At a just barely a grand each, the SCS4 really should be a mid- to low-market audiofile unit. So when I set up these speakers, I matched them against other perfectly reasonable mid-market equipment: The Denon AVR-2808CI integrated amp, and my own home made cabling and wiring. But after just 3 seconds of listening to the SCS4s, they were just too good to compare. That meant I had some serious upgrading and benchmarking to do. And hence the annoying part: there were a few trips to the audio store for better cables; cleaning up my listening room to get it tuned properly; and ringing out the electronics so the signals were as they should be. It all turned into work.
But the remarkable part was, the THIELs were worth it. The speakers performed well enough to bring the best -- and worst -- out of the signal being run into them: a sign of a high-quality piece of audio equipment.
What you're listening for in better sound is the unparalleled experience of having a musical master -- and this not drivel here, but the actual experience -- in the room with you. To this day, and I have heard this recording more times than I can count, on good equipment Billy Holiday is there in my living room singing "Lover Man." No kidding.
Great sound equipment is not about loudness or rumbling low sounds or any of that nonsense -- it is about transparency. That is, capturing what happened and rendering that for you as clearly as possible. And from this perspective, the THIELs do a heck of a job for the price. Particularly for mid-frequency details, that is the bits of sounds that float around in the middle noises and the scratch and movements of the musicians themselves, these speakers rendered remarkably well.
And THIEL has been smart to build real world flexibility here. These units will work well on their side, say on a book shelf, or on a stand or a table, or even the floor, though I would not recommend that. Toss in the very nice cherry finish, the excellent workmanship and the well-done grill details, and THIEL has put in a lot of value here.
What you don't get: A state of the art speaker.
The SCS4s perform better than what I would expect for a $1,000 box. But there are limits. Their cleanliness of sound, while a virtue for many applications, gets a bit bland after a while. I miss the punch and lushness of a larger, more complex, and yes more expensive, unit. And don't think of overdriving these THIELs with a big fat amp. They are clear, but they are not massively powerful. So use your judgment.
Bottom line: Jim Thiel has made a lot of box for the money. And if you are looking for ways to drown your sorrows these dark days, he has given you another option besides scotch.