Thursday, February 19, 2009

Lori Lieberman Rocks THIEL

Talk about a rare treat. How would you like it if one of your favorite songwriters just walked into your office one day and played a song? That's pretty much what happened here Tuesday. Tuesday was a good day.

Kathy and Joe Cali (Lori's husband and producer) go way back, and Joe has been a THIEL dealer for quite some time, so there's the connection. Lori is a pretty well known and universally praised musician that has tons of records out. All are very well recorded. Gun Metal Sky is the new one, and it's very very good. Even though it's a collection of songs, it's best listened to as an album from start to finish. You should buy it.

Joe and Lori were in town Monday so Lori could play NPR's Woodsongs in support of her new album. Tuesday, they dropped in because Dawn tempted her with our "good coffee". We chit-chatted for an hour or so about a variety of things. Having never met Lori, and only Joe on a few occasions, they were really fun to converse with and the whole visit felt like we were all a bunch of old friends.

So then Kathy gets this wild idea that she wants Lori to play a song for us in the listening room. She sends Dawn on a wild goose chase to Jim's house to find his Taylor acoustic (since, after all, even the finest song writers don't carry their axes with them all the time.) which she promptly returned with. In parallel, I scurried around trying to find a suitable mic and pre to record with. The best thing I could come up with was an AKG shotgun mic and an M-Audio FW Solo - the former we use for training video shoots, and the latter for our driver QA rig.

Lori said she'd play, and boy are we happy she did. She played her hit "Killing Me Softly" and we all just sat there with our jaws on the floor. Lori sounded absolutely lovely and is entirely delightful. We don't get to hear good live music around here often much less in our own room. Lori, thanks SO much from all of us, you made our day!

Saturday, February 07, 2009

SCS: A small coherent history

When the SCS was conceived back in the early 90s, it was a perfect platform for Jim to give the Coherent Source philosophy a coaxial/coincident driver. The idea for the speaker was one that would be reasonably inexpensive, very flexible in terms of placement and orientation, attractively finished, suitable for just about any type of home audio application - 2 channel stereo, any position in a home theatre. Key to the project though, was adherance to THIEL core values. The original SCS must have been a success (way before my time). I can only guess that most are still in use today judging by the number of grille orders I get.

The SCS2 supplanted it in 1997 after a 6 year run and saw the introduction of metal driver diaphragms that THIEL had fallen in love with in the few years prior. Also, dual symmetrical ports on either side of the woofer and styrene reinforced cones debuted. That model didn't last long, and I really have no idea why, but I suspect it has a lot to do with Jim's excitement over the development of the super-excellent tweeter that had just been put into the then-flagship CS7.2 and little brother CS6.

THIEL greeted 1998 with the brand spankin' new SCS3. Sho'nuff, the CS7.2 tweeter sat right in the middle of a newly designed mid/woofer. Years of plain-box SCS yore were cast aside by the SCS3 and it's gorgeously sculpted baffle. The curvaceous grille frame stretched nice and snug over the baffle and left little to the imagination but nothing hanging out. This was a big hit for THIEL and the longest living Small Coherent Source to date at barely a decade. It sounded VERY good, was decidedly very high resolution and right at home in very high end small stereo systems, but was most often sold one at a time for center channel use. SCS3s were easily the best sounding of the bunch. Their long production life showed it too.

I don't know what inspired Jim to go back to the drawing board a few years ago, and do an SCS4, but I sure am glad he did. We had absolutely no idea that the SCS series could sound so damn good. I mean wow. Have you heard them? Read the reviews, or just don't even bother, just buy some. I swear, they are incredible. The SCS3 coax gave way to a modified PowerPoint coax that uses a neodymium woofer magnet system and a modified CS3.7(!) tweeter sitting in the sweet spot. The cast aluminum baffle works wonders too. The nice rigid baffle lets the new coax really shine. Not only is the SCS4 by far the best sounding SCS ever, it's also the best value. Probably because it's good at so many things. It's rather inspirational really...