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Revisiting an old Friend - the Adcom GFP 750
Through a fortuitous set of circumstances, I moved my Adcom GFP 750 preamp out of storage and into my SET system. I generally don't review gear in this price range, but wonders never cease. Designed by none other than Nelson Pass just for Adcom, and marketed as the company's top preamp for the past ten years, this solid-state unit was great ten years ago at $1450. It is even more splendid in 2006 at $1495.
With its fully balanced design and huge power supply, this ultra-flexible line stage truly delivers. Designed for maximum definition and suave, sophisticated tonality, the 750 is the best entry-level high-end solid-state preamp available today. Though it can be used as a passive unit, don't. The active stage is where the action is. To reach even greater sonic heights, use the balanced connections (though the single-ended connections are quite fine, I assure you). I used the 750 with a Cary 300B SET amp and JM Labs' 806S Cobalt Monitors wired with Harmonic Technology Magic speaker cables. I used Harmonic Technology Cyberlight interconnects between the 750 and the Cary amp to maximize the 750's performance, and the ultra-high-value Harmonic Technology Pro Silway III interconnects between the components and the 750. The HT Fantasy power cord provided current to the preamp.
I don't care if the GFP 750 was designed ten years ago. It will shock and amaze you. You can discern Nelson Pass's touch from the first note. You won't believe the drive, definition, and linearity of this baby. Modern cables bring out the unit's accuracy, smoothness, and all-around dynamics. It could compete with much more expensive preamps from ARC and Levinson in 1995, and its 2006 performance has improved. It's that good. The Adcom 750 is the under-$2000 choice for solid-state preamps, while the E.A.R. 834L is the vacuum tube choice. Both were designed by engineering masters—Nelson Pass and Tim de Paravicini—and both have stood the test of time.
The Adcom GFP 750 sings elegantly and powerfully, with imaging as solid as the rock of Gibraltar. The entire musical range is beautifully integrated, and definition and imaging are outstanding. The sound is slightly crisp, but not disturbingly so. The 750 sounds very smooth, with lovely musical nuances and textural cues. It is oh-so-dynamic and powerful, with very little grain and ultra-low distortion. This preamp sounds like it should cost $3000. Like other great solid-state pieces, it has excellent deep bass, with power and definition. It also has lots of air and stage depth. Leave it on for at least 72 hours before critical listening, especially if it hasn't been used for a while, and don't ever turn it off.
The Adcom GFP 750 is perfect for the high-end newbie looking for sound quality and flexibility at a great price. The 750 has many features, and a very well-designed remote. For the audiophile who wants a solid-state preamp with tons of performance without paying a ton of money, the Adcom GFP 750 should be your first choice.