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Upgrading My Adcom Preamp & Amp

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Anonymous
October 27, 2004 4:12:32 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.high-end (More info?)

I have an Adcom GFA-555 power amp and a GTP-400 tuner/preamp, both
purchased in 1990, that have served as good utilitarian components
over the years, driving first Vandersteen 2ci's and later (and
currently) NHT 3.3's. Primary source is a Rotel RCD965-BX CD player
from 1996.

The tuner/preamp has gotten fussy lately (flaky right-channel
dropouts), and I do not expect that it is worth paying money to repair
it, as its typical price on the used market is not more than $100.
Accordingly, now seems like a good time for an upgrade.

The Adcoms were purchased on a tight budget when I was a college
student, but my means are greater now, so I'm willing to consider a
preamp costing up to, say, $1500 *if* spending that sort of money will
buy me considerably improved sound (i.e., transparency). Also, this
being 2004, it does not seem too much to ask to have a remote control
this time.

The tuner is optional -- I do not want to limit my choices by
demanding that it be integrated with the preamp, but if it's there,
then great. Otherwise, I'll buy a separate tuner at some point.

Phono input is not a requirement, but if I can get it without
compromising other factors, then it's a plus.

The more inputs the better, and certainly no fewer than 4 (excluding
phono) would be acceptable.

Support for anything beyond 2 channels (i.e., surround sound) is
completely unnecessary.

Aside from those constraints, my primary goals are: (1) best (most
neutral) sound that I can buy given my budget, and (2) good solid
equipment that will be trouble-free for decades.

I've only just started looking, having been out of the audio market
(aside from headphones) for a long while now. So far, the Rotel
RC-1090 seems like a good contender, but I'm sure there are many other
options, and I'd like to hear about them!

Additionally, I will surely upgrade my power amp as well, if not
immediately, then within the next year, so please keep in mind that
whatever preamp I buy now will not be tied to the old Adcom GFA-555
for very long. (It is only because my preamp is misbehaving that I
wish to upgrade it before the power amp.)

I would certainly appreciate suggestions for where to start looking in
the power amp arena as well. A good solid 2-channel solid-state amp
with plenty of power and better sound than the Adcom GFA-555 would be
the requirement here. I'm willing to spend up to $2000, or perhaps a
bit more if there's a good reason.

Thanks in advance for all advice!

-BN
Anonymous
October 28, 2004 4:48:38 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.high-end (More info?)

The Adcom 555 is a "venerable" amplifier designed by Nelson Pass -- there
were so many of them built that there are a lot of modification kits which
seek to improve their performance -- in fact, if you go to www.diyaudio.com
and search you will see that Nelson himself was (about 2 years ago)
considering a mod for the amp.

"Bil Noe" <billnoe@hotmail.com> wrote in message
news:clmp5g0jdc@news2.newsguy.com...
> I have an Adcom GFA-555 power amp and a GTP-400 tuner/preamp, both
> purchased in 1990, that have served as good utilitarian components
> over the years, driving first Vandersteen 2ci's and later (and
> currently) NHT 3.3's. Primary source is a Rotel RCD965-BX CD player
> from 1996.
>
> The tuner/preamp has gotten fussy lately (flaky right-channel
> dropouts), and I do not expect that it is worth paying money to repair
> it, as its typical price on the used market is not more than $100.
> Accordingly, now seems like a good time for an upgrade.
>
> The Adcoms were purchased on a tight budget when I was a college
> student, but my means are greater now, so I'm willing to consider a
> preamp costing up to, say, $1500 *if* spending that sort of money will
> buy me considerably improved sound (i.e., transparency). Also, this
> being 2004, it does not seem too much to ask to have a remote control
> this time.
>
> The tuner is optional -- I do not want to limit my choices by
> demanding that it be integrated with the preamp, but if it's there,
> then great. Otherwise, I'll buy a separate tuner at some point.
>
> Phono input is not a requirement, but if I can get it without
> compromising other factors, then it's a plus.
>
> The more inputs the better, and certainly no fewer than 4 (excluding
> phono) would be acceptable.
>
> Support for anything beyond 2 channels (i.e., surround sound) is
> completely unnecessary.
>
> Aside from those constraints, my primary goals are: (1) best (most
> neutral) sound that I can buy given my budget, and (2) good solid
> equipment that will be trouble-free for decades.
>
> I've only just started looking, having been out of the audio market
> (aside from headphones) for a long while now. So far, the Rotel
> RC-1090 seems like a good contender, but I'm sure there are many other
> options, and I'd like to hear about them!
>
> Additionally, I will surely upgrade my power amp as well, if not
> immediately, then within the next year, so please keep in mind that
> whatever preamp I buy now will not be tied to the old Adcom GFA-555
> for very long. (It is only because my preamp is misbehaving that I
> wish to upgrade it before the power amp.)
>
> I would certainly appreciate suggestions for where to start looking in
> the power amp arena as well. A good solid 2-channel solid-state amp
> with plenty of power and better sound than the Adcom GFA-555 would be
> the requirement here. I'm willing to spend up to $2000, or perhaps a
> bit more if there's a good reason.
>
> Thanks in advance for all advice!
>
> -BN
Anonymous
October 28, 2004 4:54:27 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.high-end (More info?)

"Bil Noe" <billnoe@hotmail.com> wrote in message
news:clmp5g0jdc@news2.newsguy.com...
> I have an Adcom GFA-555 power amp and a GTP-400 tuner/preamp, both
> purchased in 1990, that have served as good utilitarian components
> over the years, driving first Vandersteen 2ci's and later (and
> currently) NHT 3.3's. Primary source is a Rotel RCD965-BX CD player
> from 1996.
>
> The tuner/preamp has gotten fussy lately (flaky right-channel
> dropouts), and I do not expect that it is worth paying money to
repair
> it, as its typical price on the used market is not more than $100.
> Accordingly, now seems like a good time for an upgrade.
>
> The Adcoms were purchased on a tight budget when I was a college
> student, but my means are greater now, so I'm willing to consider a
> preamp costing up to, say, $1500 *if* spending that sort of money
will
> buy me considerably improved sound (i.e., transparency). Also, this
> being 2004, it does not seem too much to ask to have a remote
control
> this time.
>
> The tuner is optional -- I do not want to limit my choices by
> demanding that it be integrated with the preamp, but if it's there,
> then great. Otherwise, I'll buy a separate tuner at some point.
>
> Phono input is not a requirement, but if I can get it without
> compromising other factors, then it's a plus.
>
> The more inputs the better, and certainly no fewer than 4 (excluding
> phono) would be acceptable.
>
> Support for anything beyond 2 channels (i.e., surround sound) is
> completely unnecessary.

I might as well get my response in early, before the arguments start.
:-)

Buy an AV receiver, and ignore the other 3 channels. It actually
costs less than a 2-channel receiver because of the extreme difference
in sales volume--and the intense competitive situation. You can get
your 4 inputs + phono, remote control, tuner, etc. for much less than
$1500, and you will be completely satisfied with the sound quality.

The other--even cheaper--course of action is to continue using the
Adcom, and cleaning out the volume control pots. If it was my money,
I'd probably buy another used preamp of the same model, although it
might not be the optimum solution. But that's because I've developed
a lazy streak in my old age.

Norm Strong
Related resources
Anonymous
October 28, 2004 8:17:08 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.high-end (More info?)

Dittoes. I owned and shopped high end stereo equipment for many
years. But the current crop of Home Theater receivers does just as
well. Right now, I'm using a Pioneer 1014TX-K. If I like, the
automatic setup takes about 5-10 minutes, sets up the speakers, evens
volume levels, and equalizes each channel. It sure beats me getting
out my spectrum analyzer, SPL meter, and equalizer and spending hours
to get it "right". And the prices aren't hard to take, either.


On 28 Oct 2004 00:54:27 GMT, "normanstrong" <normanstrong@comcast.net>
wrote:

>"Bil Noe" <billnoe@hotmail.com> wrote in message
>news:clmp5g0jdc@news2.newsguy.com...
>> I have an Adcom GFA-555 power amp and a GTP-400 tuner/preamp, both
>> purchased in 1990, that have served as good utilitarian components
>> over the years, driving first Vandersteen 2ci's and later (and
>> currently) NHT 3.3's. Primary source is a Rotel RCD965-BX CD player
>> from 1996.
>>
>> The tuner/preamp has gotten fussy lately (flaky right-channel
>> dropouts), and I do not expect that it is worth paying money to
>repair
>> it, as its typical price on the used market is not more than $100.
>> Accordingly, now seems like a good time for an upgrade.
>>
>> The Adcoms were purchased on a tight budget when I was a college
>> student, but my means are greater now, so I'm willing to consider a
>> preamp costing up to, say, $1500 *if* spending that sort of money
>will
>> buy me considerably improved sound (i.e., transparency). Also, this
>> being 2004, it does not seem too much to ask to have a remote
>control
>> this time.
>>
>> The tuner is optional -- I do not want to limit my choices by
>> demanding that it be integrated with the preamp, but if it's there,
>> then great. Otherwise, I'll buy a separate tuner at some point.
>>
>> Phono input is not a requirement, but if I can get it without
>> compromising other factors, then it's a plus.
>>
>> The more inputs the better, and certainly no fewer than 4 (excluding
>> phono) would be acceptable.
>>
>> Support for anything beyond 2 channels (i.e., surround sound) is
>> completely unnecessary.
>
>I might as well get my response in early, before the arguments start.
>:-)
>
>Buy an AV receiver, and ignore the other 3 channels. It actually
>costs less than a 2-channel receiver because of the extreme difference
>in sales volume--and the intense competitive situation. You can get
>your 4 inputs + phono, remote control, tuner, etc. for much less than
>$1500, and you will be completely satisfied with the sound quality.
>
>The other--even cheaper--course of action is to continue using the
>Adcom, and cleaning out the volume control pots. If it was my money,
>I'd probably buy another used preamp of the same model, although it
>might not be the optimum solution. But that's because I've developed
>a lazy streak in my old age.
>
>Norm Strong
Anonymous
October 29, 2004 4:04:39 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.high-end (More info?)

I know that here in Chicago John at Van "L" Speakerworks will clean an Adcom
555 preamp for $35. I'm assuming that your unit wouldn't be much more.

Best,

Mark Allen Zimmerman * Chicago
Anonymous
October 31, 2004 1:46:40 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.high-end (More info?)

I'd stick with the amp if it still works.

I don't know much at all about electronics, but I've got a problem with
dropouts in an NAD amp. I'm told by technicians that it is due to a faulty
protection circuit. I have no idea that this is your problem, but I cannot
imagine that it is terribly serious. Suppose you could get it fixed for
$100 or so. That's a lot cheaper than buying a new preamp!

The 555 is a nice amp. I'd think twice about dumping it. It sounds as
though you are considering spending around $3000 or so on amplifier and
preamplifier. But amps and preamps have not come as long a way as digital
has in the past 10 years.

When I had the upgrade bug, I found a system in a store that really floated
my boat. I took my amp in and drove it. It wasn't as good -- not enough
power -- but was close enough.

Good luck!

Curt Simon




"Bil Noe" <billnoe@hotmail.com> wrote in message
news:clmp5g0jdc@news2.newsguy.com...
>I have an Adcom GFA-555 power amp and a GTP-400 tuner/preamp, both
> purchased in 1990, that have served as good utilitarian components
> over the years, driving first Vandersteen 2ci's and later (and
> currently) NHT 3.3's. Primary source is a Rotel RCD965-BX CD player
> from 1996.
>
> The tuner/preamp has gotten fussy lately (flaky right-channel
> dropouts), and I do not expect that it is worth paying money to repair
> it, as its typical price on the used market is not more than $100.
> Accordingly, now seems like a good time for an upgrade.
>
> The Adcoms were purchased on a tight budget when I was a college
> student, but my means are greater now, so I'm willing to consider a
> preamp costing up to, say, $1500 *if* spending that sort of money will
> buy me considerably improved sound (i.e., transparency). Also, this
> being 2004, it does not seem too much to ask to have a remote control
> this time.
>
> The tuner is optional -- I do not want to limit my choices by
> demanding that it be integrated with the preamp, but if it's there,
> then great. Otherwise, I'll buy a separate tuner at some point.
>
> Phono input is not a requirement, but if I can get it without
> compromising other factors, then it's a plus.
>
> The more inputs the better, and certainly no fewer than 4 (excluding
> phono) would be acceptable.
>
> Support for anything beyond 2 channels (i.e., surround sound) is
> completely unnecessary.
>
> Aside from those constraints, my primary goals are: (1) best (most
> neutral) sound that I can buy given my budget, and (2) good solid
> equipment that will be trouble-free for decades.
>
> I've only just started looking, having been out of the audio market
> (aside from headphones) for a long while now. So far, the Rotel
> RC-1090 seems like a good contender, but I'm sure there are many other
> options, and I'd like to hear about them!
>
> Additionally, I will surely upgrade my power amp as well, if not
> immediately, then within the next year, so please keep in mind that
> whatever preamp I buy now will not be tied to the old Adcom GFA-555
> for very long. (It is only because my preamp is misbehaving that I
> wish to upgrade it before the power amp.)
>
> I would certainly appreciate suggestions for where to start looking in
> the power amp arena as well. A good solid 2-channel solid-state amp
> with plenty of power and better sound than the Adcom GFA-555 would be
> the requirement here. I'm willing to spend up to $2000, or perhaps a
> bit more if there's a good reason.
>
> Thanks in advance for all advice!
>
> -BN
Anonymous
November 7, 2004 7:26:26 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.high-end (More info?)

Bil Noe <billnoe@hotmail.com> wrote:

>I have an Adcom GFA-555 power amp and a GTP-400 tuner/preamp ...
>
>The tuner/preamp has gotten fussy lately (flaky right-channel dropouts)
>...
>Accordingly, now seems like a good time for an upgrade.
>
>...I'm willing to consider a preamp costing up to, say, $1500 *if*
>spending that sort of money willbuy me considerably improved sound
>(i.e., transparency).

Consider replacing the Adcom amp with a second-hand Bryston 3BST for
under $750 or a McCormack DNA-1 for under $800. The Bryston has a lower
noise spec (it is very, very quiet) while the McCormack might be a bit
more musical. Both are considerable upgrades over the Adcom. If you
want to buy new, the Bryston 3BSST is available for around $1700 if you
shop carefully -- it's quite a fine amp. Or perhaps consider the
McCormack DNA-125.

You might consider doing without a pre-amp altogether. If your sources
can drive the amplifier directly, all a pre-amp offers is more noise and
switching options. Instead consider getting a passive pre-amp/switcher
like the old Adcom SLC-505 for around $100 or less.

Add an external phono pre-amp if you need it. The older Rotel RQ-9708X
was a good sounding unit and is available second-hand at low cost.

--
Len Moskowitz PDAudio, Binaural Mics, Cables, DPA, M-Audio
Core Sound http://www.stealthmicrophones.com
Teaneck, New Jersey USA http://www.core-sound.com
moskowit@core-sound.com Tel: 201-801-0812, FAX: 201-801-0912
November 29, 2009 1:43:33 PM

i had the same unit. Can i use anything for my surround sound system?
!