Denon 3802 vs. older Adcom seperates for 2 channel?

Discussion in 'AV Receivers' started by Mark Russ, Aug 14, 2003.

  1. Mark Russ

    Mark Russ Second Unit

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    I've got a Denon 3802 in the bedroom system, and really, I'm very satisfied with it's performance as is. However, I've also got a 12 year old Adcom GTP400 tuner/preamp and an Adcom GFA 535 power amp (very conservatively rated at 60 watts per channel, although I've heard or read somewhere that it's really more like 80) combo that I'm not currently using at this time. I also picked up an old Adcom GFP 565 preamp that seems to work OK dirt cheap at a yard sale of all places.

    Should I integrate some combination of the Adcom equipment into the system with 3802 for 2 channel, and if so, how would I hook it up? I think I could do it through the tape monitor loops on either of the Adcom preamps into the Denon preout/ins, or is there a better way?

    I think I read a review somewhere before where they measured the 3802's 2 channel stereo output at like 127 watts per channel, or something like that. Would I be better off not using the little Adcom power amp instead. I mean, I could see it for sure if it were one of the little baby Adcoms bigger siblings of say at least 100 watts per channel, but in this particular case, would the 3802's amps actually be stronger?

    For one thing, I'm pretty sure that the tuner in the Adcom would be better than the Denon's, and I know the preamp section of either Adcom model I have would be better for 2 channel stereo.

    Also, I'm pretty sure that the Adcom GFP565 is a better preamp than the GTP 400, but it has no tuner (but that wouldn't be a problem as The Denon 3802 would still have one on it). Plus the 565 has 3 sets of main out jacks and a switch to engage a processor on the front panel, whereas the 400 has none of that. The 400 only has 1 set of main outs, and no processor switch.

    Would any of this be a worthwhile upgrade, especially since it wouldn't cost any additional money other than maybe cables?

    BTW, the speakers are Polk RT1000i for the main left/right channels. The cd player is an old (about '97 vintage) Yamaha changer. I think 735 or something like that is the model #. At that time, it was either their top of the line or 2nd from the top of the line cd changer. I figured I could run the CD players outputs straight into one of the Adcom preamps. Also, would the Denon 3802's DACs be better than the Yamaha cd players internal built in DACS? Would I maybe actually be better off hooking it up to one of the 3802's digital inputs?
    Opinions, advice and suggestions please, and thanks in advance.
     
  2. Mark Russ

    Mark Russ Second Unit

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    Oh c'mon people! I need some help here. I think I've got some good, legitimate questions here. Surely somebody must know! Or at least have some thoughts on it.
    How about you Yogi? I've noticed from your posts that you are very familiar with the adding 2 channel amps and preamps to the 3802. If you see this thread, what is your take on it?
    Anybody?
    Help a brother out here! One thing I've learned is that no matter how much you may think you know about this stuff, there's always somebody else who knows more, and it never hurts to seek out others' counsel.
     
  3. Shiu

    Shiu Second Unit

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    I tried connecting the pre-outs of my Sony DA4ES to my Adcom GFP-565. It worked ok but I had to turn the volume on the DA4ES way up. I think a better way would be not to go through the GFP but go directly from the pre-outs to the Adcom power amplifier. In terms of sound quality, the difference between my GFA-555 and the 4ES is hardly noticeable, with my Polk RTi38 system. I suspect most people on this forum rank the Denon 3802 higher than the 4ES. If in fact the 3802 has a better ampplifier than the 4ES, then I would think that it is not worth the trouble of adding the Adcom to the equation. Of course, my system may be "speaker limited", i.e. if I had better speakers, the difference between my Adcom and my Sony would be more noticeable.
     
  4. Mark Russ

    Mark Russ Second Unit

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    Shiu,

    "I suspect most people on this forum rank the Denon 3802 higher than the 4ES. If in fact the 3802 has a better ampplifier than the 4ES...."

    That's a pretty bold statement that I myself personally would never make. If it came down to me picking between those 2, I would go with the Denon (which I obviously did), but the 4ES is a fine machine also, especially for the price. It might have been the best value in the whole Sony ES line.

    "the difference between my GFA-555 and the 4ES is hardly noticeable, with my Polk RTi38 system. Of course, my system may be "speaker limited", i.e. if I had better speakers, the difference between my Adcom and my Sony would be more noticeable."

    The RT38 is a fine speaker. Admittedly, it isn't the absolute best on the market, but it's nothing to be ashamed of by any means. It's more than good enough to benefit from better amplification. It's basically the same thing as my RT1000i, less the little subs.

    "I tried connecting the pre-outs of my Sony DA4ES to my Adcom GFP-565. It worked ok but I had to turn the volume on the DA4ES way up. "

    From what I can gather from the GTP 400's manual, you can hook a processor up through one of the Adcom's tape monitor loops input and output to the pre in and outs of the processor (3802), select that as both the listening and recording source on the Adcom and then turn it's volume to the 12:00 position, then you can simply use the volume control on the processor itself (the 3802 in my case) to actually raise or lower the volume coming out of the speakers. I didn't get a manual with the GFP 565 I bought, so I'm not sure exactly how the "processor switch" it has on the front panel works. Maybe I can be able to download a copy of the manual off of Adcom's website. I'll have to check that out.

    "I think a better way would be not to go through the GFP but go directly from the pre-outs to the Adcom power amplifier."

    I know that would work, but it would be a shame not to use one of those Adcom preamps for 2 channel stereo.

    ".....then I would think that it is not worth the trouble of adding the Adcom to the equation."

    Your may very well be right, particularly about the power amp. You have the 200 watt per channel Adcom beast, while mine is only the 60 watt model. The Denon 3802 amps may very well be stronger than the Adcom 535's. If it were at least a 100 watt per channel amp, then it might would be different, as it would probably be better for sure than the receiver's amps, but I just don't know about this particular case (the 535) actually being an upgrade or not.

    The 3802's DACs are probably better than the one's in my 6 year old Yamaha cd changer too. It might actually be better to simply hook up the cd changer through one of the Denon's digital inputs than to run cables from the Cd player straight into one of the Adcom preamps instead.
    It might be better to do that and just leave the Denon alone as is, but I figure it's GOT to be some kind of upgrade for 2 channel stereo to integrate the Adcom equipment in there somehow.

    Any others care to weigh in on this?
     
  5. Alex Prosak

    Alex Prosak Supporting Actor

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    Of Adcom's initial amp offerings (535, 545, 555) I think the 535 sounded the best and the 565 preamp is also very nice. I suggest pairing the two together without the 3802 in the equation at all. Find a nice set of monitors on Audiogon and set up a second system for stereo only.
     
  6. Tom Grooms

    Tom Grooms Second Unit

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    With better source gear (ie CD player/Turntable) I would want the 565 in the loop. Just run the preamp outs from the denon into the inputs on the 565. Turn off the denon when listening to the 2 channel gear (which is hooked directly into the 565) and enjoy. To set up HT, set the 565 volume control to 12:00 (unity gain) and calibrate the levels to match your other speakers with your receiver.

    But your right, the denon may sound better using the Yamaha as a transport and letting the receiver do the D/A conversion.

    Good luck!
     
  7. Shiu

    Shiu Second Unit

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    Mark, I bought my 565 new and I still have the manual. As soon as I get a free moment I will dig it out, read it, and let you know how that "processor in" switch work. By the way, I still remember in those days (15 to 20 years ago), the 535 did receive excellent reviews, it was supposed to sound pretty much the same as the 545 and 555, except for the lower power rating.
     
  8. Mark Russ

    Mark Russ Second Unit

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    Thanks for the tips so far guys.
    I've been pondering on it, and I've decided on a few things. My main system has a HK 8000 receiver along with an Adcom GFA5500 amp powering the main l/r channels (also this allows me to have full on 7.1 as the HK 8000 only has 5 powered amp channels, so I use it to power the center and all surrounds). I'm definitely going to incorporate one of the Adcom preamps into that system as well. Which one, GTP400 or GFP565, I don't know. The 400 has a tuner, the 565 doesn't. Which receiver has the better tuner, HK 8000 or Denon 3802? I guess that will probably decide it. I'll put the Adcom 400 with whichever receiver has the lesser tuner.
    I'm also going to add the Adcom 535 amp to the 3802 based bedroom system in some way, shape, or form. I'll try it on the main l/r channels and compare it against the 3802 in 2 channel "direct" mode and see which sounds better to me. Then, I can take whichever I decide against, either the Adcom 535 or the 2 3802 channels which would then be freed up or "unused", and use that to power a pair of Polk Atruim 45 indoor/outdoor speakers that I will install in the bathroom. I'm thinking later on down the line, I might get another 2 channel power amp that would be a definite upgrade over either the 535 or 3802 amps, like maybe another Adcom GFA5500 or the 5400. I'll also compare the Yamaha cd changer hooked up by cables going into the Adcom preamp against a digital connection to the 3802, and see if I can call a clear winner between the two on that as well.

    I'm getting the feeling here that the general consensus is that my speakers (Polk RT1000i) and source (Yamaha '97 model 735 Cd changer aren't really good enough for me to hear the difference between the Adcom equipment and the 3802, but I'll get into that later as I respond to comments.

    Alex Prosak

    "Find a nice set of monitors on Audiogon and set up a second system for stereo only."

    Alex,
    back about 11 years ago, I bought a set of Spica TC50 speakers along with the matching set Kinergetics subwoofers (passive), amp (dedicated for the subs), and lead shot filled stands that were specifically designed for the Spica TC50s to go along with my Adcom 400/535 combo (Also had an Adcom 575 cd player then). The Spica/Kinergetics combo was supposed to be "audiophile approved" with a very high rating/recomendation from Stereophile magazine. You know what, after I got them home, I eventually grew over time to absolutely hate them! Luckily, I was able to sell them and at least get my money back out of them. I mostly listen to hard rock/heavy metal which normally consist of only bass, drums, and a couple of guitars at most (along with vocals of course), and that just wasn't the Spica's strong suit. Took that money I got from them and compared a set of Klipsch Epic series CF3 to some Def Techs (whose model # I can't recall, I think it might have been either BP8 or BP10, or something like that), and fell in love with the big Klipschs, so they went home with me. They were so efficient (102 or 103 DB) that my little Adcom amp could drive them louder than 40 hells. What monitors would you suggest off hand good for rock music and movies that wouldn't break the bank, but yet would be a signifigant upgrade over the Polks I already have? I'm open to suggestions, and if
    I can upgrade rather cheaply after reselling my existing Polks, I'd be up to it.


    Tom Grooms

    "With better source gear (ie CD player/Turntable) I would want the 565 in the loop.

    But your right, the denon may sound better using the Yamaha as a transport and letting the receiver do the D/A conversion."

    Tom, I've been out of the loop for a while now on new cd players. Last time I really bought one was about 6 or 7 years ago when I auditioned the Adcom GCD600 cd changer against a NAD changer whose model # I can't remember. Same cds, amps, speakers, cables, etc. were used, and I could very clearly hear a dramatic difference between them. The Adcom was way better, so it came home with me, and I still use it to this day in my main system. It was top notch for the money in it's day, and still might not be too bad even now. It does have Burr Brown d/a converters in it, and I think the transport was supposed to be based on the then top of the line multi-thousand dollar Denon changer model. I picked up the Yamaha cd changer for the bedroom simply because it was relatively cheap with the deal I got on it, it sounded OK to me (not as good as the Adcom, but OK nonetheless), and at that time, I had a Yamaha 2092 receiver to match it. I know this should probably be a seperate thread in the source forum, but does anyone have some suggestions off hand on decent cd players for the money? Doesn't really matter to me if it's a changer or single disc player. Say in the $500 or so range tops? I also need a new turntable. I haven't kept up with them in years. I don't even have one now, but I do still have a lot of records that I've kept in great condition. Any suggestions on that as well? Something halfway decent for the money?


    Shiu

    "Mark, I bought my 565 new and I still have the manual. As soon as I get a free moment I will dig it out, read it, and let you know how that "processor in" switch work."

    Shiu, I really appreciate that, but I went Adcom's website and I was able to download a copy of it.

    Thanks again guys. Please keep the suggestions coming on my latest set of questions, specifically speaker, cd player, and turntable recomendations.

    I'll definitely post what I came up with when I do my comparisions:

    Hk 8000 vs Denon 3802 tuner against tuner,
    Adcom 535 vs Denon 3802's amps in 2 channel "direct" mode,
    Yamaha cd changer attached to Adcom preamp (at least one, maybe I'll even try both of them) with Monster cables vs Yamaha cd player as transport digitally connected to the 3802.
     
  9. Tom Grooms

    Tom Grooms Second Unit

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  10. Shiu

    Shiu Second Unit

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    Mark,

    I am really impressed with the fact that Adcom's website still support their old models. By the sound of it, your system is going to be quite complicated, you certainly need all those manuals on hand. When I was looking for my manual, I found several reviews on the GFA-555 by magazines such as Stereo Review and Sterophile. Here is some of the comments in a Stereo review test report published in November 1986:

    "..........It is difficult to comment on the sound of the GFA-555. It is obviously a superb amplifier by any objective standard. As we have found, A/B comparisons with other amplifiers are fruitless, and none of the speakers we had on hand presented the kind of load that would reveal the special qualities of an amplifier like the GFA-555. Adcom says that it will drive the 1-ohm impedance of an Apogee speaker, and everything we learned about it makes that seem like a reasonable claim............."

    Your GFA-5500 is a much newer model, I can't imagine how much better it is!

    Before I forget, I must thank you (obviously a Denon/HK user) for your kind words about the Sony DA4ES.
     
  11. Mark Russ

    Mark Russ Second Unit

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    OK, a few quick off the cuff opinions in my comparisions so far:

    1-I gave up on trying to see if I could tell which receiver has the better tuner between the HK 8000 and the Denon 3802. It's an apples to oranges comparision as they are in different locations of the house, different antennas, different amps, speakers, etc. I really couldn't tell a big enough difference to call a clear winner, and frankly, it's just not worth it to me anyway for what I consider to be at best a mid-fi medium. I think that since the Adcom 565 preamp is supposed to be better than the GTP 400, I'll just use it in my main system with the HK 8000 and Adcom 5500 amp, and use the 400 in the bedroom system with the 3802 and Adcom 535. I'm sure though that the tuner in the Adcom 400 would be better than either the Denon or the HK. That decided, it's time to move on to something else.

    2-Before hooking up any of the Adcom equipment in the 3802 system, I compared the Yamaha cd changer hooked up to the Denon by a standard l/r cable connection to the receiver's cd inputs against an optical connection to the Denon. IMO, the sound was better through the Denon's optical input. This was not surprising to me as I suspected all along that since the 3802 is a lot newer than the 6 year old cd player, it would probably have better DACs.


    "Lot's of good players in that price range. (look at pre-owned) You can short list the NAD C540i or the new C542, musical Fidelity A3, Adcom GCD-700, Rega Planet, Cambridge D500SE and I haven't listened to it but a lot of people are happy with the SACD and upsampled Redbook performance of the Phlilps 963SA. Or if you like the Yamaha and it seems to be a decent transport, look at getting an outboard D/A converter. (DAC)"


    Thanks Tom. That will probably be my next move, either that, or another 2 channel amp. I really don't think the Yamaha changer is that great of a transport. It just seems a lot flimsier than the Adcom changer I also have. The Adcom is much heavier and sturdy.


    Shiu

    "Your GFA-5500 is a much newer model, I can't imagine how much better it is!"

    It is a monster, and I like it! Although the 555 is nothing to exactly be ashamed of either.

    "Before I forget, I must thank you (obviously a Denon/HK user) for your kind words about the Sony DA4ES"

    You're welcome, but I was speaking the truth and not just saying that. I call 'em like I see 'em, and you could do a whole lot worse than the 4ES, especially at it's price point.
     
  12. Mark Russ

    Mark Russ Second Unit

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    Well, if anyone is still interested, I have now compared the Adcom 535 to the 3802 (in 2 channel, "direct" mode). This was without using one of the Adcom preamps in the equation yet. This was simply running the preouts of the 3802 straight into the 535 and using the Yamaha cd changer as the source with a digital connection to the 3802.
    Believe it or not, I think the little Adcom sounded better! I was actually surprised somewhat, as I went into this really expecting the 3802 in 2 channel mode to sound better and stronger than the little 60 watt per channel Adcom (I think the 3802 is supposed to be over 125 watts per channel in 2 channel stereo operation, at least that's what I vaguely seem to remember reading somewhere before). Granted, it wasn't any kind of dramatic, earthshaking, mind blowing, night and day difference, but I believe the Adcom may have sounded subtly better. I guess now I'll keep the 535 powering the main l/r speakers and use the 2 amp channels on the 3802 that it is replacing to power a pair of indoor/outdoor speakers in the bathroom so that they aren't being unused and going to waste.

    I will next put the GTP400 tuner preamp in the system, run the Yamaha cd player into it with a pair of monster cables, and compare that to the cd players digital connection the the 3802. Stay tuned.
     
  13. Tom Grooms

    Tom Grooms Second Unit

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    I'm not surprised, Dedicated two channels amp will always sound better than a compromised A/V (all-in-one) receiver.

    Enjoy it, your on your way!
     

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