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  1. #1
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    need advice on upgrading amp

    So i have had a adcom gfa 555 for 5 years now and love the sound because it does provide a "holographic" sound stage with the right components.

    I want to upgrade now and just am not sure which solid state amp would sound better for a budget of about $1000-1500 for new or used.

    CD player cambridge audio 840c
    Myryad Pre-Amp mxp 2000
    Adcom GFA 555
    All hand made RCA connects DH Labs
    Speaker wire Q10 DH Labs
    B&W CM9 speakers

    note: the ADCOM is a bit forward sounding amp and I like that effect. Also rgd "holographic" the soundstage has excellent seperation and good depth...

    Thought about emotiva or outlaw amp but feel that they may just be a lateral move not a upgrade. I have not heard either of these amps.

    Thanks for looking

  2. #2
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    I know the Odyssey Stratos Amps are very good for the money and in your range as New with a 20 year warranty.

    Odyssey Audio: Stratos Stereo amplifiers. Call us (317) 299 5578. IN, USA.

  3. #3
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bipper View Post
    So i have had a adcom gfa 555 for 5 years now and love the sound because it does provide a "holographic" sound stage with the right components.

    I want to upgrade now and just am not sure which solid state amp would sound better for a budget of about $1000-1500 for new or used.
    ...

    note: the ADCOM is a bit forward sounding amp and I like that effect. Also rgd "holographic" the soundstage has excellent seperation and good depth...

    Thought about emotiva or outlaw amp but feel that they may just be a lateral move not a upgrade. I have not heard either of these amps.

    Thanks for looking
    Amps sound different, so there is no way to judge "lateral" without listening to the amps -- Emotiva or Outlaw might be similarly priced but that doesn't mean a move would necessarily be "lateral" from your own enjoyment point of view.

    The Odyssey amps mentioned by Hyfi have a high reputation and are definitely worthy of consideration. For my part, I'm very pleased with my Class D Audio SDS-258; I would recommend you consider one of their SDS models. Their SDS-440SC would have ample power for your application and certainly well within you budget; see HERE. The SDS amps are certainly are highly resolved and sound "holographic" depending on the recording; they are "neutral" rather than warm-sounding which some people like and some don't.




  4. #4
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    I agree with Feanor, the class D amps are a good option and are holographic. I use a Class D Audio CDA-254 with a tube preamp and MMG speakers in my second system and the sound is detailed and transparent with excellent bass. Although I am not sure how well the Class D amps will mate with your Cambridge 840c which I use to own and found it a tad on the bright side with my Parasound A21 amp.

    I would consider going used if you want to with a SS amp. SS amps under $2500 can be variable in their holographic or transparent sound. A lot depends upon your up stream gear such as your preamp and DAC or music source.

    You might want to give this new Van Alstine SS amp the Synnergy 300 a try as it sounds like a tube amp. It sells for $1500. I got to hear the prototype in Mr Van Alstine's home. It truly does sound like a tube amp with some warmth, transparency and wide sound stage. It's grain free and has nice deep bass and good control. It's a no frills, no bling amp as all his gear is. If you decide to give one a try (he has a 30 day money back return policy) go for the double die option which deliver's much more current and control. Give him a call as he almost always answers the phone and will be glad to talk audio with you. Here is a nice review on the more powerful Synergy 450 amp.

    Audio By Van Alstine (AVA) Synergy 450 Power Amplifier Blockbuster performance for only $1999! Review By Anthony Nicosia



    avahifi - Synergy 300
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp,
    Thorens TD-145 TT, Bellari phono preamp, Nagaoka MP-200 Cartridge
    Magnepan QR1.6 speakers
    Luxman DA-06 DAC
    Van Alstine Ultra Plus Hybrid Tube DAC
    Dual Martin Logan Original Dynamo Subs
    Parasound A21 amp
    Vintage Luxman T-110 tuner
    Magnepan MMG's, Grant Fidelity DAC-11, Class D CDA254 amp
    Monitor Audio S1 speakers, PSB B6 speakers
    Vintage Technic's Integrated amp
    Music Hall 25.2 CDP
    Adcom GFR 700 AVR
    Cables- Cardas, Silnote, BJC
    Velodyne CHT 8 sub

  5. #5
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    The 5500 has a unique sound, I used to own one, the MOSFET's attributed to that. If you are wanting to stay in that similar sound but better the Van Alstine is a good suggestion and I would recommend looking for a used amp of the Pass lineage, like Threshold, Aleph, or, Pass itself but it may be tough to find Pass in your range. The A21 might also be something to listen to. Probably one of the best values in audio amps is the ATI either 2000 or 3000 series. Actually, thinking about it the ATI might even be the best option. Don't be confused when looking at them, they use one chassis for all same series amps whether two to seven channels. The ATI has monster power and it projects the sound stage out into the room.

  6. #6
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    If you want to go new, give consideration to this Vincent Audio SP-331 which is a SS-tube Hybrid design. It is a robust amp at 150wpc at 8ohms that doubles it power to 300wpc at 4 ohm.

    Vincent Audio - SP-331 Hybrid Power Amplifier-Audio Advisor
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp,
    Thorens TD-145 TT, Bellari phono preamp, Nagaoka MP-200 Cartridge
    Magnepan QR1.6 speakers
    Luxman DA-06 DAC
    Van Alstine Ultra Plus Hybrid Tube DAC
    Dual Martin Logan Original Dynamo Subs
    Parasound A21 amp
    Vintage Luxman T-110 tuner
    Magnepan MMG's, Grant Fidelity DAC-11, Class D CDA254 amp
    Monitor Audio S1 speakers, PSB B6 speakers
    Vintage Technic's Integrated amp
    Music Hall 25.2 CDP
    Adcom GFR 700 AVR
    Cables- Cardas, Silnote, BJC
    Velodyne CHT 8 sub

  7. #7
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    Yba

    Try the New YBA a100 integrated. It drives my Elacs and doesnt even break a sweat! Under 2k also.

  8. #8
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    How would you describe the YBA sound? Or, can it be compared to other brands?The Vincent 331 has a better version available as well the 331 mkII, I believe this is the one Frenchmon has his eye on.

  9. #9
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    I just recently upgraded from an adcom gfa 555 II to vincent audio sp t100 hybrid tubes. You may want to add to your list to check out. Very different sound than the adcom though. If you like forward, the vincents are not as forward. If you like acoustic recordings, jazz, classical, you will probably really appreciate the vincents. I would identify there sound as warm, strengths as bass extention, soundstage. The space between instruments is awesome, classical music wasnt nearly as enjoyable with my adcom. I looked at the parasound a21, vincent 331, as well. The sp-t100s can be had on the used market for around 1200 for the pair. Somewhat difficult to come across though.

  10. #10
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackraven View Post
    If you want to go new, give consideration to this Vincent Audio SP-331 which is a SS-tube Hybrid design. It is a robust amp at 150wpc at 8ohms that doubles it power to 300wpc at 4 ohm.

    Vincent Audio - SP-331 Hybrid Power Amplifier-Audio Advisor
    The Vincent SP-331 seems to me to be an excellent recommendation given its price and the excellent reviews it has received.

    I would love to hear one and would even buy it sight unseen if I were financially prepared for a new amp. No doubt it would be a significantly different sound from my Class D Audio SDS-258. I like the latter but have to admit that its treble reproduction can be aggressive with less than great recordings and upstream components. My guess is that the Vincent would be closer to the preference for "musicality" of a lot of people, e.g. Mr Peabody.

  11. #11
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor View Post
    The Vincent SP-331 seems to me to be an excellent recommendation given its price and the excellent reviews it has received.

    I would love to hear one and would even buy it sight unseen if I were financially prepared for a new amp. No doubt it would be a significantly different sound from my Class D Audio SDS-258. I like the latter but have to admit that its treble reproduction can be aggressive with less than great recordings and upstream components. My guess is that the Vincent would be closer to the preference for "musicality" of a lot of people, e.g. Mr Peabody.

    Feanor, I tamed the treble of my Class D CDA 254 amp by using 0.8ohm resistors in my Magnepan MMG's initially. But since I started using the Grant Fidelity preamp/dac and changed tubes to a 1962 Holland made Ampex tube I have been able to remove the resistor and the sound is very liquid with a more refined and pleasing top end. In fact the sound is very similar to my reference system in terms of air and transparency with but less resolution which would be expected when comparing it to the 1.6's with my Van Alstine gear.

    I think that Bipper should strongly consider a warmer sounding amp like the Vincent amps, Van Alstine synergy or even a SS Marantz considering his Cambridge Audio 840c (after having owned one) and his B&W speakers.
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp,
    Thorens TD-145 TT, Bellari phono preamp, Nagaoka MP-200 Cartridge
    Magnepan QR1.6 speakers
    Luxman DA-06 DAC
    Van Alstine Ultra Plus Hybrid Tube DAC
    Dual Martin Logan Original Dynamo Subs
    Parasound A21 amp
    Vintage Luxman T-110 tuner
    Magnepan MMG's, Grant Fidelity DAC-11, Class D CDA254 amp
    Monitor Audio S1 speakers, PSB B6 speakers
    Vintage Technic's Integrated amp
    Music Hall 25.2 CDP
    Adcom GFR 700 AVR
    Cables- Cardas, Silnote, BJC
    Velodyne CHT 8 sub

  12. #12
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackraven View Post
    Feanor, I tamed the treble of my Class D CDA 254 amp by using 0.8ohm resistors in my Magnepan MMG's initially. But since I started using the Grant Fidelity preamp/dac and changed tubes to a 1962 Holland made Ampex tube I have been able to remove the resistor and the sound is very liquid with a more refined and pleasing top end. In fact the sound is very similar to my reference system in terms of air and transparency with but less resolution which would be expected when comparing it to the 1.6's with my Van Alstine gear.
    ...
    I' not surprised by your findings. How did the Grant Fidelity -- with & without its tube buffer -- affect the resolution specifically, (as distinct from the overall effect)?

    As you know, I've already expounded the theory that tubes, or whatever produces reasonable amounts of 2nd order harmonic distortion, will cloak some portion of the distortion & noise from the recording and other components, and thereby improve "musicality".

  13. #13
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    The tube buffer did not affect resolution, at least not that I can hear with my limited hearing. What it did do is add more space between the instruments lending more air, transparency add width to the sound stage. The SS side was brighter in sound. The stock tube that comes with the GF is not very tubey and is neutral in sound. The NOS Amprex tube lends more warmth and bass with even more air and width to the sound. The midrange is more liquid and treble is more natural.
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp,
    Thorens TD-145 TT, Bellari phono preamp, Nagaoka MP-200 Cartridge
    Magnepan QR1.6 speakers
    Luxman DA-06 DAC
    Van Alstine Ultra Plus Hybrid Tube DAC
    Dual Martin Logan Original Dynamo Subs
    Parasound A21 amp
    Vintage Luxman T-110 tuner
    Magnepan MMG's, Grant Fidelity DAC-11, Class D CDA254 amp
    Monitor Audio S1 speakers, PSB B6 speakers
    Vintage Technic's Integrated amp
    Music Hall 25.2 CDP
    Adcom GFR 700 AVR
    Cables- Cardas, Silnote, BJC
    Velodyne CHT 8 sub

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hyfi View Post
    I know the Odyssey Stratos Amps are very good for the money and in your range as New with a 20 year warranty.

    Odyssey Audio: Stratos Stereo amplifiers. Call us (317) 299 5578. IN, USA.
    I highly recommend the Odyssey as well. Solid amp. I am dying to hear any of the Van Alstine's but just haven't had the chance. Not a huge Vincent fan myself.

  15. #15
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackraven View Post
    The tube buffer did not affect resolution, at least not that I can hear with my limited hearing. What it did do is add more space between the instruments lending more air, transparency add width to the sound stage. The SS side was brighter in sound. The stock tube that comes with the GF is not very tubey and is neutral in sound. The NOS Amprex tube lends more warmth and bass with even more air and width to the sound. The midrange is more liquid and treble is more natural.
    The addition of "air, transparency, and width" seems to be what a lot of people notice with good tube equipment -- and good tubes.

    I noticed that too, i.e. what I'd describe as greater "spacial ambience", using my former Sonic Frontiers Line 1 preamp. However I note that I really only noticed it with my favorite tubes, the Amperex USA white label 'PQ' 6922's.

    This is a very agreeable effect but I do believe it is an artefact: it isn't there with any s/s preamp I've heard, nor with a simple, decent quality potentiometer. How the phenomenon is produced by (some) tubes I don't know; maybe it's related to tubes' relatively high 2nd order distortion, maybe not. I do speculate that it is related to the "transient decay" that RGA was so often blithering about. What I doubt is that it's tubes' lower higher order distortion as some tube advocates insist; if the were true, why would a passive attenuator not also reveal the additional ambience?

  16. #16
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    Feanor, if it didn't cost so much to ship to Canada, I would send you the GF unit to try for a week. I only occasionally use my second system.
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp,
    Thorens TD-145 TT, Bellari phono preamp, Nagaoka MP-200 Cartridge
    Magnepan QR1.6 speakers
    Luxman DA-06 DAC
    Van Alstine Ultra Plus Hybrid Tube DAC
    Dual Martin Logan Original Dynamo Subs
    Parasound A21 amp
    Vintage Luxman T-110 tuner
    Magnepan MMG's, Grant Fidelity DAC-11, Class D CDA254 amp
    Monitor Audio S1 speakers, PSB B6 speakers
    Vintage Technic's Integrated amp
    Music Hall 25.2 CDP
    Adcom GFR 700 AVR
    Cables- Cardas, Silnote, BJC
    Velodyne CHT 8 sub

  17. #17
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackraven View Post
    Feanor, if it didn't cost so much to ship to Canada, I would send you the GF unit to try for a week. I only occasionally use my second system.
    Thanks but no; shipping back and forth to Canada is pricey, and one must be at lengths to avoid brokerage & taxes.

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