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Should I consider an Adcom GFA-555?

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Posted on January 5, 2012 at 11:07:41
bboroski
Audiophile

Posts: 996
Location: Raleigh NC
Joined: July 3, 2008
I currently have an Arcam C31 preamp that I am very happy with running
with a Nad C272 power amp. I run 3 different sets of speakers all of
which are pretty efficient conventional driver designs(no panels).

I have the following speakers: PSB Image T6s, LSA 1 Monitors and
a set of vintage Electro-voice Interface 3s.

At this point I would like to try another power amp, and I am weighing
my options. I listen to a lot of hard rock/heavy metal and I love bass
and slam. And I honestly do not care for systems that sound
bright or warm. I prefer decent detail and soundstage, great
bass and impact and a neutral to somewhat mellow top end. I honestly
don't care for a lot of high end tube or SS amps that tend to be
very neutral sounding.

I have researched here and the Adcom amps keep coming up when it comes
to bass slam. I have read some say they are a poor man's Krell and
the poor man part would apply to me I guess. :-)

My budget would be under $750 and I would consider vintage equipment
such as one of the older Adcoms. I am running 150 wpc now and would
like to stay at at least 100 wpc.

Would the Adcom GFA-555 or 545 have the type of sound I am looking for?
If not, can you suggest anything else new or vintage in my price
range.

Thanks in advance,

Bill











 

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RE: Should I consider an Adcom GFA-555? , posted on January 5, 2012 at 11:38:11
noway
Audiophile

Posts: 291
Location: Canada
Joined: August 28, 2007
I own a Crown XLS 2500 which is cheap and sounds mighty fine and although a pro amp I haven't heard the fan yet. It is stable into 2 ohm loads, 440 wpc into 8 ohm loads, runs cool and low power consumption at idle so you can leave it on all the time, level controls so you can adjust balance if your preamp doesn't have a balance control, 3 year transferable warranty, balanced inputs...what's not to like? (well, it's a bit ugly + you might have a hard time auditioning one before buying since they are sold in pro stores not high end audio stores)

I owned it alongside a Bryston 3B-ST for a few months, swapping them both in and out of my system and ended up keeping the Crown and selling the Bryston.

http://www.zzounds.com/item--CWNXLS2500

 

RE: Should I consider an Adcom GFA-555? , posted on January 5, 2012 at 11:54:41
roscoeiii
Audiophile

Posts: 555
Joined: April 28, 2009
I have been looking into something similar. And found Adcom, Aragon, Acurus and Hafler as the brands that had solid reputations and were within a similar price range to yours. The Nakamichi's with the Threshold Stasis designs (PA-5 and PA-7) are also worth considering. All of these brands have amps made by very well respected amp designers. Sure they made compromises to reach their price points on these, but you are getting pretty solid circuit designs. And I hear of folks upgrading these amps with more boutique parts to good effect.

 

RE: Should I consider an Adcom GFA-555? , posted on January 5, 2012 at 12:50:39
ampreometric
Audiophile

Posts: 1118
Location: Oklahoma
Joined: February 6, 2010
I've had four older Adcom 555 amps. They are very decent amplifiers ad powerful. Take care tho if you end up with a pair and bridge them in mono for bi-amping. When bridged in mono the amplifier "sees" your speaker load as half. 8 ohm speakers will be seen as 4ohm. 4ohm as 2 ohm. And if your speakers dip below 2ohm, well.......
I found this out the hard way. A pair of speakers I have can dip to 2 ohms which means the Adcom was trying to drive a 1 ohm load! Smoked the amp needless to say but still, the 555 is a very good amplifier. I wouldn't really consider the 545, but that's just my personal preference.

 

With $750 budget? No, you should not., posted on January 5, 2012 at 13:00:16
Posts: 7
Joined: December 29, 2011
For that kind of money, you should be able to score McCormack DNA-1 or Belles 150A Hot Rod on Audiogon - both much better amps than 555.

 

RE: Should I consider an Adcom GFA-555? , posted on January 5, 2012 at 13:40:52
geezerrocket
Audiophile

Posts: 1263
Location: The Socialist Republic of Minnesota
Joined: October 7, 2005
Contributor
  Since:
December 0, 0000
Mosfet amps in general have a "softer" sound when it comes to detail/micro dynamics - a slight haze or glow if you will. Don't confuse this with lack of grip or bass slam, because this their calling card. For the type of listening/music you like, a Adcom in good condition would be good. At a budget of < $750 I would skip the 555, 545, 5400 and go stright to a 5802 or 5500. There are plenty of 5500's (200 wpc) out there from $450-$650. You should be able to find a good 5802 (300 wpc) for $700-$800. Some others in your price range worth considering are; Odyssey Khartago (110 wpc) for $895 NEW, Marsh A400, Bryston 3B or 4B, and Rotel 1080 or 1090. Happy hunting.
I was a vegetarian for 15 minutes, until the main course.......Meat; It's the right thing to do. Romans 14:2

 

RE: Should I consider an Adcom GFA-555? , posted on January 5, 2012 at 14:12:34
wawa2020
Audiophile

Posts: 293
Joined: October 25, 2002
I think the Adcom 555II is the best choice in the old adcom range. I have used one for 15 years. More "there" than the mosfet adcoms to my ears.

If you do look for a 555II, plan at some point to have it recapped and have the resistors on the driver boards replaced ($200 or so at a service shop). I think its worth it if you can buy the amp at the right price.

If you leave it on all the time the slight hardness recedes and it sounds great. A very nice amp if you have power hungry speakers like my Platinum Trios.

 

Adcom GFA 5800 or Hafler TransNova, posted on January 5, 2012 at 17:59:39
Jon L
Reviewer

Posts: 5517
Joined: April 6, 2000
"I prefer decent detail and soundstage, great
bass and impact and a neutral to somewhat mellow top end."

I would stay away from the very early Adcoms like 555, but 5800 and Hafler TransNova's (highest wattage ones in your budget) should fit the bill..

 

RE: Should I consider an Adcom GFA-555? , posted on January 5, 2012 at 18:45:09
cycletemp
Audiophile

Posts: 57
Location: Missouri
Joined: July 23, 2010
For $750 you might be able to get a used more recent Adcom, the GFA-555se. That is what I use and I like it.

 

RE: Should I consider an Adcom GFA-555? , posted on January 5, 2012 at 21:17:40
A.Wayne
Audiophile

Posts: 153
Location: Front row center
Joined: November 30, 2011
Interesting,

You must have over driven the amp considerably
(distortion) and consistently. I have used 555 on many occassion at 2 and 1 ohm loads and have never smoked any of them. You will have to upgrade the standard fuses and of course watch temps, as they have pretty small heat sinks.

To the OP:

For 750.00 look for a pr of the 565 mono blocs, plenty powerful to drive anything. there are of course other choices than Adcom and since you are not driving a difficult load, look around ..

Regards,

 

No, posted on January 6, 2012 at 02:09:10
plantsman
Audiophile

Posts: 4790
Location: Maine
Joined: April 4, 2002
Despite quite a bit of favorable press the original 555 was fairly mediocre even when it was introduced more than 20 years ago. Any amp that old is also going to be a candidate for having the power supply caps replaced. For $750 you should be able to find a newer amp from Odyssey, McCormack, Belles or a few now orphan brands that are much better than a 555.
"There are political consequences to remembering things that never happened and forgetting things that did." Ariel Levy

 

RE: Should I consider an Adcom GFA-555? , posted on January 6, 2012 at 02:17:30
Mick Wolfe
Audiophile

Posts: 1154
Joined: October 10, 1999
Contributor
  Since:
September 4, 2000
As others have suggested, your $750 would be better spent elsewhere.Far too many newer and better options.

 

RE: Should I consider an Adcom GFA-555? , posted on January 6, 2012 at 10:11:49
Crazy Dave
Audiophile

Posts: 10537
Location: East Coast
Joined: October 4, 2001
Have you actually heard the Nakamichi PA-5 and PA-7. The store I worked at sold them and I was not impressed. I like the sound of the Threshold amps and I currently have one in my system. However, the Naks never measured up to my ears, although I have wondered if they could be modified. Also since the Naks look so good, owners generally want a lot of money for them. I say stay away unless you get a very low price! (YMMV)

Dave

 

That is my experience as well, posted on January 6, 2012 at 10:26:41
plantsman
Audiophile

Posts: 4790
Location: Maine
Joined: April 4, 2002
I found the Threshold amps from the 1980s to be substantially better sounding than the Nakamichi Stasis amps.
"There are political consequences to remembering things that never happened and forgetting things that did." Ariel Levy

 

RE: Aragon, Acurus, and Belles , posted on January 6, 2012 at 12:23:02
bboroski
Audiophile

Posts: 996
Location: Raleigh NC
Joined: July 3, 2008
A friend suggested I look at at some older Aragon, Acurus, and Belles
amps. From what I have found out about them, they seem to be very good
amps for the money. But I wonder if any of them possess the bass slam of
an Adcom. If so, which models?

 

RE: too many newer and better options, posted on January 6, 2012 at 12:28:42
bboroski
Audiophile

Posts: 996
Location: Raleigh NC
Joined: July 3, 2008
But which brands possess the bass slam that the Adcoms are known for?

 

RE: Should I consider an Adcom GFA-555? , posted on January 6, 2012 at 12:37:01
roscoeiii
Audiophile

Posts: 555
Joined: April 28, 2009
I didn't have the chance to listen to the Nakamichis. Saturday Audio Exchange here in Chicago has one here, that I may get around to auditioning. What I listed were the names that came up in reviews and forum posts.

I have an Aragon 4004 which I think I will stick with. That amp I can report has excellent bass in my system. With great abilities at low-level detail retrieval, an attribute I think speaks well of an amp.

 

RE: Should I consider an Adcom GFA-555? , posted on January 6, 2012 at 12:39:29
fantja
Audiophile

Posts: 3860
Location: Alabama
Joined: September 11, 2010
Hiya Bill,
I owned the 545 power amp. It has that classic mosfet solid state sound.
Plenty of power as well.

 

Bryston. , posted on January 6, 2012 at 13:26:28
Been there, done that (and really wish I hadn't sold 'em).

 

RE: too many newer and better options, posted on January 6, 2012 at 14:59:28
plantsman
Audiophile

Posts: 4790
Location: Maine
Joined: April 4, 2002
The Electron Kinetics Eagle amps completely embarrass the 555 in the bass. As Jim noted the Bryston amps are also excellent in that regard although the ST and later amps are substantially fuller and smoother sounding in the mids and highs than their earlier amps. The Odyssey Stratos Extreme and Mono (I've never heard a Khartago) also have significantly better bass than the Adcoms. Ditto the PSE Studio IV and V. It has been awhile since I last heard a McCormack DNA 0.5, 1, 125 or 225 but with the possible exception of the 0.5 I'm fairly confident that these have better bass performance than the Adcoms. There probably are several other examples I'm not thinking of right now, the 555 and its descendents are IMO highly overrated.
"There are political consequences to remembering things that never happened and forgetting things that did." Ariel Levy

 

RE: too many newer and better options, posted on January 6, 2012 at 16:41:53
a,wayne


 
Plantsman,

Not sure how you are coming up with this, the adcom amplfiers where never rated over the amps you listed and cost far less new or used, so whatg makes them overrated..?

Speaking of overrated, try anything Eagle kinetics, the big ones are so unstable you should stay away from running them anywhere near 4 ohms or less. The McCormacks are good amplifiers and so is the Bryston, they are priced above the 555 easily.


Regards,

 

I think the Parasound HCA series (or McCormack DNA) sound better, posted on January 6, 2012 at 23:28:28
Tom Schuman
Audiophile

Posts: 2413
Location: Bremen
Joined: October 22, 2003
and there's the option of going without a preamp, with level controls on the back. The HCA 1000 or HCA 2200 are great amplifiers for the money. But they are getting a little long in the tooth.
Also look into the McCormack DNA series....

 

Shoot For A Pair Of 565's..., posted on January 7, 2012 at 00:32:00
howard
Audiophile

Posts: 2697
Location: No. California
Joined: December 31, 1999
or the 585.

 

RE: too many newer and better options, posted on January 7, 2012 at 03:26:48
Mick Wolfe
Audiophile

Posts: 1154
Joined: October 10, 1999
Contributor
  Since:
September 4, 2000
On the bass slam issue, others will have to comment. My point was that with $750 to spend, the Adcom 555 should not be on your list. Maybe at half your budget?

 

"the big ones", posted on January 7, 2012 at 03:34:57
plantsman
Audiophile

Posts: 4790
Location: Maine
Joined: April 4, 2002
Where I'm coming up with this is that I worked for dealer that sold most of these amps when they were new and I've had many of them in my home. If the Eagle 7A is an amp you are referring to as one of "the big ones" I've seen that amp run both Maggies and Acoustats with no issues.

The OP indicated that he was prepared to spend up to $750 used and most of the amps I cited are available used for that amount or less (the more recent McCormacks being a probable exception) with reasonable careful shopping. The PSE amps were in the same price ballpark as the Adcoms when new and walked all over them in almost every regard.

The Adcom was, in it's day, reviewed as something of "giant killer". It wasn't true then and it isn't true today but fan boys on the internet keep the myth alive that this was/is an exceptional amp for the money.
"There are political consequences to remembering things that never happened and forgetting things that did." Ariel Levy

 

Bad move, posted on January 7, 2012 at 06:20:37
Jack G
Audiophile

Posts: 8398
Joined: September 24, 1999
I had the 565s when they first came out. Godawful amp. They were bright and edgy, and there was nothing I could do to change that. Got fid of them after about 6 months.
Jack

 

RE: Should I consider an Adcom GFA-555? , posted on January 10, 2012 at 09:31:49
Mushroom Soup
Audiophile

Posts: 142
Location: Western New York State
Joined: November 1, 2003
New Rule: Whenever somebody says "There are better options", he has to say what they are.

 

RE: Should I consider an Adcom GFA-555? , posted on January 10, 2012 at 11:41:13
KanedaK
Audiophile

Posts: 412
Location: Brussels
Joined: April 27, 2010
As you're considering vintage, I'd suggest Technics SE-A3 (2 x 200W) or SE-A5 (2 x 120W) or SE-A5MKII (2 x 150W). If you can find any of those, go for it.
Definitely the "poor man's Krell" IMHO. lots of transparency and slam.
Vintage JBL fans love them for rock music.

Just a little off-the-tracks suggestion ;)

 

RE: Should I consider an Adcom GFA-555? , posted on January 10, 2012 at 15:20:06
Mick Wolfe
Audiophile

Posts: 1154
Joined: October 10, 1999
Contributor
  Since:
September 4, 2000
My point was that the 555 is probably only worth between $250-$350 depending on condition. As far as suggestions, I'd just be repeating one or two of the dozens already listed in this thread. New rule: Take your pick.

 

RE: Should I consider an Adcom GFA-555? , posted on January 12, 2012 at 09:29:13
bradluke0
Audiophile

Posts: 107
Location: cental fl
Joined: February 14, 2010
Hi all ! For $400 - $500 hard to beat the Belles A150 .

 

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