|Adcom GTP-880 AV Preamplifier|
|Home Theater Preamplifiers AV Preamps|
|Written by Bryan Dailey|
|Saturday, 01 May 2004|
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Value-oriented high end - this is how Adcom has long branded their products and their latest series of home theater separates is no exception. Built to be a perfect match for the recently reviewed Adcom GDV-850 progressive scan DVD-Audio/Video player, Adcom’s new GTP-880 7.1 preamp/tuner is chock full of goodies and very competitively priced at $2,400. Features including multiple 5.1 analog inputs, six assignable digital inputs, “Pure Path” component video switching featuring three inputs and one output via BNC connectors with 100MHz of bandwidth for high-definition sources and Adcom’s proprietary 7.1m2 algorithm, to name just a few. This is a serious piece of AV gear, yet simple enough for almost any user to set up and operate.
The GTP-880 has a fit and finish that is as beautiful as the Adcom GDV-850 DVD player. The two are so similar that they might be mistaken for one large component when stacked on top of each other. The unit weighs 28 pounds and is 17 inches wide, five-and-a-quarter inches tall and 16 inches deep. It is available in matte silver or black finish for easy integration into almost any system cosmetically. For my installation, I placed the GTP-880 under the GDV-850 DVD player and both fit inside my equipment rack quite nicely on a single shelf.
The back of the GTP-880 is loaded with connectors, yet is laid out in a very intuitive manner. One of my biggest complaints with AV preamps and receivers is that sometimes companies are forced to jam connectors so close to each other that installing and removing connectors can be a tedious exercise. Adcom somehow found a way to get just about every connection that you could ever want on the unit, yet it doesn’t feel overly cramped. A detachable power cord makes installing or removing the preamp for maintenance or cleaning much easier.
The Right Connections
I have all of the major video game systems, a TiVo and two VCRs, so I can burn through inputs on an AV preamp pretty quickly, but I was able to get all of these components and the GDV-850 DVD player connected to the GTP-880 with plenty of inputs to spare. I still had room for a dedicated CD player and cassette deck should I wish to add those components to the system down the road. In total, the GTP-800 features three component video inputs, five S-video inputs, five composite video inputs, eight analog stereo inputs, two multi-channel (one db-25) inputs, three TosLink digital inputs and three SPDIF digital inputs. For outputs, the preamp has one component video output, two S-video outs, two composite video outs, two stereo and one multi-channel audio output. Is anyone’s head spinning yet?
I give major kudos to Adcom for including two sets of analog inputs for users who have both DVD-Audio and SACD players. I had previously used a Kenwood receiver that only had a single set of 5.1 analog inputs and although I do not have an SACD player yet, I was going to have to get a combo player or manually swap out six cables every time I wanted to switch between SACD and DVD-Audio. Now with the Adcom, I’ll be able to have the luxury of switching between the two formats with a simple press of a button on the remote or the faceplate of the unit. Just having analog inputs is nice, yet without some type of bass management in your system, multi-channel audio often ends up being a recipe for disaster. Adcom has provided analog bass management in the form of a three-way toggle switch that gives you several options, all of which avoid digital to analog conversion. In the “Bypass” mode, the subwoofer is only fed material that is mixed for the .1 channel. The LPF setting, which stands for “low pass filter,” sends full-range audio to the main speakers and the subwoofer receives all signal below 80Hz. The last setting that I found to be most effective when using the smallish Energy speakers in my room is called HPF, or “high pass filter.” In this mode, all frequencies below 80Hz are sent to the subwoofer, preventing the satellite speakers from being fed material that they are not able to properly reproduce. These fixed crossover points may not be ideal for your system and if they are not quite up to your liking, you may need to tinker with your player if it has any kind of bass management of its own.
To power the system, I ran the analog audio outputs from the GTP-880 to the stout Adcom GFA-7805 amplifier via unbalanced RCA interconnects. The GFA-7805 has balanced XLR inputs, but the GTP-880 does not have balanced outs. It would have been nice to have XLR outs, yet there comes a point where you can’t have everything and still keep the price reasonable. Other than not having balanced outputs and no direct digital video inputs (DVI or HDMI), there aren’t many connections that the GTP-880 is lacking.
In a recent survey of audiorevolution.com readers who were asked what sound formats where most important for an AV preamp to feature, the overwhelming answer was “all of the above.” With the exception of a THX license, the GTP-880 has just about all of them, including Dolby Digital EX, DTS ES NEO:6 and Dolby ProLogic II decoding. It also has 24-Bit / 192 kHz DSP processing and digital to analog conversion. The GTP-880 is smart enough to auto-detect the source material coming from your DVD player, so you won’t have to fiddle with tons of complex menus.