HiFi/Mid-Fi/Home Theater Advice Needed

MartinLogan Audio Owners Forum

Help Support MartinLogan Audio Owners Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.


Well-known member
Jan 2, 2005
Reaction score
Rochester, Michigan
Well, I’ve wanted to post this for some time. I’m in need of some advice. Here we go:

I’ve been stuck in the mid-fi world for a while. I’m slowly upgrading my system due to financial limitations (3 kids, significant mortgage, high property taxes and a concerned but understanding wife). Unfortunately, I have the ever popular “I want it-gotta have it now” syndrome. I’m doing my best to keep my equity line of credit from getting out of control.

My set-up is the following:
SL3 mains
Cinema center
Definitive Technology BP-1 rears (that will eventually be upgraded)
Adcom GFP-555II pre with processor by-pass
Adcom GFA-5800 main
Adcom GFA-5503 center and rears
Adcom GDD-1 DD processor
Adcom GCD-700 (CD player, you’d think I was the Adcom poster boy)
Philips 963SA DVD CD SCAD

A chunk of this equipment was purchased some time ago when I graduated and was less aware of the higher quality options.

I mainly listen to 2 channel, however, the kids and I enjoy watching movies too. Here are my problems:

The GDD-1 is not performing at 100%, actually it kind of sucks (excuse my vulgarity). The only bass management is a single switch on the back for the mains (large or small). Boy that really helps. There are some other issues that I won’t trouble everyone with. I want to replace this, but don’t know what to replace it with (most likely used).

Here’s the next problem. I also want to upgrade my pre-amp. It’s pretty harsh through the SL3s at higher volumes (eventually I’ll also upgrade my CD player, which I’m sure is contributing to this). Do I stick with higher quality pre with HT by-pass (oooh, the Pass Labs X2.5 sure looks nice, used of course) or do I look at something like a used Classe SSP-30 or 25 with analog outs as well as HT decoding capabilities. As much as I would like to try tubes, I’m not sure if they’re for me.

I could use an AV receiver with pre outs for processing only (keeping the current pre-amp for a while). I keep hearing good things about Denon, but I’ve already spent the money on separates and really don’t need to fork over the cash for a powered receiver whose power won’t be used, but I want something that is going to sound good.

What stand alone processors are out there? Lexicon (pricey)?

I’d say (not out loud so my wife hears) my budget for a replacement is $1000 max. What direction is finally going do my ML speakers justice?

Long term, I’d like to possibly upgrade the amps. I’d like to stick with the same company for pre and amp. So what I decide to do now will influence what I might do in the future (Pass Labs X250 or maybe Classe CA 301/201).

Oh my head hurts. :confused:

Option 1: Replace the GDD-1 with a stand alone processor or AV receiver, replace the pre-amp later.

Option 2: Replace the GDD-1 and pre amp with something like the Classe SSP-30.

Can anyone help a brother out?

Sorry for the long winded post, but I needed to get it out of my system.
Last edited:
I suggest a Sunfire receiver since HT seems to be more important to you/your family. You'll get better sound for the same money vs preprocessor+preamp+amp.

If you really want preamp+power amp, then a Sunfire processor for now and upgrade power amp later. I think a used Sunfire processor is right around your budget.

As much as I like to watch DVDs, everytime when I want to upgrade to that 5/6/7.1 system, I end up looking at 2 channels stuffs, again... and Sunfire seems to be the most "2 channel" HT gears at that price range.
Can anyone help a bother out?

No, bother brother!

Front-end first! Once the front-end has mucked-up the music, there is no rescuing it.

You might want to just your DVD/SACD player as a transport and get a nice DAC. I have heard very good things about the Scott-Nixon tube DAC. A old friend, no longer local, upgraded (for less cost) to a Scott Nixon Tube DAC from a Bel Canto DAC 1.1.. He is much happier with digital now.

Next-up would be a nice tube pre-amp. Many goods ones to choice from. You don't have to have a HT pass-through. Its a nice feature though.

Hey, just, don't listen to a good vinyl set-up! As it is, there is too much competition at the used record bins.
Why not consider a Meridian 568.2 (must be a .2) to replace your pre and processor? They're around for sensible prices second hand and perform briliantly as both processor and pre-amp. Of course, you can also add additional Meridian kit such as a 598 DVD / DVD-A later and really build a first rate system.