THIEL CS1.6 Floor Standing Loudspeaker Reviewed

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THIEL-CS-1.6-review.gifWhen you think back to the original high-end loudspeaker manufacturers going back twenty plus years few brands have enjoyed the success THIEL has. However early THIEL designs were big, cumbersome and expensive not to mention difficult to drive and place in anything but a dedicated listening space. In 2002 THIEL set out to change that with the introduction of their newest speaker the CS1.6 reviewed here. Fast forward eight years to today and the CS1.6 is still going strong and is being introduced to a whole new crop of budding audiophiles courtesy of its newest sales channel, Crutchfield.com, the online electronics giant.

Retailing for $1,195 each or $2,390 a pair in black ash or natural cherry and $2,590 in dark cherry the CS1.6 is THIEL's most affordable floor standing speaker option to date. The CS1.6 is a small floor standing loudspeaker measuring in at nine inches wide by 11 and a half inches deep and 35 and a half inches tall. Each speaker weighs in at 38 pounds making them easy to move and thanks to their small footprint easy to integrate into almost any living or listening environment. The CS1.6's slightly tapered shape only adds to the speaker's elegance and slim stature. The CS1.6 is a two way bass reflex speaker utilizing a one inch dome tweeter resting above a six and a half inch midrange driver in time and phase coherent configuration due to the speaker's crossover points and angled baffle design. The most striking thing about the CS1.6's design (with the grills off) has to be its slotted bass reflex port which runs from the bottom of the speaker to just below the midrange driver. Unlike other ported designs the slotted reflex port is also time and phase aligned with the drivers and cuts down on port noise and grille loading effects.

Read More About THIEL
Read a story about THIEL speakers being sold at Amazon.
Read Jim Thiel's obit from September 17, 2009 from HomeTheaterReview.com.
• Read dozens more audiophile floorstanding speaker reviews from the likes of MartinLogan, Bowers & Wilkins, PSB, Paradigm and many others.

The CS1.6 has a reported frequency response of 48Hz to 20kHz and a sensitivity rating of 90dB into a fairly stable four Ohm load making it an ideal speaker for integrated amplifiers or mid-fi separates with as little as 50 watts on tap. However, like all THIEL speakers the more power you can push to the CS1.6 the more open, dynamic and natural it's going to sound.

Speaking of sound the CS1.6 is one smooth operator, possessing a slightly laid back, seductive sound that manages to be spacious and nicely detailed and sound much larger than the speaker's size would have you believe. The CS1.6's bass performance is rather incredible considering its design and driver complement, though for true full range performance you'll want to mate the CS1.6 to a capable subwoofer. That being said, audiophiles with small to medium sized rooms might be able to get away with relying solely on the CS1.6's bass capabilities. The CS1.6's midrange and high frequency performance is first rate and very smooth and refined. The tweeter is virtually glare free and never fatiguing while the midrange is extremely agile, provided you have the proper power, and free of excess bloat or artificial warmth. What I like most about the CS1.6 is its soundstage, which is deeper and wider than most anything in its class and very tightly and naturally defined. I wouldn't call the CS1.6 the most dynamic speaker in the world but it's far from the worst; again it's a somewhat laid back presentation.

Read The High Points, Low Points and Conclusion on Page 2

HTR Product Rating for THIEL CS1.6 Floor Standing Loudspeaker

Criteria Rating

Performance

3.5

Value

3.5

Overall

3.5

Disagree with our product rating? Email us and tell us why you think this product should receive a higher rating.


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THIEL-CS-1.6-review.gifHigh Points
• The THIEL CS1.6's compact footprint and solid finish make it an easy speaker to live with and integrate into virtually any environment. While the black ash and natural cherry finishes are nice enough, the dark cherry finish, complete with up charge, is probably the look most consumers will go for. 

• The CS1.6's ability to be purchased via one of the Internet's largest electronics retailers, Crutchfield, means they're far more accessible then ever before. -though I'm sure some long standing THIEL dealers and fans are probably pissed. • The CS1.6 may just be the perfect speaker to sit down to after a long day at work and simply drift away in front of with a glass of wine thanks to its seductive, slightly calm demeanor. 
• The CS1.6 sounds simply superb when mated to tubes, especially Audio Research tube amplifiers and preamps. 
• The CS1.6's high frequency performance is good, very airy and natural and never fatiguing. 
• The CS1.6's midrange is outright addictive and spot on when it comes to female vocals and small, acoustic ensemble recordings.

Low Points
• For true, full-range music reproduction you're going to want to mate a sub or two to the CS1.6. 
• The CS1.6 is hardly the most dynamic speaker on the block even when powered with the proper components. The CS1.6 lacks a bit of bite and attack other speakers in its class have. 
• The CS1.6s are a grown up speaker in that they can play loud but at times you get the feeling they don't want to. Again, this is not a speaker for R&B or heavy metal fans. If you're into Diana Krall, Norah Jones or Eric Clapton's later work the CS1.6 is for you.

Conclusion
For around $2,400 retail the CS1.6 from THIEL is a magnificent achievement and a fine sounding loudspeaker. Its compact and stylish design score points in the wife acceptance arena as well as make it one of the easier speakers to integrate into a true living environment. The CS1.6 can be powered by a wide range of components, making it a great speaker to evolve and experiment with. It acts more like a high quality monitor speaker in terms of its overall sound than a floor standing speaker and possesses one of the most seductive midranges and soundstages you're likely to hear this side of the $5,000. While not the most dynamic or energetic loudspeaker out there today, the CS1.6 is a great speaker to come home and relax to. In today's stress filled world who can ask for anything more?

Read More About THIEL
• 
Read a story about THIEL speakers being sold at Amazon.
• 
Read Jim Thiel's obit from September 17, 2009 from HomeTheaterReview.com.
• Read dozens more audiophile floorstanding speaker reviews from the likes of MartinLogan, Bowers & Wilkins, PSB, Paradigm and many others.


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