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  1. #1

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    Question Parasound multichannel amps - specs vs experience

    I've read that people seem to really like the Parasound Halo amps. In looking at some used Parasounds, I've come across the recently-discontinued 5250, and in checking the specs, much lower THD is claimed for this model that the Halos. So my question is, do the more recent Halos produce a truly "better" sound (in your experience) than the 5250? If so, why are the claimed specs of lower quality?
    "I can't be wrong." - F1Nut


    Living room HT: 11.2 LSiM
    707 fronts & front wides
    703 front highs & rears
    706c center, 702 surrounds
    Onkyo 3010
    Dual Parasound Halo A51's
    Parasound HCA-1500A
    Dual SVS PB12-Plus subs
    Two 20 amp dedicated circuits
    Black Mamba II ICs
    Mitsubishi 92" DLP TV

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    4xLSi25's, 2xRTiA9's
    Sherbourn PA-7020a
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  2. #2

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    From what I have read over the years, THD is probably one of the more abused specs. Meaning that a relatively high THD number on the right gear will not negatively affect its sound, and a very low THD on an average piece of gear will not improve its sound.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueFox View Post
    From what I have read over the years, THD is probably one of the more abused specs. Meaning that a relatively high THD number on the right gear will not negatively affect its sound, and a very low THD on an average piece of gear will not improve its sound.
    But BlueFox, this is a Parasound to Parasound comparision. Shouldn't the assumption be that build quality is similar?
    "I can't be wrong." - F1Nut


    Living room HT: 11.2 LSiM
    707 fronts & front wides
    703 front highs & rears
    706c center, 702 surrounds
    Onkyo 3010
    Dual Parasound Halo A51's
    Parasound HCA-1500A
    Dual SVS PB12-Plus subs
    Two 20 amp dedicated circuits
    Black Mamba II ICs
    Mitsubishi 92" DLP TV

    BR
    4xLSi25's, 2xRTiA9's
    Sherbourn PA-7020a
    Sherbourn 7-350
    SVS PB-12

  4. #4

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    Call Parasound and ask them. And I'm not trying to be a smartass. There really great with customer questions.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kurt300 View Post
    But BlueFox, this is a Parasound to Parasound comparision. Shouldn't the assumption be that build quality is similar?
    No, it is a comparison of two product lines geared towards two different markets.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by chumlie View Post
    Call Parasound and ask them. And I'm not trying to be a smartass. There really great with customer questions.
    Chumlie, I appreciate the advice, but what I was looking for here was input based on experience, not marketing copy.
    "I can't be wrong." - F1Nut


    Living room HT: 11.2 LSiM
    707 fronts & front wides
    703 front highs & rears
    706c center, 702 surrounds
    Onkyo 3010
    Dual Parasound Halo A51's
    Parasound HCA-1500A
    Dual SVS PB12-Plus subs
    Two 20 amp dedicated circuits
    Black Mamba II ICs
    Mitsubishi 92" DLP TV

    BR
    4xLSi25's, 2xRTiA9's
    Sherbourn PA-7020a
    Sherbourn 7-350
    SVS PB-12

  7. #7

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    The owner of a hi-fi audio shop in town is a super highly experienced and knowledgeble person and is therefore a real picky bastard about his gear and his speakers. He sells a very select line of speaker and gear packages that he deems to be the best for the money that he can find. He knocks most of my ideas on amps and speakers, but I was surprised by his response when I mentioned the halo a21 amp. He doesn't sell parasound, but he said a customer had brought in the a21 and he tested it on several of his speakers and he told me he was thoroughly impressed by that amp. He doesn't sell parasound because he thinks their pre-amps are "garbage", but the halo amp apparently left a very good taste in his mouth. Until then, I had never seen him endorse anything I mentioned, so to me this was a good sign that the a21 is actually pretty damn good after all. Many other pro reviewers agree. I definitely see one of those bad boys in my future :-)
    Living Room 7.1 HT Rig:

    M70 | CS2 | M60 | Atrium5 - Surr. | SUB - Emotiva ULTRA12 + Tara Labs sub cable | Pioneer Elite VSX-52 | Parasound HCAs 1000A | Sony BDP-S790 | Belkin PureAV PF60 | MIT Exp2 Wires

    Bedroom 5.0 HT Rig (Music/Movies/Gaming) :

    LSi9 | LsiC | Lsi/fx | Marantz SR7002 | NAD T955 | Sony BDP-S360 | Belkin PureAV PF30 | AQ Blue Racer II ICs & AQ Type 4 wires | PS3

  8. #8

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    I cannot speak for the multi channel Halo's but have a A21 powering my SDA SRS's. Very nice powerful amp for the money. Sure you could find something of higher quality but you would have to double or tripple your budget to even come close. For the money its a steal.

  9. #9

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    Hi

    I have no experience with Halo's but I do have a Parasound 2125 powering My Linn's and I am very happy whit the sound quality.

    Cheers
    AVR-Onkyo709
    AMP- Parasound 2125, Adcom 585
    Mains for HT and some Music- RTi12s
    Main for Music only- Linn Keilidh or Usher V-601
    PreAmp for Music: B&K AVP-3090
    Rear- RTi8s
    Center-CSi5
    Sub-JBL L8400P 12"
    Player- Oppo BDP-103
    TT: Philips 406
    Phono Pre-Amp: BBE FJB-200X

    Bedroom rig:
    Pionner Elite VSX-30
    Onkyo CS-5VL SACD Player
    Polk Audio LS70
    Hunting for a sub...

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kurt300 View Post
    I've read that people seem to really like the Parasound Halo amps. In looking at some used Parasounds, I've come across the recently-discontinued 5250, and in checking the specs, much lower THD is claimed for this model that the Halos. So my question is, do the more recent Halos produce a truly "better" sound (in your experience) than the 5250? If so, why are the claimed specs of lower quality?
    When high end amplification was in its relative infancy, no one could explain why a high end amp with THD spec of 0.09% or 0.1% THD could sound subjectively better than a mass market amp of 0.009% THD. Specs are not everything. To this day, no one has come up with a definitive answer why certain amps sound better than others despite having worse measurements.

    In the Stereophile review of the Halo JC-1 monoblocks, they never exceeded 0.1%THD at the clipping point of 545W into 8 ohms, a point well over the manufacturer's rated output. Parasound could probably have downrated the claimed output to achieve a "better" distortion figure. At normal listening levels, THD was well below the 0.02% mark.

    I own a number of amps, and if you asked me to list THD specs of any of them, I cannot remember. All are well below the threshold of human hearing, and that is all that is important to me. I focus on sound, not specs.
    Last edited by Glen B; 10-21-2013 at 03:50 PM.
    Main system: Denon DP-59L | Audio-Technica AT33EV | Marantz Reference Series SA-11S2 | Classé CP-50, modified | Classé CA-300, modified | Classé DR-10, modified | Classé RC-1 | PSB Stratus Gold i's | DIY Balanced AC Power Conditioner with surge/spike suppression | Acoustic Zen and NeoTech cables | Oyaide and Furutech AC power connectors and receptacles | Hi-Fi Tuning Supreme fuses | Dedicated 20A IG AC line

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Glen B View Post
    To this day, no one has come up with a definitive answer why certain amps sound better than others despite having worse measurements.
    Sure they have. Just most don't know and can't see past the single distortion number. Consult some of the Nelson Pass articles for an authoritative discussion.

    But basically, the quoted number is "total harmonic distortion". Total is the key word. This measurement lumps together and adds all harmonics to one number. This leads to 2nd harmonic and 7th harmonic of a simple single tone being considered as the same level of distortion. This is stupid, to be blunt. 2nd occurs naturally in nature whereas odd don't. And higher harmonics are very easily detected by the brain as "wrong and unnatural" and not proper sounding. So where one amp may have a lot more 2nd than an amp topology that has a tiny bit of higher harmonics, the listener will find the former as nice sounding the second as grating and unnaturally sound music.

    THD would be a much more valuable tool if the harmonics had a weighting applied with much greater multiplier to the higher harmonics. Also, a multiple tone intermod test needs to be used that comes closer to the typical dense music we listen to.

    But where even this goes wrong is that the THD measurement is done with steady state single tones. Music is extremely dynamic and is nothing at all like what the THD measurement looks at. So it tells one type of story and does nothing to tell us about a much more revealing character of reproducing music....rapidly changing dynamics.

    The American way is to try and boil all performance down to a single number. MPG in a car. CPU speed in a computer. And THD in audio electronics. Much more is needed to have an understanding of what you're buying and how it's going to perform!

    CJ
    As seen on the AVS forum... "Radio Shack zip cord kicks butt."

  12. #12

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    CoolJazz, great explanation!
    Home Theater
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  13. #13

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    Thank you all for the additional input.

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    Good post Cooljazz, I might add that THD is probably the last thing to worry about. There's also different kinds of distortion too. Think about tube gear, it all adds distortion to a degree that by the numbers just can't compare to good SS gear. Yet.....most would prefer some tubes in their system. Spinning vinyl also has a lot of distortion, but most say the sound is still number one over many other formats with less distortion. How a piece sounds in practical use sometimes has nothing to do with specs at all.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kurt300 View Post
    I've read that people seem to really like the Parasound Halo amps. In looking at some used Parasounds, I've come across the recently-discontinued 5250, and in checking the specs, much lower THD is claimed for this model that the Halos. So my question is, do the more recent Halos produce a truly "better" sound (in your experience) than the 5250? If so, why are the claimed specs of lower quality?
    before i bought my nad m25 i was looking at the halo units. i made alot of calls, spoke to parasound, to different stores, etc and the halo has just premium grade parts. It does everything about 15% better than the classic line. if you have a nice home theater, it would also look way better than the classic line. The question you need to ask yourself is if you justify the typical $1000 dollar difference between amps and do you have the right speakers, cables, and room to really enjoy the halo. i feel that the only reason why i wanted the halo was because i already had owned the amp you are interested in and i wanted to try something new.
    For the money, i cant think of a better amp than the classic line. The halo series goes directly against nad master series, anthem, bryston, etc while the classic is more against rotel, adcom, emotiva, outlaw and the like.

  16. #16
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    one last thing, ANYTIME you buy a power amplifier with upwards of 150 watts per channel, harmonic distortion is irrelevant. Why? because there is simply no way you will hear distortion and if you do, then you have already fried your ears or your speakers. Besides, it is not like you are trying to power the ultra music conference in miami florida for 20 thousand people. The distortion you see is typically heard waaaay beyond the levels where you will typically be using your system at home.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by whitecamaross View Post
    one last thing, ANYTIME you buy a power amplifier with upwards of 150 watts per channel, harmonic distortion is irrelevant. Why? because there is simply no way you will hear distortion and if you do, then you have already fried your ears or your speakers. Besides, it is not like you are trying to power the ultra music conference in miami florida for 20 thousand people. The distortion you see is typically heard waaaay beyond the levels where you will typically be using your system at home.
    Gonna have to disagree with ya there pal. Distortion is certainly audible, certain harmonic distortions may actually be desirable, ask any owner of a tubed piece of gear. When it comes to amps, THD is pretty much a useless number unless it's crazy high. There's just too many other variables that go into amp building that dictate far more what it will sound like in real applications. I guess distortion is better heard, when there is none, if that makes any sense. When you listen to something that has practically no distortion in the signal, then listen to something that does, it's pretty obvious even to the casual listener. Most are just accustomed to the sound they have, so in their mind none exists, until it's removed anyway. But like I said, certain distortions may be desirable in a system while others may not, depends.

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