Thiel Takes a Different Direction with TT3 Tower Speaker

Since the company's founding in 1978, Thiel Audio has always divided audio signals among its woofers, midranges and tweeters using first-order (6 dB/octave) crossover circuits. But with the passing of company founder Jim Thiel in 2009, and the hiring of ex-PSB, ex-SVS engineer Mark Mason to head the company's speaker design, the company's moving beyond Thiel's original concepts.

At CES, Thiel showed two new products that don't use first-order crossovers: the TT3 tower speaker and the TM3 bookshelf speaker. Why not stick with first-order crossovers? Because unless impeccably executed, they tend to produce tweeter distortion and poor vertical dispersion. Thiel devoted his life to fixing these problems, and while it's generally accepted that he succeeded, Mason felt that he could build better speakers by going beyond the first-order crossover.

The $14,999/pair TT3 tower incorporates two 8-inch woofers, a 6.5-inch midwoofer, a 4-inch midrange and a 1-inch tweeter, all mounted in a cabinet made from formed 12-layer plywood. It's just one of three new tower speakers the company has planned. Expect to see it in stores sometime in late spring.

For more on the TM3 bookshelf and other speakers in the series, check out Mark Fleishmann's blog.

prerich45's picture

Aren't first order crossovers necessary for a speaker to be coherent? I wouldn't call this moving beyond Thiel's vision - I'd call it moving away to something different all together. I also know that many people consider coherent/phase aligned crossovers somewhat of an "audiofool's" standard drink. I get that, but Jim Thiel's results are hard to question.

That being said - I know the company must move in a new direction, Jim is gone (RIP) and designers should always play to their strengths. I curious as to how these speakers sound and pray they don't fall down the slippery slope of "me too" speakers.

TimmyS's picture

The baby now has gotten thrown out with the bathwater.

Time Alignment. No. Phase Coherence. No. Low Group delay. No.

I am sure that these will sound "fine" but they will not have the Magic of any of Jim Thiel's designs due to the well engineered "compromises" chosen by Jim.

Synthesized optimized first order crossovers certainly pull the impedance down making for the need of a more robust amplifier. Well I guess Jim figured that if one could afford $3k to $14k+ on speakers that you would not be using a dinky cheap amplifier not stable into the low impedance. This I am sure limited the sales of Thiel speakers to a degree which kept them somewhat exclusive.

The new owners certainly want to sell more speakers to more people by having easier to drive speakers, more out of band protection on the drivers and potentially less "warranty" claims on the mids and tweets that some people would blow up with regularity by over driving the poor mid/HF speakers because of the gentle crossovers.

I wish the new company well and am sure they will build great speakers out there in Kentucky with the Thiel name on them.

They just will be untrue to the designs of the late great Jim Thiel. They will have a completely different design ethic!

haraldo's picture

I find these new Thiel products to be an utter disgrace to the legacy and life-work of Jim Thiel

Late Jim Thiel spend a lifetime doing research and bulding a product line based on some very specific principles, some people disagreed with him, but these core principles were at the heart of every product ever released.

So withinh a few monthx Mark Mason just ignores and throws away a lifetime of research made by one of the legends in the audio industry.

These products and the upcoming products by Mark Mason doesn't deserve to carry the Thiel brand

TimmyS's picture

Notice the pretty much off the shelf drivers and the lack of the custom manufactured Jim Thiel designed drivers/mids/tweets and most likely does not have the milled aluminum baffle of the CS3.7 either. 8" drivers instead of the 10" too. Not shown as well is the crossover, most likely a fourth order acoustic utilizing a second order parts compliment or....

And I am not sure of the crossover frequency but the 6" on top looks a mile away from the 8" woofers.

All for more money than the I assume outgoing CS3.7!

Jim Thiel must be rolling around in his grave...