Need pre-amp help for Kappa 9 & Adcom GFA-555mkii

I have a pair of Infinity Kappa 9 speakers, Adcom GFA-555 mkii amplifier, Sony cdp-cx455 cd changer paired with Soundstream DAC-1, and an Onkyo p306 pre-amp. I am happy with my system for now... especially for what I have paid (about $1200 total). But the adcom and infinity both have a very bright sound. I feel like the Onkyo pre-amp is the weak link in the system right now. Any suggestions on a good "warm" sounding pre-amp for under $400 (used prices)?

Also, I am forced to run about 12 feet of speaker wire on both sides due to my set up. Any suggestion on a good wire to run on a longer run like this?
I owned that Adcom amp many years's a very harsh amp that has lots of power but a sound that's tough on the ears...I'd replace the amp.
The Kappa series and the RSB series were designed with tube equipment in mind.The medal tweeters are very hot and require power that is rolled off. I have a pair of RSB 3b's and I used to use a modified Adcom 555 with much success but the original 555 is not a good match with these speakers. I would go on Ebay and either look for a Hafler DH 500 which has MOSFET's or buy a Carver amp with 200 a side which is what I use on my Infinty' in my second system.
You might be able to find a used Carver c-19 tube preamp in your price range. The Carver C-16 solid state will be a good choice for you also. I currently own both of these preamps, but I am not using either of them right now (they are not for sale). Both of them have tone controls. At one time, they served as my main preamps with my Kappa 9's and performed well for the money spent and no bright sound.

I currently use the Kappa 9's with an Audio Research Ref 2 Mk2 preamp and Carver Silver 9t monoblocs and there is none of the bright sound you are experiencing.
They are both right its the amp but they are also wrong to get the best out of a Kappa 9 you need a good overpowered amp not a new pre. Get an amp with some midrange boost the harshness is probablty the amp desperately trying to drive the low end if you could rig a bi-amp that would be ideal with a sweet tube amp on top. $save your money and get some speakers that have the sound you want. Try big used Paradigms etc.
Josh, maybe I am simply repeating what some have already mentioned, but the brightness that comes from the Kappas has EVERYTHING to do with amplification issues rather than the preamp. What I have read from some owners, about the harshness issue is that it is often the product of the amp being underpowered from current and wattage standpoint...I have to respectfully disagree with someone who stated that the Adcom produces enough power or about a Carver amplifier with 200 watts.... I own a pair of Kappa 9s and I have to say that you have to avoid Carvers like the plague, had two Mt 4.0 as monos, running close to 600+ watts per channel and they are realistic watts...Be very carefully at shopping for the best # of watts for $$$.

From the practical standpoint, it is expensive to bi amp these beasts with tube amps on top and SS in the bottom


Remember that the Infinity Kappa line, until around 1993-4 was designed by Andy Nudel, who went on to found Genesis Loudspeaker technologies (cost $$$$$.) You have a keeper that will beat the pants down ANY PARADIGM, anytime.


Buy a very heavy current amplifier that can hold on to the Kappas as they attempt to give you slamming bass at 30 hz...Their impedance dips somewhere between 1 and 2 ohms. There are very few amplifiers that are designed to work at that impedance....Not the Adcom or any low amplifier as stated above.

Check out

ARAGON 400...forgot the designation
SUNFIRE SIGNATURE which gives out 600 watts per channel with up to 2000 watts on demand for short bursts(you can biamp with these, because it has two pairs of speaker outputs)
MACINTOSH SS (heavy, 100 LBS beasts)...can be old, but these output massive amperage to keep the Kappas happy.

For the time being, I would be careful overdriving the Kappas with the Adcom. the Emit tweeters WILL be damaged if not given enough juice.

Do not be disincouraged...You have a great pair of speakers, but they need excellent amplification. You can hunt for a preamp later.

An excellent preamp for used prices is the Sumo Athena I or II that can be had for about $150-300.
Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't the Sunfire Signature a Bob Carver design? I used the the Rsb 3 speakers with The Reciever by Carver (200 a side) and it sounded very nice. No harshness in the upper end. But you are right Bemopti maybe more than 200 hundred a side is needed because The Reciever never gave me the slam in the bottom end that I wanted. I remember hearing the Kappa 9 at a CES stereo show in Santa Monica and they were using Denon amps. Very clean sound but no image of any kind because they had the speakers at least and I'm not kidding you 25 feet apart. Who picks these people who set up their equipment. I would hazard a guess that they call their boss Uncle Ralph?
There are few amps that can deal with the Kappa 9's vicious load. I believe it dips to under 2 ohms. I'm actually impressed the Adcom keeps running as that says alot for the Adcom. Two amps I know that will drive that speaker well, my choice would be an Innersound ESL, it's going to drive anything and sound relaxed doing so, it will drive 1/2 ohm!
Another amp is the Parasound HCA 3500. Do a search here on Audiogon as this has been brought up before. It seems like one guy was having most amps he tried shut down. That speaker is one of the most difficult loads I'm aware of.
Bemopti123, you had the wrong Carver Amps. The bridged as monos Mt 4.0 amps don't like loads below 8 ohms, which is why they didn't sound good for you. The Silver 9t is head and shoulders above the Mt 4.0. The Silver 9t monoblocs bring my Kappas under tight control with no brightness.

I forgot to mention that I biamped the Kappa 9's using four Carver Silver 9t monoblocs. One pair of them did fine, but two pair of them made them sing. I tried vertical biamping them with a pair of Sunfire Signature amps, and they just didn't have the muscle that the four monoblocs provided. The Sunfires were good, but the Carver Monoblocs were markedly better. The Sunfires just didn't hve the slam on the bottom like the Carver's did. I still own the Sunfire Amps to power my Infinity Rennaisance 90's, they do an excellent job there. I hear that Sunfire does a modification on the Sunfire Signature for owners of low impedance, amp killing Apogee speakers for about three or four hundred bucks.

I am taking delivery next week on a pair of Pass Labs X-600 monoblocs to see how they fare with the Kappas.
Damn, that sounds like an overkill, 4 mono Silver 9Ts to control the Kappa 9s. But, I guess if that is what it truly takes, it must sound freaking incredible with those 4 12" woofer hitting you in the chest.

I have a question for you, Mitch, how do the speaker components hold through time and use? Did you have them since the late 1980s or bought them used later? Did the surrounds or any components go bad? I have mines boxed, parked in my mother's garage since the early 1990s and I wonder whether surrounds or what not go bad, even without use.

The Pass Monos will most likely sound amazing...but I wonder whether they will surpass the Silvers.

Yes, I knew that I had the wrong Carver amps, the 4.0s...because they DID indeed overrate their power was a cheap amp after all, about $799 each, new, but the Silvers, they were different amplifiers all on their own...I cannot remember how much they went for in the late 1980s.

Most Carver corp amps were rubbish in my point of view, except with their reference models. Their advertisement, through seemed very credible. Another amp that makes me think will do a good job running these beasts might be some Sim Audio amplifiers, like the W-5 or W-10 monos. Once again, costly designs.
I own four pair of Kappa 9's. Two pair each of the honey oak and black ash. I'm only using one pair right now.

I bought each pair used, I started with my first pair about 5 years ago and bought my latest pair last summer. The foam woofer surrounds will rot. I have replaced four woofers. You can still buy the woofers brand new from Infinity for about $170 each, or you can have the foam surrounds replaced for around $75 each. All of the other speaker components have been durable enough to not need replacing so far. I'm willing to bet your surrounds have dry-rotted for sure by now.

The two pair of 9t monoblocs are not overkill at all, the Kappas need it. I hear the Silver 9t's sold for about $2500-$3000 a pair. 500 wpc @ 8 ohms and 900 wpc @ 4 ohms. Now they can be had used from $1200-$1500 per pair.
Thanks for the answers Mitch. The price of a pair of Kappa 9s in used condition, is ridiculously affordable, for the type of sound one gets. Have you done other sort of upgrades to the speakers you have? I do remember people talking about rewiring and getting sturdier stands for them.

Do you have dedicated lines for your equipment?

Have you tried to drive them with other branded amplifications, besides the Silver9s? I have heard from people that Aragons were fine with them, but then, they might have never heard Kappas driven to their limits.

With 4 pairs, you really seem to like these speakers, which other commercial designs did the Kappas surpass?
Bemopti123, the Kappas are my only foray into the high end speaker arena. I have never owned any other type of high end speaker. I started out with a pair of Kappa 7.1, then 8.1 then the Kappa 9. I heard a pair of small Maggies at a friends house and wow, they were fantastic! They had their strengths, and one day I might buy a pair of the big Maggies for a change of pace, not necessarily because I believe they are better...just different.

I bought four pairs of them because I was able to get them at a really good price, and I'm afraid of not being able to replace the tweeters and midrange domes if something should ever happen. Four pairs will insure me of plenty of spare parts.

Carver and Sunfire amps are all that I've ever owned and driven the Kappas with. The leap to the Pass monoblocs is a huge step for me. I considered the Krell 750 monoblocs, but at about $15k a pair used, it was beyond my budget. I tried driving them with a Carver TFM 45 amp which was rated at 350 wpc @ 8 ohms....the speakers could barely whisper. I bought an 2nd TFM 45 and bridged them for monos, it sounded even worse...the 4 ohm load made the amps beg for mercy.

The Kappa 9 are great for home theater don't need a subwoofer with them.

I spoke to a speaker repair guy here in LA, and asked him if he could rewire them for me with better wire...he said the wire that Infinity used was good enough and that I probably wouldn't get much if any audibly I decided against it.

I am going to make a pair of custom stands for one of my black pairs. One of the stands arrived damaged from shipping. This summer, I'm going to design a pair of stands out of marble or granite and maybe make the footprint a little bigger. I have a couple of ideas for a design.

I do not have dedicated lines. But, with the addition of the Pass amps, it is now a serious consideration. I have a friend who's an electrician that would do it for me at a very good price.

I have just moved back to a new space where my listening room will be 22 ft by 70 ft with a 20 ft ceiling. It is a loft that used to be an old Pabst Beer Brewery. I plan to use the Carver monoblocs to power my home theater. I will have a pair of Kappa 9's in the front and rear. I will use a Kappa 7.1 as my center channel. I have lived in this space before and one pair of Kappas easily fill the entire space with sound.

With a space as big as mine, it is obvious that I need big speakers. For the money, nothing else comes close. To buy today's quality big speakers to equal or surpass their performance is waaay beyond my budget. Besides, they are beautiful looking speakers to boot!

With a space as large as mine, I'd love to try a pair of the Infinity 4 chassis designs like the Betas, or the IRS-V.

I'm just moving in, I'll post my new setup when I get settled and I'll notify you.

....later, mitch
This is my first attempt and post to help. I also have Kappa 9's and have driven them with Adcom 565 mono's for some time. I like what they offer and I am currently looking for preamp options as well. I am considering arcam to talk to my adcom's. Maybe stepping into even more power like the 565's might help. Also a sub to relieve the stress produced by the 9's. The low bass response is what draws the low impedence. Roll em off at 80 and see how your system wakes up.
Pick up a used Eagle amp for $400 - someone just had one on Audiogon. It will drive any load, and the control is amazing...even better when Russell at EKSC rebuilds it.
I'm not sure what you're running. You initially stated your driving the Kappa 9's with a mono blocked Adcom GFA-565 and further down in the paragraph, you say maybe stepping into more power like the 565's might help.

I've posted for help with my Kappa 9's. I have been using the 2) 565's to drive my Kappa 8's and they work perfectly!
I believe the problem is in the 9's and not the amps.

I read another thread where someone said they used 4) 565's to power 1 pair of 9's. I may be new to the game, but don't understand how that can be done! If you have any thoughts about running the 4) 565's to power 1 pair of 9's, I'd like to hear about it!

Bob, if the 565's are monoblocs, they can easily be connected to biamp the Kappa 9's. One monobloc for the low pass and one monobloc for the high pass on each speaker. Connect them the the two pairs of outputs on the back of your preamp and you're good to go. I've used four monoblocs on my Kappa 9 with great success.

The 565's have 1 RCA jack in the rear and 2 positive and 2 negative binding posts. Now, I connect 1 pair of speaker cables to hi pass on the k-8s and the other pair of cables to the low pass, same

Are you saying to only run (amp #1) 1 speaker cable to hi pass, another amp (#2) with cables to low pass, and duplicate this again for the other speaker, (amp #3 & #4)?

If this is what you are suggesting, will I get more power out of the amps by using only half their capacity?