Thiel CS2.3 vs PSB GOLDi [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


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01-05-2004, 09:56 AM
Dear audiophiles,

I'm considering upgrading my pair of Dynaudio Audience 120 speakers to mammoth tower speakers, and the two options I'm currently considering, after so much research, are the PSB Stratus GOLDi and the Thiel CS2.3. The PSB is new, the Thiel, much obviously, is used.

Anyway, one more info I should add is that the Thiel received an upgrade by the former owner, with crossovers supplied by Thiel itself, and it's supposed to have improved the speakers by $3000 worth, some say.

I'm looking for deep and extended bass extention, and an at least average midrange. What would be the choice to make?

My current equipment is Mccormack TLC-1, Mccormack DNA-0.5, Adcom GCD-750 and the Dynaudios. I was planning to acquire a Rel subwoofer, but I decided to upgrade to towers, so I eliminated the subwoofer off my list.

Thanks to those who help and read.

01-05-2004, 10:44 AM
Because Thiel's are and PSB's are generally not. What I don't understand is how can someone make a choice for you. There are so many variables to take into consideration. First of which is what do thinks sounds good? Know lets look at your statement about bass. You say " I'm looking for deep and extended bass extension, and an at least average midrange." First, deep and extended bass are the same thing. This however does not mean your are going to get a viseral bass! So what are you looking for in bass, extension, power or both? Also, what is an average midrange? Because I have no idea what YOU consider a average midrange.

This is really a choice you and your ears must make. To ask someone to decide for you is just stupid. But if thats what you want. Give me your money and I'll spend it as I see fit, I'm just not sure your going to like MY choice!

01-06-2004, 06:01 PM

The first thing to consider is that both speakers are fairly difficult loads to drive (low impedence with low sensitivity), so you need to make sure that your McCormack amplifier is comfortable pumping large amounts of power into a 4 ohm load. McCormacks are generally very qualified, but I don't know the stats on the DNA 0.5.

From a design perspective, the main difference between the two speakers is that the Thiels empoy first order crossovers. This means that at each crossover point between drivers, each driver tapers off at a very shallow slope of 6dB per octave. This requires each driver to respond over a very large bandwidth and (this is an overly broad generality) tends to limit high volume playback. I've never taken the Thiel 2.3s to the limit, but generally speaking, a loudspeaker with steeper crossover slopes will be able to play louder with less distortion and less chance of damage. In turn, the main advantage of first order crossover slopes is limited phase alteration. For more information, you can read Thiel's technical papers on time and phase response found here:

The following interviews etc. with Jim Thiel might also prove interesting:

From a subjective standpoint, the main difference between the speakers is usually characterized by an emphasis on the Thiels' extraordinary emphasis of detail that some listeners characterize as brightness. PSB's (I have not heard the Stratus Goldi) are generally characterized by a more laidback presentation suited to harsh rooms, badly recorded rock music or nearfield listening. Thiels would be my top-shelf recommendation for people who listen mainly to small jazz ensembles and other well-recorded music and people who have ultimate control over their listening environment. I would hesitate to recommend them to a Rolling Stones fan. Much rock and roll is recorded so badly as to be almost unlistenable on speakers like Thiels. And I would not employ Thiels in my own living room unless I thought I could get the okay from the little woman for some accoustic treatments on the side walls and ceiling.

Anyhow, I'm rambling. Here are many professional reviews of each speaker:

You'll notice that PSB edits the reviews on their webpage to include only the positive comments. I'd encourage you to find the reviews in their entirety on those magazines' webpages.

One last comment: Thiel is one of THE most highly regarded names in high end audio and their products sell quickly on the used market. If you get a good deal on a pair of used 2.3s you may be able to listen to them for years and sell them for a few hundred dollars less than you bought them for.

Hope that helps a little!


01-06-2004, 07:05 PM

The first thing to consider is that both speakers are fairly difficult loads to drive (low impedence ....


Dmb, very nicely done!


01-06-2004, 08:05 PM
here are it's specs.
100 watts into 8 ohms
200 watts into 4 ohms
300 watts into 2 ohms
Gain = 29 db
Peak current = 25 amps

Neither speaker is a problem for it.

01-06-2004, 08:35 PM
dmb_fan hit this nail on the head.

You should also note that because Thiel's drivers are so far apart you should sit further back than normal because you can hear a big handoff between the woofer and tweeter. The speakers were never a rocker...note it's been five years since I listened to Thiels(3.6) but frankly for the money i was not impressed. In some ways they remind me of Martin Logan's Aerius i a very nice electrostat that for less money than the Thiel produced a more cohesive integrated sound. One reason dmb_fan mentions that people have issues with the treble is no doubt because of the lack of cohesion.

A speaker producing a cello say uses both drivers in a two way design some passages will start low and go high and a lot of speakers have a hick-up moving from low to high...especially speakers with totally different driver materials. Timbral accuracy and all that good stuff.

The sound of the Thiels are a personal taste as the others have said and you need to spend as much time as possible auditioning. I personally think they are one of the worst bang for buck speakers on the market with zippo ability to dynamically present any sort of realism...and the positive reviews always couch their between the lines and basically we all know they're a dynamically inept speaker.

PSB's Gold you'd think with the big box/woofer combo could rock your world. My exerience with them was almost the opposite. With an all big powerful Adcom system I was quite ready for tremendous scale and punch etc. What I got was a rather lackluster treble and a laid back presentation and lifeless.

It's not that they're both bad speakers, but in my opinion they charge high end prices for mediocrity. Thiel was dumped here not surprisingly and PSB is relegated to the Sony Store.

Both speakers are kind of laid back so that is sort of in common. I personally would avoid both.

But the reiews seem to praise Thiel they've been around a long time and they most certainly have their die-hard supporters and appear to have exceptionally good workmanship...I believe they also offer a pretty good warranty of 10 years...maybe it's more now. I would look at the Paradigm Studio 100 V2 and perhaps the V3 as more of a bass pounding rocker over the Paradigm is an all around superior speaker IMO - in fact it's a superior speaker to both the PSB and the Thiel and for less money...especially if bass impact and rock ar your bag. The Energy Veritas Floorstanders will certainly kick as well.

01-06-2004, 09:12 PM
Actually I would also consider the Audio Note AN E D. I heard the 20k version of the speaker but the $2300.00 Version has the same design but the materials are not as good obviously. But if the AN E D in sound is remotely close, and it probably is, then I doubt you'll find a whole lot of speakers that have the dynamics, and tonal cohesion from top to bottom. The speaker will reach 12hz depending on placement and extend to 23khz. Of course you power amp will be wasted because they're 94db sensitive...but frankly My AN K makes the Thiel and PSB sound like pieces of junk in comparison, the AN E D most likely does too.

Put this way when Quad electrostat and Apogee and Klipshhorn owners trade their speakers in for or Audio Note or just claim the AN superior...they deserve an audition. And since the speakers have been selling every year since 1992. Not the greatest lookers, but...what's the goal. They have been used as reference speakers by Stereophile and Hi-Fi Choice reviewers.

Of course adding a sub to what you already have would be a way I would certainly lean too. Dynaudio is not exactly a good-ball sounding outfit either - I'm unfamiliar with your model but their newer stuff I'd take over Thiel or PSB.

Jimmy C
01-07-2004, 04:34 AM
...I don't think the Thiels would be the best choice for deep and authorative bass. Don't get me wrong - with proper set-up and music, they can sound very good. As previously stated, they are ruthlessly revealing of the room, associated electronics, crappy software... probably moreso than any other speaker I've heard. On the other hand, they make female vocals, small ensemble, and strings sound very seductive... they have great speed and delicacy. What kind of music do ya dig on?

While the different x-over parts may indeed make a better transducer, I would be leary of the "added $3K worth of sound" claim. However, I can't say for sure...

If bass is your thing, you might want to take a look at the Vandersteen line... the 2CE, for example, is about $1600ish new, and obiously less used if that's over budget. Smooth highs and a good midrange, with a slightly laid-back sound... good for some poor recordings.

Personally, I would do a quality stand-mount and add a sub... later if need be.

I don't want to discourage the Thiel thing, it simply wouldn't be my first choice if LF was my first priority.

Have you heard the 2.3?

01-08-2004, 05:26 AM
go for the PSB's.....they are very good and you cant go wrong with psb stratus gold.....very fine speaker for all kinds of muisc and makes very good HT fronts also.