I’ve always encouraged critical e-mails from readers because it’s good to have the feedback. But a couple of the e-mails in response to my review of the THIEL TT1 got downright nasty. “You are not an audiophile!” one raged in response to my comment that the TT1 is “…a more versatile speaker than any Jim Thiel [the late company cofounder] designed and probably a better value than anything Jim designed…”
I was reminded of this when I recently Googled some information for my upcoming review of THIEL’s new SmartSub 1.12 subwoofer. I encountered impassioned complaints about the company’s decision to move away from the phase-coherent designs and first-order crossovers that were a hallmark of Jim Thiel’s work. In a YouTube video, an audio enthusiast praised Jim Thiel’s designs as “light years ahead of what everyone else had to offer” and took the company to task for offering new product that “appears to be the same old crap that we’ve seen in the loudspeaker world for the past 30, 40, or 50 years.”
From a business standpoint, whether or not it was wise for THIEL Audio to abandon Jim Thiel’s core design concepts is debatable, but I expect most speaker designers would have made the same decision as the new people at THIEL. That’s not because they’re dumb. It’s not because what they make is “crap” (I don’t give out five-star performance ratings to crap speakers). It’s not because they’re “not audiophiles.” It’s because they understand that first-order crossovers introduce a surprising number of trade-offs, a point that none of the commenters I’ve seen lambasting THIEL Audio seems to have bothered to investigate.