Sunday, October 24, 2010

Review: Adcom GFA-535 amplifier

The Adcom GFA-535 is the little brother to the famed 545 and 555 amplifiers. It features true dual mono construction with each channel getting its own power transformer and power supply capacitors. With a simple design by the famed Nelson Pass, it features pretty much the same input/driver circuit as the big amplifiers and also has bi-polar output transistors. Rated at a conservative 60WPC, the original version has two sets of speaker output using twist connectors for bare wires. The small size makes it perfect for sitting on top or underneath a matching Adcom preamplifier.

For $125USD, I soon found an early version in my hands. It worked perfectly out of the box too. Adcom stuff seems to hold up fairly well and this has been a joy compared to some of my older pieces of gear.

Sonically, it drives my KEF Q60 speakers without any trouble at all. Bass is solid and only a faint touch of solid-state glare exists that smooths out with continued use. Oddly enough, the much more vintage Dynaco ST-80 sounds more colorful and tubey - perhaps it is the aged carbon composition resistors and electrolytic output coupling capacitors. The 535 having a much more leaner/modern sound. The Adcom also has more power in reserve and can handle more complex loads. So pick your poison and run with it. I can live with either amplifier for low powered solid-state, but the 535 wins out for its matching aesthetics with the GTP-400 preamplifier.

Second System:
Adcom GTP-400 tuner preamplifier
Dynaco ST-80 refurbished
Dual CS-5000 turntable with AT95E cartridge
Pioneer DVD-V7400 DVD player
KEF Q60 speakers
various budget cables