2 channel preamp for music only system

Hello everyone,

I’ve been reading posts and responses and have been in awe at the quality and detail of responses. 
Recently I decided to repurpose my Adcom GFA 555 as part of a 2 channel music system using my HT receiver zone 2 as the preamp. The normal pre outs would require that I go into setup each time.  I quickly determined that I would be better off by adding a dedicated preamp to the system. 
When using zone 2 with the Adcom, I have no volume control, yet it doesn’t seem very loud. 
I guess my question is, with a preamp, could I expect more volume?  I’m streaming using a blusound node 2. Seems like a 200 watt per channel should play louder. 
For example, my HT speakers are Focals with a similar spl to the JBL’s, but play significantly louder than the JBL’s yet the amp is of a lower power.

2 channel system current configuration…

Pioneer Elite SC. LX 901 (using zone 2 as preamp)

Blusound Node 2i (streamer)

Adcom GFA 555 (power amp)

JBL L100 Century speakers

I’m thinking of adding either a Parasound or Adcom preamp (budget under $1k) but would love to hear suggestions from you or ways to make the Pioneer act as the preamp without having to change settings (turn off home theater speakers, change subwoofer volumes, etc.)  

thank you!




Yes. It’s all a matter of gain.

I look at features first in a preamp.The stuff you suggest is fine. I would just make sure they do what you desire.

Buy a used preamp… it will let you move up into a better level of performance… if lucky into the $2K+ range. The preamp will set the overall character of your system and solve your volume problem. 

   FWIT the JBL Century 100’s are based on 4311’s (  I’m assuming you have the original ones ). They take a massive amount of power and you really can’t rely on the efficiency rating.  Also as you know wattage ratings are not equal Vs different brands. Those speakers are happy at about 300 watts. Your amp Is no slouch but just keep that in mind. I was able to run my 4312’s with a 200 wpc Modwright. I also did the home theater / stereo combo like you and eventually went back to 2 channel as mentioned, and then to low powered tube. Happy Listening , Mike B. 

I run my new JBL L100 Century’s with a 200wpc McIntosh MA6600 integrated. I also use a SVS SB2000 sub to fill out the bottom end.

Thanks to everyone for responding.

Yeah, I have the old version (century’s).  I was a little surprised at bullrider97’s comment about how power hungry they are after reading the spec’s where they recommend 50 watts per channel. 

@stereo5, sounds like a nice set up. I imagine Macintosh’s 200 wpc has a little more punch than my Adcom at the same rating. 
I also have two SVS PB-2000 subs in my HT system (same room).  I’m planning on using one or both. 

I still have a few Adcoms 7400, 5800, 5500, 565 x a few. I had a pair of 565 rebuilt by Brain and a 5800. They were better than a lot of the older Macs. The 5800 was over 400 wpc after Brain did his work.. It’s a good Pass design. They could spin a power meter pretty good too. The 565s were 2 ohm stable and 900 wpc. After getting rid of the cheap factory sound caps they sound really good too. Not as good as the 5800, or 5500. Big Black Boxes. All of them. Brain had after marker boards he would stuff for the 565s. The caps would leak and ruin the board. Then blow up speakers, DC thing.

Parasound is always a strong choice, but the Topping pre 90 is often overlooked (at only around $600). Plenty of gain on that one, and plenty of favorable reviews as well. Limited in inputs, but there’s a companion ext 90 (a kind of super clean input bay) that pairs well with it.

another great one could be the Schiit Freya S or Freya +.

You can connect the Node 2i analog output to the Adcom and use the Node 2i volume control, perhaps you don’t need a 2 channel preamp if the result is satisfactory.

It sounds like the cleanest solution may be a pre-amp or integrated amp with home theater bypass capability. This is a feature of some Peachtree products, for example the Nova 150/300/500 and the PreDAC. 

Meanwhile you also could use the Node 2i as a stereo preamp (as suggested above), but AFAIK there is no way to connect it into a surround sound system with the home theater bypass option. The OP may want to do this, in order to have the option of using the JBL speakers either in isolation (with the pre-amp as volume control) or as left+right speakers in the home theater system (with the HT receiver as volume control and the stereo preamp/integrated in home theater bypass mode).

But if you don't want to integrate the JBLs into the home theater, then just try using the Node 2i as a preamp as suggested above (with the stereo system disconnected from the HT system).  In that case, if you control the volume with an app (Bluesound/Roon/ whatever), just be careful when shifting the volume slider to the right.  The Bluesound app may allow you to set limits. Or program the Node, via the BS app, to accept volume +/- signals from any IR remote control. This is a pretty nifty capability with the Bluesound products (if you prefer handheld remotes to software for volume control etc.)

I love my Parasound P3, but I have them with a Arcam amp (FMJ series) and Paradigm Prestige speakers, so it's partially the mix.  It is a bit warmer.   


Good luck 

Post removed 

Question for pingstonsmile, who is Brian, I have some older and rare Adcom equipment I might want to update. All I have gout is musical fidelity and I like alternative options. I have the all white amp, pre, and tuner. I’m not currently using however they all work!!! Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks.


It’s not your amp!  Go into the BluOS app, under audio, and turn on the volume to Output level fixed and everything will be right.

All the best.


Maybe OP can try this setup:

Connect the Node 2i analog output to the Adcom GFA 555 and use the Node 2i volume control for 2 channel playback, connect Node 2i optical toslink output to Pioneer ( to eliminate possible ground loop noise ) and utilize the Pioneer internal DAC for HT receiver playback.


@bobbergman    A pre under $1K,  how about under 500.   Ive got an Arcam C31 for sale right here on the Gon,   Just in case you may be interested.  Made in the UK and back when Arcam was more involved in producing 2 channel separates.   even has a phono stage.   I have the same pre in my bedroom system and its used daily often left on overbite at a very low volume.  

good luck in your search



Thought I’d post the conclusion to my initial post. I ended up finding a good deal on a Parasound New Classic 200. It has several features that should work well for me. 

it sounds better than just usinh the Node 2i directly into the Adcom.