Upgrading from Thiel 2.7 to Sonus Faber or Focal???

Lately been contemplating moving on from my 2.7 to possibly Sonus Faber Olympica III, Focal Kanta 2/3, Sopra 2 or possibly a Magico A3.  I don't want a lateral move however, a warmer sound overall.  Preferably nothing too hard to drive matches well with Audio Research amp and would like more bass response I am getting from the 2.7. The choices I mention are not etched in stone so recommendations welcomed.  Buying used more than likely  :)

Amp is a Audio Research Ref 110 and a PrimaLuna EVO preamp. Source is a LUMIN T2 with S-Booster.  

Thank you in advance and please lets stick to the subject  :)
Ag insider logo xs@2xsamzx12
Thiel have an amazing restoration service, drivers, crossovers, outside finish, everything to bring them back to brand new or as close as possible.  
 That would have been my choice. Thiel are amazing speakers. 
   Would have kept for a very long time. 
 Wish my speakers had this offer, ide never get rid of them.
I must baby my grail speakers for a long time, as they were bought and shut down by a company which was inferior. :(

I remember you mentioning the lack of real grills and children in a previous post. Reminds me of a girl I went out for a very SHORT time a few years ago. She brought her little girl over one afternoon and I didn’t have the grills on my speakers and she proceeded to touch the tweeter and make a dent. I used a vacuum cleaner and gently placed it to the tweeter and pulled it right out. In the short time she was at my house she managed to dent the tweeter, scare the s--- out of my cat and leave foot prints on the wall. Needless to say that was the last time she was there lol. The mom was batshit crazy anyway bahahaha!!!

I have only spent a short time with the Olympica but they seemed like they had potential. I ultimately did not buy them because of the lack of real grills with small children around (detected room but I let them hangout with me in there). 
James that’s a good question but for my tastes I prefer the SFO3. They both do a lot of things very well but I really think the O3s are more musical overall and versatile to various types of music. Build quality is top notch for both but I have to give the award to the 03 in a beauty contest lol. There is something about the O3 that make you a very proud owner and they ooze class. You can just feel that Sonus Faber as a company pay a LOT of attention to detail. The Thiels are rock solid as far as build quality also but at their prospective price points the O3 is a better speaker.  But this is my opinion only.  

do you like them better than your Thiels? Do you think they are technically better?
Hi Walter,

After a month break in they are sounding quite a bit better. They are relaxing more and opening up. Imaging and layering of instruments is fantastic in my opinion.  I'm guessing I have approximately 200 hours and the majority of those hours are with a Pass 150.8 amp now. Sold the Audio Research REF110 amp. Loved the REF110 but feel the Pass or solid state drives them better. 

Any further thoughts on your Olympica 3 speakers after a month of break-in?
Robert no problem at all. Your suggestion is a good one. I haven’t rolled any tubes in yet and if I do probably the front 2. I’m trying not to go down that road again replacing all the tubes.

To update the thread, I purchased a barely used pair of Olympica 3 (not Nova) from a dealer. They had maybe 25 hrs and never registered to anyone. So the break-in process begins lol. For them setup Friday late afternoon and 1st impressions they are very different from the 2.7. Extremely musical and focused but I know the will get better. The bass is very nice. I have the ports to the inside so I’m not sure if switching to the outside will help? Any thoughts? They are approximately 3.5 feet from the side wall, 2 feet from front wall and almost 8 feet apart tweeter to tweeter. Listening position is almost 10 feet. Room is 16 feet wide and 16 feet deep. Vaulted ceilings.
I apologize for assuming that you haven't tried tube rolling .
My enthusiasm for the Thiel 2.7 speakers is something that I can't hide .
Have you tried a 12bh7 or 12av7 tube inplace of the 12au7 ?
Try asking the question about improving bass response on the Thiel Owners forum .
Robert I may try the 2 front tubes since they have the most affect but not going down that road again with the rest.  Did that with a Primaluna Dialogue integrated amp. Spent a small fortune but yes it is fun.  

Rushfan have you seen the price on the Phillips GZ34? 😬😬😬
As an owner of Thiel CS2.7 speakers I can understand why you feel 
that there isn't enough bass but It is not the speakers .
Your room and it's treatment will have a lot to do with any speaker and 
as suggested TUBES , yes your tubes play a large part in fidelity 
and frequency range .
I will suggest that you go out and buy pairs of tubes ,
like GE , RCA , Sylvania from the 50's and 60's to hear how different 
each pair can sound and if you start to hear what your looking for 
you might want to try Telefunken tubes .
You'll find mixing tube manufactures can give you the sound you are looking for .
Tube rolling is easier and cheaper than switching out speakers
and more fun .

I dont have first hand experience but in my research on rectifier tubes (Im currently using NOS Mullard 4 notch GZ34’s) I’ve found feedback that the Phillips 5R4GYS adds warmth to PL preamps.
They are taller though. The cage just touches the top of them but Kevin Deal says that’s how they run them and they are fine
Thank you for the information.  I can handle the 2 fronts if the cabling doesn't take care of the issue.  The Mullards are great tubes but pricey these days as they are becoming scarce. 
All 6 of the front tubes have an audible effect. The 2 center ones the most as the signal goes through them first.

The Mullard long plates I have are 1958 if that helps. Call Brent he's great
@Prof....I doubt I will be able to keep the 2.7. The store I auditioned at gave me a very good trade in price if I choose to buy the Nova's from them. 

@rushfan...Looks like they are out of stock but have rebranded Mullards for $140  pair.  Do the front 2 tubes make the most difference? 
I got them from Brent Jesse Audio Tubes They are the ones listed on his site for $115 Mullard 12AU7 long plate with Halo getter. They are warm, rich, and detailed. The stock PL tubes sound glassy for a lack of a better term.
Sounds like you'll just have to get the SFs and keep the Thiels.

That's the route I took.
When I auditioned a ton of speakers as possible replacements I'd come back and listen again on the same tracks on my Thiel 2.7s.   This just showed how great the Thiels were.  They are just so even handed and competent from top to bottom, they make most other speakers sound more obviously colored. 

So I saved up longer so I could get the Joseph Audio Perspectives while keeping the Thiels.  I like to be able to use either pair for a while.   The Thiels for me are a sort of touchstone of confidence.  Keeping them means I can experiment with owning other speakers that may be more exciting in one way or another, but I always have a safety-net speakers were everything just sounds effortless and balanced.

Good suggestion rushfan. Are the Mullards overall quite a bit warmer than the stock tubes? Price per pair? I do remember going down the tube swapping fiasco with the PrimaLuna Dialogue Premium integrated I had a few years ago.  Drove me crazy lol. 
Let me suggest changing the 4 center 12AU7's in your Primaluna preamp.
I would suggest NOS Mullard 12AU7 long plates. They will definitely have an effect on the warmth of your system compared to the stock Primaluna tubes.

Its an inexpensive move before changing speakers that you might like already
Headphonedreams the step up from the Nova 3 is out of my price range lol. 

James I agree it's what you enjoy at the moment but I definitely do not dislike the Thiels. They definitely excel at imaging and detail. Hopefully the cables will "fine tune" the sound. The interconnects I'm going to sound really rich and full.  There was a thread in the cable forum about them.  DIY Helix. 
Interesting on the cables. Once I change my preamp (benchmark) because I thought it was the root of my “harshness” but it turned out to be the CD that was in heavy rotation.... lol live and learn. 
I think at a certain level it all a lateral move. Just comes down to what you enjoy more at the moment. 
I had some time at a dealer last year and listened to Orangutan O/93. They were really good! Outside of my current price range but may work for you. There is also a larger O/96.

I also like Boenicke speakers. The W8 or W11 might be worth considering.

I preferred the Kanta 3 to Kanta 2 but I’ve only heard them at shows, many other factors may have caused problems.

The room I was in also very well treated. Dead quiet. In my opinion the A3 was rather warm compared to the upper end Magico line. But overall not a well rounded speaker. Just didn’t have it’s stuff  together so to speak as with the Olympica. I never found them fatiguing just not musical. With the right amp however I’m sure this would improve quite a bit.


Is this a lateral move I’m not sure. I was hoping someone here could tell me. Believe me I’ve asked myself the same question. The O3 have different sound and it’s very pleasing to my ears. I wish I could compare my Thiels side by side. Different rooms also throws confusion into the mix. But what I do know is the O3 sounded oh so right to me. After discussing with a friend last night who I totally trust I think its a smart idea to change out my speaker cables and one set of interconnects before making a speaker change. This may get rid of any harshness I’ve heard and smooth things out. Overall better articulation. The Thiels aren’t harsh by any means just to clarify.
My cabling is Morrow Audio SP4 and MA5 which are silver coated and present some unwanted energy unlike their newer line up from what I’ve been told. It’s even documented on their website.

I did a lengthy audition of the Magico A3 and had the same reaction.Especially the bass: it seemed a bit "flubby" even though it was in a room with particularly good characteristics for bass reproduction and was being well driven by an SS amp.   I also found the sound to be, at least at first, not too impressive.   After a while I did find the detail was very high, and while the highs did not stick out in an exaggerated way, there was still something fatiguing about the presentation that wore on me over time.

The Sonus Faber speakers sure get a lot of good press these days.  I'd love to hear the Olympica.


I am glad you like the Olympica’s. Sonus faber has a winner there. They have really upped their game lately. Do you feel they are more than a lateral move for you?
I have not heard the Magico A3 but when they came out I was interested. Good to hear some input compared to speakers I have heard. 
I still think it is worth trying to hear the current wilsons. Not that they are better than the Sonus Faber. I feel the Wilsons are a little more dynamic but I don’t think Audio Research tubes drive them (weak bass on AR) well even though it is a common paring.  

Magico A3 needs good SS power. I tried with 100 watt AHB2 and it was pretty bad. Today, I am actually using 2 AHB2's for a speaker even more demanding than the A3. The A3 did sound great with the Mark Levinson 585 integrated and the $20K each ML separates.

The A5 is supposed to be a much bigger step up from the A3. 

My favorite Magico is the S3 MKII. 
Had a nice visit at Hanson Audio in Cincinnati today.  Had the listening room all to myself which was fantastic. They teased me with the SF Cremonese.  Crimany those are great speakers. They should be at 55K.  Of waaay out of my price range.  He knew it but fun to listen.  Next up was the Sorento. Nice speaker but at $5K no thanks.  Then we got down to why I went. Magico A3. Build quality is fantastic. They look much better in person however I really wasn't impressed with the sound.  Nice deep bass but was tubby almost. Extended highs and decent midrange. Hate to say it not for me.  But the salesman said my amp was not a good match.  A3 needs some solid state juice to make them sing. So my review take it with a grain of salt. I'm sure with a higher powered solid state amp they would sing nicely. They better but geez kinda disappointing.  Lastly,  the Olympica Nova 3. Night and day difference. First few notes and WOW.  This is music.  The soundstage really opened up and instruments floated in the air.  Depth, detail, focus and overall musical. The bass was tight and tuneful. No congestion whatsoever. My Audio Research Ref110 was a perfect match.  The salesman said and I'm not bullshitting, I've never heard the Olympica sound so good.  Honestly,  I think he was dead serious.  All music was streamed with Qobuz. Overall an impressive speaker. 

Then for shits and giggles we went into the Magico room. I think they were M5's but while they through a huge Soundstage, too detailed for these ears. At $135k those puppies better pour me a bourbon lol. My opinion they are not for rock or really dynamic music.  Jazz, classical yes. They were powered by huge Boulder monos. And I mean HUGE. Speakers are a personal choice but Magico not for me.  Build quality very impressed. 

FYI:   The Joseph Audio Perspective 2 (or 1) are easy loads for tube amps.   My CJ Premier 12s drive my Perspectives beautifully.
+1 the Joseph Audio Perspective 2 if you have a dealer near enough to go listen. 
By no means is the Olympica Nova III midrange thin. It is just not colored to be thick. I pointed it out because Sonus Faber’s sound has changed (for the better imo) and they are know for being a relaxed speaker and this one is not. It seemed “natural” not thin not thick. 
It is hard to compare the Olympica III to the nova III. I did hear them in the same room (local deal 10 minutes away) and both on classe but it was 6 months or so apart. I feel like I will be making stuff up if I try to split hairs so take these comments with a gain of salt. I demoed the Nova 3 just a few weeks ago so it is very fresh as I might buy them (but the kids and those open tweeters...)
I can start by telling you how I felt but we all know mood greatly effects listening impressions. When I heard the III it was good. I brought my own music (CDs) I kind of had to look for what was good about them. Kind of an inner subtle good sound. Ok everywhere but not amazing anywhere. They seemed pretty flat with a little bass bloom from the room. 
I just happened to be in the shop looking at projectors and I asked how the Nova was. From the first note I thought they were great. I was pulled in from note one. The sound stage was much better than what I remembered. The highs seemed more detailed (relatively brighter than the III?) and the bass seemed to have better leading edge impact. Again a long time between them.

after hearing it I looked up what was changed on line. Did not seem like much other than the cabinet construction. Maybe I was hearing the result of a better cabinet. Maybe they fine turned the crossover, I don’t know. But in the game of finding subtle changes the nova was clearly the better speaker. I would take the Nova III over the B&W 803d3 they also have on the floor. Much more natural. 
The III vs the Nova III went from I would buy those to I want those...  the looks of the nova are much better too. I like the wood inlay front better than the leather. Now used prices of the Olympica are pretty good which could change everything because I could easily argue they sound the same too. It is a little hard to demo speaks as I would add my subs into any system I buy and they totally change the sound. They turn the Thiels into a different animal. 
Here is a good video comparing the two. Sound caparison starts at 13:48 https://youtu.be/Xv8dvVIdguk

I would still add the Sabrina. they are more alike than different (a lot of used ones these days). I did not hear them long enough to have a strong opinion as I went straight to the Sasha 2 that day. At a high level I feel the wilsons have better leading edge impact in the bass but I can’t comment on the rest of the sound in detail other then they had good balance with a bit of warmth in the bass (flat mids and highs).  Maybe I will start a thread asking about the two.  

This is exactly what I wanted to hear. Thank you so much. My gut is telling me I would really like the Olympica 3. You hit on what Kevin Deal said about the midrange. It’s not "chesty". But everything else is very nice. Sounds like a very well rounded speaker and the bass I like. Another dealer told me over the phone that it would be too warm for my Ref110 amp. I’m thinking the opposite. Musical and tone is what I’m after as long as it’s not boring. How does the new Nova series compare or you able to compare?  

Interesting you threw in Wilson Sabrina. Never considered them but they look attractive. Downside I can’t hear them before purchasing.
Overheated the aluminum and bent (or even ripped) it. But I was also having periodic dance parties... 
I really liked my 2.4s. Only sold them because Jim had died and I kept overplaying them and needing new drivers. Sadly always an issue with Thiels (hence all the positive comments about their customer service).  Really glad their CS dept survived the company.
Ok I can give my perspective. I am a long time Thiel 2.4 owner. I bought them as dealer demos super cheap and only planned to use them as a stepping stone to something better..... well 10 years later I still have them but added two JL E112 subs (treated the whole room too) and used JLs built in crossover with good results (55hz-ish crossover point in a large room). 
Anyway I have also tried to “upgrade” a few times. Below are my quick thoughts on things I have demoed or spent time with. I would add wilson audio to your list too. The Sabrina fits well with what you want. Sasha 2 and Yvette used would be great too. Sophia 3 has great strong bass and are a good deal used now but have a hot top end that is edgy. 
-Sonus Faber Olympica III and Nova III (classe front end). They are very good. I really like them. They are warmer in the bass than the Thiels. The bass is more round and less flat maybe. Impact might be blurred more on the Sonus Saber but hard to say. The mids have about the same tone to them (a hair thin, not chesty). The highs seemed better to me on the Sonus faber. Very detailed and never harsh. Very nice speaker but I tagged out due to the lack of grills (I have two small kids....) are they better than your Thiels? Probably not but you will probably like them better if you are tired of the Thiel sound. I would keep your Thiels. You will want them back some day. All in all the new Nova 3 is an under rated speaker and at $13500 I thought it was a good deal. I would like to hear what you think of them after you demo them. Soundstage ultra has a good review of them. 

-focal 1038be (never heard the Sopra), arcam front end. Bass is flat and has power but is tuned lean similar to how revel tunes their speakers in the bass (they sound like they measure to me...). The mids are much more alive and vivid than the Thiels and the tweeter is great but stands out a bit. These are very much “hi-fi” speakers. A little edgy but make for a great demo. They lacked dynamics a bit for my on hard hitting music and I like the Sophia 3’s bass much better. 
-Kef Referance 3. I hate these speakers. The bass sounded very heavily reliant on the port. It sounded very one note to me. The mids lacked dynamics (drivers too small?). Highs were a hair better than my old Thiels but the current focals laugh at them. It reminded me of a sub satellite system. They had good sound stage though no better than the Thiels. I never got lost in the music. Pop music sounded good on them with the heavy low one note bass...

-wilson Sabrina. Not a long demo so not much commentary. They are tuned on the warm side of neutral. Have good detail and tone, never edgy. Reminded me of the Olympica 3 honestly. Worth a listen. 
Perhaps consider Harbeth 40.3s, their predecessors, or Spendor Classic 100 or 200?
Vandersteen's are very much like warmer Thiel's, and the Vandy's tend to work nicely with Audio Research.
Great thread with lots of helpful and productive discussion. A few additional thoughts...

If you arent even going to use dsp, taking measurements of your system to see where you are at is really helpful to achieving better sound
My only experience using dsp on my main speakers wasn't positive.  I had a Lyngdorf TDAI-3400 and turning on the room perfect just made my speakers kind of sound "blended" for lack of a better word.  I think I'm extra sensitive to the time domain changes produced by frequency manipulation and so I've avoided any DSP or EQ unless I'm dealing with subs.  I just say this because some people associate the measurement process with using DSP and it should really be more viewed as a way to learn about your system and how its interacting with your room.  Invaluable in my estimation.

However, Cal you are exactly correct :) I need to work on my room.

As you can see on my system page, I actually don't have any room treatments at all.  I probably should, but instead just built a four-sub distributed bass array based on Duke's Audio Kenesis Swarm.  It's more useful for dealing with standing bass waves than any kind of room treatment.  Setting that up was what finally got me to spend the big money ($100) and measure the room.  

Anyway, @samzx12 have fun in Cinci, and get a 5-way for me on your trip out.  Hope you love the SFs.
Yeah, we get used to our speakers and want that extra hit of something new.   That's why I also picked up some Joseph Audio Perspective speakers a while back :-)

I like to switch between those and the Thiels.

I find the Thiels amazingly even-handed through the whole frequency spectrum.  Neither exaggeration nor thinness in an part, highs or lows.The mids/tweeter is as seamless as any I've ever heard.

And the Thiels have that famous density and solidity to their imaging.  Other speakers sound a bit less focused, more amorphous, next to the Thiels.

If I can fault the Thiels at all, I'd say the upper frequencies while very good, are a little less suave, gorgeous and incisive as some of the very best competition.   You'll get more of a "wow" from the highs of the Focal speakers - very lively top end but very grain-free.  So things like cymbals, guitar picking will pop out of the mix in a more arresting way (if that's what you want).

That's what I love about the Joseph speakers.  (Hey..you should look at the new Joseph Perspective Graphene!).   Their tone, especially in the highs, is a bit more grain-free, silky and informative than the Thiels.

But I don't know that I can ever let my 2.7s leave my house.  I got them on a killer deal, in my favorite ebony finish.   I agree with you those Sonus Faber are gorgeous.  But I also feel the Thiel 2.7 is one of the best I've seen for a suave, contemporary look.

Prof...thank you for the your detailed explanation and experience with the 2.7. Valuable information. Isn’t crazy how we get used to a certain speaker. There is no perfect speaker but I think we get used our speakers and then wonder what am I missing or wishing I had more this or that. However, Cal you are exactly correct :) I need to work on my room. I did stuff a couple throw pillows in the front corners and things tightened up and it helped with some imaging/focus. But the walls need help no doubt to stop reflections plus need to measure my room. Very helpful information. Thank you :)

I am going to Cincinnati tomorrow to audition some Sonus Faber Olympica III. I have always been attracted to that speaker but it is pricey however, absolutely gorgeous. If a speaker can be sexy this is one of them lol. Can’t hurt to hear what it can do. I am taking my amp and interconnects to at least see if it will push them as needed. Only downside I know the showroom is treated so I have to take that in consideration.
+1 Cal3713.

I wish I had started measuring my in room response much earlier.  I just started about 2 months ago.  You have no idea what you are dealing with until you get some measurements.  The difference I have achieved in my bass response, the overall sound, and imaging just by using measurements and making adjustments to my speaker location, seating location and bass trap locations, has been huge.

In one location I was achieving 0db at 28hz and -3db at 24hz from stand mounted speakers with a 7” midbass driver.  My initial measurements, where my speakers had been for 6 months, I was -7db from 40hz-200hz.

If you arent even going to use dsp, taking measurements of your system to see where you are at is really helpful to achieving better sound

Well, it's all subjective but...

I have the Thiel 2.7s and love them (Also owned the bigger 3.7s).I actually find my 2.7s to sound rather rich and even "warm" (I'm partial to rich sound - I also own Spendors for instance).  Though I'm driving them with tubes, CJ premier 12 monoblocks.  They still sound rich even driven by the Bryston 4B3 I have on loan. 

Having auditioned the Focal Kanta speakers and and the Magico A3, I certainly wouldn't call either of those speakers warmer than the Thiels.Just the opposite IMO.   The Focal will give you a more toppy high end - grain free, but more vivid.   They are warm in the bass, but not in the mids/highs IMO.

Magico is very "audiophile" in the sense that when listening you know you are listening to a highly engineered product with very low coloration and box colorations reduced to negligible.  Quite detailed.  But I found them actually a bit more fatiguing and more analytical than my Thiels.And most of all, to my ears, less dynamic.   I played some of my favorite tracks and the palpability and drive seemed to be missing.   When I got home and played them on my Thiels that density and dynamic drive was back.

Of course, those are just my own impressions.   But it is a little hard to get at what you want, when you mention wanting "warmer" while mentioning speakers that are not known for "warmth" but the opposite if anything.
Definitely not Focals if you want warm, though they are warmER than Thiels.
I think the 2.7 has the same COAX as the 3.7. If so, the Focal is definitely not as warm as the Thiel.

Might be worth getting REW, a UMIK-1 calibrated USB microphone, and doing a frequency sweep of your room.
This is a great suggestion. I did the same to get my large speakers to fit into my small room (plus some other things with the data).
For my smallish room, I demoed the Magico A3 and was also considering the Kanata 2 because of the ease of placement (never demoed it). However, I went with a used Thiel CS3.7 (that I completely rebuilt), I think it is still a great choice and definitely not a step down from any of the speakers I demoed. It is rather difficult to drive though. Maybe your 2.7 needs more power. I have no clue about your amp or the specs on the 2.7. I am just going by my experience with the 3.7.

I demoed the following:

Magico A3
Vivid Kaya 90
Paradigm Persona 3F/5F
Vandersteen Treo CT
Yamaha NS5000*

*The Yamaha is the only one that I liked as much as the 3.7. I need to navigate some house politics before I can buy the Yamaha for another room. It has more bass than the 3.7 and is a little warmer (maybe). You can get home demos of the Yamaha from the online seller.