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I have gone Through 2 amps -a classe cap 150 which does great job with with the thiels and a bryston 4 B which I used with the cap150 as a pre amp only sound was better with the classe /bryston combo, I'm sad to say. The Thiels just are power hungry . the more power the more they open up. I now have a meridian 557 which pushes 300 into the 4 ohm load of the thiels. Theres a fullness of sound I was not getting before. Side note I have my rig in a huge room now. I was perfectly happy with the classe in a smaller room great feel almost tubelike.
I have a pair of Thiel 2.3's. They love alot of power. The only tube amp that sounded good was Audio Research Ref stuff about 200 wpc. I ended up buying new pass labs gear x-150 and x-1. They sound awesome. I read an old sterophile article stating that tubes; in theory, double the wattage to the speaker. Not sure which issue will email you if I find it. You can also use a good tube pre-amp with a solid state amp (great combo).
Im feeding my 2.3's with 400 wpc into 4 ohms from a Bryston 4b-st, no looking back. While I was waiting for the Bryston to arrive, I briefly (VERY briefly) tried running the Thiels off of a 60wpc Yamaha. It was a real bad idea. Not only did it sound awful, but I was terrified that someone was going to get hurt. Your best source of advice, however, will be Thiel itself. You can get the e-mail from their website and they are very good about getting back to you with great advice in a couple of days. There is a good chance that they have had some experience with exactly the combination you are asking about and will be happy to share. I do know, however, that when they recommend 100wpc, they mean into 8ohms--so, for all intents and purposes, their recomendation is for an amp that will present 200wpc into a 4 ohm load (which essentially all the their speakers are). In effect, the Thiels thrive off of high current amps, something for which pure wats is sometimes only a rough surrogate. Tubes, I think, can somehow change the equation and shouldn't be ruled out just because you're considering Thiels. (Ok, I am now hypothesising beyond my means, shoot Thiel an e-mail, they'll give it to you straight). Best of luck.
I can't really answer your question, I'm driving 3.6's with a Classe CA200 with no problem, they go plenty loud with great bass response. I would be leary of using a 55 watt tube amp unless you listen in smaller room and music that's not real dynamic. Hey, what cables are you guys using, I'm currently using a double run of Kimber 8TC/MIT ic's.
i agree mostly w/mezmo - especially to ask thiel. but thiel's recommendation of a 100 wpc min amp doesn't necessarily mean one that puts out 200 watts into 4 ohms, as not all amps are class-a, that essentially double their power as the ohms halve. i tink thiel means that *at least* 100wpc into 4 ohms is the way to go. but, i do agree that a hi-current class-a amp would be all the better for the thiels than a class ab design
all that said, time for another shameless plug. :>) i *know* the electrocompaniet aw100 that i have adwertised here on audiogon, will do fine w/the thiels - i've had it & its smaller brother, the aw75, driving my thiel 3.5's, which are *really power-hungry, & they do fine. the aw100, class-a, 100wpc, 190 into 4 ohms, stable down to 0.5 ohms, >80amps current, can really handle the thiels, even in a large room.
Ok, I admit, but this one puzzles me. Back when I was wondering if anything was actually going to explode if I tried to make the Thiels go with a 60wpc receiver, I sent an e-mail to Thiel asking essentially the same question. Their reply was that, as long as the receiver was built to handle a 4 ohm load, it should be fine to use it temporarily as long as it was kept at relatively low volumes. If if it wasn't designed to handle to load, however, using it could be a genuinely poor idea. It was in this same e-mail that they (Shari, so she, actually) explained the business about their 100-300wpc guideline for the 2.3's being intended for an 8 ohm load, and that what they really intended to convey was that the speakers would thrive most on 200-600wpc from an amp driving a 4 ohm load (which the speakers are). (Puzzlement...then why not say that?!?). That said, she did admit that this was only a guideline and that the good folks of Thiel had had a lot of great results with tubed amps putting out significantly fewer wpc. She then explained that this was all very logical because of something to do with current that the double whammie of imperfect understanding and imperfect memory has completely done away with. Hence, this is the bit that has me confused, so if someone who understands this electricity thing could set me straight, it would be swell. (And yes, I looked for said e-mail. No luck.)
Pops, I'm using some Kimber Monocle XL's with the Homegrown Silver Solution IC's. I have to admit that I was a diehard nay-sayer when it came to expensive wires for the longest time. But when the Kimbers came up for a great price, I decided what the hey, why not give it a try. Oh my, did it ever make a difference. Must have been that my old speaker wires (Apature Signature Series 500--beats me, I got'em cheap) were woefully the weak link in the system, but the switch to the Kimber's was simply dramatic and the single best addition to the system to date. I may still experiment with more IC's, but when it comes to speaker cable, I'm done.
i've had a lot of Thiels in my day (1.2, 1.5, 2 2, 2.3, 3.6). one thing they ALL have in common is that they NEED power to control the bass. i started with a Forte' 4 amp (50 wpc), then went to a CJ 11a (70 wpc), then to Threshold T-400 (150wpc). the threshold was finally able to tame my 3.6's... IMHO, thiels NEED tubes to sing. i tried CJ priemier 12's (140 wpc) which worked pretty well with the 2.3's, but not the 3.6's. in the end, i switched to Spendor 9/1's and a Sonic Frontiers power 2. now i have music...
I too run Thiels - unless you will be listening at very moderate levels, the Power 1 is simply not enough amp for these speakers (save perhaps the CS.5s). It's not so much an issue of wattage as it is current. Thiels exhibit relatively flat impedence curves, but generally to the low side (4 ohms) and not all that efficiently. The above posts are correct: Thiels do sound best with tube amplification or warmer sounding SS gear. For the 2.3s, I wouldn't use less than the Power 2. Even that may sound strained on occasion with dynamic and complex classical passages. Unfortunately, quality tube current is not inexpensive - either initially or as a maintenance matter. A more cost effective alternative is to run a high current SS amp(s) and the most musical tubed preamp you can afford.
"Power 1 has only 55 Watts but it is a Tube Amp." There is a mistaken idea that tube watts are louder than ss watts. This just isn't true. Furthermore, into low impedance loads like the Thiels, the opposite is more more likely to be the case. I suggest following Thiels guidelines. In my converstaions with Jim Thiel, he suggested doubling the recommended power suggestions when using tubes.
Don't cheap out on amplification when using Thiels.
I'm not familiar with the B&K ST-180. If it is like other B&K ST models such as the ST-140, I think you'll find that these amplifiers don't really work that well with speakers that have impedance loads like the Thiels. The B&K M series are much more suitable. Still the Thiels won't deliver all they're capable of without a top quality amp with some real grunt.