Int Amp for Thiel CS 3.7


I need some advice on choosing the right Int amp to drive a pair of Thiel CS 3.7
Here are some that i can think of : Hegel H360, Modwright KWI 200 SE, Karan KA-I 180 MK2 and others.

Thieliste
B5b450ad 8377 4fe3 83d0 be5c17500604thieliste
Such great speakers. A shame to use an integrated instead of a stereo amp or mono blocks.
I agree but when you have limited budget you have to make a choice.
Get a used McIntosh integrated.
From experience, a tube preamp with solid state amp.  If you can’t afford this combo right away, buy a used BAT vk300 for the interim and save up.  Best...
Any experience with the Modwright KIW 200 SE ?
An Ayre integrated might work well.
What is your budget?
Have you considered T+A? The PA 3000 HV?
Pass Int 250 or Gryphon Diablo 300 ?
Which has the right sound signature for CS 3.7 ?
The question more should be which sound signature do you prefer.  The Thiels do a good job of reproducing what is given them; I can't imagine them not sounding terrific with either of those amplifiers.  Any way you could audition those amps to see if one has a sound you prefer over the other?
I presently use an Ayre VX-5 Twenty power amp with my Thiel CS2.4 and it has excellent synergy in my system. I recommend you consider the Ayre AX-5 twenty integrated as a match for the CS3.7
The panel here offers very good company - thieliste.
Hope you are well and playing good music today.
Happy Listening!

I'd suggest a minimum of 400 Watts into 2 Ohms, and depending on your room and desired listening levels, twice or more than that might be more appropriate.

I think you'll find that many of even the more respected manufacturers integrated amps are incapable of doubling down and down again into 2 Ohm loads.

https://www.stereophile.com/content/thiel-cs37-loudspeaker-specifications

https://www.stereophile.com/content/thiel-cs37-loudspeaker-measurements

The Pass INT 250 is doubling down to 2 Ohm.

^ thieliste, I haven't seen anything to support that. If you have, please share. The Pass Labs website's spec sheet doesn't provided a 4 or 2 Ohm spec. As much as I am a fan of Nelson Pass's work, Stereophile's measurements have been finding the Pass Labs wanting in this area.:

https://www.passlabs.com/amplifier/int-250

https://www.stereophile.com/content/pass-labs-int-150-integrated-amplifier-measurements

https://www.stereophile.com/content/pass-laboratories-int-60-integrated-amplifier-measurements

The French distributor on his website, i don't know if this is true :

http://www.zedhifi.com/product.php?id_product=59

thieliste , I presume presumption on the part of that distributor. No, the irony is not lost on me.:-)

I spoke to an old Thiel dealer and he told me after having tried many different brands like Pass, Bryston, Classé, ASR, and McIntosh, the best of them all with Thiel speakers is Sugden  and also Luxman :

https://www.sugdenaudio.com/sapphire-series
Thiel's are a great speaker.  If you can't afford the ancillaries, wait until you can.   Ayre or comp.....    Call Audioconnection in New Jersey....John will steer you into happiness
There are a couple Vitus RI100s available here now that I'd think would sound phenomenal with your Thiels.  Best of luck. 

I recommend something warm with Thiel, or else brass and alto sax at high volume can be hard on the ears...

McIntosh, Pass Labs class A, Luxman class A, Sugden.

thieliste, which specific models of Sugden and Luxman?
Mark Levinson No. 585 Integrated, comes up on the used market for around $6K. No personal experience with those speakers but they should do fairly well paired up.
techno_dude you said it all.
unsound for Sugden you have the SPA-4 or even better the FBA-800.
For Luxman i think it's the M-900u.
Kalali sorry but i absolutely don't like Mark Levinson's lastest amps and Int.
Love the thread, here would be our take on this.

First Stringreen Mr. Rutan is not the appropriate source for Mr. Thielliste who lives in Europe. Europe has many find dealers and distributors, and working accross the pond can be costly and difficult.

Point number two, the concept that separates are always better is fallacious, a great quality integrated beats the stuffings out of a less capable set of separate components.

One poster here purchased a T+A HV 3100 integrated, not from us, and it blew away his Pass separates, in the original HV series review from Mr. Allan Taffel in TAS, Mr. Taffel compared the $18k T+A integrated to a $120k worth of Ch Precision separates and was having difficulty telling which was which, so yes an uber class integrated amp, from Vitus, T+A, or Gryphon as well as a few others will beat most separates easily..

Thiels generally love warmer amplifiers and current. Most of the amplifers like the Luxman are not that powerful, the class A integrateds are excellent but are only 30 watts for $10k with alot of current so no there, the Mcintosh stuff is warm, but most Mac integrated don’t have the speed and openess of the really good integrateds. Hegel is nice but not enough real body and warmth the 360 is an excellent amp for the money but there are still better amps out there.

Also String, the Ayre gear tends to be a bit dry which works well with warmer voiced speakers like Vandys, not so good with leaner cleaner speakers like Thiel. The other poster who likes the combo may have other warmer things to help add a bit more midrange magic to his setup.

Theilliste, we have recommended the T+A R 2500 to another gentleman who is on the West Coast, so no he didn’t purchase from us, and he bought the T+A R 2500 a $11,500 140 watt integrated which blew away the Pass int he has also demoing. The R 2500 keeps on doubling down power to a staggering 550 watts into a 1 ohm load.

Right now in Europe T+A is moving out the HV 3000 in favor for the newer 3100 so perhaps you can find one in your price range, same thing with Vitus.

As per Gryphon vs Pass, no contest Gryphon any day. Rassmussen uses better parts and a more refinded circuit both men are very talented designers. Gryphon is more methodical in build quality and parts selection over Pass.

Also Mark Levinson gear tends to be a bit on the clean but dry side so our take woud be warmer amps like Vitus, Gryphon or T+A.

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ
Dave and Troy many thanks for your input, i diden't think T+A would be on the warm side therefore i will have to check them out.
There is no distributor in my area but i guess it would be possible to order directly from Germany.
As for Gryphon i have auditioned the Diablo 300 and liked it very much, a lot of weight and darker sounding, would be a good match for the CS 3.7
Dave and Troy any experience with Sugden ?

@audiotroy .  I’ve owned Thiels in the past.  I can tell you from firsthand experience that separates are the best way to proceed with Thiels.  I’ve said this before; a tube preamp with a ss amp!  Kathy Gornik of Thiel used to say that “she’s never heard a Thiel that didn’t sound better with a tube preamp in the system.”  This coming from her was certainly not a knock on them so much as it was a tried and true listening experience/observation.

The old synergy used to be ARC pre and Classe amp.  Krell, Levinson and Bryston were used by Jim Thiel as well as Conrad Johnson and BAT.  It’s all about balance.  A high current amp is needed with the right tube preamp. You don’t want a warmer amp with a warmer tube preamp and warm cables.  The right cabling is important to tie it all together.  A lot of these newer brands you’re peddling these days are not up to the task of driving Thiels properly. Using an integrated amp with cs3.7 is like putting a trolling motor on a Scarab or Fountain imo.

Also, nothing wrong with consulting with JohnnyR.  He knows first order and time aligned speakers better than most, and that does include Thiel.  OP doesn’t have to buy from Senor Rutan.  I’d stay out of the Thiel arena and leave it to the past or current users here that indeed have the experience and thus better advice.

@thieliste ....if it were me I’d look for a very good used ss amp.  200 Watts per channel into 8 ohms....2x into 4 ohm with lots of current.  Then buy the best tube preamp you can afford....new or used.  Be attuned to the input impedance of the amp vs your preamp.  Best....






I would have to save up for quite a while lol.
thieliste
this one recently crossed my radar, Audia Flight, has very little representation here in the USA.Audia Flight FLS 10 Integrated.

Happy Listening!
A couple years ago i got to hear the 3.7s with the Hegel integrated. Sound was great, it's what I would go for.
Hegel integrated sounded very good with KEF Blade. Should also sound good  with my second favorite speaker, Thiel CS 3.7. The Hegel separates were a little better with the Blades..

or the new Luxman integrated would be an interesting choice. It is supposed to be a little warm but detailed.

https://www.whathifi.com/luxman/l-509x/review

Since you mentioned 10K as your price point. I would also recommend the Benchmark AHB2 (3K USD each). Buy 2 of them and run in mono block mode. You will also need a preamp. 

I have one of these amps in my office running in stereo mode and I am seriously considering buying 2 more of them when I get the KEF Bade. I think very highly of these amps. They are 380 watts in mono mode.
Carmnec your statement that you have to use separates is wrong, the uber integrated amplifiers, which include a $45,000.00 Dagastino, the $18k Gryphon Diablo 300,the $23k T+A HV 3100 series are three examples of uber integrated amplifiers that challenge, and outperform many separates.

If you read what we wrote the previous T+A model the HV 3000 at $18k was compared to $120k worth of Ch Precision gear WHICH ARE SEPARATES! and was found to sound nearly as good as those pieces read the article.

http://www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/ta-pa-3000-hv-and-mp-3000-hv/

"After a Reality Check stage that, as noted, somewhat curbed my enthusiasm, I decided to set all that aside and listen afresh to the T+A combo playing either CDs or hi-res files via SPDIF. The sound, once more, just blew me away. I invited fellow TAS writer Karl Schuster to drop by and have a listen. He summed things up perfectly when he described the sound as “spooky good.” That spook factor stems from how eerily close these units come to the sound of far costlier Swiss gear. And that, I realized anew, is really the bottom line here. "

Also in particular the T+A electronics are very warm sounding and were actually designed to mimic what a tube does,

" Most notably, the “HV” in its model names indicates that these pieces run at an unusually high voltage. Whereas most solid-state amp electronics operate at about 100 volts internally, T+A gooses its HV units to a whopping 360 volts—roughly the range of tube gear. As in valve equipment, these voltages ensure that the amplification devices are working well within their operating parameters. Indeed, the HV models utilize only about 20 percent of their amplification transistors’ available range. This, in turn, greatly reduces non-linearities. The goal, says T+A, is to mate the naturalness of valves with the speed of solid-state. "

Also in terms of practicallity a uber integrated amplifier takes up less space and only uses one power cord, as well as saving the cost $1k to ??  of a good interconnect cable.

As per experience with Thiels, I used to work for Innovative Audio and actually SOLD Thiels, I don’t think Audio Connection ever sold Thiel, and what works for a Vandersteen does not work well for a Thiel, just because a speaker uses a first order slope means nothing.

Thiel used mostly metal dome tweeters and metal coaxial midrange drivers, vs Vandy whose models used coated Aluminium tweeters and woven midrange drivers point is that other than both being time and phase aligned designs both these speakers sound totally different!

Vandy’s always sounded warm while Thiels has a tendency to sound a bit cold and anaylitical Thiels benefitted from warmer electronics pairings while Vandy worked better with more neutral to brighter more detailed rigs such as Bryston amps, Ayre, or ARC..

By the Carmec I sold Vandy’s by the way as well, I used to work for SBS who sold Vandy, which included 1C, 2CE, 3, worked for Innovative who sold Thiel so actually we have experience with both brands.

Also Camnec asisde from actually selling and setting up Thiels for years, I actually knew and talked with Jim Thiel.

The other advantage of an uber class integrated is you know what it will sound like you don’t have the variability of having to use X brand preamp with Y brand amp.

We would agree with you that a good tube preamp combined with a solid state amp was the traditional Thiel pairing, however, tube and tube sounded sometimes wonderful a popular Thiel pairing at Innovative was BAT VK 3i a clean and open less tuby sounding tube preamp with a Rotel solid state or Classe or even a VAC PA 100/100 tube amplifier.

Carmec, your last statement; " Using an integrated amp with cs3.7 is like putting a trolling motor on a Scarab or Fountain imo."

The T+A HV integrated puts out 300 watts into an 8ohm load and 500 watts into a 4ohm load, the R series integrated puts out 550 watts into a 1 ohm load and can easily drive a pair of Thiels. So your comments are completely misguided.

Thielliste the combo you mentoned would be excellent as the Vac gear is really musical and tends to be on the warmer side of neutral and Mr. Dagastino’s newer amps are voiced a bit on the warmer side. with that being said I would still demo a T+A HV 3100 and a Gryphon Diablo 300 you might be shocked how much you would love the sound of these uber integrateds.

We used to sell Luxman and the pure class A integrated amplifers smoked the Class A/B versions the 509 AX is an excellent integrated amp but may not be powerful enough for the big Theils.

Also the Hegel integrated amplifiers are good but are not in this class of the uber integrated amplifiers level of performance.

Carmec, your intentions are good, however, you can not speak of this kind of generality, in principle separates are usually better, with the class of uber integrated amplifiers you are not correct.

An uber integrated may vastly outperform even very good separates.

One of the posters here purchased a T+A integrated which blew away his Pass gear which were separates so it really does depend on what your experience is.

Dave owner, Audio Doctor





@audiotroy ....I think you’re wrong, so it’s a stalemate.  You just validated my point.  That is; you don’t have to spend mega bucks on an integrated amp like the ones you mentioned.  One can achieve a much better sound and synergy with Thiels using a high current amp and a tube preamp.  You’re throwing out watts per channel numbers when current is more important with Thiels.   I also spoke with Jim many times and they used mostly Krell and BAT.  One of the best sounds I’ve ever heard from Thiels was with a Levinson 336 amp and Thiel cs2.4.  You know what kind of amp and tube preamp you could buy for the ridiculous prices of the esoteric integrateds you mentioned!?  Oh I almost forgot, you’re into sales of such.

You don’t need to remind me of the differences between Thiel and Vandersteen.  Had lots of experience with both.   So there you have it, just because you’re a dealer trying to sell your goods doesn’t mean I and others here are misguided. No offense but I’ll take JohnnyR ( @audioconnection ) advice about synergistic systems over yours any day.  You don’t need to feel the need to lecture me like you do some others around here.  You and I ain’t ever going to agree.  I hope you spend as much time selling as you do posting here for your sake.....
Carmenc,

Lets set a couple of points straight:

WE ARE NOT SELLING ANYTHING to the OP who  lives in Europe

If you've read his posts Mr. Theilliste is all over the place on trying to figure out what would sound best on his Thiels.

He mentioned a budget of 10,000 Euro's with today's exchange rates would be around $12k-14k in equvilent dollars.

If this is the case you are not going to find better pieces newer pieces fitting in that price point. Sure you can buy a 3-5 year  old tube preamp and a solid state amp like a used Krell or something or a newer amp built to a lesser price point like the Benchmark but then the issue is for X dollars will that combo sound as good as an uber integrated? 

We are directly refuting your previous statement: I’ve owned Thiels in the past.  I can tell you from firsthand experience that separates are the best way to proceed with Thiels.  I’ve said this before; a tube preamp with a ss amp!  

To which we wrote: Carmnec your statement that you have to use separates is wrong, the uber integrated amplifiers, which include a $45,000.00 Dagastino, the $18k Gryphon Diablo 300,the $23k T+A HV 3100 series are three examples of uber integrated amplifiers that challenge, and outperform many separates.

If you read what we wrote the previous T+A model the HV 3000 at $18k was compared to $120k worth of Ch Precision gear WHICH ARE SEPARATES! and was found to sound nearly as good as those pieces read the article.

Carmenc,you expouse the same thinking that many people here do you start shopping for an affordable older used setup or start shopping at lesser priced amplifiers in order to fit the budget.
 
Dave do you think the T+A HV 3100  will be more refined and have more magic with my CS 3.7 compared to the Diablo 300 and the Vitus RI-101 ? or is it a close call ?
Thanks,

Thieliste

@audiotroy,

The Luxman I referenced is not the AX model you are describing. It is the brand new UBER Luxman integrated, Luxman L-509X. It is supposed to be a mix of the top of the line separates in a single chassis. Similar in goal as the T&A integrated.

I have learned that in audio price is not always a good barometer of quality.

BTW - read up what the Magico designers think of Hegel. I was a little surprised at how much respect they bestowed on Hegel. Soundstage.com has an interview with the designer talking about the new A3 speaker. He demoed with Hegel.
yyzsantabarbera we know the Uber Luxman and we haven't tested it. The Luxman gear is very good, however, we sold the brand for years, liked it a bit better than the Hegel gear which we also sold.

The T+A 2500R is the most remarkable semi affordable integrated we have ever tested in the shop.  Its combination of huge soundstage width and depth coupled with a very engaging and liquid midrange was something extraordinary not exhibited in many of these pieces.

Hegel gear is very good, but just slightly misses the more organic quality of the best gear, it could be something with the feed foward circuit design. 

As with any of this gear you have to listen for yourself. We had some of the older 800 series Luxman pieces in and the T+A was in a different league.

The Luxman engineers take a more complicated design track then the T+A engineers. The Lucca volume circuit is quite complex, vs T+A traditional optical encoder opening up gas contact relays and individual resistors. 

Luxman makes fantastic gear some of the best they just didn't seem to offer the same set of qualities of resolution plus liquidity we heard in the T+A gear, we would welcome the shootout. 

It all comes down to what you value, these are all stellar pieces.

When we tested the T+A gear it bettered the Thrax gear, CJ gear, Devialet, and Electrcompaniet gear we compared it to. The T+A integrated was compared to Naim, Norma, Coda, Devialet, and Electcompaniet amps at the time. 

Hope that clarifys our points.

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ


Theiliste,  this is a hard question, these are all fantastic pieces amoung the best in the world.

T+A has a number of advantages over the other pieces if you are talking the PA 3100 aside from just the sound.

1: The T+A PA 3100 can come with a fantatic phono card which is a world class phono stage for $1,800.00

2: The T+A PA 3100 can also come with a unique room correction/eq card to tailor the sound to your room.

3: The T+A PA 3100 can be upgraded by adding an outboard power supply for even better performance.

4: IT HAS METERS!  Who doesn't like a nice set of meters?

Sonically the T+A is a bit on the warm side, the Gryphon gear tends to be a bit darker sounding.

The Vitus gear to our ears also tends to be a bit on the darker side of neutral haven't heard the latest version. 

The Gryphon and Vitus can have built in digital which is a big cost saving. 

These are all exceptional products for the money that can challenge many of the best separate amp/preamp combos, the T+A PA 3100 is really the company's separate PA 3000 amp and Preamp in one chassis. The performance is very close. 

Next step would be to audition in your home these pieces.

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ 


@thieliste   I agree with @audiotroy in his post above. The only way to truly determine what will work best for you, is to try the amps you are interested in, in your own system.

Early in this thread, I made the recommendation to consider T+A and specifically the PA 3000 HV, because used or demo units can be had for less than your budget and I believe they will deliver what you are looking for. Used or demo may be more difficult with the PA 3100 HV since it is a newly released component, and is likely to come in above your budget, even in used condition.

I recently went through a lengthy and thorough evaluation of a number of amps in my own system and the T+A PA 3100 HV was my clearly preferred choice over my Pass (separates), Lyric Audio, Mastersound, and Ypsilon integrated amps. A trip to NYC/NJ fell through which unfortunately meant I was unable to audition the Gryphon 300, Vitus SIA-025, and Grandinote Essenza integrated amps in dealer setups.

I also had the opportunity to listen to the Thiel CS 5i speakers driven by a mix of Ayre and Krell amplification in @dlcockrum 's system. Having heard these speakers in person makes me comfortable recommending the T+A amplification components for your CS 3.7s.

I also second @audiotroy 's description of the T+A components.

If you have specific questions, feel free to ask here or PM me.

All the best with your search.
I finally have a T+A distributor in my country since april 2018 so i will try to get in touch with him and see if it is possible to demo this gear.
The Luxman L-509X looks beautiful but i'm not sure it has the juice to drive properly Thiel 3.7s.
Thanks Dave for the information, your making me curious about this T+A brand lol

Heard t a with magico. Wasn’t a match wasn’t impressed
@david_ten  Thanks for your feedbacks on all of this gear that you were able to audition, i'm surprised you prefered the T+A 3100 over the Ypsilon Int, that does speak to me.
I'm a big fan of Ypsilon, last year i was fortunate enough to demo the PST-100 preamp and the Aelieus II Monoblocks in my system and was blown away but here we're talking €52K worth of gear.
Yesterday i spoke to the new T+A distributor who just got back from Munich and he told me the 3100 HV should retail for about €13K.
Anyway i might be able to compare the T+A 3100 HV and the Luxman L-509X at a dealer's.
Calvinj, 

The T+A gear is magnificent, and in our tests has consistantly beaten everything we have compared it to including, Devialet, Thrax, Electrocompaniet, Conrad Johnson,  and in field tests Krell MRA amplifiers and a $90k set of Boulders which were a tick better however,  the T+A actually had a more flushed out bass and cost a lot less.

You not being blown away by the Magico setup is hard to know what was doing it, was it the room, the cables, the source components? Without switching out just the electronics it is impossible to know what is affecting what and in what way.

Theiliste, try out the T+A 3100 HV use a good power cord, and a good source components, let the unit warm up for a day and then see what you think.

It is definately one of the finest one box pieces on the market, what is really cool if you look at the $19k PA 3000 amp and the matching P 3000 preamp at $16k you will see the same amplfier power supply and circuitry, with a very similar board to the P 3000, in the 3100 integrated the power supply is more exotic in the separates but in reality you are getting very close performance for almost half the price, true separates in one box. 

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ


The T+A, Vitus, and Gryphon amps (not familiar with Luxman) are obviously all fantastic and will drive your speakers without breaking a sweat.  At this level it comes down purely to personal taste and system synergy.  If you can't hear all of them in person, read all the reviews you can and look for the one that matches best with the sound characteristics you are personally looking for and that are most important to you and choose that one.  Frankly, I'd be shocked if you weren't absolutely thrilled by any of these, so fortunately for you going wrong has likely been removed as an option.  Best of luck and let us know how it goes.