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Thiel ViewPoint Speakers for Flat Panel Displays

October, 2004

Brian Weatherhead

 

Specifications:


● Bandwidth (-3 dB): 60 Hz - 20 kHz
● Amplitude Response: 60 Hz - 20 kHz
  
  3 dB
● Phase Response: Minimum
100
● Sensitivity: 88 dB@2.8 V-1m
● Impedance: 4 Ohms
● Recommended Power: 50-400 Watts
● Dimensions: 8" W x 5" D x Built-to-
   Order
● Weight: 18 pounds Each
● MSRP: $1,990 USA / Each

 

Thiel Audio

www.thielaudio.com

Introduction

Are you disappointed with the plain, limp, uninspiring speakers that came with your flat panel plasma or LCD TV? Do you want to make a statement with the speakers just as you have with the display? Thiel Audio has the answer.

Their ViewPoint speakers are custom built for the particular display you have, so when placing an order, you simply tell them the model number. The height of the speakers will then match the height of your display.

The pair I received for review were built for my 42" Zenith plasma TV.

The ViewPoints have to be mounted on the wall next to the display, rather than attached directly to the display.

The Design

I have seen nothing like these speakers to date. The enclosure is matched to the bezel of the plasma/LCD. It is simply the finest metal work I have ever found. This is no metal veneer, but rather a seamless metal cabinet.

Don't think Thiel spared anything in the looks department. These things are stunning. A perfect match for my 42" Zenith plasma.

Each enclosure contains a single 6.5" coaxial speaker (tweeter and woofer together), mounted at a 450 angle to the plane of the plasma. This makes for a greatly improved soundstage over the direct-facing factory speakers.

Listening Tests

For my first test, I connected the ViewPoints to the Zenith TV, using the onboard 15 watt speaker outputs. I used a Klipsch 15" (KSW-15) subwoofer to compliment the pair. I feel that lower frequency reinforcement is needed for most any speaker.

The ViewPoints have fantastic detail and midrange, bringing clarity and definition to an often overlooked area. My friends and I were able to hear the difference immediately in the sound quality compared to the Zenith factory speakers.

Below is a THD measurement at 1 kHz, using the built-in Zenith power amplifiers  (15 watts per channel) to drive the speakers. Although the THD is not particularly high, it is still higher than would be desired. (The right channel data represent a sound card loop-through response.)

Switching to my 500 watt outboard power amplifier, the THD is a much different story, as shown below. This performance is definitely high-end, which now goes beautifully with my high-end plasma picture. A value of less than 0.1% THD when the volume is at 100 dB, is great performance!

The MLS frequency response of the ViewPoints is shown below. You can see that it rolls off beginning at the highest frequencies.



The in-room response, seen below, shows how important the wall is to the response of these speakers. They are truly designed to be up against a surface, which is where flat panel displays are usually located. Adding a subwoofer will flatten out the response below 100 Hz.



The sound was very balanced, and the soundstage was fantastic. The factory speakers don't even belong in the same room with the Thiels.

Conclusions

The ViewPoints are a wonderful speaker to compliment the terrific pictures we get with plasma and LCD flat panel displays. The construction is excellent, and the sound is just as good. They deliver the performance of traditional bookshelf monitors, with the artistic visual effect that an on-wall speaker provides. Expensive? Yes. But would you put K-Mart tires on a Ferrari? Then why settle for basic speakers with an expensive display?



- Brian Weatherhead -

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Primer - Speakers

 

 

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