Adcom, Rotel, Carver amp?


I've been lurking on audiogon for well over a year and, long story short, have caught the bug and need to upgrade my lifeless system.

The system is in my living room. I'm an apartment dweller and don't really pound anything, but do like to turn it up when appropriate. I mostly use it to listen to CDs and it plays double duty when watching DVDs (rarely, and not the big block buster explosion filled kind). I have an eclectic audio palette (acoustic, electronic, blues, rock, bad 80s, good 80s, and a hint of classical).

I started on the speakers and recently picked up a pair of Infinity Kappa 7 series II speakers (from fellow audiogone'er Mamaluco_63, a real class act and a pleasure to have met) and am wholly in love with them. Bang for buck, I'm really impressed with them. They're a bit bright and can be a bit boomy, but the variable crossovers on the back help attenuate in the relevant way.

My sources are a PS3 and an Apple Airport Express both connected via TosLink to my Audio Sector NOS Dac.

I think now is a good time to pick up an amp. I'm in the market for a pre amp as well, but one thing at a time. My no frills Sony receiver will have to play doubly duty until I can eventually switch it out.

I'm on a modest budget (~500 preferably) but don't mind paying more for quality. Audio is something that doesn't change drastically over time so I don't mind spending more for something I'll still love 5 years from now.

Since I mostly listen to CDs, I'm looking for a quality 2 channel amp. I was thinking of picking up an Adcom GFA 555 mk II. I see it mentioned even today in amplifier comparisons so I'd like to think it's a safe bet. But, I've also seen mention of Rotel, especially when it comes to price per performance. Particularly, the RB 1080 seems like something similar to the Adcom, but the reviews are pretty varied in comparison, which muddies the situation even more. And lastly, my 3rd option was picking up a Carver A500x. Again, I've heard good and bad which makes the decision hard.

Clearly the most sane solution is to find them and hear for myself which sounds better. But, as it turns out, finding a dealer in the area with amps that old is an impossibility.

I've been dragging my feet long enough, time to decide. What would you do? Any thoughts or opinions would be greatly appreciated, as would any other options. After the deed is done, I'll be in the market for a pre amp too, but again 1 thing at a time.

Thanks for taking the time to read through this long post.
the amps you mention are excellent amps, but for the infinity i would use something a little less aggressive.....i would use a cambridge 540 int. , it sounds very warm and musical , much like tubes.....i also would entertain the rega intergrated ...not as powerful, but very musical and not real expensive..
A Sonograph SA-250 would be really nice as would a McCormack DNA.5 standard or deluxe.
@Dwhitt- Aggressive would definitely be bad. They can be quite punchy even with a lackluster receiver. I've heard really good things about the Cambridge. Thanks for putting it on my radar. An integrated amp would also save me rack space and money. I'll be sure to check it out.

@morfimadness- I've never heard of the Sonograph but the DNA.5 you mention pops up on the forums here often. I'll definitely read up on both.

Thanks for your input. I'm quite green at this and really appreciate the help.
Sonographe was conrad-johnson's "budget" gear. The SA-250 got excellent reviews. Very warm and smooth sounding. Below is a link to AudioReview with a ton of reviews:
Given your speakers and concerns, the McCormack DNA 0.5 would be my very strong buy recommendation. Absolutely kills the Adcom and has very strong support/upgrade path available from the designer who posts here regularly. Add a tube pre-amp down the road and you can be set for a long time.
I switched from a Carver to a B&K 200.2 recently. I'll bet you can find a B&K in your budget. It was a lot more nuetral and laid back to my ears than the Carver. The Carver was loud but distorted compared to the B&K. BTW, I have the same musical interet as you, sans classical.
I bought a Carver PM-300 amp new, had much enjoyment and no probs for 15 yrs. I recently changed to (upgraded, I would say) to a Classe CA-101, no more powerful, but smoother, better balance across the spectrum to my ears. I suggest auditioning older smaller Bryston and Classe amps as well as your list. Don't know where you are, but Audio-Tech in Saint Louis (basically a repair shop, has a lot of older stuff for audition and sale. Best Wishes.
@Mofimadness - Oh wow. I had no idea. I spent a good few hours last night reading up on it and am surprised I'd never heard of it. I'm a pretty big Conrad Johnson fan and never knew there was a budget variety. It's moved to the top of my list; I've never heard a piece of CJ equipment I didn't like.

@Swampwalker - searching for reviews of the DNA 0.5 came back with interesting results. Most often, I see it next to Krell. This is a good sign.

My quest just became harder.

@Willrit - I'm in NJ. The local audio shops closed a long long time ago. The only one I know of is a Harvey's about an hour and half north of me (and it may have closed down by now considering the way things are going).

Thanks for all of your help. I really appreciate the advice.
@Moffimadness and @Swapmwalker,

It came down to the Sonographe and the Mccormack. I found the Sonographe in the Audiogon classifieds for about 200 less than the Mccormack. It was a matter of dollars and sense so I jumped on the SA 250 while I could.

I picked up an Adcom gfa 450 used for a little over a hundred, received both packages yesterday, and have been listening to the new combination since. I'm incredibly happy with my purchase. I still have to dial in everything, but my first impressions are very good. This is a day/night before/after change and I'm still trying to pick out the differences. The first thing I noticed was the clarity. My receiver was anemic compared to the sonograph, but comparing a well designed CJ to, essentially, a boombox is hardly a fair comparison.

Long story short, I'm quite happy and very satisfied. Thank you very much for your help!

I'll likely slink back here in a few months when I'm ready to upgrade to a nicer pre.

Thanks Again.