Thiel PowerPoint 1.2 Ceiling Speaker System Page 2

The Short Form
Price $10,750 (AS TESTED) / thielaudio.com / 859-254-9427
Snapshot
A no-brainer if you demand serious performance from a ceiling-mounted speaker and have a generous budget.
Plus
•Exceptional sound quality for ceiling speaker •Surprising bass extension •Unexpectedly natural imaging
Minus
•Jetsonian look won't please all •Slightly elevated sonic image •Sub volume limit falls short of speakers'
Key Features
PowerPoint 1.2 •($1,450 each): 6.5-in woofer with coaxially mounted 1-in dome tweeter, 6.5 in high, 21 in deep; 10 lb SmartSub SS1 •($2,900; $3,000 as shown with amberwood finish): 10-in driver; 500-watt RMS amp; 20 x 10.5 x 15 in; 65 lb •Finish: PowerPoint 1.2: paintable matte-white aluminum; Subwoofer: satin-black or optional wood veneers
Test Bench
The PowerPoint 1.2 has uniform directivity and near identical response for all channel positions. The trace shows a moderate depression between 1 kHz and 3.5 kHz and roughness above 1 kHz. Nominal impedance was just 3 ohms, so use an appropriate amp. The SS1 sub was measured with its PX05 passive crossover. It showed limited upper bandwidth, though the side- and rear-wall compensation settings extend its range somewhat. - Tom Nousaine Full Lab Results
MUSIC PERFORMANCE This was one of those sessions where I turn things on for the first time and inwardly go, "Whoa!" Running the Thiels in full-range stereo (no subwoofer), the sound I first heard was so unexpectedly full, and seemed to originate so far below the physical ceiling, that I actually checked to make sure my regular stand-mounted two-ways were not still somehow connected. From my listening position some 10 feet from the front wall, the PowerPoints' stereo soundstage seemed to hover a good 2 feet below ceiling height, perhaps a foot and a half above the top edge of my 50-inch screen's top edge. (This proved plenty close enough for movie viewing/listening.)

Sound was open, clean, and well defined, with none of the hyped output in the 80-Hz octave by which many small speakers hope to fool the ear into perceiving more bass than is really there. Bass was smooth and controlled but clearly beginning to roll off fairly quickly below that point. In my setup, however, the Thiels at first produced a modest surfeit of output in the next, upper-bass/lowest midrange octave, lending deep male vocals a touch of over-full, extra-warm tonality. (This seemed to diminish slightly after some hours of operation.) I suspect much of this arose from ceiling-to-wall, boundary-effect reinforcement. Had I spaced my PowerPoints' "tails" a couple feet from the wall instead of about 6 inches (I couldn't, because of my temporary setup's mechanics), I suspect this might have been much mitigated. And when I later tried the system "upside-down" on the floor some 18 inches farther from the wall, it was.

Treble seemed a bit warm at first as well - a characteristic that also improved slightly with a dozen or so hours use, so I left the system playing overnight a couple of times at moderate volume, which did in fact appear to continue the process somewhat. A little unexpectedly, I found that on-axis listening really made a difference here: If I moved more than about 20 degrees off center, front-to-back, by line of sight to the tweeters, treble definitely "darkened" and the Thiels lost a bit of sparkle and air.

But I don't mean to pick nits, because really, the PowerPoint 1.2's musical abilities were quite remarkable. The Thiels' tonal balance through the critical midrange was essentially perfect, yielding consistently uncolored, natural-sounding voices and instruments, while their smooth extension into the treble regions delivered obvious detail and depth. In my setup, the PowerPoints projected a very cohesive soundstage that seemed distinctly to wrap around toward the sides of the listening area: shallower in the center, but quite deep and out-from-the-wall toward either side.

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