Friday, December 22, 2006

CS3.7 Dry Build

If I was a child, Kathy Gornik was my mother, and Jim Thiel was my father, getting permission to post this picture would have been like asking both parents and then going with the decision I wanted to hear. Dawn took the picture, Kathy said post it, Jim said "over my dead body". So there it is. I have probably just pitted them against each other, and Jim against me. Uhoh.

So, the building of prototypes commences! What you see is Jim, Tommy V, and Walter dry-building the first of 10 CS3.7 cabinets for CES with metal cabinet parts. This is monumental, y'all! It turns out that most everything fits pretty well. There are some minor tweaks to be made, but so far so good. We spent the day yesterday machining the back braces and bases. The idea is to have all of the cabinets ready for final assembly on Wednesday when we get back from Christmas holiday. I really like having so much surface area for the wood veneer. It's a great looking cabinet.

Since the last batch of prototype woofer surrounds weren't quite right, they needed to be slightly re-formed. In an exercise of making-due-with-what-you've-got, Jim used the toaster oven in our kitchenette. Without going into detail on how, let me just say that it reeks. There'll be no more making toast at work in THAT oven. Furthermore, when the timer goes off, Dawn and I, like Pavlov's dog, go running to let Jim know that it's done so it doesn't cool down before he gets to reform it.

Other that this chaos, the Christmas party was last night. That was a riot. There were no pictures taken. We must maintain our air of professionalism.

PS - Cheers to Rob, Kevin, Phil, Alvin, and Tommy for staying way late tonight to finish building these. Can you believe a crew that's so cool that they'll stay late on Friday before Christmas to build CS3.7 cabs? Man, these guys are the greatest.

Merry Christmas!

Learning new behaviors at the ding of a bell,

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Metal cabinet parts rolling in

Just a quick note to show off a picture. Metal cabinet part samples are rolling in. We got a very nice SCS4 baffle in today. It's a die-cast aluminum baffle that's powder coated black, then part of it (the silver part) is brushed silver, then the whole thing is clear coated. You can see some long, slots around the edges of the back side of the baffle. These hold some small neodymium magnets which will hold a metal-mesh grille in place. Cool huh?

In both new speakers, using aluminum baffles holds the drivers very rigidly in place. Any movement of the driver that the baffle allows is bad news, it obscures details since these small movements were meant for the driver diaphragm, not the driver basket Using very heavy MDF baffles like in every other speaker smaller than a CS5 we've ever built really works pretty well, but it doesn't have the compressive strength of aluminum. We figured this out years ago when Jim decided to cast the baffle of the CS5 out of a mineral composite. These composites work really well, but there are 2 problems. The problem that isn't immediately apparent to you is that the stuff is a real pain in the butt to work with. The second problem manifests itself in your lower back after a day of trying to move the speakers around.

Aluminum is good stuff. Listen closely, you'll like it too.

Rigidly held in place at his desk all day,

Monday, December 04, 2006

New Speaker Updates

I'm fielding lots of phone calls and e-mails (even taking some flak) about the status of the new speakers, primarily the CS3.7. Yes, yes, we announced them last CES, and no, they're not shipping yet, BUT...we have some new developments. Read on.

First, the price has been decided upon for the CS3.7s. Those interested can follow the link for product pricing in the navigation bar of our homepage (I could just announce it here, but that would be too easy :) ). Secondly, as some of you may know, one of the big delays on the CS3.7 has been making sure the metal cabinet materials would be workable. We just received some new samples of metal cabinet parts, so Jim is very hard at work evaluating their usefulness. Even if they aren't perfect, this is VERY good news because it means tooling for these parts is largely done. Lead times on such things is typically very long, so I feel like we're headed down the home stretch. We will be building several pairs of CS3.7s for CES that should be largely, if not entirely, representative of the final, product. We are still not certain of a release date, but we are getting close. Have you heard that before?

SCS4s, our new LCR / bookshelf speaker is very exciting as well. Sadly, it's introduction is being somewhat eclipsed by the CS3.7. Not only will this be cheaper than the SCS3, but will probably sound better. We received a sample metal baffle for it today which looks awfully good. We didn't order it to be totally painted or anodized, but that's what we got. I guess that's why they're called samples. It's going to be a lot of fun to have a sub $1,000 speaker again. We haven't had one since the CS.5 which was a smash. Lots of people who wouldn't otherwise be able to enjoy THIELs will get to thanks to this model. We will be playing an advanced version of the SCS4 prototype at CES.

My first thought about playing $1,000 each center and rear speakers with nearly $10,000 each mains (oops, meant to force you to the pricing link) was that it was a kind of insane. But, now I think that it's actually not an unlikely match up in the real world. Why? Someone who wants a killer stereo setup that also does occasional surround for movies won't want to put $5000 into each speaker (despite the merits of doing so). Instead, he or she can spend the big bucks on the front left and right speakers, and still get a timbre matched set of THIEL center and rear speakers that will perfectly integrate with their THIEL SmartSub. This is all done without raking the other kid's college fund. This is a really inexpensive way to build a smokin' home theatre that has an obvious budget-focus towards your 2 channel habit (read addiction).

That's all for now! Let me know if you've got any questions.

Your excuse-maker for why the CS3.7s aren't out yet,