Adcom pre amp versus Van Alstine

I am looking to buy a pre-amp and wondering which one might be a better pre-amp: Adcom GFP 750 or Audio by Van Alstine AVA ultra EC hybrid?

Appreciate your thoughts :)


Personally, I'd go with the Adcom over the AVA, but wouldn't buy neither due to the lack of balanced inputs. Something to consider...

I’ve had seat time with the GFP-750. It is a good preamplifier, that is well designed, runs very quiet, and has a bypass mode that changes the sound somewhat. One mode seems quieter, and the other mode seems a touch more dynamic.

Pick your preference. It does in fact have a single balanced input pair, and a single balanced output pair. They seem to hold a solid market value over the years, but are not so scarce that they are tough to find. There’s a black and gold style to the appearance. It runs warm, and sounds best when warmed up about 45 minutes. I liked it, but I did not keep it, as I was into my tourist phase of serial preamps. It was a good one, and if a nice cosmetic example popped up I might go for it.

On the other hand, I have come around to tubed preamplifiers, after trying a number of solid state. I have not heard that many tubed preamps, but I have discovered a fondness for hybrids as well as the tubes. It might be fun to try a Van Alstine preamp. There are audiophiles who swear by their products, the company has been around for decades, and they’re out of Minnesota.

I have had an Adcom Preamp and Amplifier in my workshop for 30 years. They have been subjected to heavy dust and fumes of every variety. My house was hit by lightening and a Krell Preamp fried, but not the Adcom. They are also decent sounding and void of any ill habits. They have also been run way more than my main system, frequently 12 hours daily. I had a Van Alstine preamp in the late 70s and it was OK. I sold it for a Conrad Johnson which I thought sounded better. 

The Emotiva DAC/PRE (Xda 3) is a worthwhile option <$699, true balanced. Very nice YouTube review

Can't remember what the model was, but may years ago I owned the top of the line Adcom Pre and really liked it.  They are so old now I would be very worried that the caps are drying out and the SQ will degrade.  


rick_n: I agree with your post regarding old audio gear.  All electronics have a life span.  Does one really save $ buying old/used components when you consider how much life is left on that product?  Been there done that many times. I now prefer to stick with new.    

You could call Frank at AVA and ask him if he has any used units coming in that he could go through and check out for ya. imo, pick the one tested with the lowest noise, and the fewest number of bits/parts inside if you care about sound quality. 

Doing some searching around just now on Hifishark, there are a few nice ones out there. Between the two, for sound quality I'd take a Van Alstine preamp every time.

Why just these two brands?  Many more options out there.  Also, the Adcom has well-documented reliability issues so I’d definitely avoid that as there are many, many other great options out there.  You should really start with what sound characteristics you’re looking for because AVA and Adcom can sound quite different.

Of the two, I’d pick the Van Alstine, in case I was too long winded. I might check out this one from a list of possibles:

There's also an ARC SP-6 out there for an under $1k price, and an Aric.

i've never heard the VA, so can't opine on it. however, i have owned the adcom 750  and it was  excellent--it's a nelson pass design which is on a completely different level than adcom's cheaper gtp (preamp w/tuner) models. it had a passive mode which was really transparent and sounded even better than the active mode. that said, other posters make a valid point about the reliability of older gear--i think the models you're looking at are 25+ yrs old--but the 750 is a serious piece.

At the prices these units command, buy both and evaluate on your own time. Report back here with the winner. Everyone loves a shootout. 

I had the GFP 750 in my system for about 6 months.I thought it was a pretty good.

Fairly Transparent with a leaning toward a dry presentation.

Amp at the time was a Aleph 30.

Nelson Pass designed the preamp  and probably one of the better products that Adcom released.

Buy them both! That's the spirit. Comparing them at home is the best answer.

It will be great to read your findings.                                                  

"@mrdmbman I have decided to buy them both! I will circle back with my review of both."


There you go, nice!  This is truly the only way to know, to help decide in your system, setup, and matching with your amplifier. There is always a buyer for the good used stuff, whatever you decide to resale later.  Be sure to use the exact same cables on both setups, if at all possible. Best of Luck.   

Thus is probably not fair because I have not heard that model of VA. I am commenting because of some of the comments about Adcom. I have heard all of their pre's and consider most poor. However the GFP750 is a fine preamp, No other Adcom is in the same league. It is passive, it is active, it is single ended and it is balanced, doing all fairly well. I have met Frank and heard alot of his gear. For me, if I could get someone that I trust that clearly know them both and could tell me that the VA is better, I might go that way,  if not, the Adcom is a safe bet and I'd run with that. Plus, not likely that you would lose on resale of the Adcom.

I got the Adcom GFP 750 and tested it.

These are the other components:

Mcintosh Audio 2125 (power amp)
Cabasse artis baltic ii speakers and SVS SB2000 pro sub
Rega Planar 8 TT with Rega Ania Pro Moving Coil Cartridge
Bluesound Node 2, streaming from Qobuz
Teac ud-503b DAC
Audioquest cables

Previously I used the pre-amp option on Cambridge Audio CX81

The sound quality is incredible (at least compared to the Cambridge). Soundstage, precision and details have much improved. I am getting the Van Alstine next for the comparison!

@mrdmbman, not surprised you like the adcom (are you using the active or passive mode?)--it's a helluva good piece. curious to hear your comparison to the va.

@mrdmbman "...I am getting the Van Alstine next for the comparison!"


Paired with the 2125 amp, ill be curious what you report on which is weighty vs transparent at first, then with more time comparing - which one is more engaging and enjoyable to listen to [tolerable] long term in 3-4+ hour listening sessions.

I also paired it with the Denon pma 101 using it as a power amp. Still trying to figure out which one is a better match.