Ever used Parasound?

gmorrisgmorris Posts: 1,179
edited January 2004 in 2 Channel Audio
I am starting to look into a two channel stereo setup. So far I've listened to the Anthem TLP-1 & PVA-2 Pre/Amp & Amp combo. I like these alot.

Yesterday, I checked out Audioadvisor.com for the first time. Of particular interest to me are the Parasound P/HP-850 Stereo Preamplifier & the HCA-750A Stereo Amplifier. Very low price, $600 total.

Have any of you used Parasound equipment before? What are your thoughts? My only concern is that this gear may not be an improvement over my Onkyo TX-SR601, in terms of two channel music performance.

http://www.audioadvisor.com/store/productdetail.asp?sku=PARHCA750A&product_name=HCA-750A%2075-Watt%20Stereo%20Amplifier

http://www.audioadvisor.com/store/productdetail.asp?sku=PARPHP850&product_name=P/HP-850%20Stereo%
Bob Mayo, on the keyboards. Bob Mayo.
Post edited by gmorris on
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Comments

  • WardswebWardsweb Posts: 815
    edited January 2004
    I used a Parasound P/SP-1500 for a few years before upgrading to 7.1 surround. The nice thing about this unit is not only did it do 5.1 very well, it has "stereo direct" that by passes all the processing and runs straight stereo for 2-channel audio only. I really like this pre and still have it in a different system now.
    Living room:Maplenoll turntable, Clearaudio Champion II turntable, Sonic Euphoria pre, EAR 834P phono pre, Shanling CD-T1500 sacd, Auralic Altair DAC/server, PS Audio Quintessence power, ASL AQ1006 845 DT MKII mono block amplifers, DIY Altec/JBL speakers
    Sun room: Roksan Radius 5 turntable, Lounge phono pre, DIY Class A 6H30 linestage, DIY 2A3 amp, Krell CDP, JBL C50 Olympus speakers with custom Smith horns, Klipsch Cornwall III
    Den: Onkyo TX-NR929 receiver, Oppo BDP-103 player, Panamax M5400-PM power, SST Ampzilla 2000 mono blocks, Behringer EP 4000 sub amp, Electrovoice DX-38 active, Klipsch Jubilee speakers, Martin Logan Cinema center, JBL SAT2 surrounds, Danley DTS-10 sub
  • gmorrisgmorris Posts: 1,179
    edited January 2004
    Thanks Wardsweb.

    I know its hard to ask, "How do they sound"? But, I have found that all high end gear has a similar "high end sound". I can best describe this as a combination of clarity & detail. In your experience, did the Parasound have that "High end sound"?

    I'm going to try and find a dealer somewhat close to my area so I can audition these myself.

    Thanks again.
    Bob Mayo, on the keyboards. Bob Mayo.
  • tryrrthgtryrrthg Posts: 1,900
    edited January 2004
    What is your budget? We can give you some suggestions if we knew that.

    Also are you willing to buy used? Buying used will get you MUCH better gear for your money!
    Sony KDL-40V2500 HDTV, Rotel RSX-1067 Receiver, Sony BDP-S550 Blu-ray, Slim Devices Squeezebox, Polk RTi6, CSi3 & R15, DIY sub with Atlas 15
  • gmorrisgmorris Posts: 1,179
    edited January 2004
    Hi tryrrthg,

    My budget is about $1000. The Anthem gear is about $1200-1300, depending on the deal I can get, but I'm willing to pay that because I have heard these & it is what I'm looking for.

    The Parasound gear, which I have not heard, can be picked up for $600. This is the only reason I'm interested in these, until I can hear them to make a proper decision.

    I'm not opposed to buying used. The only fear I have about buying used is that I may not be able to return it if I'm not happy.

    What I'm trying to accomplish with this 2 channel rig is a better music system than can be had with my Onkyo TX-SR601. Ths Onk is fine for my 6.1 Home Theater, but I'd like to have a seperate rig for music only.
    Bob Mayo, on the keyboards. Bob Mayo.
  • tryrrthgtryrrthg Posts: 1,900
    edited January 2004
    Well the beauty of used gear is, if you're not happy with it, sell it for what you paid for it! I just sold a pre amp that I bought, I even made a little money on the deal. Check out www.audiogon.com for GREAT used deals.

    My amp and pre amp cost around $1000 used and are fully upgradeable by the designer Steve McCormack (who I've shared emails with, and is a GREAT guy). The McCormack stuff is considered to be some of the best value out there. Here are some reviews of the gear:

    McCormack DNA 1 the big brother to my amp.
    DNA 1 Review #2

    If you can live without a remote there are some fantastic preamps out there. I just sold an Audio Research preamp that didn't work well with my amp. I thought that no remote would be a pain but I just set the volume and forget it. It sounds so good I rarely ever want to change volume, unless I want it LOUDER! :D

    My Pre amp: TLC-1 Review Which is former Stereophile Class A preamp.

    Upgrades by Steve McCormack

    Also check out some integrated amps. You can get an Arcam A85 for under a grand. This was my top choice until I decided to go with seperates. The Krell KAV300i is power BEAST and can be had for around a grand used.

    I guess my bottom line is look for the best of the best in the early to mid 1990's and you'll get some GREAT gear that is probably better than anything you can buy new today. Look for Audio Research, Conrad Johnson, McCormack, etc...

    Good luck!
    Sony KDL-40V2500 HDTV, Rotel RSX-1067 Receiver, Sony BDP-S550 Blu-ray, Slim Devices Squeezebox, Polk RTi6, CSi3 & R15, DIY sub with Atlas 15
  • gmorrisgmorris Posts: 1,179
    edited January 2004
    Very helpful, tryrrthg. Thanks.

    I'll check out audiogon.com, but can you recommend any other places for used gear?
    Bob Mayo, on the keyboards. Bob Mayo.
  • tryrrthgtryrrthg Posts: 1,900
    edited January 2004
    Audiogon is by far the best place I've found! You'll find all the gear you'll EVER need there!
    Sony KDL-40V2500 HDTV, Rotel RSX-1067 Receiver, Sony BDP-S550 Blu-ray, Slim Devices Squeezebox, Polk RTi6, CSi3 & R15, DIY sub with Atlas 15
  • dorokusaidorokusai Posts: 25,453
    edited January 2004
    I agree, you will get even more bang for your buck, if you buy used.

    Parasound is a very solid performer. The main traits of any Parasound, is Class A design, and very strong bottom end. I have heard them quite extensively, and it really is a very strong amplifier. I sold one of my HCA-1500A's to Terrax, he can give you his views I am sure. Ceruleance owns an older HCA-3500, and SteveinAZ has a HCA-1500A.....they may pop in here.

    I ran mine on the SDA1C and on F1Nuts' SDA2.3TL. The HCA-1500A is able to be bridged to 630wpc, and let me tell you, it is fantastic.

    I have heard that the pre-amps are a little "dark" and not super revealing, but that was an isolated comment...perhaps it was just not what he expected.

    HCA-1500A(Current) - $500-600 HCA-2200(Old) - $600-700 HCA-3500(Old) $750-850....thats on Audiogon...and just prices I have seen recently

    The 1500A is the newer model, and has some better components than the older series. Bob Crump(consultant to Parasound and co-developer of the Parasound JC-1 monoblock), the 2200 Mark II is the better amplifer of the older series. He said that Parasound compromised some sound quality in their manufacture of the 3500, contrary to CTC's(Curl/Thompson/Crump) recommendations in design, but that doesn't mean it sounds bad.
    CTC BBQ Amplifier, Sonic Frontiers Line3 Pre-Amplifier and Wadia 581 SACD player. Speakers? Always changing but for now, Mission Argonauts I picked up for $50 bucks, mint.
  • tonyv1tonyv1 Posts: 365
    edited January 2004
    I started my journey into high end with a Parasound P/HP 850 preamp and HCA-1500A amp driving Magnepan MMGs. The P/HP 850 is a very nice and quiet preamp plus it has a built-in phono preamp. You can bypass the tone controls with the direct switch. Parasound amp are high current models that should be able to drive most speakers.
    All receivers are compromises having to house the power amp, tuner and preamp in the same box and share the same power supply. Separates don't have to deal with that noisy environment so are quieter.
    You also can't go wrong with the Anthem gear. I'm running an Anthem PRE 2L SE tube preamp and an Anthem AMP 2 hybrid amp (tube front end).
  • dorokusaidorokusai Posts: 25,453
    edited January 2004
    That's who I forgot....Tony...he has experience, sorry man :)
    CTC BBQ Amplifier, Sonic Frontiers Line3 Pre-Amplifier and Wadia 581 SACD player. Speakers? Always changing but for now, Mission Argonauts I picked up for $50 bucks, mint.
  • gmorrisgmorris Posts: 1,179
    edited January 2004
    tonyv1, thanks for the input. how strange, you have all the brands that I'm currently checking out.
    Bob Mayo, on the keyboards. Bob Mayo.
  • weavercrweavercr Posts: 289
    edited January 2004

    Have any of you used Parasound equipment before? What are your thoughts? My only concern is that this gear may not be an improvement over my Onkyo TX-SR601, in terms of two channel music performance.

    Yes IMO you notice an improvement, Onkyo's 2 channel performance is lacking, HT performance is good.
  • tonyv1tonyv1 Posts: 365
    edited January 2004
    Soundstage just gave the Anthem TLP 1 the exceptional value award.
    Doro, no worrys
  • gmorrisgmorris Posts: 1,179
    edited January 2004
    I actually have had the opportunity to audition the Anthem TLP-1 & PVA-2 combo. It was, in my opinion, awesome.

    A few weeks after I heard the Anthem equipment, I visited a different store, and listened to some NAD equipment. I liked the Anthem stuff better. Nothing against NAD, but the Anthem sounded more detailed to my ears. Now, it may not have been a fair comparison, different store, different speakers, so on & so on, but the Anthem sounded clearer to me.

    In an effort not to sound like a Bose add, the sound I like is clear & detailed, but without being over analytical. The NAD equipment (not sure which models) did not sound as distinct to me.
    Bob Mayo, on the keyboards. Bob Mayo.
  • tryrrthgtryrrthg Posts: 1,900
    edited January 2004
    gmorris,

    Come on down to Columbus! We'll head on over to Progressive Audio. I'm always looking for an excuse to go. It's well worth the trip!

    You can probably come check out my stuff too if you want.
    Sony KDL-40V2500 HDTV, Rotel RSX-1067 Receiver, Sony BDP-S550 Blu-ray, Slim Devices Squeezebox, Polk RTi6, CSi3 & R15, DIY sub with Atlas 15
  • gmorrisgmorris Posts: 1,179
    edited January 2004
    tryrrthg, really? That would be super cool.

    I was just looking at their site during lunch, thinking about going there. I can't make it this weekend. My fiancee has scheduled an appointment to go check out some place for our wedding. I'm being dragged along.

    How does Saturday, the 24'th sound to you?
    Bob Mayo, on the keyboards. Bob Mayo.
  • tryrrthgtryrrthg Posts: 1,900
    edited January 2004
    Ahh planning a wedding! I did that crap last year (I got married last September). Good luck! you'll be ready for it to be over SOON! :p

    I'll have to check with the wife, I'll probably need to make it a weekend where she's working so I don't "waste" her day off at an audio store. :rolleyes:

    There's another store about 2 miles from our apartment that carries some descent gear but I haven't been too impressed with them.
    www.audioencounters.com

    Another ( www.genesisaudio.com ) is on the other side of columbus. These guys were a pleasure to chat and audition with. Great gear there.

    I'll see what I can do...
    Sony KDL-40V2500 HDTV, Rotel RSX-1067 Receiver, Sony BDP-S550 Blu-ray, Slim Devices Squeezebox, Polk RTi6, CSi3 & R15, DIY sub with Atlas 15
  • gmorrisgmorris Posts: 1,179
    edited January 2004
    Let me know what works for you, I can pretty much go as I please still...
    Bob Mayo, on the keyboards. Bob Mayo.
  • CeruleanceCeruleance Posts: 991
    edited January 2004
    Doro, where did you see the 3500 for $750-850?? I would buy another one at that price. The going rate I have seen is $1100-1200, on ebay and audiogon, and that doesn't include shipping the 100 pound box.

    I like my parasound amp, but I have only heard it on one of my pairs of speakers, and I haven't put it up against it's competitors. I talked to one person on HTF who had compared (and I think owned) several amps in this range, The citation 7.1, rotel RB-1090, and something else. He said he prefers the Parasound. Then he said he started using three bridged 2200 mk.II's instead of the 3500, partly because he wanted an identical front soundstage, partly because he really liked the sound.

    With that guy's recommendation, along with the fact that I found a guy selling a 3500 less than 10 blocks away from me, the decision was pretty much made.

    I also own a P/LD-1100 preamp with XLR outputs. I havent cared to do a shoot-out between it and some of my other preamps, I enjoy the setup and that's enough for me.

    My 3500 was modified by the original owner, per John Curl's recommendation, so it's not quite as compromised as doro may think ;) . We should still do a comparison of the two amps someday.
  • gmorrisgmorris Posts: 1,179
    edited January 2004
    So far, everyone has made good statements about the Parasounds. Yee hah!

    The P/HP-850 Stereo Preamplifier & the HCA-750A Stereo Amplifier, for $600 total, sounds like a bang up deal. Now, if I can only find somewhere to audition these, I'll be set. There are no retailers in Ohio, the nearest I've found on the Parasound website is Pittsburg, about 2-1/2 to 3 hour drive for me.
    Bob Mayo, on the keyboards. Bob Mayo.
  • dorokusaidorokusai Posts: 25,453
    edited January 2004
    Cer - Well that was just a couple that I saw, over the past 6 months or so...yea, they are higher most of the time. I am sure the 3500 sounds great, no doubt.

    I am simply going of of what John Curl and Bob Crump had mentioned to me. The original design for the 3500 was very hardcore, but Parasound, from a cost standpoint, chose to drop and change alot of things...making a sacrafice in sound quality and performance. Its still a fine amplifier.

    The HCA-2200 MKII is a Curl/Crump tweaked design and is supposed to be better than the stock 2200.
    CTC BBQ Amplifier, Sonic Frontiers Line3 Pre-Amplifier and Wadia 581 SACD player. Speakers? Always changing but for now, Mission Argonauts I picked up for $50 bucks, mint.
  • tonyv1tonyv1 Posts: 365
    edited January 2004
    Why don't you take up Audio Advisor's guarantee deal ? They currently have free shipping too.
  • CeruleanceCeruleance Posts: 991
    edited January 2004
    gmorris,
    Are you planning on a speaker upgrade anytime soon? The parasound equip. you are talking about is mismatched to your R30's in my opinion. I'm almost certain your 2-channel performance will be noticably better than with your receiver, but for any one piece of equipment to really shine the rest of the system needs to be up to par. I still think getting the parasound equipment is a fine idea, as long as you are planning on upgrading your speakers eventually. Otherwise I think you could spend your money more wisely somewhere else.

    Doro. I didnt mean to come off sounding offended. I certainly don't think the 3500 is the end-all, be-all of amps, but I am happy with it and don't really feel the need to defend it's quality. Im sure the hand-built BBQ is on another level (with the JC-1's on another level above that). BTW if you do see another 3500 for $750 please let me know.
  • EmlynEmlyn Posts: 2,471
    edited January 2004
    Originally posted by gmorris
    So far, everyone has made good statements about the Parasounds. Yee hah!

    The P/HP-850 Stereo Preamplifier & the HCA-750A Stereo Amplifier, for $600 total, sounds like a bang up deal. Now, if I can only find somewhere to audition these, I'll be set. There are no retailers in Ohio, the nearest I've found on the Parasound website is Pittsburg, about 2-1/2 to 3 hour drive for me.

    I agree that making use of Audio Advisor's policy is a good deal, and return shipping if you don't like either unit would be less than the cost in time and money to go PA--plus no tax if you decide to keep them.

    I have read on another forum that John Curl considers the Halo P3 to not be an upgrade sonically when compared to the P/HP-850 even though the MSRP is almost double for the P3. My P3 has too high a residual noise level and inadequate, for me, low frequency reproduction. I'm thinking of returning mine for the P/HP-850 even though the P3 looks fantastic.

    The Halo A23 amp however is outstanding when paired up with LSi15s and is a definite keeper for me. It has a high damping factor which seems to control the low end on the speakers better even than using the B&K 7270. I don't find the HCA-750A all that appealing except on price, for the main reason that it produces 75 watts into 8 ohm loads but only gets up to 100 watts into 4 ohm loads. Depending on the speakers to be driven, you may want to consider this factor and look for an amp a little higher up. If I were in the same position, I'd probably buy the P/HP-850 from Audio Advisor at its 40 percent off price and get a larger HCA amp from the used market. This would be a big step up from a receiver.
    1. Polk LSiM707, 704C, 703; Dual SVS SB2000 subwoofers; Marantz SR7011 receiver; Parasound A23 amp; Oppo 205; Sony 65" 4K TV; FIOS; PS Audio Power Plant Premier; MIT S2 cables
    2. JM Labs Electra 920.1; Sonic Frontiers Line 3 Preamp; Classe Model 25 amp; Sony HAP-Z1ES; Oppo 105D; Music Hall MMF7 and Acoustech phono pre; PS Audio Power Director; MIT S1 Cables
    3. Polk LSiM703; Parasound JC2BP and A21; Sony 48" 4K TV; Wyred4Sound DAC 2; Oppo 203; Squeezebox Touch; MIT S3 cables
  • gmorrisgmorris Posts: 1,179
    edited January 2004
    Yes, eventually I will upgrade the speakers. My plan is to use the R30's with the Onkyo for home theater. Then, for two channel, switch the speaker wires to connect the R30's to the Parasound gear. That is only temporary.

    This spring, when we thaw out here in Ohio, I'm going to build my first set of speakers. (see this link: http://members.interfold.com/tedrobinson/)
    If these speakers work out, I think I'll have a winning combo. If not, I like some of the lower priced offerings from Paradigm & B&W.
    Bob Mayo, on the keyboards. Bob Mayo.
  • CeruleanceCeruleance Posts: 991
    edited January 2004
    sounds good about the DIY speakers. I'm having a DIY sub built for me at the moment and it should kick some serious **** when it's done. I agree with emlyn's comments, the 850 and a used HCA amp should be quite nice, the 750 may not be enough for you if you like to crank it.

    emlyn, interesting comment on Curl's thoughts about the P3. Too bad, I think that's the best looking pre-amp on the market. Have you thought about going higher up instead of sideways to the 850?
  • pjdamipjdami Posts: 1,898
    edited January 2004
    Some very nice suggestions here.

    For under a grand, I would also consider Audio Refinement's Complete Alpha Integrated. Audio Advisor has them but Jeff at Value Audio will probably give you a better deal:

    http://www.value-audio.com/

    Don't let the 50 watts / channel fool you. Very sweet sounding integrated. I listened to it extensively about a month ago on some JM Lab Electra bookshelves and the sound filled a large over 3500 ft3 room nicely.

    Paul
  • tryrrthgtryrrthg Posts: 1,900
    edited January 2004
    Originally posted by gmorris
    Yes, eventually I will upgrade the speakers. My plan is to use the R30's with the Onkyo for home theater. Then, for two channel, switch the speaker wires to connect the R30's to the Parasound gear. That is only temporary.

    You won't have to switch speaker wires if your receiver has preouts. Just connect the L&R main outs of your receiver to one of the inputs on your 2 channel pre amp. When you want to watch a movie you turn the volume of your pre amp to unity gain (usually around 12 o'clock) and then use your receiver to control the volume when you're watching the movie. The two channel rig powers your front main speakers but everything else is controled by your receiver. You'll just have to calibrate everything again so your front speakers match the rest of your system. It's a good way of not sacrificing great 2 channel listening and getting the best of HT also. It's even better if your 2 channel pre-amp has an HT pass through that bypasses the volume control.
    Sony KDL-40V2500 HDTV, Rotel RSX-1067 Receiver, Sony BDP-S550 Blu-ray, Slim Devices Squeezebox, Polk RTi6, CSi3 & R15, DIY sub with Atlas 15
  • gmorrisgmorris Posts: 1,179
    edited January 2004
    Thanks for chiming in Paul. I will look up the Audio Refinement.

    Ceruleance, I already have built & am using my homemade sub. I think it is a great way to go. Since I built it, I know it is constructed with quality materials. I used 3/4" MDF for all walls, except the front baffle, which is 1-1/2" MDF. I also damped the inside with convoluted acoustic foam. A quality 170 watt RMS amp from Parts Express, and I have a sub that in my opinion would cost about $500 in a store.
    Bob Mayo, on the keyboards. Bob Mayo.
  • gmorrisgmorris Posts: 1,179
    edited January 2004
    tryrrthg, good idea.

    Unfortunatly, my Onkyo TX-SR601 doesn't have preouts, but it does have zone 2 output, as well as the standard tape loop. Maybe this will work?
    Bob Mayo, on the keyboards. Bob Mayo.
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