Preamp suggestions for Thiel 3.6 & Bryston 4B-sst

I've got a bright sounding system due to the wide dispersion of my Thiel 3.6 speakers and a 'live' room.

I'm using a solid state Bryston BP25 preamp now but am considering other options (up to $2500 used) to warm/sweeten things up and soften the top end. Rock can be harsh. Ideally I'd like:
1. Balanced and single ended ins and outs
2. Phono stage (MM at least, MC a bonus) plus tuner and balanced CD input
3. Remote (Yes I'm lazy I know)
4. Headphone output would be nice but not essential

I like what I've read about Audio Research preamps. Seems like they are detailed while still having that tube warmth and sweetness.

Suggestion welcome. Thanks!
Many people have had success matching ARC preamps to Bryston amps (I am one of them) but if its a "warmth" you are looking for those ARC preamps with 6h30 tubes (LS-17/26/ref3) to name a few won't give you what you are looking for. Older ARC preamps that use other tube sets will better serve your need and offer the opportunity to tube roll unlike those with the 6h30 tube. I really like my ARC LS-26 mated to my Bryston 7B-SST2 amps but it does not provide a "warm" presentation...

Cannot recommend if there is an ARC preamp that will give you everything your "require" in a single box as I am not familiar with their older models but my guess is you may end up with another solid state preamp if you need to get all those options into one chassis.
Having owned several Bryston amps my pre amp of choice was an AR LS 15 with Infini caps.Together they yielded a distortion floor as low as any combination I've used.
Cables can help with warmth also. Good suggestion on the LS-15.
Hi Dbdog: I own all ARC gear (pre, phon, CD and amp) and love it!! I've tried several ARC pre-amps (SP-9, SP-16, SP-17 and Ref-3) and amps (VS 110 and VS 115). Don't know much about Bryston. Let me put something out there for you to think about. I also encourage others to weigh in too of course.

Rather than an ARC pre-amp, how about an ARC amp? I'm not sure whether the pre or the amp will contribute more to the type of "warm-tubey" sound you are looking for. If you want to think about the amp route, I suggest a VS 110. There was a VS 110 for sale on A'gon for a decent price, but I just checked and saw that it was sold. No surprise there. It's a great amp. Not to worry though because a VS 110 always comes up for sale from time to time.

If you are still bent on an ARC pre, I see that there is a SP-17 listed on A'gon for sale for $2300. It is a very good pre and will deliver a lot of what your looking for, but not everything (e.g., only SE inputs and outputs). See Check for details.
If those have metal dome tweeters than good luck with them and Bryston as the upper range in the Bryston is bright to begin with.A silk dome tweeter is better.
I'd suggest Conrad Johnson preamp, You have described Classic CJ sound.
A used BAT preamp will give you everything you are looking for.
Great input so far folks. Many thanks. A couple of comments:
Rgd: great suggestion on the 6922 tubes. Thanks.

Markwatkiss: The LS15 sounds nice. I'd need to invest in a seperate phono stage and headphone amp but that may be necessary anyway

Samzx12: I added MIT cables and was blown away with the difference. Much warmer but still not as lush and soft as I'm looking for.

Bifwynne: Unfortunately my speakers are terribly demanding and really do need solid state power and control. I'll look at the SP-17. Thanks

Mclsound: Yup that's the hole I have dug for myself.

Timlub: very interesting idea. I've heard CJ before and really liked their sound.

Tom_hankins: Wow, BAT preamp look awesome. I'll see what I can learn about them. Thanks

Thanks again everyone. Other comments welcomed as well.

I'm wrestling with the knowledge that while I'm at work my wife if very likely to turn the system on to listen to a 10 minute newscast and walk away leaving the preamp on all day. Ugh, I wish tubes like to be left on 24/7. *groan* lol


Dave, if I read you right and you don't want to do tubes, i certainly understand. In my feable opinion. As close as you'll come on a reasonable budget in solids state would be an old Classe. DR5 or DR6. The Classe 5 or 6 can be had with remotes and they are an off shoot of the DR's but not as warm. The CP's are similar to the 5 or 6, but a tad more refined. Classe is probably your best bet.
I don't find the Audio Research solid state particularly warm, but in their solid state, I'd probably look at a LS-9. Good luck, Tim
Timlub, is right on. Many Thiel owners like cj pres. One caveat; you'll lose the advantages of balanced inputs on your Bryston.
I preferred the CJ over the AR when I had my 2.2 and 2.3
I have very similar setup and went from Bryston BP-25 to BAT VK-42SE (solid state) paired with Bryston amps (either PP300's or 7B-SST's). I am currently using Thiel SCS4 but have also had Revel Salons with the above combo. I like the BAT more than the BP-25. It sounds a little more smooth and better on the highs than the BP-25.

Mind you the cost difference between the 2 is quite large. MSRP BAT - $7000 and Bryston $2000 (back in the day). I paid $3500 for a 1 month old used BAT. I wouldn't have replaced the Bryston for something that costs much more than that due to diminishing returns.
Yyz, when you say better on the highs, can you elaborate please.

Timlub, I'd rather have the ease and convenience of SS but I kinda think I'm not going to get the sonic result I'm looking for without tubes somewhere in my chain, based on what I read. With my speakers I think I need the muscle and control of a beefy SS amp such as Bryston or Krell that doubles down under low impedance loads (my Thiel spend a fair amount of time under 4 ohms and dip to 2). That leaves the preamp to add the tube warmth and 3D imaging. That's my thinking to date anyway.

My Bryston BP25 has a very clear and transparent sound but it's on the dry and cold side.

I'll check out the classe ones you suggested, thanks.
Some ss amps are capable of warmth and 3D imaging.
I don't know the Thiel 3.6 but I have the Thiel CS2.4 and I'm finding the Lector ZOE as perfect preamp for the Thiel sound.
It's very detailed but with tube warm and sweetness.