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My gift to myself when I got divorced in 1990 was a system that consisted of an Adcom 545 amp, Adcom GTP 500 II preamp/ tuner, KEF Q55 speakers, and a Magnavox CD630 cd player. These Adcom products were the second generation of their components, which were made in Taiwan at the time.
This was my first foray into separates. I had previously owned a Pioneer receiver/ Dual turntable/ EPI speakers system. I really appreciated the upgrade.
When I finally sold the Adcom in 2003 and purchased a Musical Fidelity A3 amp, I was surprised with what I had been missing with the Adcom set-up.
The Adcom could be sterile and brittle sounding. One day I swapped in a vintage Marantz receiver as the preamp and the sound just opened up and bloomed. Knew I was looking at a change.
Sorry for the trip down memory lane, but at the end of the day if you like the Adcom sound, try some Audiosource amps. They sound very similar and you can buy them new for cheap money.
Adcom is a great bargain brand and I think was always well made...I've owned a couple of 535s (one new back in the day, others used for studio monitors) and some nice preamps, and now use a 5300 Mosfet for deck speakers and as a backup amp...sounds great for this purpose anyway, cost maybe 100 bucks in "like new" shape a couple of years ago. I think they make a new version of the 5500 now, but plenty of their older amps are a steal...no geek cred, but so what? The 5400 has legions of fans seemingly, but of course you have to try these and decide for yourself. For such small money you don't have a lot to lose.
I too had an Adcom, the GFA-7605 for about 1 month, "sterile and brittle" is spot on for an oversimplified description. IMHO they belong in distribution systems powering Bose and Cerwin-Wega speakers, nuf said.
On the other hand I read some laudatory comments on older Adcoms.
Once they take it to the Middle Kingdom and leave the process unsupervised, manufacturers find out the hard way. Look how smart Apple got with Foxconn throwing people off roofs for them, keeping the workforce under control by local standards while keeping the alfalfa munching token recyclers at home happy with their expensive gadgets.
My 5300 is also Mosfet, and I think it sounds better than the 535s (I owned both the 535II and a couple of the original 535s)...I A/Bd these when I was trying to sell the 5300, but nobody wanted it (the 5300) so the 535 went away, and I'm fine with the 5300 as I think it's utterly a steal for the current prices.
I now have a 545 Mk II as a loaner while my AudioValve tube monos are being repaired. It's hard for me to come up with words to describe the 545. There are many words in the Eskimo language for snow, and probably as many words in audiophile language for "awful." My description of the 545 II would be in there somewhere.
But, I have a modded 535 and moved it from the theater/TV system to the main system, driving Ascendo System MS Mk II speakers. The 535 sounds fantastic. With the mods, the 535 sounds damn close to my tube monos. The mods were done by John Hillig, musical design.com. Highly recommended! It'll cost at least $400, which may seem absurd considering the cost of the amps, but it is a quantum improvement. At $150 amp + $400 mods, it's he best $550 amp I've ever heard. I'd love to listen to a modded 555.
I've owned both the GFA 5500 and 555 II. Without any doubt, the GFA 5500 and GFA 5802 both throw a wider, deeper image with better low level detail while delivering this with a slightly less bright sound, than the GFA 555 II. I also owned a pair of mono block GFA565s. The Adcom GFA 5802 was far more musical with more low level detail. The GFA 565s did rock the house hard. The GFA 5802 never ran out of power but was a bit more polite when loud.