Showdown: H/K integrated amp (HK-6650) vs. Adcom amp (GFA-5400). Surprise winner!

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Javier_Huerta, Aug 4, 2002.

  1. Javier_Huerta

    Javier_Huerta Supporting Actor

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    Well, not really. But you have to admit, I made you look! [​IMG]
    At least I've made a good case for going the separate route. I feel happy about it.
    Situation
    Luxman CD player, H/K tape deck, H/K-6650 (100 watts RMS) amp powering a pair of MartinLogan Scenarios. No bass distortion whatsoever, but the mids tended to distort at mid volume. Strident sound, nasty.
    What happened:
    The Adcom was on sale. 50% off! Before you get excited, bear in mind I paid $650. Ah, the joys of living in Mexico. The guy who sold it to me told me it was a 125 / 200 (8 / 4 ohm) amp, and that it would "blow the socks off my H/K" (which had almost identical specs).
    I was doubtful, but he gave me a money-back guarantee that I'd listen to a definite improvement.
    Now, I'll be the first to admit. I trusted my H/K. The transformer was huge. The heatsink was huge. It looked beefy. Its specs were good. But I always wondered about the little switch on the back. The one that said "8 ohm / 4 ohm operation". Was it a trick for lowering voltage / current when operating in a 4 ohm mode? Nah... the H/K guys are too good for that (or so I thought [​IMG] ).
    The results:
    I replaced the H/K amp. The Luxman CD player already has preamp capabilities, so I simply plugged everything in. I wondered how the thing would sound, since I always had to use the "loudness" control on my H/K to add a bit of bass impact.
    I shouldn't have worried about it.
    I can only say one thing. There is no comparison, I repeat, no comparison between an integrated amp such as mine and a dedicated amplifier such as the Adcom. The Adcom simply laughed at my MartinLogans (more exactly, he greeted them courteously and proceeded to do some extremely good teamwork effort). It powered them with such ease, authority and precision that I couldn't think about returning it after listening for 1 minute. It's a night and day difference, really. My speakers lost their piercing mids, and they now sound as they should have in the first place: lots of authority, clarity, depth, bass impact and finesse.
    So, I'll be the first to admit. 100 watts in an integrated does not equal 125 watts in a real power amp. I can't believe how much difference there can exist between ratings. Maybe my Adcom isn't the best amp out there, but I'm now really in love with my system.
    The only thing left to say is, please, don't ever convince me again of upgrading. I'm losing too much money to this hobby, DAMMIT!!! [​IMG]
     
  2. John Royster

    John Royster Screenwriter

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    yep,

    I've got an HK integrated and an adcome gfa555 laying around. no comparison. the HK holds its own but never underestimate a decent amp.

    that being said the adcom is "training wheels" for amps. I've got MLs and I've spent 3 months auditioning amps (rotel, classe, aragon, parasound). still searching for one.
     
  3. DanaA

    DanaA Screenwriter

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    Javier, you should trust your Harman Kardon. HK's produce really nice sound. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed reading your reaction when you used a dedicated amp. All I have to say is, "Wow!!!" to how much of a difference making this type upgrade can make. [​IMG] I listened to all the debates back and forth on whether such a difference was actual or perceived. I really didn't expect a huge difference when I got my amp, but it changed everything. It was the single biggest improvement I've ever had from a piece of equipment. It gives me joy when someone experiences what I felt that day.
    No, no, or course not. That was the sole last improvement you could make. It's all over as far as upgrades. [​IMG]
     
  4. Rob Rodier

    Rob Rodier Supporting Actor

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    Now if you could only get a Krell or Accuphase integrated for comparison, than we could realy have a discussion. Keep in mind that there are many world class integrateds out there. I think that the idea behind them is great.
    Glad to hear you are happy with the upgrade. [​IMG]
    -rob
     
  5. Yogi

    Yogi Screenwriter

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    A krell integrated compared to a 125 W Adcom. Now that would be a comparison worth talking about[​IMG] I wonder who the winner would be?
     
  6. John Royster

    John Royster Screenwriter

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  7. Rob Rodier

    Rob Rodier Supporting Actor

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  8. Javier_Huerta

    Javier_Huerta Supporting Actor

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    Heh! As I said, I *know* the Adcom is, to put it mildly, the bottom end of the high end (or something like that), and I'm *sure* there's an integrated out there that can beat it handily.
    And Dana, I do like the H/K's sound when powering piston speakers. It is a step above what many integrateds can offer. But the MartinLogan are power hogs, and they really needed a lot more power than what the H/K could produce. OTOH, the Adcom barely distorts, and that's with the preamp controls turned all the way to 100%. The volume level is a bit untolerable for me, so for normal listening conditions, the distortion LEDs never lit up.
    I actually tested the ML's back at the dealership with a Rotel amp, so I know I could have done a bit better. But the Rotel was $3,000! So I guess the Adcom is more than a welcome addition to my line-up.
    That is, until I buy that Behringer Ultracurve Pro DSP with automatic setup [​IMG]
    Heh. How can I *ever* stop upgrading?
     
  9. John Royster

    John Royster Screenwriter

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  10. David Judah

    David Judah Screenwriter

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    Adcom makes great gear for the money. They make affordable utility amps with clean output--very underrated. I used a 5400 for my front channels until I got a Cinema Grand and moved it to subwoofer duty. It has been a solid performer and was dirt cheap.

    Good find, Javier.

    DJ
     

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