I just had an idea...which is probably too strenuous for an 83 year old like me. But I thought about asking a question in this forum in the hopes that some kindly soul will read it and give me an answer if they can. I have stumbled across an integrated amp through these forums and became very interested in it...so I wanted to learn all I could about it. I am not really technically astute...more like technically disadvantaged....so anyone who does answer, pretend I am in the kindergarten. About the PS Audio's GCC-100 Control Integrated Amp....does anyone know anything about it from a layman's point of view? Has anyone ever heard one in use? It sounds logical, but actually this amp does not have a pre-amp section...it is minus a lot of things that degrades sound....even the volume control is unlike most volume controls...and so it does seem reasonable to assume that this particular integrated amp might do a great job with Classical music...or jazz....or big band stuff...or blue grass....y'know? That's just to assure any reader that I'm not listening to rap or rock n roll....but don't expect me to insult that music if YOU like it. We all ought to like the music we listen to eh? I hope someone answers this..but I rather doubt it.
I'm pretty familiar with PSA's stuff, so I'll give it my best shot.
The difference between a GCC and regular integrated is the GCC is the closest thing you can get to an amp with infinitely variable gain. A normal integrated uses a stepped potentiometer or attenuator that can add noise. From a purist's standpoint, the less you have between the source and the speakers, the better off you are. Ideally, you'd like no pre-amp section at all, just a source with enough gain to drive an amp and speakers. The GCC achieves this through the use of Paul's Gain Cell which doesn't use the traditional pot or attenuator thereby preserving the signal's fidelity. Make sense?
Reviews to the GCC have been mixed, but I believe differences in opinion are caused more by the amp section than the gain cell. All agree the thing runs dead silent and produces startlingly black backgrounds. From these backgrounds emerge lightening fast transient response and solid, heart shaking bass. So what's the problem? Apparently, in Paul's quest to make the most neutral, noiseless amplifier existent, who forgot to add the soul. This is a matter of personal preference, mind you. If you want an amp that will produce exactly what the source is feeding it, with no sugar coating, forgiveness, or anything else that might "warm" up the sound, this is the amp. If, on the other hand, you consider the amp as a method of "tuning" the sound to your preference, you may prefer something else. PSA's previous HCA2, by example, was a much tubier sounding amp than the GCC or GCA series.
Hope this helps.
"If you can leave black marks on a straight from the time you exit a corner till the time you brake for the next turn, then you have enough horsepower." Mark Donohue
Topspeed: Thanks for your practical, intelligent answer. Before your comments I had a somewhat distorted view of what audio components ought to do... and that there are times when we WANT them to sweeten or warm up our music. Your remarks were like a cataract operation (which I had a few years ago)...they clarify and illuminate. Before I read what you had to say, I thought that the PS Audio GCC-100 might be the way I want to go, but upon reflection I think I might lean more towards the Bel Canto eVo i Gen II...or some other integrated amp that might warm up my classical music and make it more delightful to my ear... Thanks for helping me, I do appreciate it very much.
You might also want to consider a CD player with an adjustable output stage. Then you could connect it to your amp of choice with no need of a pre-amp at all (of course you would be limited to no other source devices, such as turntables or FM tuners).