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Amplifier Adcom GCA-510 review

As interest in A/V systems seems to grow by the month, it makes sense for a loudspeaker specialist to gain a toe-hold in the electronics market. For Celestion that toe-hold is Adcom, an established manufacturer responsible for the highest-selling range of amp separates in America. Its current range includes six power amps, three preamps and this GCA-510 line-only integrated model.

A similar topology and component list is adopted in an effort to both standardise the range and reduce manufacturing costs. Aesthetics are plain and features strictly limited — just rec-out and input selection plus volume and balance controls.

Our first sample had an unexpected shock up its sleeve, however, leaving some 120V floating across the metal chassis as a result of a stray capacitance between this and our CD player earth. A second sample was correctly earthed and zap-free!

Sound quality

Once Paul had got over the excitement of acting as an earth path for this lively amplifier, we were able to sit back and enjoy an entertaining performance. Its primary characteristic was an emphasis on the midrange, which tended to highlight different aspects of the tracks being played to the amps that preceded it.

On the whole it worked well. The rather excitable Fourth World disc sounded as energetic as it could get without completely losing control. With all the material that we listened to it picked up on midrange detail, bringing out the interplay of musicians and the sense of timing displayed therein. This was particularly true of the saxophone, drums, clarinet and piano on the Kenny Davern track: all of these instruments realised more of their subtle expressiveness. The backing vocals on Joni Mitchell’s Cherokee Louise made themselves clear and more of the articulation in her voice was presented.

Limitations included imaging and dynamics, but as the latter are an anathema to most inexpensive amps, it put in a worthy performance.

Conclusion

Had the Adcom been ?100 cheaper, it would have been recommended. Unfortunately, it is economically hampered by its stateside origin.

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