), NHT 2.5(way too boomy), Magnepan MMG(not bad), Dahquist DQ 10(good in its day), Bose 901's (only certain series are good: I liked series 1 and the latest, did not like series4), Paradigm Studio 60's (too bright) Magnepan MG1(older maggies have no top end).
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
Zaikesman   AudioPhile [Aug 11, 2004]
Strength:

The 2.2's seem never to place a foot wrong - you'll rarely be aware of listening to the speaker rather than the recording. They're attractive and compact for their range, and very well-made. One big plus with all Thiel models is that - unlike with almost all other manufacturers - their speakers are designed to sound best with the grilles left on, and they do. Very neutral and revealing of upstream gear. Easy to place in real-world rooms, especially compared to designs that fire to the sides or rear as well as to the front. Wide dispersion yields relatively broard listening window. These speakers tell the truth for better or worse, but that doesn't mean you can only enjoy listening to a handful of audiophile recordings through them - I certainly don't limit myself in any such way. To sum up, this a speaker that exudes competence to a degree that makes many competing designs seem like random shots in the dark. If you're buying, hold out for an excellent condition and well-cared-for example, since there are plenty of 2.2's out there.

Weakness:

Nobody likes the binding posts located on the cabinet bottoms for connecting speaker cables, though it does give a clean look when the speakers are set up. Not as suitable as their used price might suggest for partnering with mid-fi associated gear. If you're into biwiring, you're out of luck (I'm not). As a mid-sized 3-way first-order design, 2.2's favor coherence over high-level slam. Not for use with really low-powered amps, but push-pull tubes are welcome. Not for near-field listening, and may require a lowish seating height for best sound. Image height and stage width are not as great as with some competing designs. Tend not to 'come alive' at late-night volumes quite as well as one might wish for. Not shielded for HT use, if that's what you're after. I'm giving 4 stars in each catagory because this speaker is not the last word in any one area, but is a very complete package and great buy at current used prices.

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.

Similar Products Used: Auditioned many speakers over the years, both before and since I bought the 2.2's, but have never owned other speakers I would call similar myself - these were my first audiophile-grade speakers purchased, and I've stuck with them through a couple generations of system upgrades. Associated gear list: VTL MB-185 Signatures (tube monoblocks) McCormack DNA-125 (stereo solid-state) Mark Levinson 380S preamp Theta Pearl/DSPro Basic IIIa/Monarchy DIP CD front end Technics 1200 (KAB hot-rodded)/van den Hul DDT/Camelot Technologies Lancelot vinyl front end Audiolab 8000T tuner HHB 830 CD-R NAD 6300 cassette Sony Esprit SE-P900 parametric EQ Sennheiser HD-600 headphones API Power Wedge Ultra 116 and ExactPower EP15A PLC's Audience Au24 SC van den Hul The First Ultimate and The Second IC's Shunyata Sidewinder and Harmonic Technology Pro AC-11 PC's Salamander Synergy Twin 40 rack + various isolation supports NO multi-channel processors, subwoofers, or 'hi-rez' digital players...
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
ChefBum   Audio Enthusiast [Aug 10, 2004]
Strength:

Smashing imaging, flat, deep bass response, beautiful cabinetry and design

Weakness:

fairly large (but sloping baffles make them less intrusive than conventional speakers), may not fill the largest of rooms, not for home theater use

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.

Similar Products Used: NHT 2.9s, Infinity Kappa bookshelf, Infinity Overtures, JBLs
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
SmokeNMirrors   AudioPhile [Jun 23, 2004]
Strength:

Super great deal now that they're 10 years old. Can't do better IMHO.

Weakness:

Do need good gear to drive them - but this is just because they reveal so much detail - no really a weakness of the speaker.

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.

Similar Products Used: Vast array of speakers auditioned: Sonus Faber, McIntosh, B&W, Magnapan, etc.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Metal Mike   Audio Enthusiast [Mar 18, 2003]
Strength:

Close your eyes with these Thiels and on CD material recorded well, they sound like two wires sending out full sound to the room, forget the speakers, they don't sound like they're even there, but the music is place very accuratley and you fel like you can reach out and touch the musicians in their places on stage or in the studio. 11 years later, I still love them. One of the best long lived values I have yet purchased.

Weakness:

Hook them up to unworthy equipment and they will gladly reveal how inadequate that equipment really is. I hooked them up (just for fun) to an old Onkyo receiver from college which otherwise sounds fine with a set of small bookshelf speakers. Yeechhh!

I listened intently to several different types of speakers. Everything from one of the ProAc studio monitors, Magnepans, Matin Logan electrostatics, Vandersteens, and the Thiel CS 2.2's. By the time I got done, the Thiels fit my listening style the best. They felt so unfatiguing and neutral and revealed most accurately many well recorded CD materials. They have since been promoted to the fronts on a home theatre system coupled with a B&W HTM2 center, a HSU Research VTF-3 sub, and four Boston Acoustics VR surrounds, Outlaw 7.1 amp and pre/proc. and Pioneer Elite Pro-730HD RPTV. Visual and sonic heaven.

Similar Products Used: nothing other than what I used to compare to in initial listening tests (listed above) I have had no need to search anywhere else for now.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
HeyMario888   Audio Enthusiast [Sep 10, 2002]
Strength:

Very detailed and focused. When optimum room placement is achieved, the speakers almost disapper.

Weakness:

Slightly narrow soundstage width. Can sound a little bright and lean with certain music materials.

Very focused and detailed sound. Bass extended and very well-defined; Excellent fit & finish. Mids sound very open but a little lean at times. Must use top quality front end and will reveal the weaknesses in your system. Proper room placement is an absolute must!!! Very good performers for the price!

Similar Products Used: Energy Veritas, B&W 801 S2 Matrix, Infinity, Boston
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
David   Audio Enthusiast [Jan 31, 2002]
Strength:

Smooth seductive sound

Weakness:

Slightly lean mids

Got mine used from eBay for $1200. Excellent fit & finish. Very smooth sound top to bottom. Bass extended but doesn't give impression of overwhelming power; the rest of the range is very seductive. Very revealing! Highs not bright like previous Thiels, but mids can still be lean at times - must use good CD player. Open and seamless soundstage - not quite the equal of the other great speaker in the price range - Vandersteen 3A, but smoother and less colored overall. A steal at the price!

Similar Products Used: Vandersteen, PSB, Magnepan
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Ed Z.   Audiophile [Apr 30, 2000]
Strength:

Accuracy,soundstaging width and depth,detail

Weakness:

Lacking in bass response. Not good for rock or music with heavy bass/percussion emphasis.

The Thiel CS 2.2 speakers are dedicated to accuracy and truth. As others have commented, they are unforgiving and will reveal every weakness in your system from cables to components. I have had Thiel's for 5 years now, and have been extremely pleased with their purity and imaging. The Thiels excel at reproducing soundstaging, depth and details in instruments and vocals, and have an airy timbre when reproducing good recordings. The bass is tight, but rolled off in the lower ranges.

The Thiels excel at reproducing the intimacy of recordings, such as chamber music, jazz quartets, classical quartets and the like. They won't reproduce the visceral power of the 1812 Overture.

You *must* use good equipment to appreciate these speakers. Recommend using a class A power amplifier, you must have a good CD player, one that doesn't sound bright or harsh. The Thiel's will reveal every flaw in bad CD recordings, or in your components.

Speaker placment and cabling is critical. I use a triple run of Ocos cable and the soundstage depth and width is stunning. With good cabling the speakers must be canted inward to focus the image and are sensitive even to 1-2 degrees of shift. Once you've configured the placement, the imaging and depth is stunning.

Here's my current configuration:
Arcam Alpha 7SE
Transparent Musiclink Plus interconnect (RCA)
Threshold FET 9
Forte Model 6 Amplifier
Ocos (triple parallel)
Thiel CS 2.2

Upgrading from a Rotel RCD-965BX to the Arcam was a significant improvement, but the Thiel's now reveal limitations in the Forte, so I'm about to try a Pass Labs Aleph 3 and see how this works and some Silver Audio Silver Silver Bullet 6.0 interconnects. I'll post another review when I have the results.

For the cost, these speakers get a 5.
For the overall rating, these speakers are a 5 in their class, but I give them a 4 because they are 5's for some types music, and listeners but not all.

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
george neher   Audio Enthusiast [Jan 28, 2000]
Strength:

Outstanding coherence, dynamics, clarity and resolution of inner detail.

Weakness:

Require very good upstream components, a stout amp, lots of room, and are critical of placement. Cheap binding posts

After having owned several pairs of Thiels, (both larger and smaller), I can say without reservation that the 2 2's are a bargain in the line. Know before you buy these speakers that results can vary all over the scale from awesome to confusing, depending on associated electronics, cables, and placement in your room. I have never known a line of speakers to more honestly address the shortcomings of a system, or indeed to herald the basic goodness of individual components. After 9 months of experimentation with placement, cables, components, and room treatments, I have discovered what these speakers are capable of. Their honesty in reproducing the recorded medium takes a bit of getting used to, but once you understand that they are faithfully reproducing what was recorded, other high end speakers pale by comparison. I highly recommend that you consider a pair of Sound Anchor stands with the 2 2's. The difference will be much taughter, deep and refined bass, and a soundstage that deepens and widens more than you will hear with a change of cables. I have found that Audio Research and Pass tubes, Bryston and Levinson solid state, Wadia source components, MIT, Audioquest, or Straightwire cables, and Sound Anchor stands create a great synergy. Kimber and Nordost cables are too edgy, and components from lesser manufacturers than listed above will not get it done. In the used price range of $1500 or so, I know of no other speaker with fewer faults and more potential up-side than the Thiel cs2 2's. Very highly recommended if you want to honestly reproduce the truth of the recording.

Similar Products Used: Magneplanars, Snells, Spendors, PSB, Proac, Linn, B&W, and several other Thiels.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
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