Q. How should I approach buying the best speaker for me?
What should I listen for?
A. Imagine walking down the aisle of a local
street fair and hearing a brass band playing up ahead. Most everyone
could recognize that the sound is coming from a live band rather
than being played through a stereo system. Although the average
person may not be able to expertly describe the differences they
hear, the live music has easily recognizable qualities that make
it seem much more real than reproduced music. You do not have
to be an expert to hear these qualities, but just be made aware
of what they are. These are the same qualities you listen for
when auditioning components for your home sound system. How close
does what I am hearing sound to the live event?
When you visit a THIEL dealer, they will have the speakers
available for you to hear in the store. The dealer will have
several well-made recordings to play so that you can hear a variety
of music types or video soundtracks played though the speakers,
and appropriately matched system components. The speaker can
only reproduce the signal it's given, so the recording and associated
equipment also need to be good in order for you to make accurate
value judgments about the speaker.
To help you in your auditioning of the different models, or
other brands, we have divided the sound you will hear into four
different areas. By evaluating each area of performance and how
well the speaker faithfully captures the qualities of live music
in that area, you can select a speaker that will give you the
most satisfaction and allow you to enjoy great sound in your
home for many years.
Good tonal fidelity is the ability of the speaker to reproduce
the complete musical spectrum without an over or under emphasis
of any part. Correct tonal balance allows the music to be heard
without the speaker imposing its own tonal coloration. Voices
should sound natural, not nasal or constricted. Listen to the
instruments. An alto saxophone should not sound like a tenor,
nor a violin sound like a viola.
Many people find it helpful to divide tonal performance into
three parts. The high frequencies, the treble; the middle frequencies,
the midrange; and the lower frequencies, the bass. Good performance
in all three is required for a truly good loudspeaker.
Treble: If the sound is dull and lacks life, the speakers
frequency extension may be limited. If the sound is overly bright,
then the high frequencies may be overemphasized by the speaker.
Listen for a natural, but realistic quality.
Midrange: If the midrange is colored, a voice may sound like
someone is singing with their hands cupped around their mouth,
or holding their nostrils closed. Uncolored midrange will sound
open and unrestricted. There should also be a lack of harshness
in instruments and voices. Listen for the speaker's ability to
allow the texture of these sounds to remain clear and natural
Bass: The strength of the bass should not overwhelm the rest
of the sound. An overemphasis on the bass can make the sound
seem boomy and out of balance. Good bass performance displays
distinction between the bass notes with a definite start and
stop, rather than sounding like one continuous note. A lack of
bass will give a thin, weak quality to the sound. Good bass performance
adds weight to the sound giving it a realistic quality that you
feel as well as hear.
The use of THIEL-designed drivers with uniform amplitude response
and unusually complex crossover networks ensures excellent tonal
fidelity in THIEL loudspeakers.
The ability of a speaker system to re-create the position
and feel of instruments in three-dimensional space is called
imaging. Many speakers can produce a "soundstage" between
the two speakers, but a speaker with good spatial fidelity gives
the illusion of sounds coming from beyond the speaker boundaries--to
the outsides of the speakers, and from in front of and behind
The speakers themselves should seem to disappear if they possess
good spatial performance. A speaker that images well will allow
you to close your eyes and sense that the performers are in your
listening room.You should not be able to sense where the speakers
Listen to a recording made outside of a recording studio,
such as in a concert hall, nightclub, or auditorium. A good speaker
will reproduce the feel and ambience of the venue. But be wary
of speakers that give a false sense of space. Dipole type loudspeakers
that produce out-of-phase, rearward energy can make all recordings
sound artificially ambient or large. A large orchestra in Carnegie
Hall may sound correct, but a soloist setting on a stool in a
small club may appear 10 feet tall! Listen to a recording made
in a small venue with just a few performers to test the accuracy
of that aspect of the speaker's spatial performance.
THIEL's time and phase coherence, achieved by proper driver
alignment and phase correct crossover design, preserves the music's
natural spatial clues. In addition, THIEL's cabinet design eliminates
diffraction (delayed energy radiated from the enclosure's edges)
and so, reduces false spatial cues.
and phase coherence, achieved by proper driver alignment
and phase correct crossover design, preserves the music's natural
spatial clues. In addition, THIEL's cabinet design eliminates
diffraction (delayed energy radiated
from the enclosure's edges) and so, reduces false spatial cues.
Transient fidelity refers to the clarity of the speaker. The
clarity of musical details and the faithful reproduction of the
attack and decay of transient sounds is very important to realism.
The pluck of a guitar string, the crash of a cymbal, or the way
a sound reverberates and decays in a concert hall or nightclub
contains subtleties that allow you to distinguish the individual
instruments in an orchestra, or the difference between a Steinway
piano and a Yamaha.
Listen to the way the speaker allows the individual instruments
to remain separate from one another and individual voices in
a chorus to be heard distinctly. Listen for the proper length
of the sustain of a single piano note, or to the sharp attack
of a drum head being struck.
Can you still hear details at lower volume levels? A speaker
with good transient fidelity will not have to be played loudly
to hear the musical details.
When the output from all the speaker's drivers are in synchrony
and there is an absence of unwanted energy, the music's detail
and authenticity come through. THIEL's time and phase coherence,
extremely rigid cabinets, non-resonant driver diaphragms, low
distortion, and very high quality crossover components, all contribute
to increased clarity and transient fidelity.
Dynamic range in sound reproduction is the ability to accurately
portray the full range of differences between loud and soft sounds,
and gives music its sense of both impact and ease. These contrasts
provide emotional power and contribute to the music's excitement.
Dynamic fidelity is more than just the speaker's ability to
play loudly. High output capacity and high power handling contribute
to a speaker's ability to reproduce loud passages without distortion,
yet how well the speaker resolves subtle detail at low volume
levels is equally important to add contrast.
Listen for how well the speaker presents the music's impact
with orchestral crescendos or a bass guitar pluck. Or are the
loud passages compressed? Listen to how well a complex piece
of music retains its 'clean" quality during musical climaxes.
Or does the music sound congested? Does the speaker allow the
music to become involving through its ability to go from soft
to loud? Loud to soft?
THIEL speakers' high output capacity, high power handling
, low distortion, and exceptional clarity all contribute to their
excellent dynamic range.
THIEL speakers' high output capacity,
high power handling , low distortion, and exceptional clarity
all contribute to their excellent dynamic range.