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Amplifier Adcom GFP-555 II and Adcom GFA-535 II review

Courtesy of Celestion, a selection of Adcom’s high-value US hi-fi, This includes the ?500 GFP-555 and ?350 GFA-535 pre/power combo which, now in mkII guise, retains the familiar stain black, rugged, professional appearance.

The GFA-535 is certainly very robust with dual UR power supplies feeding an equally substantial Sanken-based power stage, complete with fuse and electronic protection, Adcom even provides an ‘Instantaneous Distortion Alert’ if the amp is pushed into clipping, to warn of imminent damage to speakers and ears.

Adcom’s GFP-555 preamp is equally straightforward, relying on a series of own-brand op-amps for the MM (hi-output MC) phono, line, tape and tone amplifiers. The remaining CD, tuner, video and three tape inputs can be routed to the bypass outputs.

Sound quality

Though powerful, this combination is clearly most comfortable with simple, untaxing music. Yet even then dominant vocals may sound strained rather than easy and expressive. Similarly, orchestral bass can lack weight despite remaining punchy in a forthright fashion. What you lose isthe natural resonance of low brass, double bass and drums.

Even Rachmaninov’s dancing violins and cellos sounded hurried, and although Mahler’s 1st Symphony on CD proved that the Adcoms can capture grand scale, detail and warmth were sacrificed.

Conclusion

On the face of it, Adcom has engineered two very competent, reliable and compatible amplifiers. Fine so far. Sadly their joint subjective performance remains very disappointing, being reminiscent of so many hard and heartless transistor amps that flourished during the Eighties. Nice figures, shame about the sound.

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