Thiel 3.6, what will drive them best?

I'm looking for an amp that will drive the Thiel 3.6's to their ultimate potential. Unfortunately price matters, in that I derive pleasure thinking of myself as the ultimate connoiseur of the most for the least...

In other words I'm cheap! (nudge, nudge, wink, wink, and say thanks),

something with lots of power
"Cheap" means $10,000 for some people and $1,000 for others.

Also, how loudly do you like to listen? Do you value lots of bass? How large is your room? What is your preamp? Choosing the right amplifier for you and your system will depend on these answers as well.
A pair of Bryston 7B-STs will drive them nicely and can be gotten for relatively little money. Some think that that earlier model actually sounds better than the current one.
An inexpensive choice is Class D amplification.
Alas my budget is lower than the lowest figure you mentioned.

The room is an "l" shape 13 feet wide, 22 feet long as
shown in the lower drawing. sp denotes speaker position
and the o's denote the open entry to the kitchen and the lp
represents the listening position. All the "." are used to reserve spacing as the Agon editor compresses text.
The ceiling is 8 feet.

......... 13..........
....* sp sp.....* 12
....*......................* 10

A listening position pic of my current setup can be viewed

Thank you,
Look for a used Classe DR-9 I can't think of a better amp built and sound wise and right in your budget. I would also think that a used pair of B&KM200 mono amps can be had for around 500.00 or less and are wonderful.
I used to play mine with a very updated Audio Research VT-60, which probably did not control the bass like a good SS amp would.

At the sub $1k mark, I suggest something like a Belles 150A Hotrod, OCM 200 or 500. Some of the updated Hafler 500 amps sound very good too. You can find all of those amps at less than $1k. Another line of amps to consider are the older Coda amps. Sometimes you can find a nice Coda 10 or 10.5 in the price range you are looking for. They are very sweet sounding and can nearly drive a short, so the Thiels impedance issues should not cause them to sweat. I am not a big Krell fan because of all the inherent buzzing ground loops that they seem to have had each time I owned one, however I have heard good things about the Krell KST-100. Some have said it is more musical than a lot of the KSA's and it is Class A/B so it won't eat itself like the KSA's can do.

I hope this helps.
B&K M-200 mono blocks have the power and are inexpensive. Usually around $800 in good condition.

Happy Listening.
How much lower than $1000 is your budget? $500?
EVS100S ICEpower stereo amp from Ric Shultz is $800. Same price for a pair of EVS100M monoblocks.

I have no idea how they would sound with the Thiel speakers, but the amps come with a 30 day money back guarantee, and they are certainly inexpensive for audiophile amplifiers.
Krell: If you can find a cx series amp 300cx that you can afford, or better still a 400cx, I guarantee this will be exactly what will make them sing. This way there will be no current dipping by the amp at the minimum impedance they demonstrate in a the low 2s.

02-02-08: Stevecham
Krell: If you can find a cx series amp 300cx that you can afford...
This is available for the OP's budget below $1000?
I agree with B&K M-200 mono blocks. The best high power amp available for <$800. Some can be found for $500 or less if they're the early vintage (which perform as well as anything). Current galore!
I was curious about the B&K M200, so I did a quick Google search. This is for information only from a Soundstage review of Thiel CS2.3:
When the CS2.3s were first installed, I drove them with some aging B&K M200 mono amplifiers, rated at 200 watts each but certainly not current powerhouses. The performance was certainly presentable, but a relative softness in the bass and a sense of "topping out" in the dynamics left a nagging feeling. Inserting the Bryston 4B-ST amplifier (review in the works) dramatically changed the presentation. Dynamics, coherency and imaging all improved under its control.

This quote is from a Stereophile interview:
Two amplifiers that I recently wrote about, the B&K M-200 vs the Adcom GFA-565 monoblocks¬óboth of which I liked¬ówere a very good example of this frustration. The B&Ks had a sweet sound and perhaps did a better job at presenting musical timbres. The Adcoms, however, were much more open and more transparent; they let in more detail; and they allowed the differences in recordings to show through.

So, certainly the B&K M200 might be worth a try, especially considering they are available used for under $500.

Maybe buy them and order a pair of the EVS100M to have both in-house at the same time.
Unfortunatley, I think the sub $1000 budget is tough for the 3.6's.
As a long term Thiel owner, ther's no substitute for adequate current. The quality output devices and power supplies to provide adequate current aren't cheap to build. I'm afraid you'll be disappointed with amps that don't perform the obligatory tasks in that large room.
I'd recommend the perenial great match for Thiels of this vintage.....Classe amps. The are well built, provide lots of current and sonicaly are a great match for the Thiels.

In this situation, cheap is expensive because you'll have to replace an inadequate amplifier. Happliy, Good Classe amps are generally available, and versions prior to the current line-up can be had at fair prices.
Generally, if you speak to the customer service folks at Thiel, they'll advise against the matching of Krell and Thiels of this vintage. Good Luck
Tvad, interesting reviews that I haven't seen previously. One comment I find curious
aging B&K M200 mono amplifiers, rated at 200 watts each but certainly not current powerhouses.
. B&K rates them as 150 amps peak-peak, which is the basis for my statement. The biggest challenge I've presented them is Totem Mani-2s, which they drive very nicely, and I've no other basis for supporting refuting the rating. I don't presume B&K's rating is necessarily accurate, but it's has me wondering what the reviewer's baseline is causing him to make this statement.

Another amp worth considering in this price range is the Parasound HCA2200. Either the mkI or mkII can be found used in the $600-800 range. I have the mkI which I liked a lot, though I replaced it with a pair of M200's which I preferred. I think the differences are in the personal preference range and some my like the HCA2200 just as well as or better.
What qualities made you prefer the M200's over the HCA2200?

Thank you,

I just went through the same search in a similar budget. I ended up buying a pair of Quicksilver Silver Monos, but one got lost in shipping (a long, sad story for another time), so I never got to hear them. Bummer.

As a "quick fix" (until I can afford what I want) I bought a used Aragon 8002 for under $500. It sounds very nice, with good bass control and more than enough headroom. It's rated at 125 wpc into 8 ohms and twice that into 4. Hard to imagine a better sounding amp at that price. You may also consider an Odyssey Stratos in the used market. Good luck.
aragon 8002!!
Ron,I have heard the Stratos Odyssey combination and Thiel
five years ago,the result is so musical,they are match made in heaven,the tonal balance is so hard to forget,If I did not end up with Diapason,I will buy 3.6Thiel.Because I do own the monoblock extreme odyssey.Since then I end up
using art audio concierto amp.I think its worth doubling
your budget,if you can.
Unfortunately IMO you will not find anything in that price range to drive them to their full potential as you put it. Thiels really need both high power and high quality power to be great. If budget is an issue then quality over quantity is better. But in your price range either one is going to be very difficult to achieve.
Honestly, I think you have a big dog that you can't afford to feed. Sure, you can keep the dog alive, but he'll never be all that he's capable of.
I think both the B&K M 200's and the Classe' amps will adequately keep you going. I ran the M200's on older easier to drive Thiels with no problem, but the 3.6's are a much tougher load. I had a friend run Dunblavy SCIV's which while still easier than the 3.6's are similar. It was amazing how much that system improved when he bi-amped with an additonal factory matched pair of M200's. Though he ran all 4 factory matched amps through the Dunlavy's pasive cross-overs, the sound opened up dramticaly when using 4 as oppossed to 2. Much more than I would have ever anticipated. Draw your own conclusions. If were in your shoes with Thiel 3.6's, I'd try to figure out a way to purchase the biggest Krell I could afford or find an easier load.
You can consider the used Parasound AMP with 200W plus to drive your 3.6. They may pop up on agon from time to time in about $1000 range.
you could consider an Amber series70 amp there built well run cool and can be ran in mono.They go for about 175.00 to 190.00 and can be found either on this site or Ebay. Also a NY audiolab 300 hybrid is a good buy and might also do the trick.
An Acoustat 200 mosfet amp now that might be the ticket, anyone think this could be a good gamble for price and power?
Something from either Bryston or Classe will do the job well.
After reading your posts I have an idea.

Would it be possible to get a sub $1000 amp and run it now,
and later buy an exact match and run them both bridged to mono? That way I can stick to my budget now yet down the road move up to a much more powerful setup.

How would that work? Is this possible?

Thank you all,
A buddy of mine has the M-200s what they use Plitron transformers in his pair. He also uses one of the Musical Concepts mods which really improved them. I had a DH-220 Hafler completely modified by Musical Concepts, close to $2700 for the mods (but I purchased the amp used for less) and it was a killer SS amp. Balls to the walls power, room shaking bass, very fast and very dynamic, with frequency extension at both ends plus it was very musical for SS. I prefer tube sound so I use tubes myself with speakers that do not require big watts to drive them.

Hope this helps. The Aragon and Parasound amps are also good alternatives. I am not a fan of the Bryston sound. The Carver signature series power amp is also a consideration.

Happy Listening.

Regarding your question about bridging: if I'm not mistaken, most amps bridged require an 8 ohm load. With the 3.6s rated at 4 ohms (and averaging just under 3) that would be a very tough task.
What qualities made you prefer the M200's over the HCA2200?

It was multiple factors. Sonically, both are excellent, but I thought the M200s were a little more neutral and warmer. The HCA2200 runs hot, indeed generates a good deal of heat which in the summer was an issue in my room. The M200s can put out heat too, but not as much. Finally, I prefer mono blocks for placement purposes, in most situations.
Thank you, the M200s are in the running. Heat is bad.

One thought,
The McCormack DNA 1 is a fine amplifier that has stood the test of time.
It's WAY better than a number of the recommended amps with the Thiels and can be found on Audiogon for 900-1100.
A good choice that has been a proven match for the 3.6's
I agree with Jdolgin suggestion: I had a pair of dna-1 monoblocks that drove my merlin 4b+'s and ohm f's quite well; I highly recommend the dna-1.
Trying to drive the 3.6 on a budget less than $1000 simply doesn;t make sense becuase there is no amp in that range that will do these speakers justice. Not my preference but a simple fact of life.

These speakers need current which means power supply which means cost.
I have researched the list as best I can and provided used prices for your suggestions that are available on A'gon at the moment.

Items in parentheses are similar to items suggested and offered as alternatives

I hope I got them all but so far the list includes:

Acoustat 200

Acurus A250 $400

Amber series70

Aragon 8002 $425

Belles 150A Hotrod, OCM 200 or 500
(Belles 150 $525)
(500 OCM $745 rough shape)

B&K M200

Bryston 7B-ST $2700

Carver signature series

Classe DR-9
(Classe CA-100 $700)
(Classe 15 $700)
(Classe 201 $1100)

Coda 10 or 10.5

EVS100M and EVS100S

Hafler 500

Krell KST-100, 300CX or 400CX
(Krell KSA-50S $1000)

Mccormack dna1 (revision B) $1185

NY audiolab 300

Parasound HCA2200 mkI or mkII

Stratos Odyssey (khartago case $900)

Unfortunately, at least for the next 6 months or so, I will be forced into this range of the used market. After that time I will make a move to something better. Six months is too long to wait with a pair of Thiel 3.6's on the way.

The question is: "From your experience considering what is available (the priced ones) should I pick from the amps available or shoud I wait?". I am unsure how often these
amps show up on audiogon. I spend most of my time in the speaker area.

Thank you all for your help educating me,
In the case of the EVS100s or EVS100M, they can be purchased and auditioned for 30 days without any cost to you other than shipping. Seems like a nice opportunity to hear what they can do.

As far as the other amps are concerned, I would strongly recommend buying one that has strong demand on the used market so you don't take a bath upon resale.

Watching the ads, and searching the listings is the only way to educate yourself thoroughly.
You'll be happy with the McCormack DNA1 or the Classe 201.
I'd negotiate the best price you can and you'll be happy with the resulting performance of the 3.6's
I have heard the 3.6s sound good with both of these amps.
Ayre V-5XE
Pass Labs X150
These would be the lower level of amps (power and quality)I would use with the 3.6s. I liked the Ayre better than the Pass. Both are a little above your range but in the long (and short) run you will be better off.
IMO nothing drives the Thiels like the big Krell amps.
I'm driving my 3.6's with a pair of Jeff Rowland 201 monoblocks, and I'm very happy with the combination.

Good luck!
I had 7BSTs for a time with a pair of CS7s. This sounded good for a couple of years. The key is not to crank it to loudly, I did one day and blew out the high end driver in the coaxial high/high mid unit (which Thiel replaced free of charge). The Brystons just didn't have the current delivery capacity to avoid going squarewave at high levels.

As long as you don't have unrealistic loudness expectations, the Brystons will do just fine.
You see...the last post (Stevecham) is the exact point a number of us have been making.
Even an amp as fine as the bryston 7bst is unable to deliver enough current for the Thiels.
A high current delivery amplifier is an absolute must.
That's a point I hadn't considered. Low impedance easily drives most amps into clipping, generating square waves who's harmonics filter up to the tweeter, blowing it.

This would generally lead me to believe that whatever amp I choose, it should have a stiff reserve cap in the power supply. This then leads me to believe that amps like the McCormak DNA-1, with 64000 microfarads of storage might be a bit weak. Perhaps the McCormak's have a soft clipping feature which would prevent this from happening. Am I on the right track here?

How about the Classe 15 or Classe 100? These both double their power into 4 ohms and the 100 model is right in my range.

Thank you
Sell the 3.6's and buy a pair of 1.6's if you like the Thiel sound. The 1.6's are a much easier load to drive than the 3.6's.

I have direct experience with the DNA 1 and Thiels in a large room.
Unless you drive them to SILLY loud levels, it will be fine.

You need current and watts... I think 100 wpc is under powering the 3.6's
Thank you, you are right, silly levels do not apply. I have Klipsch's for that!

I am using a Parasound 3500 to drive my 3.6's now.
I used a 2200 in the past and have tried a variety of amplifiers to make them get up and go.
The 3500 is so far the best by a wide margin unless you spend a lot more money.
I have the system right now where the Amplifier seems the clear weakest link but I also have nothing bad I can say about the 3500.
If you can find one,it will make you happy,it has me!
Well, I have found an amp that should last me for quite a while. I am picking up a B&K EX442 Sonata from fellow Audiogoner Sac. He's great to deal with.

The amp is rated at 200wpc at 8 ohms and 350wpc at 4 ohms. I am told and have read it has a "tubey" sound and will therefore help round the forward highs of the Thiel's.

It is the best compromise I could come up with at the moment. I realise it doesn't quite follow the power doubling rule from 8 to 4 ohm but I won't be pushing the Thiels that hard.

Thank you for all the advice,
Well, I'm moving on from a B&K EX442 Sonata to an Aragon 8008BB. This should be quite a jump considering that the Aragon is a double mono amp with 2 1.1KVA transformers and doubles power from 200w at 8 to 400w at 4ohms. I haven't seen a figure for 2 ohms but I'm sure it will knock the socks off the B&K.

Anybody have any experience with this amp speaker combo?
I think I'll ask this in another post,

Thank you,
Classe DR-9
A Sony TA-N80ES works fine with mine. The pre-amp is the matching Sony TA-E80ES. At 4 ohms, this amp is rated at 270 wpc and has "dynamic" ratings down to 2 ohms. They typically range from $500 to $900 used.

Of course, I'd love to get another N80ES and used them in bridged mode as monoblocks.

The Vintage Knob has a nice writeup: