Tweaking Home Theater Pt. 9 - Adcom GFA-565se Power Amplifiers

Introduction

My Adcom GFA-5500 ($1200) MOSFET design power amps served well for over 15 years. They were recently replaced with new, current model Adcom GFA-565se ($1499) BJT design power amps. Compared to the 5500s, the 565ses have significantly lower noise, much more overall clarity and detail, significantly better imaging, and significantly better bass performance. Part of the 565se's improved noise performance is their true balanced input design, which allows the use of balanced (XLR) interconnects between it and the Yamaha CX-A5100 preamp/processor. The 565ses significantly improved my enjoyment of movies and music played through my home theater system. This was not my first ownership experience with the 565se. I previously had one in my system at work, but it was sold after being replaced with a Bryston 4B3. Prior to installing the first 565se in the office system, I trialed it as a replacement for the front and center speakers in the home theater system and was impressed.

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Figure 1. The 565se's build quality is outstanding for its price point.

Adjusted for inflation, the GFA-5500's 2005 retail price of $1200 equates to $1503 in 2017 dollars. This is very close to the GFA-565se's retail price of $1499. The 565se can offer better performance and better build quality, for the same price, due to being made in Taiwan. The 5500 was made in the USA.

Similar to my first 565se, the new amps sounded great right out of the box. Over an initial 100 hours of continuous play, there were small improvements in bass weight, bass articulation, high frequency smoothness (saxophones sounded silkier), and tactile sensation.

I also did a re-evaluation of AudioQuest's Cinnamon HDMI cables. This time, the improvement in audio quality, with these amps, justified keeping them. I wasn't as impressed with the Cinnamon HDMI cables after my first trials:

http://forum.polkaudio.com/discussion/177963/audioquest-cinnamon-hdmi-cables-vs-the-cheap-stuff-review

Installation

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Figure 2. Three GFA-565ses reporting for home theater duty.

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Figure 3. Bye, thanks for the memories. 5500s on their way out. This removal and install was a lot easier since I reduced the amount of equipment in my HT system cabinet.

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Figure 4. The stock power line fuse of each 565se was replaced with a HiFi Tuning Silver Star fuse. This upgrade enhanced image solidity, sound stage depth, and sound stage height

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Figure 5. 565ses installed and ready for burn in and evaluation.

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Figure 6. The 5500s were packed and sent back to Adcom for trade-in credit. I still have another 5500 in my test rig.

The Sound - Movies

I had previously auditioned the 565se in the home theater system, with the dual LSi9 speakers at center and with the SDA SRS speakers at front, therefore I wasn't expecting any performance surprises...but I got some:

1. Increased image height - dialog now sounds like it is anchored to the TV screen rather than originating just below it.
2. Front and surround speakers sounded louder and heavier, with more detail.
3. Overall sound was more immersive, like sitting in the middle of a "sound bubble".
4. All five speakers, and the subwoofer, had a tighter, more cohesive, more liquid, more integrated sound as effects moved from one speaker to another.

The following screen captures and comments pertain to the blu-ray edition of Star Wars - Revenge of the Sith:

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Figure 7. The engine rumble from the Venator Class Star Destroyer had more overtones and detail, rattled the pictures on the wall, and produced more vibration through the seat and armrest. The same sound pressure level with the 5500 did not produce wall rattle, nor was the same level of seating area vibration generated. Due to the lowered noise floor, sound was apparently louder. I turned down the volume a bit to get rid of the wall rattle.

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Figure 8. The transient edges of the sounds of the Jedi fighters whizzing from the right surround, curving down to the left front, and continuing through the center channel, were razor sharp and faster than with the 5500 amps.

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Figure 9. General Grievous' guttural voice and hacking cough had more weight and rumbling overtones and undertones.

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Figure 10. When General Grievous threw the electropole against the bridge window, every creeping, crackling crack was sharply detailed with the sound spanning the width of the front sound stage.

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Figure 11. When the bridge window shattered, it was heard as a bubble of breaking glass surrounding me. Previously, the sound of the shattering window was perceived as mostly in the plane of the front stage.

"So hot it burns Mice!"~DK
"Polk SDA-SRSs are hopelessly out of date both sonically and technologically... I see no value whatsoever in older SDA speakers."~Audio Asylum Member
"Knowledge, without understanding, is a path to failure."~DK
"Those who irrationally rail against something or someone that is no threat to them, actually desire (or desire to be like) the thing or person they are railing against."~DK

Comments

  • DarqueKnightDarqueKnight Posts: 6,568
    The Sound - Two Channel And Multichannel Music

    The 565se amps generated a sound stage with more height and depth than with the 5500 amps. On multichannel DSD files, the sound stage width and height was outright SDA-ish with a tall, crescent shaped front stage.

    Music playback on the home theater system consists of digital files from the following digital players:

    Bryston BDP-1: 44.1K, 88.2K, 96K, 176.4K, 192K FLAC files, via digital coaxial cable.
    Oppo BDP-103: DSD single rate two channel, DSD single rate multichannel, via HDMI cable

    For reference purposes, I also played CDs, via HDMI, from the Pioneer Elite BDP-09FD blu-ray player in order to compare the disc version of a song to its FLAC file counterpart. I don't play music from discs anymore, except in my vehicles.

    All digital files were decoded by the DAC stage of a Yamaha CX-A5100 preamp/processor.
    The CX-A5100 can also play DSD single rate files via USB connection.

    Music through the Oppo BDP-103 sounded bright, thin and lacking in weight and tactile sensation. The BDP-103's sound was only suitable for background music. I also did not like the Oppo's audio presentation of movie sound tracks, as there was a lack of detail, clarity, and realistic weight. On the other hand, the Oppo's video quality was better in contrast, color rendition, and detail than the Pioneer Elite BDP-09FD, a player which retailed for over 4X more ($2200 vs $500). I will expound more on the BDP-103's video and soundtrack performance when I review the Oppo UDP-205, which is due to arrive later this week.

    The BDP-103 is the first player I have owned that is capable of playing multichannel SACDs and multichannel DSD files. All of my multichannel SACDs were ripped to 2 channel and 5.1 channel DSD files. I like the perspective of sitting in the middle of the sound stage and being surrounded by performers. I am looking forward to hearing my multichannel DSD files played by an audiophile quality player like the UDP-205.

    The best music playback was via the BDP-1 digital player, next was music files via USB drive connected to the CX-A5100. The BDP-09FD blu-ray player was a close third.

    Although music playback on the home theater system is a secondary and peripheral function, I must say that the quality of 2 channel music reproduction is very satisfying. If I ever wanted to, or needed to, downsize and have a combined 2 channel/home theater system, I could very easily live with this system long term. I don't even miss the SDA SRSs anymore.

    Associated Equipment

    Pioneer Elite Kuro PRO-151FD 60" Plasma TV
    Pioneer Elite BDP-09FD Blu-ray Player
    Oppo BDP-103 Blu-ray Player with external Samsung EVO 850 500 GB solid state drive
    Bryston BDP-1 digital player with external Samsung EVO 840 500 GB solid state drive
    Yamaha CX-A5100 Preamp/Processor
    Adcom GFA-565se Power Amp (250 wpc 8 ohms)/Front Speakers
    Adcom GFA-565se Power Amp (250 wpc 8 ohms)/Center Channel Speaker
    Adcom GFA-565se Power Amp (250 wpc 8 ohms)/Surround Speakers
    Polk Audio LSiM 706C Center Channel Speaker
    Polk Audio LSiM 705 Front Speakers
    Polk Audio LSiM 702 F/X Surround Speakers
    SVS PB12 Ultra/2 Subwoofer
    PS Audio P5 AC Regenerator
    PS Audio P10 AC Regenerator
    PS Audio AC-5 Power Cords for AC Regenerators
    PS Audio Statement SC Power Cords for all electronics
    Revelation Audio Labs Prophecy Cryo-Silver Digital Coaxial Cable
    AudioQuest Cinnamon HDMI Cables
    Monster Cable Z3 Reference Speaker Cables, Front, Right, Center
    DSR Silverline (Out Of Wall) And Monster UL/CL3 (In-Wall) Speaker Cables, Surround
    Blue Jeans LC-1 In-Wall Subwoofer Cable
    Signal Cable Silver Resolution XLR Interconnects (Preamp to Power Amps)
    Two PS Audio Soloist SE In-Wall Passive Power Conditioners
    Two Dedicated 20 amp AC Circuits
    Salamander Synergy Quad 30 Audio Cabinet
    Dell Venue Pro 11 7140 Tablet Computer For System Control
    "So hot it burns Mice!"~DK
    "Polk SDA-SRSs are hopelessly out of date both sonically and technologically... I see no value whatsoever in older SDA speakers."~Audio Asylum Member
    "Knowledge, without understanding, is a path to failure."~DK
    "Those who irrationally rail against something or someone that is no threat to them, actually desire (or desire to be like) the thing or person they are railing against."~DK
  • gimpodgimpod Posts: 1,775
    edited January 7
    FYI Adcom has these amps on sale right now for $1274.00 with free shipping to the lower 48. Thinking about getting one to replace my untouched original GFA 555.

    Adcom GA 565se

    No Affiliation.
    Pink Floyd, Just makes me want to turn it up too 12 and share it with the world!!. JMO
    ---
    “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” ~ Mark Twain

    Unfortunately for most of us we only get to experience the first day and then we can't even remember it.
    ---
    "Close only counts in Horseshoes, Hand Grenades and Thermonuclear Weapons."
    "50% Why... That's almost half."
    "I know, I'm sick and need help."
    ----
    Gimpod Custom 4th & 5th Gen SDA Circuit Boards
    ----
    "The best way to enjoy digital music reproduction is to never listen to good analogue reproduction." ~ Kenneth Swauger
  • F1nutF1nut Posts: 42,654
    Go for it Tony
    Political Correctness'.........defined

    "A doctrine fostered by a delusional, illogical minority and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a t-u-r-d by the clean end."


    President of Club Polk

  • gimpodgimpod Posts: 1,775
    edited January 7
    Guess I'll have to wait 30 days to see what Jesse said. (SAD)

    Just for you Jesse!

    Pink Floyd, Just makes me want to turn it up too 12 and share it with the world!!. JMO
    ---
    “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” ~ Mark Twain

    Unfortunately for most of us we only get to experience the first day and then we can't even remember it.
    ---
    "Close only counts in Horseshoes, Hand Grenades and Thermonuclear Weapons."
    "50% Why... That's almost half."
    "I know, I'm sick and need help."
    ----
    Gimpod Custom 4th & 5th Gen SDA Circuit Boards
    ----
    "The best way to enjoy digital music reproduction is to never listen to good analogue reproduction." ~ Kenneth Swauger
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