Just starting to learn

I have an Adcom 555 pre amp and a Carver CT 17 pre amp. Which one is the better pre amp. The rest of my system consists of Adcom 555 II amp, have a 545 amp laying around doing nothing, Adcom Cd player, B&W 640 floorstanders and a B&W 650 sub. My speaker wire is Kimber Kable 8VS and my interconects are all monster interlink. Where should I go next?
Which is the better preamp? Well, you could judge by reputation, build quality, sound or any combination of the three.

If sound is what you care about (and I think that's the case for most folks here), then do an A-B test. Set up the system with one preamp, listen for a while, then swap in the other preamp and listen to the same selections one more time.

One of the preamps will sound A) about the same as the other, B) different from the other or C) better than the other.
Well thats what I have been doing. Sent the Adcom out for repair, one of the input channels went out so I have had the Carver in the rack for about 2 weeks now. They both sound good. Really cant say that one sounds better. I just went to Kimber speaker cables at the same time the Adcom went out for service. The system sounds better but I cant actually say whether it was the Carver or the Speaker Cable. Will have to wait until I get the Adcom back and see what it sounds like with the new cables. Might also be that I have been biwiring the B&W's for while and now I am not. When I changed cables I had jumpers made and am trying it with the jumpers instead of Biwiring. So I really dont know which one of the three changes made the difference. I have had the Adcom and Carver pre amps for a while and they both always sounded good but not as good as it does now. Any more input would be appreciated.


Well, I've heard that the lower-power Adcoms in that series (555-545-535) sound better, so I'd try the 545. I'd then sell whichever amp I didn't want, unless I wanted to try biamping. Biamping with those two amps should be easy, since their gain is probably identical. I don't know if your speakers have double (biwire) input connectors, though.

After that, biamped or not, I'd start upgrading with the source. I'd get the best one I could afford, then the best preamp, and so on downstream. Once I had the components I wanted I'd start tweaking with cables.

For specific recommendations, you should post what it is about your system's sound that you'd like to improve. A lot of people would be happy with the gear you have and wouldn't see the need for any upgrades. Maybe that includes you.
Regarding the two preamps, if you'll have the Adcom back soon, just compare it to the Carver for yourself. Another idea, sell both and buy a nice used tube preamp for around $1K. Yet another idea, sell the Carver and send the Adcom to John Hillig, of Musical Concepts, for modification & upgrade.

I had an Adcom 535 in the attic, doing nothing. I sent it to John Hillig, for the LX-Signature mod, and it now sounds totally kickass. His mods for your Adcom preamp look very interesting and may be a very cost effective upgrade.
If everything sounds enjoyable, buy more music.