Thiel CS3.7—A First Look
You know that stuff I said about how pointless the pre-show press conferences are? Well, not always—not, for example, when Jim Thiel has been busy. At last year's CES, Thiel practically levitated when he began describing the challenges of re-designing his CS3.6 floorstander, which has been in production since 1992. He described what he'd keep in the CS3.7 (first-order crossover; three-way design; short-coil/long gap motor design; coincident tweeter and midrange, time coherence;and aluminum diaphragms) and then he began waxing rhapsodic about how completely open that left his imagination.
One year later, he's introduced a whole new wrinkle. First, he got rid of his laminated-cone midrange design, replacing it with a thin 4.5" aluminum ring with an "undulating, radially ribbed contour." This geometry, Thiel claims, is 10x more rigid than his old cone, which he says was 10x more rigid than conventional aluminum. The result of all that rigidity? "More pistonic motion," Thiel deadpanned. "As a speaker designer, I assure you, piston operation is a very good."
This new geometry required a honking huge voice-coil, which means, Thiel explained, that the former's cylindrical shape lends stiffness in the circular direction of the driver, so the diaphragm itself only needs to be stiff in the radial direction.
The CS3.7's tweeter is a new 1" aluminum-dome unit with five neodymium magnets driving the motor. The new 10" woofer and passive radiator also show complex geometries, again to lower mass and raise rigidity. The more powerful motors and lighter drivers mean that the '3.7 has a sensitivity of 90dB and a nominal impedance of 4 ohms (3 minimum)—milestones for Thiel's loudspeakers.
As to the crossover, it's still first-order and it's still complex, but Thiel protested, "I don't just say put more parts in there—I do it so drivers operate consistently throughout their entire ranges." Crossover points on the CS3.7 are 400Hz and 3kHz. Price has yet to be determined; the speakers should ship by spring.