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THIEL Audio TM3 Bookshelf Speaker Preview

The Thiel TM3 bookshelf speaker at CES 2014.

The Thiel TM3 bookshelf speaker at CES 2014.


  • Product Name: TM3
  • Manufacturer: Thiel Audio
  • Review Date: January 10, 2014 15:40
  • MSRP: $2,999/pair
  • First Impression: Pretty Cool
  • Projected MSRP: $2,999/Pair (standard finishes)

  • Optional stands: $599/Pair projected MSRP

  • Design: 2-Way Bass Reflex

  • Bandwidth: 45Hz to 30 KHz

  • Sensitivity: (2.83v At 1m) 87db

  • Driver Compliment:1” (25 mm) metal dome tweeter 6.5” (16.5 cm) cast basket woofer with fiberglass cone

  • Nominal Impedance: 8 Ohms

  • Minimum Impedance: 3.5 Ohms

  • H x W x D: 16” x 9.5” x 8.7” / 41cm x 24cm x 22cm

  • Projected weight: 20lbs / 9 kgs

In many ways, the TM3 represents a fresh start for industry veteran Thiel Audio. Since Jim Thiel passed away in 2009, the company lacked any in-house engineering presence; that changed in September of 2013 with the addition of Mark Mason as the company’s new director of product development. A veteran engineer and loudspeaker designer from PSB, Mark is most recently known for being SVS’ “man with a plan”, and the brains behind their Ultra series loudspeakers. With his new position at Thiel, we’re expecting big things. Debuting at CES 2014, the TM3 bookshelf speaker represents the first “Mason Era” Thiel product. With a projected MSRP of $2,999 (plus $599/pair for optional stands), the TM3 has a high bar to meet, both in terms of market competition and exceeding, or matching, the legacy of Jim Thiel.

So what does the TM3 bring to the table? Thiel’s latest is a fairly standard two-way monitor sporting a 1” metal dome tweeter and a 6.5” fiberglass cone woofer in a vented enclosure. The cabinet itself is interesting, with an angled rear giving a touch of style, while also being optimized for low diffraction. Further, the TM3’s multi-ply wood construction promises high strength and low resonance. Thiel promises superior on and off axis frequency response uniformity, which our loudspeaker guru Joel Foust will hopefully get a chance to verify.

Thiel TM3 Grill

The Thiel TM3 with their optional stands offer a graceful aesthetic touch.

In terms of specifications, information is limited, though there is some data to glean. The TM3 has a rated sensitivity of 87dB with 2.83V at 1 meter, which is fairly average. A nominal impedance of 8 ohms is provided, as is a minimum of 3.5 ohms. We would prefer to see TM3 have a nominal impedance rating of 4 ohms to comply with IEC standards. As it is, a 3.5 ohm minimum impedance along with the 87dB sensitivity rating do imply that the TM3 could benefit from a reasonably powerful 4 ohm rated amplifier if you plan on pushing it to high levels. But if you are spending three grand on a pair of bookshelf speakers, we'd be willing to bet you will also spend money on a good amp. Meanwhile, frequency response is rated from 45Hz-30kHz, but unfortunately no tolerances are provided (i.e. +/- 3dB). However, taking the spec at face value, the TM3 should be capable of delivering a useful low end for most music, though the deepest notes would still require a subwoofer.


It’s undoubtedly an exciting time for the folks at Thiel. With the TM3 representing the spearhead of a fresh lineup, there’s a lot at stake for the company. A quick examination of the design doesn’t reveal any obvious flaws, which is always a good thing; however, the provided specifications are a bit light to make a real analysis. Nonetheless, with an experienced designer like Mark Mason at the helm, we have high hopes for Thiel in the future.

Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.

About the author:
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Steve Munz is a “different” addition to Audioholics’ stable of contributors in that he is neither an engineer like Gene, nor has he worked in the industry like Cliff. In fact, Steve’s day job is network administration and accounting.

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