- Written by Jim Milton
- Published on 23 May 2011
I'll tell you now that I obviously played these speakers with the rest of my Revel Concerta system. This way I could evaluate them with movies and multi-channel music. With both contents, they sounded wonderfully. The speakers played loud without distortion and would do a home theater proud. But since I got them as a pair, most of my evaluations will be about their stereo reproduction. As fate would have it, I am also reviewing a high-end CD player and an outboard two channel DAC unit at the same time as these, so listening to "stereo only" just happened to be on the menu for the next few weeks anyway. Comparing them to my F12s, the SCS4Ts had a broader soundstage, though not quit as deep. They also did not have the deep bass extension as the dual 8 inch woofers of the Revels, but the Thiels could still play low. The bass was tighter in definition yet not quite as rich as the F12s. I also felt at first, that the midrange was a bit hollower when I first fired them up, but the sound seemed to opened up beautifully over extended listening (whether mechanical break-in or my ears simply got used to them, I do not know).
In any case, the SCS4Ts provide a satisfyingly full audio spectrum and great detail. Treble was both smooth and natural. Voices were well reproduced and a bit more forward projection into the room than I was accustomed to hearing. After a while, I actually liked their forwardness, especially with voice and small ensemble music. The SCS4Ts proved easy to drive with my 125 watt/channel amplifier.
The Glory of Gabrieli is a wonderful set of pieces for 3 choirs, organ, instrumental ensemble and antiphonal brass. Recorded in the venue for which it was written, San Marco in Venice, the dual boys choirs are spaced left and right with a 40 foot span between them and an all male choir directly in front of the listener. Antiphonal music is a great way to evaluate the imaging characteristics of a speaker pair and the Thiels did not disappoint.
The sense of space was well presented as one choir off to the right was answered with the choir from the far left. The brass choir launched salvos back and forth with wonderful precision and had that glorious ringing sound that brass makes when played in an open, acoustically large space. The ensemble in the middle was solid, stable and place smack dab between the two speakers. Instruments sounded natural and the reverberation of San Marco was well conveyed by the SCS4Ts. All in all, the width and depth of the soundstage cast by the Thiels was very good, even if you were not seated in the best seat in the house.
James Taylor's Greatest Hits provided me with acoustic/electric instruments as well as the golden voice of "Sweet Baby James". The SCS4Ts gave a slightly forward presentation of the vocals with the band playing around JT's voice in most of the musical numbers. His voice, which is smooth and mellow, sounded natural and clear and again, a bit up front. His voice is perfect for listening for mid-range colorations. Instruments on some quieter pieces sounded good with their natural timbre and details presented faithfully. There was no hint of over sibilance.
You could hear the fingers slide across the strings of the guitar and that snap of the drumstick on a stretched skin. I turned this one way up and never felt the SCS4Ts were being unduly strained.
Time Out: is a jazz classic in every sense of the word. Although this mix is for SACD, it was reviewed in stereo. The soundstage and interplay of the musicians was well interpolated with the Thiels. It was around this time of listening that I realized how good the bass sounded with these speakers.
Generally a co-axial design will present a trade-off of deep bass for the increase in mid and treble response (and of course, imaging), but the SCS4Ts had a very satisfying bass response. Kick drum was not over produced, but sounded natural and in keeping with the rest of the ensemble playing. The band felt spread out and not bunched up. Poorer speakers have a tendency to make the bass player sound like he could also be playing the drum set...simultaneously. Not so with the Thiels. There was a sense of space between each player, not only side by side, but front to back as well. Nothing sounded bunched together. Bass was natural and tight without over emphasis. You could add a sub to the Thiels, but if you like to listen in pure two channel, these speakers should more than satisfy your desire for full music reproduction.
Tomita: The Planets: This disc is a realization of a great classical orchestral work by Gustav Holst, which has been transcribed to synthesizer by Isao Tomita. The 3D effects on this disc are amazing with headphones and only speakers with exceptional imaging and stereo separation can reproduce that 3D effect from your listening spot.
The SCS4Ts easily produced that effect and when you close you eyes and listen, the music swirls around you and transports you across the solar system. Sounds were not only panned left to right, but often crossed over between your ears. Other sounds were clearly being projected behind my head. Talk about experiencing the music! More than once I had to get up and make sure the rear speakers were not engaged. Again, this exceptional imaging is a hallmark of the "coherent source" driver configuration. It may seem strange, but this album was one of the ones that got me hooked on "longhair" music back in my college days. Thank you, Mr. Tomita!