|Adcom GFA-7805 Multi-channel Power Amplifier|
|Home Theater Power Amplifiers Multi-Channel Amplifiers|
|Written by Bryan Dailey|
|Wednesday, 01 June 2005|
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To start, I wanted to listen to some surround sound material that I was very familiar with, so I plucked my Grover Washington DVD-Audio disc Winelight (Warner Music) from the shelf and spun it up to hear the difference from my previous set-up, featuring a comparably-priced Anthem power amp. This smoothed out pop/jazz album has studio musicians on it with some impressive chops and features an outstanding surround mix by Elliot Scheiner. It immediately came to life with a power and presence not felt through previous listening sessions. The low end is important in any R&B record and, although my Energy sub was doing some of the work, the newly-found power that the C-5 floor-standing speakers were receiving really brought the recording to life. Washington’s saxophone had new detail and clarity but was not brittle in the high end. It felt as if the amp was perhaps rolling off the high end a tad, but not in a way that hindered the song. The vocals on the hit tune “Just the Two of Us” were equally smooth, without any harshness in the high end and no matter how loud I turned up the amp, I was able to maintain this clarity throughout the song.
Seal’s IV album is another surround sound mix that really thumps on the low end but has delicate instrumentation. On the single “Get It Together,” the dance groove is a workout for any speaker/amp combo and the GFA-7805 held it all together with ease and never flinched at the various changes in the song from the verses to the choruses to the bridge. It was smooth, even and always powerful. Seal’s signature rasp was even and coherent, with much more detail than with other amps I have heard in my system in this price category. Even when turning the amp down, it was still feeding the speakers with ample amounts of power, so it seems like this amp was made to be played loud. I could almost hear the volume knob begging on the Adcom preamp begging to be turned clockwise.
The amount of new albums on DVD-Audio and SACD has rolled off dramatically in the last six months and the new Queens of the Stone Age album Lullabies to Paralyze (Interscope) is not out on DualDisc yet, so I cued up their new two-channel release to hear how the GFA-7805 could hand some really low-end heavy hard rock on CD. Don’t let the fact that QOTSA lead singer Josh Homme looks exactly like former ESPN anchor turned retired late-night talk show host Craig Kilborn. This band who rose out of the ashes of grunge rockers Kyuss is one of the best alterative rock acts going today and their song “Little Sister” is crushing Green Day singles and sensitive John Mayer songs on alternative radio as we speak. A solo guitar riff begins the song and when the full band comes in with the tuned-down, distorted bass tone, I was expecting some of the bottom to drop off the soundstage. Not a chance with the Adcom, as the lights on the front started really lighting up indicating that it was working very hard, but it never gave up the fight and was able to give better than arena rock-type sound in my own living room without harsh boom.
To give the amp a chance to test a dialogue-driven film that also features low, power-sucking sound effects, I watched “The Aviator,” Martin Scorsese’s epic tale of the life of Howard Hughes starring Leonardo DiCaprio. This drama is not only an incredible portrait of this eccentric billionaire, it also features many demo-worthy scenes. Airplane flybys are a good test for any surround sound system and the huge reserve of power that the GFA-7805 has under its hood was able to pump out the necessary juice to make it feel like you were literally there with Mr. Hughes as he was watching his newest aircraft going on its maiden voyage.
Jack Black’s brilliant slacker-turned-schoolteacher family comedy “School of Rock” was recently broadcast in HDTV, so I decided to record it on my Dish Network PVR and evaluate a film in which dialogue and soundtrack are equally important. At the end of the film, during the battle of the bands, competition, Jack is on stage with his students and he banters with the crowd on the microphone, introducing the various members of the band. I had seen the film on DVD through my Kenwood set-up and it was sometimes a struggle to hear what he was saying. During the band’s performance, the crowd members scream like maniacs and the vocals can be hard to decipher, but I got to hear lyrics that I hadn’t noticed before, even when watching the film in the theater.