Parasound Halo A23 Stereo Amplifier Review

Discussion in 'Power Amps' started by purr1n, Jan 18, 2017.

  1. haris javed

    haris javed Rando

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    I am sorry, but I agree with this reviewer. I bought this a,p pretty cheap. It was 385$ + 48$ shipping USD (My unit has some cosmetic defects) . My unit is about 3 years old (silver) and used. I am not too happy with the sound. My previous setup is a 2.1 channel setup. Audio From PC > IFI micro DSD > Emotiva TA-100 > (SVS ultra bookshelf speakers, and SVS sb-12 nsd) with this setup was very musical with large sound stage

    Next I added the A23 to the mix, and things got weird - It added weird high end sparkle (not in good way), the sound stage also decreased quite a bit. The bass became tighter, but it feels that the music is no longer synced, but everything is getting played separately. I do have a Parasound HCA 3500 amp, and when I connected that unit with my speakers, the weird harshness went away, and the music was enjoyable again. (same room, listening distance, repeated the same song about 45 times)

    Back to Emotiva TA-100 VS Parasound A23, it is a conundrum. The Emo has less power 50W @ 8ohms VS 125W @ 8 ohms, but Emo is just more musical to me (so is the HCA 3500). This sounds like an Amplifier made for movies, and I think it will do well in that section. Any suggestions to improve the sound? I am not a believer in super expensive cables (went to school for EE, and ended up with a masters in applied physics) - I have a decent understanding of circuits, amps, electronics but some things discussed in audio are above my head. I just use simple blue jeans low capacitance RCA cables, and blue jeans speaker cables - my cables runs are short (RCA 1 feet, and 7feet for speaker cables)

    thank you
    Haris
     
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  2. denny

    denny Rando

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    Oddly enough I found this forum via this thread, googling about the A23. Seeing that quote from JC is.... disturbing. If I wanted a home theater I would have succumbed to a receiver. I own both the A23 and the P5. It was my first foray into 2-channel (besides a Sony receiver as a kid) and I'm quite shocked to see this as the first real criticism of the A23. Of course I think it sounds pretty good considering I have nothing better to compare it to :p I thought I was done and had a somewhat "complete" setup for a while but now you've rekindled the curiosity again, so I might have to pick something else up and compare. THANKS.

    I don't want to hijack the thread, so shoot me down if fitting, but what would you suggest as a good alternative for me to check out? I didn't have the opportunity to listen to much else, however, I was looking at the Marantz PM-8005 quite extensively before deciding on Parasound. If I did that I would certainly need a separate DAC. The Yamaha A-S801 was another option. I'm basically looking for a solid amp/preamp/integrated, combo or not, that can sit in my living room, provide a nice remote, and make my Monitor Audio Silver 2s sing even more.

    As far as what I think of the P5/A23 combo... it's rock solid in terms of build quality and functionality. There is tons of headroom powering any speaker I've given it thus far. But I do sometimes feel something is missing when I go back to my Schiit Asgard 2 / Beyerdynamic DT-880 setup on my desktop. Listening to music on that system is the pure bliss I want for my 2-channel.

    Anyways, hello, nice forum you have here. I think I'll stick around, and maybe even do a more in-depth comparison of this Parasound combo and something else.
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2017
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  3. denny

    denny Rando

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    Well, I decided to just go for it and order the Marantz PM8005. I always kept coming back to it and should have just ordered it in the first place. It's late and I can't play it too loud until tomorrow, but I can already tell that the bass is entirely on a different level. It's smoother, fuller, and there's just more of it. I can't wait to play it some more tomorrow, not to mention letting the thing burn in :D
     
  4. Priidik

    Priidik Friend

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    John Curl wouldn't put a switcher into his design, no way.
     
  5. JimOfOakCreek

    JimOfOakCreek Rando

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    [​IMG]

    I've owned a Marantz PM8004 for five years with no issues. You won't be disappointed with the PM8005, which is essentially the same amp. Having said that, I ordered a Schiit Saga to experiment with. I can bypass the Pre on the Marantz and drive its amp with the Saga. That image is the insides of a PM8004.
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2017
  6. el1x

    el1x Rando

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    @Marvey - Well you saved me, I've been looking into Parasound amps for several months now without taking the plunge. I'm glad I found this thread.
    Good food for thought.
     
  7. pippenainteasy

    pippenainteasy Rando

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    Anyone compare the Parasound A23 with the Marantz MM7025?
     
  8. Peter

    Peter Rando

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    Have a look

    judging by internal pictures this amp is full of junk.

    [​IMG]
     
  9. dmckean44

    dmckean44 In a Sherwood S6040CP relationship

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    Did you see the guy's after video?

    And I don't see anything in the pics to suggest this amp is "full of junk".
     
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  10. Peter

    Peter Rando

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    Not sure about junk or not. Let's just say it is full of "stuff".
     
  11. SoundSound

    SoundSound Rando

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    Hello everybody!:)
    Could somebody from the experts please help me understand the differences in the design/specs and SOUND between the last two generations, i.e. PM8005 vs. PM8006?\/
     
  12. iFi audio

    iFi audio MOT iFi Audio

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    Was thinking the same thing ;)
     
  13. emeliys

    emeliys Rando

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  14. Maximillion

    Maximillion Acquaintance

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    I have been thinking of upgrading my Rega Elicit-R inetgrated and was (until this thread) considering a Parasound pre/power set up P6/A23+. Think I will give it a miss. Having taken the advice of this forum on my DAC and being very pleased I did, it would be a bit foolish to ignore such a hammering review of Parasound at the 'entry' level to their Halo series. Time to re-read those Freya/Vidar reviews I think.
     
  15. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    If you are in the UK, consider a used LK100 or LK85/140. The former is a bit more syrupy and lively. The latter is tighter and more focused. Vidar if you need a lot of power (Vidar power is underrated). Saga is more transparent than Freya. Freya is more tubey and has a more dramatic effect on the soundstage pushing it further back. Freya will be noisy unless your speakers are moderately inefficient - depending upon amp gain. By all means, do not consider the cheap (<$1500) Parasound preamps either: absolutely horrid since a preamp should at least provide some level of transparency, or at least color the sound in an interesting way without committing such sins of omission.
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2018
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  16. Maximillion

    Maximillion Acquaintance

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    Yes, I am in the UK. I'll check out those Linns. Thanks.
    You answer raised a few questions for me about speaker sensitivity - lower vs higher and the tradeoffs of such. I'll do some digging and research on that.
    Regarding Freya - my Kef speakers have a sensitivity rating of 89dB I believe -(which I understand to be dB @ 1 watt of power a metre away from the speaker, right?). I don't know if that is sensitive or not - seems to be around the range of a lot of speakers I tested/auditioned before I bought the Kefs'. Certainly, I want to avoid noise.
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2018
  17. Hrodulf

    Hrodulf MOT - Sonarworks

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    89dB/W is medium sensitivity, you should be okay. As for Freya noise, you can always switch to passive preamplification, if noise becomes an issue. At 89dB/W you should be fine, especially if the specs are a bit optimistic.

    Interesting about these Linn amps. LK100 seems to be a discrete design, whilst LK85/140 use those old STK amp chips. My Genelec 8050 use them as well and there have been reports of the chips going dead for no apparent reason. They aren’t made anymore, hence it’s something to keep in mind. With that said, the sound is really good.
     
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  18. Gallic Dweller

    Gallic Dweller Acquaintance

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    So how about a modern version of the Quad 405, power or integrated, from £495 - 665, well inside $1000. They are made not far from where I used to live in West Sussex. Peter Walker got slated by the flat earthers for daring to abandon valves.

    They have an excellent reputation, indeed I was going to buy one but saw an old school Parasound Zamp, new but unused. I will give a review when I have recapped my Heybrook Sextet Mk 1V speakers.

    Maximillion lives a fair way from West Sussex which is a shame as you can phone Paul Baldwin to arrange a time for a demo.

    I havn't been back to the island for about 11 years, maybe next year, if I do I will definiely arrange a demo. The Quads never had that transistor type sound and personally I think the Japanese amps of the 80s and 90s sounded like shite which is why I got into kit building valve amps at the end of the 90s.

    I then moved onto hybrid amps like the Bada head and integrated amps, they both used 3 6SN7/6F8G preamp valves. o/put was by way of genuine Toshiba mosfets. I came to use what for me was the end game - a Tung Sol RP 6F8G feeding 2 x Russian 1578(6SN7) output valves.

    The acid test will be to see how the Parasound Zamp fed by a Stereo Coffee (latest edition) volume control/preamp compares to the Badas. The Stereo Coffee gives a real life sound,sound stage and instruments tangible, vocals reveal so much more.

    For those who don't or won't mod old gear - take a look at the Baldwin clones of the Quad 405 and forget the ss of the 80s and 90s.
     
  19. RedFuneral

    RedFuneral Rando

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    At risk of ensuring I'll never be able to move mine on, it competes well with the unrestored fire-hazard vintage receiver I have from 1971. They're both murky in their own ways. The receiver I have from 1969 however has a murk that's sweeter and almost pleasing to the ear, I can listen to it half an hour more before switch to my phone & bluetooth headphones.

    The Schiit Ragnarok wasn't designed to play with widebanders but it gets along with them, it's a system I don't mind using while I look for a small tube amp. I haven't felt the need to abscond with the old Marantz/Bose in the basement just to check if I'm to blame for the poor SQ by pairing together unideal partners. With the Parasound I did just that, and no I was not to blame. What I'm saying is that I wondered if the Parasound was broken by my mismatch but it still sounds broken with the kind of loads it was designed for.
     

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