I believe the Thiels need a high current Class A amp to open up. I tried a bunch of different amps on mine, Parasound 3500 which put up 350? watts I think per channel and I was never happy, I also tried Bryston 4BSt and never quite contented, Krell KAV250 drives it but it sounded bright to me, the only one that works was the Krell FPB200, even though it's only rated at 200 watts it doubles on 4 ohms which gives the Thiels 400 watts of clean pure class A power. It sounds awesome without a hint of brightness that other audiophiles associate Thiel and Krell with. Ofcourse you have to really provide good cabling and proper room acoustics to be able to get it right.Top notch source and preamplification is already a given. It still never ceases to amaze me whenever I listen to it, at times I find myself with smirk on my face thinking, Damn! this really sounds good.
The affordable and good value Thiel 3.6 combo I've ever heard is with Rogue M120 monos(BTW quite famous combo in audio dealerships to audition to). I've never had Thiels, but as I've mentioned that many dealers demonstrate this combo and there are plenty of ways to audition to it bringing your own source and/or preamp. A little step-up will be with VTL MB125 but with more$
I am currently using a CJ MF2500 with a CJ Premiere 17ls preamp and audioquest cables with my 3.6's and am extremely happy with the combination. Very realistic, open, airy, huge soundstage with depth and great bass response.I listen mostly to classical and some jazz.
I have owned a pair of 3.6's for quite a while. The bad rap they get for "brightness" is because they are very resolving - what you hear is the equipment behind them and not the speaker. Unfortunately, they require state of the art amplification to sound their best; and that's their downside - pairing 20+k worth of gear to a $4200 speaker doesn't add up. Your best bet is somewhere in the neighborhood of used Mark Levinson such as the 23.5, 27.5, 33(4,5,6) or Spectral, C-J MF**, Aragon, Forte, Pass Labs, Bel Canto - good quality SS. Pipe these up with MIT cabling (don't go overboard, the cheaper MI330/MH750 pairing is more than enough), keep them 9 feet apart (no toe-in), 10 feet away, and 3 feet from the back wall and you will be quite happy.
My 3.6's playmates are the Levinson 20.6 mono's, CAT pre, Theta Va, CEC TL-1 and MIT Reference cabling. I chose the 3.6 with this setup because of all the speakers I auditioned, the next runner up cost $15K - just not worth it for the (noticeable) difference in sound. (At least in MY room).
I'm driving my 3.6's with an Aragon 8008BB, and it sounds fine. It is also rated at 200 watts/channel, and, like the Krell, doubles its output power into 4 ohms. It's a lot less money than Krell or Levinson amps, though.
I have my 3.6's toed in so that you can just barely see the inner surface of the wood cabinet; that was the advice of the dealer where I bought them. I have them 7.5 feet apart, 3 feet from the back wall, 2.5 feet from the side walls, and about 10 feet away.
For what it's worth, the rest of my system includes the Denon 1650AR CD player, the Bryston BP-20 preamp, Pro-Silway II interconnects, Analysis Plus 0val 9 speaker cable, and the ExactPower 2000 AC correction system.
A couple years ago at CES Thiel was paired up with the then new McCormack DNA-225. The speakers were the seven point somethings(can't remember exact model), so if Thiel felt there were synergies between their speakers and McCormack electronics and the 225 had the juice to drive the sevens(sounded pretty damn good to these ears), I would think they might be worth auditioning for the 3.6s and may save some $$$ versus other alternatives. Personally I'd be looking for a used DNA-2.0LAE, but that's another story. Best of luck.
I bought a used Krell KSA-150. The speakers they used to to demo the amp was the 3.6. It was outstanding! I was very impressed how well they worked together. When they took the amp out it was replaced by a Aragon 8008BB it was a good match also. I liked the Krell better.
I juice mine with a Classe CA-301. I agree with GS556 on the MIT cables. I started with 750 shotguns and 330 interconnects (balanced). This made for some very good sound. Then I went to 770 twin with 350 ref. twin interconnects and a MIT ref AES/EBU digital cable. This made for great sound. I also agree that Thiels are revealing and must be set in front of some decent gear. Once everything is right they will knock your socks off. Be sure you give them lots and lots of power, you won't be sorry.
I'm driving mine with a McCormack DNA-1 Deluxe Revision A Gold and I have no complaints.
I had good luck with a Bryston 4B and MIT 750 speaker cables. The sound appeared to be a bit bright but was very dependent on the preamp and source. I eventually wound up with a Classe DR6 preamp, Linn turntable, and Goldmund transport and DAC. Good recordings were fabulous but bad recordings were fully exposed and not enjoyable.
Great speakers, I'm driving mine with a classe ca200, cj preamp, kimber wire - kcag, waiting on some kctg and 8tc. classe offers plenty of power, will drive the thiels as loud as i want to go with no congestion or brightness. One of the previous posters is correct Thiels are not bright the electronics behind them usually are, my system is still on the warm side even with silver ic's. Room placement is critical, they sound best when away from all walls. enjoy...
I started out driving mine with an older Aragon 4004 Mk II. They sounded very good but all the majic was not there. Now using Bryston 7B's in High Current mode - Fantastic!!! I also recommend Classe 301 and up.
I've had great success with the older Krell line / the KSA and MDA series. The least powerful is the KSA-150 and the most powerful & mighty MDA-500 mono blocks. I have all 3 of these rotating in my system which was built around the CS-3.6's...Try a KSA-150 (plenty of power/150-300-600-1200 @ 1 ohm) first with MIT MH-750 cables. Both used would run about $2k to $2.5k and you can purchase a second KSA-150 at a later date and have them converted over to the admirable MDA-300 mono blocks if more power is needed, ie. large room or Stupid Approved listening levels. Thiel even used the MDA series during the design back in the early 90's.
I beleive the Thiel recommends using CLasse with their speakers. I've never heard it but thiel reccommends it and everyone who tries it loves it. I hope this helps.
Using ML 333 with mine. It sounds a bit laid back, I think this is due to the ML amp. Otherwise, very detailed, good soundstage, and well-controled bass. Very revealing of any weakness of front end equipment and bad recordings. I am running a pair of Transparent Ultras speaker cable. The rest of the system consists of ARC LS 2B MkII pre + PH3 SE for phono; ML #37 (transport) + Genesis Digital Lens + SFD2 MkII (D/A) for digital; Michell Orbe SE + SME V + Benz M2 (woodbody) for analog. MIT balanced interconnects, Illuminati digital cables, Eletra Glide powercords + PS P300. I am using NOS tubes and different cones/vibation devices to fine tune the sound. I've also had my Pass Aleph Os running the 3.6s for a little while. Not enough power, but great with small ensembles at low volume. It's in my bedroom powering my second system now.
Classe amps sound wonderful with Thiels, as a matter of fact I had the pleasure of meeting Jim Thiel about 10 months ago and he too loves Classe gear with Thiel speakers. Thiels tend to blow tweeters easily, so watch out with the volumn and size of the amp. Consider a Classe CA201 or CA 301 amp.