What is my weak est link...? Suggestions please.

So here it is: I have a budget of $4000 to upgrade one of the following:

Speakers: Hales Concept 2 (one tweeter - one 7" driver)
Pre: Adcom GFP-750 (Nelson Pass design)
Amp: Adcom 5800

My Thoughts:

Speakers are built like tanks - solid walnut & concrete. Although they lack bottom end.

Bought the Pre years ago; A/B'd them to a Krell Pre ("lower line") which I was prepared to buy. Based on my audition at that time, I picked the Adcom.

Originally, I was thinking about a McIntosh 300 watt amp to replace the Adcom. However, does anyone have any experience with the Adcom GFP-750 as compared to other pre-amps? Also, do you think $$$ would be better spent replacing the Hales with a pair of BW801? I could add a subwoofer, but I kinda like the simplicity of the two speaker set-up.

Thanks for any positive feedback! It is great to have a support community out here in iPod world...

If you think your current speakers lack low end, you will get more satisfaction out of a speaker upgrade than an pre-amp or amplifier upgrade, but B&W 801s have a demanding impedance curve, make sure the Adcom amp is rated into 4 ohms and beyond. I have seen lots of praise on this site for the GFP-750 pre, I'd suggest keeping that.
I agree with upgrading your speakers. If you've been happy with the general presentation of your Hales I wouldn't suggest B&W's.

There is a pair of Avalon Ascendents for sale here. Hales and Avalon are similar in design goals.
The room. Best to allocate some money to room treatments for in the end it is the 'room' that you are listening to. Most people ignore this element as they can't just open a box and there it is. Takes serious thinking and research.
801's are unique in the sense of whatever you're going to try to set them up with they will never sound right. mediocre the best.
I love the sound of Kef 107 reference speakers. You can sometimes find them on ebay. They beat B&W 802 nautilus for me, and you know how much they cost...

Also, how about an oneac power conditioner? They made a difference in my system for not much money.

I prefer Kef 107 speakers to B&Ws, and they can be had for a fraction of the cost. They are on sale here now:


You can sort of hear them on the Youtube, if you have a good computer based system.

I would also add power conditioner to Adcoms - it made a difference in my system. Even an affordable oneac one like this would be an improvement:

Sell all, buy a cable for 3k first and start again.
What's your source component(s)?

From the little info you have provided you probably might not need to change anything. If bass is all you think is lacking you should experiment with speaker/listener positioning before changing any equipment. If that doesn't get you where you want to be, then you can get a really good subwoofer for $2k. Either direction is a better use of money than replacing the Hales or Adcoms.
Thanks for the quick response all; the input was great!

I was planning on buying the Mac; I think more due to aesthetics than need. From the responses listed below, I am going to start researching a good sub for the system.


I have been listening to the same system for years; I just moved my system upstairs to this current room - and it sound like a NEW system. I can't believe it. The room set-up is outstanding and shows how a good room can add to the dynamics of a system. Part of the architecture has curved walls, with slanted ceiling, and a three foot opening at the top, curtain and plants have also helped.

Power Conditioner:

I got lucky on this one. A GE engineer was shipped an extra power conditioner for a scintillation detector and gave it to me. Weighs 85 lbs, looks like a wort hog, and is outstanding.

Cable: Do you really think I can find a good cable for only $3k? I have a $4k budget. Maybe this was suggested and an "entry level" cable.
I'm not familiar with your amp exactly but I think a great is key to any system. You could get a great amp for 4k. No new speaker is going to sound fantastic without a really good amp.

Not sure what you are using as a source but if you are thinking of running directly from a computer that won't sound good. You will need a dac

I think the one guy was messing with you about the 3k cable
Sell all, buy a cable for 3k first and start again.

Cable: Do you really think I can find a good cable for only $3k? I have a $4k budget. Maybe this was suggested and an "entry level" cable.

Syntax was having fun with you. Please don't take his post serious. The last thing you need to do is spend $3k on cable(s). A subwoofer may be a good thing.
You'd have to nuts not to keep da Hales and not lose the Adcom stuff ASAP.
I second Schubert's reco.

I remember back when Adcom first came out. I had Adcom's top of the line 555 amps running in mono with their top of the line preamp. The speakers were Definitive Technology BP-20's, their top of the line at that time.

I bought a Krell KRC-3 preamp and KSA-50S amp along with Dunlavy speakers to replace the system.

For grins, before swapping out the Definitive Techs with the Dunlavys, I hooked up the BP-20s to the Krells. I never heard the BP-20s sound as good as they did then!

If you want to upgrade, leave the speakers alone for now.

The Adcom 5800 compares pale vs a pair of 565 mono blocks if you want to stay loyal to Adcom as a brand; staying loyal to Nelson Pass is certainly a good choice going Pass Labs. Cables and good power conditioning and cheap tweaking (read the zillon comments about footers) should help to improve the sound a lot.
Your weakest link is your knowledge of audio reproduction, to not list your room, cables, source and source material shows a misunderstanding of what constitutes a system for the reproduction of music.

I would do much more research and reading before wading into deep waters, YMMV.
Viridian, Harshly stated but on point I think. :-)

Abp, Were I in your place I would focus all my attention on getting a full range speaker I had listened to and could build my system around. Speakers first, amp second, sources/pre amp, and lastly everything else, especially tweaks that result in only minor differences. Cables both IC's and speaker cables should come dead last. You can get by on some excellent and inexpense ones til you are really flush. If you have done your work in component selection in the first place you won't need the high-priced frequency response benders, and IMHO that is all most of them are.

But, by all means, get out and start listening to systems in others homes or in B&M stores and see what is possible. Even if you have to put down that book for a while. I think you will be shocked! You might even find an audio friend in your area willing to help if you were to ask.

Good luck.......
Nice work, you are the perfect example of why this hobby is losing participants. How many times have we been into audio stores and had to deal with snooty and rude dealers? Congrats.

Good luck in your search for good sound. Hales are excellent speakers, I would experiment with room placement of the speakers, opportunities regarding wall and corner loading.
Jeff1225, you are absolutely right! Apb689 is new here. This is his first post, and what happens when he asks for help? He gets harshly criticized by an audiophile because his post doesn't meet a certain standard of information that the experienced audiophile would expect. Do you have to have thick skin to seek help in this audio forum? Apparently, the message is: "you better or don't post." As you said Jeff1225, the way people get treated by some of the B&M's and some audiophiles it's no wonder the number of philes continues to dwindle.
Please don't insult me by calling me an audiophile; I am certainly not one of you. Just a music lover. And my apologies to 689 for my less than pleasing bedside manner.

I would opine that none of the "audiophiles" here was actually helpful to 689 at all. To not point out that more reasearch and experience would save him a ton of money and grief is what is wrong, IMHO, with the hobby, and what is wrong with this forum. And to commoditize the hobby by not introducing the OP to a systems approach rather than moving more black boxes is, IMHO, irresponsible. And it is what turns people off. But opinions are just that and everyone has them.
IMHO upgrading your speaker would be the best move. Your Adcom 750 preamp is still to this day one of the best and the 5800 is a very decent amp.

I guess you have to decide if you want to get into the higher end and, if you do, how you want to get there.

What I was trying to say in my earlier post was that you don't know how good or lacking your speakers are until you get an amp that will grab the speakers and tell them exactly what to do.

For $4000.00, you can get yourself a really good high end amp that will do that. I don't see one listed here, but call Mark at Reno HiFi. I think that you might be able to get a Pass X250.5 demo or refurbished in that price range.

If your electronics aren't up to the task of really controlling your speakers, you'll never know how good or lacking any speakers you get will be.

Then again, they always say to choose your speakers first. If you're going to do that, make sure that you're hearing them in as good of quality system as you can so that you can hear their full potential.

The full system approach, which includes the room and any treatments, power conditioners, interconnects and speaker wire, is called for if one is to get credible assistance on such an open question.

That said, many of us are drawn to the component-by-component approach because it's easier [minimal research] and it's doable NOW. It may be a shame that many people in this hobby think this way, but that's life. I've been guilty of it, too.

And that said, I wouldn't try to give advice on this question without knowing the sources being used and the type of music preferred.

Just my take. Joe
>>I would opine that none of the "audiophiles" here was actually helpful to 689 at all.

Viridian, this is close to rudeness. Please think again before you put off more people than you already did, especially when you yourself have started many threads asking for help. In other words, unless you can contribute positively, please refrain from flaming, thank you!

[soap box on]
On a related subject. I have noticed that many on this forum taking time to answer with just a one-liner like YMMV and nothing else (no suggestions at all), it is a pitiful waste of blog space.
[soap box off]
Polyglot, criticism taken, thanks for your opinion.
I'd partially concur to Viridian only with difference that one didn't have to mention the obvious lack of knowledge fact. Audiophiles (HAH! I'm not the one either, but definitely hobbyist) are very prone to lack of knowledge about their system (otherwise none would be looking for $3k speaker wires) therefore by default they would seek knowledge on forums, literature, online. Emphasizing this fact may seem more like a rage or jeopardy to the poster, but at the same time acknowledging one helped many of them/us to contest it by acquiring knowledge resources from here or elsewhere.
Just stumbled upon this thread after a year off this site.

I upgraded my amp with an MC352 and it has been a great addition to my system. I based this purchase off of many google searches from members of this site and it was very helpful. I would also like to thank those that responded to my original question with helpful remarks and quality direction; this has been especially appreciated in an every decreasing pool of hobbyist.

I would also like to add that several of the comments directed to my question showed this hobby at it's worst. And it is disappointing. I have no interest in defending my lack of experience, knowledge, or inability to articulate every variable required to gain a proper and non-biting response. It just takes the fun out of it guys.

When I have mastered a subject and someone ask basic, fundamental, or even flawed questions, I do not highlight their ignorance, but complement their initiative. In addition, I am excited that someone values what I know.

As far as the $3000 cable, I was not a serious. It was a failed attempt at humor as I tried to get to know you all.

For the inconsiderate few, don't make the good ones around here look bad.

Happy Holidays-
I don't know, the 3k cable idea was probably the most helpful advice you received. Personally, I'd get a tube preamp, or perhaps work on your source component! I have some ideas, I have 2 exemplar modified players in my system and I am very partial to them.