Any Thiel CS3.6 owners?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by BossCo, Jul 31, 2015.

  1. psulioninks

    psulioninks Forum Resident

    Location:
    Kansas City, USA
    The more I think about this, I think what Don suggested about using a separate pre/power combo is probably going to be your best bet. Far more options that will allow for greater flexibility when setting your system up.

    If you research the web about the 3.6, the opinions on amplification seem to be pretty consistent: they need power/current to sound their best. This typically leads one down the path of solid state amps. The problem is, the 3.6 has somewhat of a forward presentation that can sound cold, hard and sterile with many solid state amps. And this is why many people want to mate this speaker brand with tubes. This is a great idea! But if you read what those who have mated them with tube amps often say...they sound musical, but they lack output and control in the bass region. So, many people who drive them with a tube amp end up with an expensive unit for the power. Not only are these amps inherently a lot of money, re-tubing them can be quite expensive as well.

    My ultimate suggestion would be to look for a solid state amp that has a "warm" sonic signature but will still have the power to drive them appropriately and get the best bass performance from them. When I think "warm" solid state, two brands immediately come to mind:

    1. Conrad-Johnson
    2. Classé

    I'd then pair an amp from one of these two manufacturers with a tubed preamp. You can acquire a used amp from either one of these companies for under $1,500. A new tube preamp can be purchased for around $1,000 (Quicksilver Line Preamplifier). This will allow you to inject plenty of warmth into a system that would be driving them.

    Hell, given your budget...I'd buy a used amp from BOTH of those companies and then resell one of them (assuming one of them suited your needs of course).

    That's what I would do - but I am comfortable buying used audio equipment. Food for thought!
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2018
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  2. aboulfad

    aboulfad Active Member

    Location:
    Montreal
    @psulioninks , appreciate your guidance and help. Funny, my father in law had only Classe gear but not at the time of the Thiel. Classe Delta amps are darn expensive, he has CA-2300 and in Canada used around $4k CAD. Not sure what Classe amps sell used for less than $2k, any suggestions? And buying used means also you have to be 100% sure the combination works well.

    I like your idea of a tube preamp, but I always wanted to minimize the nb of cables and boxes and cost... but if I find a winning combination preamp/amp within my budget of $5k CDN, I’ll give it a shot. And then there’s the DAC, so for a starter system into this “audiophile” world, I am looking north of $7k CDN...

    Thank you!
    ( I also live in the same city as Classe and visited them few times with my father in law. I love the brand as it was many years ago, recently they were bought by Sound United with nasty plans in the works...)
     
  3. psulioninks

    psulioninks Forum Resident

    Location:
    Kansas City, USA
    Our now defunct local dealer used to run their Thiel speakers with Classé amps - it was a wonderful combination! It was at this dealer that I learned the importance of matching components. The sales rep switched out the Classé amp for a solid state unit from Audio Research and the sound changed for the worse. I bought a CA-100 during that demo and used it happily for many years before the upgrade bug bit me.

    The amps I am referring to are older than the Delta series. I was thinking the CA-150, CA-200 or CA-300. Many people like the amps that preceded these models even more. They also made a couple of mono block amps around this same period. You could acquire a CA-150, CA-200 and maybe even a CA-300 for under $1,500.

    If you buy it right and purchase from an individual, you can always flip it if it doesn't work out in your system. Something tells me an amp from Classé would be a great combination with those speakers.
     
  4. aboulfad

    aboulfad Active Member

    Location:
    Montreal
    @psulioninks , in hindsight I should have freakin tried them when I moved them out of few weeks ago with the CA-2300. I wonder if my mother in law would sell them to me or that isn’t proper to ask :tsk: I’ll keep an eye for the other Classe, nothing comes up online, and I’ll check local audio used stores.
     
  5. psulioninks

    psulioninks Forum Resident

    Location:
    Kansas City, USA
    Just borrow them and try them out...nothing better than THAT option!
     
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  6. Don Parkhurst

    Don Parkhurst Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    I like what has been suggested, but....when I had my Thiel CS3.5s, they were fed by a Classe Audio DR-8/DR-5 combo with either an LP12 or Theta DS Pro Gen II as a source. It was still to bright. It needed an overdamped room with lots of carpeting and heavy curtains. And yet still too bright.

    A used 200watt tube power amp with a tubed preamp will give the best results, from my experience. Some tube gear can sound lean and solid state like. I would steer clear of those. Also, a warmer cable like a Cardas is your friend. I think that you can get quite good results, but it will take some time and effort.

    If you have your heart set on solid state amps, I would use a pair of Classe Audio DR-9s, set up as monoblocks will give you lots of power (400 watts/channel). Then look for a warmish sounding tube preamp.

    The earlier Classe Audio gear was substantially better sounding than the models that followed. By then Dave Reich (the founder and original designer) had been forced out the door by Glen Crüe (Sales Manager I believe) and some others. They never did sound quite as good as great designers are few and far between.

    You can find some great used Classe gear at pretty good prices, but I still feel that you would be happiest in the long run with tube monoblocks and a tube preamp.

    Don
     
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  7. G B Kuipers

    G B Kuipers Forum Resident

    Location:
    Netherlands
    I had this problem too (trying to find optimum amplification for power hungry speakers, not Thiels btw). It feels like you've painted yourself in a corner. I decided to get out by changing to more efficient speakers. Glad I did! A whole world of affordable amplifier choices opened up to me. Guess it depends on how much you love your Thiels...
     
  8. aboulfad

    aboulfad Active Member

    Location:
    Montreal
    Hallo, mijn vrouw is Nederlands :) so those are her father’s speakers and I am trying my best to keep them in the family. But I agree with you for a noob into this domain, they aren’t the easiest speakers to work with.

    Totsiens :wave:
     
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  9. G B Kuipers

    G B Kuipers Forum Resident

    Location:
    Netherlands
    Dat is toevallig!

    Definitely agree that in case of an emotional connection, it will be even more satisfying to make the Thiels shine with the right amplification!
     
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  10. richsto

    richsto Forum Resident

    Location:
    Washington
    Had my Thiel 3.6’s for a dozen years and wouldn’t willingly ever part with them. Yes they are finicky, especially wth regard to an amp. Heard them driven by lots of amps and couldnt afford most that drove them properly. Need lots and lots of current. Not going to get there easily with a tube power amp. Tried lots of “hi power” amps in the 200-300 watt/8 ohm range, most didn’t have the necessary output to deal with the demanding impedance curve. The older Classe’s are a match made in heaven - suggest a CA-200 or CA-300. Also had pretty good success (don’t laugh) with a Sunfire 300.

    Good luck and don’t give up! Magic can happen with these it’s just a pit more work.

    Rich
     
  11. psulioninks

    psulioninks Forum Resident

    Location:
    Kansas City, USA
    Our friend should be able to get a CA-200 for $1,000 or so. Mated to a nice little tube preamp...I think this would make for a great system.
     
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  12. aboulfad

    aboulfad Active Member

    Location:
    Montreal
    Guys, first I’d like to thank you for providing constant useful suggestions for a noob, very much appreciated :righton: I visited today the local “speciality” shop and met the other owner, Graeme Humfrey and we jointly agreed that it’s best I focus my initial steps on easier speakers such the ProAc Studio 2 i also have and love from my father in law. @G B Kuipers i am getting out of that corner ;-)

    I like what was jointly suggested above about Classe Ca-200, and so it turns out my mother in law asked me if she should get rid few weeks ago of a Spectral DMC-15 pre-amp gathering dust... so this unit is mine if I should choose to use it w the Thiel in the future. This has been a very educational experience for me, it put me in touch with tube amps which I would have never in a million years considered!

    (OT, So the setup I’ll trial soon for my ProAc Studio 2, is the Unison Research Simply Italy and MHDT Labs Pagoda or Stockholm 2)
     
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  13. G B Kuipers

    G B Kuipers Forum Resident

    Location:
    Netherlands
    Exciting audio times ahead then! Enjoy!
     
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  14. Jrr

    Jrr Forum Resident

    May I ask you guys a question. I have a Krell preamp and I've always used Adcom amps with my Thiel 3.6's. I've always been happy as I know I'm pretty much hearing everything pressed into vinyl, but I've never been thrilled. I have a VPI Prime table, Chinook pre and on impuse I finally got my holy grail amp, a Krell from a forum member. Or so I thought. It definitely was an upgrade to the sound, but it sounds just a tad harsh and after reading these posts I'm guessing the Kress and Adcoms I had, are not a good match. If I got something recommended here, can anyone tell me exactly what I will hear differently? I got the Krell because of the Krell pre I had. I was so excited to acquire it, but maybe that was a mistake? Thanks as always.
     
  15. psulioninks

    psulioninks Forum Resident

    Location:
    Kansas City, USA
    Speakers such as Thiels are not warm sounding speakers...they are detail champs that have a forward and somewhat cold and sterile sound. Speakers such as this should be mated to a warm sounding amplifier. I would not call Adcom a company that makes warm sounding amps - I can't speak to the Krell.
     
  16. richsto

    richsto Forum Resident

    Location:
    Washington
    The 3.6s were not bad with the Krells I’ve heard them with but wouldn’t be my very first choice. Good amps but a bit forward in the midrange with the Thiels as I recall. Your mileage may vary depending on which Krell. Something with the older Classe amps (ie CA-200 and CA-300) just made the Thiels sound very musical without that tendency for forwardness that sometimes shows with some amp/3.6 combos. Also heard them driven well by a Conrad Johnson amp, although I don’t recall which model. Really just have to try and repeat until you find something compatible with the difficult impedance curve on the Thiels.

    My advice enjoy what you have for now - pick up some of the recommended amps used so you don’t loose your shirt and enjoy the journey.
     
  17. Jrr

    Jrr Forum Resident

    Thanks to both of you. And yes, I would characterize the sound exactly as described. Great sound, but definitely not warm. They do seem very detailed. A great investment as I've had them for 25 years and have no desire to upgrade.
     
  18. Jrr

    Jrr Forum Resident

    If I got a tube amp (a new or not too old model) what amperage would be needed to really crank them (I know tube amps are rated on another scale and know little about that). And are brands as important in the tube field as electronic amps for these speakers?
     
  19. captwillard

    captwillard Forum Resident

    Location:
    Nashville
    Mark Levinson stuff always sounded great with Thiel to me.
     
  20. aboulfad

    aboulfad Active Member

    Location:
    Montreal
    The summary of my research, is in order to drive the Thiel efficiently with a tube amp, you need lots of tube power amps/Watts, so something like the previously recommended VTL ST-150/200. I started looking for a CA-200, but nothing on the used market. So keeping the Thiel on the side for now.

    And just like anything in this "audiophile" world, everything matters, Brand, design, components, manufacturing,.. The only way you are sure, is by trying at home or in the store, if possible. Thats my noob 2 cents advice, GL
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2018
  21. Jrr

    Jrr Forum Resident

    Thank you...that rules out one I was looking at.
     
  22. AJH

    AJH Forum Resident

    Location:
    PA Northern Tier
    I had a friend who owned a high end audio store, and in one showroom he had Thiel 3.6's connected to Mark Levinson 33H monoblocks, and the 3.6's sounded absolutely wonderful (although I honestly I have to admit that almost any other high end speaker he had in that showroom sounded great connected to the 33H monoblocks).
     
  23. aboulfad

    aboulfad Active Member

    Location:
    Montreal
    OMG, at $33k per pair, I bet any speakers in this world will sound good... even the difficult CS3.6!
     
  24. Tullman

    Tullman I prefer analog

    Location:
    Boston MA
    I used a Krell KSA 150 with my 3.6's and I liked that combo a lot. My dealer was using Krell amps exclusively with Thiels.
     
  25. Jrr

    Jrr Forum Resident

    S
    So did my dealer. Interesting...a lot of negative comments about using Krell and Adcom and those are the only two amps I have ever used. Ironic!
     

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