preamp or no? if so, which one?

hey guys.
i just started looking for a preamp and am looking for some guidance.

so far i have thiel 3.5s and a classe ca-200. my only source will be a cd player, which i have yet to purchase. i usually listen to live concert recordings done with mics, not from the soundboard. the recordings usually have warmth and capture the ambience of the room, so i don't really want to add anything to the sound.

i guess my first thought is, do i even need a preamap?
should i use a cd player with a volume control, or can a separate volume control be used between a cd player without a volume control and the bass eq box (came with the 3.5s)?
i should also add that the eq box doesn't have balanced connections.

if i do decide to go without a preamp, how do i go about impedance matching, and are there any other compatibility issues?
how would the eq box affect matching the components?

finally, i'de like "cost effective" solutions, if possible. i have the speakers and amp that i will probably hold on to for a while, so it doesn't bother me to leave some room for improvement in the preamp/cd player areas. i have nothing against upgrading these components later.
Quad 99 CD-P with volume control and 6 digital inputs has been getting very good reviews. I do not know your price range but the Quad costs $1500.
Do a search for Bent Audio TVC (transformer volume control) here, and at Audio Asylum. They are stunning!

I switch between passive control box( Audio Synthesis) and active Preamps ( Magic, Pure Magic , Ben Duncan) and they both have their virtues. The best inner detail can be heard on passive. The active seems to add extra dynamics but to lose a little detail. The most important thing is what is the output of your CD player and what is the sensitivity of your power amp? I use amps (Meridian 605s) that take less than a volt for full output. Not all CD players are happy driving a power amp directly no matter what it's specified output is. I would go passive if I did not want to use LPs but careful matching is required. The higher the sensitivity the amp the better.
Try an used Levinson, Wadia or Theta CD player with vol control. All make great combo with Thiel speakers. I used to own a pair of Thiel 3.6.

If you want separate digital front end, there are too many DAC with vol. control to mention.
For a single source system, such as CD only, one very cost effective solution is to mount a pair of "EVS Ultimate Attenuators."
One attenuator is physically inserted into the left RCA input jack of your amplifier, the other attenuator into the right RCA input jack. You simply plug your source interconnects directly into the attenuators mounted on the amp inputs.
The retail list price per pair is $350, and the designer, Ric Schultz, will deliver to you a set to match either a tube or a transistor amp.
These only last about thirty seconds before being snapped up when rarely placed for sale used on Audiogon. I was lucky to get mine used on Audiogon, but even at retail list price, you really can't go wrong, either.
If your CD player or DAC is not ideally suited to play directly into an amplifier, then I recommend the SCE Harmonic Recovery Enhancer ( I think I typed it correctly) which for $250 used on Audiogon optimizes signal transfer from any CD source output to any amplifier input, including an input with the Ultimate Attenuators mounted.
The performance without a traditional preamp can be astonishingly transparent, revealing all the potential of your CD source, and amplifier. They have to be components you love to listen to unadorned.
There are several CD players that have volumn control and, such being the case, you might not need a pre. the larger question has to do with what you want out of your system. I used to love to use the bass and treble controls on my receiver to slightly over-do it to compensate for many things, most of which had to do with my inferior components.

Modern, well mixed CDs don't need such compensation. Some are so poorly mixed and recorded that very little, if any improvement can be obtained from knobs on a preamp.

A really high-end Cd player that has volumn control can save you some investment in a preamp. Wadia and Audio Aero are possibilities, but might not be right for you if you wish to direct your resources to your speakers and a decent

You probably need to surf some threads hereabouts and focus on priorities.
I do have an old version of the EVS attenuator that I used as a backup preamp. The main problem might be insufficient gain and/or impedeance matching with any passive preamp.

Don't know what the sensitivity on the Classe for full output.
You only need a preamp if you can't get enough gain or dynamics without one. Most CD players have about 2 volts of output which is fine most of the time. But if you want to rock, you may need more. And of course, you need volume control and maybe switching.