Aragon 4004 mk2 vs Adcom 555 mk2

Anyone done any real comparisons with these 2 amplifiers? Opinions on both? Bass,mids,highs,soundstaging? Thanks
Aragon wins hands down... Have owned both...
Aragon is just a better product. Build quality, musicality, vocals are more accurate and forward, bass is much more accurate but not boomy. Highs are more detailed and deeper sounding.. symbols sizzle longer and musical placement is better.. The adcom is nice for the money..
Definately not in the same league with the Aragon!
I am slightly partial to Aragon, I own 5 of their amps..
Palladiums, and 3 8002s.
Happy listening,
Custom Audio LLC
I second the opinion having owned both. The Aragon hands down. Better build and a lot more powerful sounding.
Aragon is the winner here in basically all sonic categories, and potential applications
Aragon beats B&K and B&K beats Adcom in my opinion.You will not do much better than a Aragon before they were bought out by Klipsch.

I would like to hear Monarchy and Plinius.
Reason i asked was because i own the aragon which retailed for 1895 and i know the adcom retailed for 900. Yet in the used market there seems to be only about 100-200 dollars difference in price. I was just wondering if the popular adcom was just as good as my aragon. Also if its not in the same league why has the aragon fallen so far in the used market? And why does the adcom seem to hold around 500 used? Thanks
Most likely it is the marketing...
Adcom was most peoples first exposure to separates.
Aragon on the other hand you needed to look a little deeper to find. IMO
Regardless, in the used market the 555 is still able to be used to bridge to mono and I believe is rated at higher wattage than the Aragon... like that matters.
Protect your hearing!!
Custom Audio LLC
Thats basically what i thought was happening here.Its like the mass market effect. Thanks Joe and all for the responses. Not to change the subject but i would like to publicly thank Bigtee for the Audible Illusions L1 owners manual he sent me. Just shows what kind of community audiogon really is. Its really amazing how people will go out of their way to help a fellow audiogoner. Thanks again Bigtee. I am very impressed with the way my aragon sounds mated with the L1. What a great synergy i have found in the two components. Thanks again all. And happy listening.
There is much more trade in Adcom than Aragon,so it has
brand id in its favor like Bose.Try Aragon vs Adcom 5500
or 5802 fairer price level comparision.
Like Bose? Have you gone absolutely mad?
Didnt really mean that in a bad way CLbeanz. I think i understand what you are saying. The adcom gear is recognized to the extent that bose is. So you think that the adcom 5500 is a better amplifier to run head to head against an aragon 4004mkII? Must be a nice amp then cause my aragon is running my power hungry speakers beautifully.
Oh God no Kool39,only marketing perspective not product.
But you knew that in the end.
I just think the Aragon and Adcom are great performers
really this is a good time to be buying solid state,so many good choices and cheap watts.
I prefer the micro dynamics of the Adcom but the Aragon dances lead on woofers.
Noticed 8008's on sale was it Audio Advisor?
I own the Aragon and used to have an Adcom although I can't remember if it was that model or not. In any case, the Aragon was way more musical. The Adcom sounded "cheap" to me. However, the other components were upgraded at the same time (my house was burglarized) so it is not an apples to apples comparison.
"Way more musical" is a nice way of saying it has more harmonic distortion. Ok if that's what you like.
Aragon. Owner of a pair of modified Palladium 1K's. Ive been happy since day one. Adcom's best amplifer though the GFA5802 which I feel isnt too shabby of an amp for the price would be a good comparison again a 4004 I think. Both have a similiar used value too dont they?
You know some of us have to make ourselves feel better when we spend more on some of this stuff.Adcom 500 series cheap sound ..I doubt it! You will find the same transistors in some Rowlands,Pass,and Mark Levinsons. I guess they sound cheap too! Or you like paying for a face plate ..which I can't seem to hear to save my life.
Didnt realize i picked such a touchy subject. LOL

Gmood1, I really think Johngalt47 was just stating his real life comparison between the two. And he stated he wasnt sure if the amp or if other components are what made the the biggest difference. Also he was just giving his opinion on the adcom 555mk II which he had in his home so thats a pretty good test. Aragon 4004 mkII also uses a bipolar design.

Eldartford, I understand that you like adcom and own them but have you actually compared it to an aragon 4004 mkII in your home? I see that you drive maggies with 5503's. Really the 555mk II and 5503 are totally different animals. The older model uses bipolar design and the newer uses mosfets. So i am not really sure how you are comparing the 2 amps i requested information about. I do notice you talk alot about the 5503 handling a tough load which you state at being 350wpc/4 ohm load. Well one thing about the aragons they are quite noted for handling tough loads. The aragon 4004 mk II is a true mono design amplifier which doubles down from 8 to 4 and again to 2 ohms. Also with the true mono design i would imagine the stereo seperation between the 2 channels would also highly have to favor the aragon.

But i am not here to slam adcom i think they make good products at good prices. My initial thread was just to find out some comparisons that people have done in their own homes with both products. Aragon just happened to be the favored here from folks that owned both.

Happy Listening!
Gmood1, As I look closer at Johngalt47 reply I noticed that he wasnt even sure of the model number of the adcom.
I stand corrected.

ELdartford, I was looking over your past threads and my wife looks over at me and says what is so funny. I like your humour. Good Stuff!
A friend of mine has an Adcom 555 mk2 and he brought it over to my house a couple months ago because he wanted to hear it power my Paradigm Reference 100.2 (his stereo got piece-mealed when he moved and is still that way). He just had it checked out and it was ready for a test. I took my McIntosh MC7100 out and put his amp in. We listened to the same music on both and the Adcom was definately lean, a little bright, and somehow not as extended in either direction as my McIntosh. We were both surprised. It also started clipping at the same point as my amp desite the Adcom power being rated much higher (gain is similar). He left disappointed and last I heard, it is up for sale.... Anyway, depends on the type of sound you like and your system synergy, but in our test and in our opinion, the Adcom failed. Audition if you can. I don't know the 4004 but I auditioned the 2005 with a Stage One and it sounded very good with Definitive Tech speakers. Good luck! Arthur
Kool39...My observation about "way more musical" was general in nature, interpreting Johngalt47's observation.

With regard to the particular Aragon amp: no I do not have experience with it. From what I see and read it appears to be similar in concept to Adcom products, and I am sure that I would be quite happy with it. (But how do prices compare between comparable models?) I only see one power transformer, so I can't agree with the "dual mono" description. Adcom and some others went from bipolar to mosfets because of inherently better distortion characteristics, but bipolar can be good, and Adcom has returned to bipolar for their multichannel HT products because of lower heat dissipation.

My next amp, if there is one, will be digital. Maybe the Carver ZR 1600. By all accounts it will blow all this stuff away, for less money.
One point I want to make (I have done research in this) about bipolar vs. MOSFET is that the notion "bipolar to mosfets because of inherently better distortion characteristics" isn't quite right. Distortion (due to nonlinearity - not noise which is design related) is lower in BJTs than in MOSFETs. This is why most makers today only use BJTs in output stages. In the near future, with recent developments in lateral MOSFET doping, this may not be the case anymore but for now, the BJT is the undisputed champ for linearity. One of the main advantages of going wtih MOSFET is that you can lower the amount of feedback before instability ensues. Design is a matter of weighing the trade-offs....

As for Class D, there is still some work to be done before all digital kills off analog IMO. There are many issues still to be resolved and talk about non-linearities!! I will stop here because I will get carried away with this one. Arthur
Well Arthur I have owned the Mcintosh 7106 and compared to the 585 adcom. I think it would sound thin.Why ..well the Mac has a thickness to it.It sounds like Mcintosh tried to make this amp sound like tubes.Which was not a very good idea. The 585 Adcom is more transparent,better bass and voices are more distinguishable.This amplifier sounds like whatever you stick in the front of it.Nothing more.. nothing less.My 7106 was slow in comparison..maybe because of the current limitng circuits not really sure. The Mac retailed for 3500.00 the Adcom $1200.00 but you can't tell this when doing a fair comparison.The 7106 couldn't dream of handling the loads this amplifier can.A person has to decide if he wants a neutral amplifier or buy something to cover another flaw in his system.I'll take the neutral amplifier and work on the flaws.The highs are rolled off on some of the SS Macs.. this would give someone the impressions that another amplifier is bright.But before I point a finger at the amp I would look at my speakers and cables.Not bashing the the Mac but it is definitely not a neutral amplifier.

Kool39 it's cool everybodys got a favorite.I have no problem with that.
I have nothing against to each his own.I like some mosfets amplifiers , some bipolars and some tubes.But the bipolars are supposed to have 1/3 the distortion of mosfets.And to my ears this holds true.It's definetly a cleaner sound but I still love the Monarchys,and think their a great buy!Especially when paired with some fairly efficient speakers.

Happy Listening!
Eldartford, the Aragon 4004 mkII does indeed use seperate transformers. IT is a true mono design.
Let me rephrase "dual mono" design.
Talk about driving difficult loads take a look at this link and the first amp on their recommended list.
Aball and Kool139....I think that this FAQ writeup from Adcom, who uses both mosfets and bipolar output devices is a fair description.
My amplifier seems to run hot. Is this a problem?

Probably not. Most Adcom amplifiers use output devices called "MOSFETs" (which stands for metal oxide semiconductor field effect transistor, if you're curious). We've chosen these devices for their superb 'musicality'. They do, however, run hotter than more conventional bipolar transistors. We have designed our amplifiers with large 'heat sinks' made up of aluminum fins that dissipate excess transistor heat into the air. Just make sure you provide adequate room for ventilation as opposed to stacking other equipment directly on top of your amplifier.

What's the difference between your old amps and your new ones?
Well, the biggest difference goes back to MOSFETs again. Most of our newer "4 number" amplifiers (i.e. the GFA-5802) use MOSFETs while all our older "3 number" amplifiers (i.e. the GFA-555), used bipolars.

So, are bipolar amplifiers bad?
Actually bipolars have some advantages. As noted above, they produce less heat for a given power output. This makes them suitable for more compact components or for multi-channel, home theater amplifiers. As such, we have chosen to use them in our custom oriented amplifiers, the GFA-5002 and the GFA-5006, where size can be at a premium, and in our multi-channel, home theater amplifiers, the GFA-7500, GFA-7400 and GFA-7300.

Bipolars can have a very detailed, up front sound quality, and with our 2 decades of experience in getting the most out of these devices, we think you'll find that the bipolar's inherent immediacy is nicely tempered with circuit touches that let you hear a rare level of musical integrity.


Of course there is a lot more to amp design that the type of transistor used. The mosfet requires less complex drive circuitry, and because of their thermal characteristics multiple devices can be more successfully paralleled, as is usually necessary for power amps. Perhaps I should have said that the distortion produced by mosfet circuit is typically low and the spectrum of harmonics somewhat resembles tubes (more "musical"). This last point is my recollection of Hafler literature when they introduced the use of mosfets to the audio world. Hafler still uses and touts mosfets. I haven't made a survey of the entire industry.

I only looked at a photo of a 4004, and it only had one transformer. If a power supply is properly designed it doesn't need to be separate for each amp. Use of two transformers is probably a practical choice, because one would be heavy to handle, and hard to mount on a chassis.
Actually, IMHO, and based on my own experience with monoblocks and multichannel amps, the greatest advantage of the mono approach is to avoid having an amp that requires a forklift to move around. Electronic advantages are insignificant.
Aball...What do you know about the Carver 1600? Its distortion specs are quite respectable, especially when measured well below the 600 watt level, which, of course, is where it will operate. I have not seen anything but good words about this amp, which sells for about $900.
I like the two following quotes together:

"It sounds like Mcintosh tried to make this amp sound like tubes.Which was not a very good idea. " AND "somewhat resembles tubes (more "musical")."

Personally, I would rather have music than sounds. To me and my friend, McIntosh was more appealing than the 555. I guess we just like music. I was simply reciting my story, as you did.

As for the Carver, I don't know it. There are several amps in the $600-900 range I would like to hear but haven't yet. I am not permanently sold on McIntosh but for now, it is the most musical I have heard - and that is what I am in this for. Cheers! Arthur
Kool39: The Aragon 4004 uses a single toroidal with seperate windings.
Ritteri, I have never had my top off so i was just going by this quote from Mondial Designs'
"The true replacement for the 4004 was the 8008BB. However, the 8008 BB also incoporated 50% more output transistors, twice as much power supply capacitance, and the balanced input stage. The difference between the 8008ST and 4004 is that the 8008ST used a single, "dual-wound" transformer for the power supply while the 4004 has the separate transformers. The 8000 series amplifiers also added the DC servo circuit for flat operation down to 5 Hz."

Adam Gershon
Mondial Designs

Actaully yes you are correct. I think the 4004 has dual 900kVA transformers. THe 8008BB has dual 1.1kVA transformers. The Palladiums each have a 2000kVA transformer.
Kool39...The photo I saw of a for sale 4004 showed one toroidal transformer. Pop the cover and take a look, or admit it doesn't matter :)
Which amps in the Adcom line were designed by Nelson Pass?
I had the GFA-5500 and I enjoyed quite a bit...The McIntosh amps that do not have Autoformers, I dont believe they have that "Mac" sound...
I think only the 5802 was designed by Pass?

I used to own an Aragon 8002, and it definitely sounded better than my friend's Adcom 555 and 5000 (the replacement for the 555?).

And what is this with the dual mono? The left and right channels of the amp shared on the chassis, transformer and powerplug. Does this still qualify as dual mono?
Actually i have no idea of the benefit of the dual mono design over the stereo design while sharing the same chasis and ac plug. I only brought it up as comparing the 2 amplifiers in question. Common sense tells me there would seem more than likely to be a better seperation between channels however small that might be. As to sonic values i have no clue. Another reason for the thread :)

seems the price is getting pretty darn reasonable on that new amp you were talking about.
Jsujo...I think your on to something. My Mac did have the autoformers.Maybe this is what I was hearing.It was great for speaker protection but not for sound quality! I admit I don't like the sound of Adcoms on 100v2 Paradigms but hooked up on some Maggies it's a different story!
I'm the owner of the Aragon 4004 MK II with current pictures and actaully if I remember there are two transformers, stacked. As I look close at the photos I took I'm even more sure of it. I too have owned an Adcom 555 and do prefer the Aragon sound to the Adcom. Just an opinion. My favorite is my Bel Canto EVO 4, thus the Aragon sale. BTW the Adcom sold for $350.00 and all the 4004's on AudiogoN are at $750.00. I'm not sure where it'll finally sell at but I'll keep it for a hood ornament before I go down to Adcom prices.
If the toroidal transformers are stacked that could explain the disagreement.

By the way, think that the Aragon amp costs more than twice the Adcom price, so it ought to be better.

My Adcom 5503 (like a 5500 but with three channels) is hooked up to Maggies. Although Maggies are often called low impedance speakers, they actually are a very uniform 4 ohms regardless of frequency, which makes them an "easy" load for the power amp. Maybe that's why you can get good results with a less exotic (expensive) amp. (But they do like lots of watts).
I wouldnt compare a basic adcom amp with an Aragon. But the GFA5802 is regardless of price a great amplifier. Nelson Pass designed the GFP-750 preamp, but the GCD-750 cd player and the GFA5802 I dont think he can take credit for.
Eldartford..that could be true .I have a soft spot for Maggies and Martin Logans.But I doubt the sounding better is due to price,it's more of system matching.Even the little Monarchy SM 70 for $350.00 smoked that Mac that I used to own.I'am one of the few audiophiles that will admit...Even if I payed more for one product doesn't give me an excuse to think or hope it sounds better than one that cost less.I have already proved this in my own system and no longer look for the flashy gear but for what sounds true to my ears.If CC Poon put his Monarchy products in a chrome chassis ,he could sell them at almost triple the price.And no one would be the wiser!
Gmood1: Your McIntosh MC7106 did not have autoformers. Sorry to break the bad news for your argument.

Also, don't forget about system synergy when you compare amps. The system you tried the component in is as critical to the sound description as the component itself.
You are right.. I checked Aball.. no argument.Maybe it's the powerguard or sentry monitor circuits they use in these models.I also listened to my 7106 on the 100v2s.And it was rolled off in comparison to the Adcoms and it did sound better because of this.The Paradigms can be bright when hooked to the wrong amp.So you also can use your own advice aswell.I sold an MX 132 to one of your fellow Brits..Mac makes good stuff.I enjoyed it just like every other amplifier I have owned ...sorry there is no perfect peice of equipment! But you already know I like having arguments with you! Heh ha hee

Enjoy the Mac.. Arthur and Happy Listening!
Gmood1: I take it your running Paradigm Reference series 100 floorstanders?? If you think those speakers are bright sounding, add some room treatments. Paradigm's can actually be very mellow and smooth sounding if you take care of all the first reflection points in your sound room.
Thanks Ritteri for the advice.Actually I'am using Magnepans at home.I have a friend that owns the 100v.2s and I have spent many hours listening to them with different equipment.I see you use Voodoo aswell..these are some giant killer cables.And another good product thats overlooked because of it's price.I think I could change some minds about the Adcom gear when mated to Planars or Electrostatics.No one could deny it not sounding good when setup properly.Of course there will always be trade offs in something.I don't get the bass of the Paradigm or any other box speakers but I do gain clarity ,speed and inner detail with the Maggies.A trade off I'am willing to live with.
Gmood1 - Ok, here is another argument for you - LOL! ;)

I read a McIntosh white paper on the power guards and the distortion sensing circuit has a super high input impedance (order of 1 Gohm) which effectively takes it out of the circuit. Very clever use of JFETs.

The smooth, thick sound that McIntoshes have is probably due to fairly high negative feedback IMO. The Mc guys are all true electrical engineers so NFB is a requirement in their book (and mine too to some extent). The newer designs use less NFB than the older ones like our amps due to BJT improvements but nonetheless, it is a type of sound you have to like to appreciate, I realize. The upshot is that they are indestructible (especially with autoformers but I digress...) and have lower distortion than most amps out there.

Anyway, good system matching is most critical for hi-fi sound regardless of the equipement used. The best sound I have ever heard was a McIntosh MC602 (and C42) with Martin Logan Prodigys. Wow - I will never forget it. One day I will have Mcs and electrostats as the synergy was obvious in the first 3 seconds of music - it sounded like 600W of crystal clear tube amps.

Cheers and enjoy the music! Arthur
I got a question for all of you on feedback. Some people say they can hear feedback in amps, others say they cant. What does negative feedback soundlike? Background noise? I know my cd player is a 0 feedback design, and I run all balanced xlr connections, plus my amps are true balanced designs too(but Im not sure if they are 0 feedback designs, probably not)but I cant hear any extraneous noise when music is playing or between passages or tracks. What am I listening for(if its even possible to detect it in my system)?
Good question Ritteri....well it's not an audible noise.I didn't notice it until I switched the the Mac out with the Monarchy.The Monarchy is supposed to be no feedback.And take also into account the wattage (monarchy)25 wpc verses (mac)300 wpc.Instantly I could hear more background noise..especailly in live recordings.Not hissing noises but people talking and laughing.There was just more ambience of the recording venue getting to my ears.Since then I have been ruined and only listen for amplifiers that can do the same thing.Not even my now removed Music Reference RM9 MKII which is a terrific tube amplifer had that kind of depth.I don't know the specs on feedback with my Adcom 585 but it must be very low because I can also hear these same attributes in it. Instead of just hearing people shouting in the audience you can hear their voices echoe off the walls of the venue.It's just easier for me to hear, when the singer turns his or her head away from the mic and what direction they turn.

Hope this gives you an idea!
Hmmm, Im gonna have to start a new thread on feedback. 0 feedback designs, and if 0 feedback is necessary onlly in the source if using xlr's or the opposite etc.
Gmood1...Negative feedback just means that the amp output is compared with the input, with appropriate gain and phase compensation, and the resulting "error signal" is applied to the input (or at some intermediate stage) so as to reduce the error signal to zero (nearly). There is no fundamental reason why negative feedback is bad, but if an amp requires too much this probably means that the circuit is not too hot to begin with.

Tube amplifiers that use transformers must have negative feedback to get flat frequency response, quite apart from the issue of distortion. The widely used "ultralinear" configuration has taps on the output transformer specifically for the purpose of negative feedback.
Thanks Edartford for the info.The Music Reference has 3 settings for feedback and the manual stated for best results to leave it on the lowest setting.It was very easy to hear the differences when changing from one setting to another.The more feedback the more the soundstage seemed to get clouded up.