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  1. #1

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    Default Power Switch LED Upgrade For Parasound Halo JC 1 Power Amplifier

    Introduction

    Do any of you like cool lights and cool displays on your audio gear? If so, will you publicly admit it? I will.

    I had always found the dim, anemic, pastel purplish-blue power switch LED's on my JC 1 amps to be aesthetically inappropriate for a big, burly amp. Three guests have specifically commented on the lack of brightness of the JC 1's power switch LED's. One guest, after comparing the dim lights of the JC 1's to the bright, star-like LED's on my preamp, phono preamp, SACD player, and wireless router, asked if there was something wrong with the amp's lights.

    Over time, the dim, anemic, pastel purplish-blue LED's began to distract from my musical enjoyment...sort of like an otherwise very beautiful woman with a dark mustache.

    I decided to take corrective action. But first, I contacted Parasound to ask if replacing the stock LED's with brighter ones would void the warranty or cause any other unforeseen problems. I was advised that replacing the LED would not void the warranty or cause problems, but the entire face plate would have to be dismantled and I should send the amps back to Parasound or to an authorized service center to have the LED's replaced. Sure Mac....sure. I'd be thrilled to pack up nearly 150 pounds of amplifiers and pay shipping both ways just to have the LED's switched out.

    The fellow I consulted with talked like replacing the LED's was the electronic equivalent of brain surgery. I assured the technical service rep that I had adequate experience with this sort of thing and thanked him for his counsel. I also asked about purchasing a service manual and I was told that SM's for current products are only sold to service centers.

    During the course of my research on LED alternatives, I ran across some posts on Audio Asylum that discussed a problem with the power switch LED's on some earlier JC 1's burning out prematurely. There were also some complaints about the power switch LED dimness and color.

    See?


    Figure 1. The JC 1's stock power switch LED paled into insignificance
    compared to the bright blue LED's of my preamps...or even to that of
    the red "P" LED above the name plate...or even to that of my wireless
    router.


    Cosmetic Surgery Procedure


    Figure 2. Use care when removing and replacing the 14 flathead hex screws on top and 3 flathead hex screws on each side of the faceplate. The screw heads are easily sheared off if too much force is used. By the way, replacement screws are $3.00 each plus $6.95 shipping. Be careful now.;)


    Figure 3. After the top cover and side covers are removed, three Phillips screws must be removed from an aluminum retaining bar.


    Figure 4. After the top cover, side plates, retaining bars and faceplate end caps are removed, remove 5 Phillips screws from the bottom of the faceplate.

    Use care when handling the faceplate end caps. They are made of plastic and are easily scratched. I don't know if the plastic end caps were a cost cutting measure or if they have some practical design purpose. Every other part on the outer case is either milled or stamped aluminum.

    You can use either of two methods to access the screws on the bottom of the faceplate. I had the amplifier resting on a smooth cotton sheet over a granite counter top. It was easy to slide the amp forward just enough for the front edge of the faceplate to extend over the edge of the counter top. Alternatively, you could carefully turn the amp on either side. The faceplate (on my JC 1's) fit snugly over the frame, so it did not just fall off when the last 5 screws were removed. After the bottom screws are removed, ease the amp back into the workplace position and gently slide the faceplate forward until it comes off and then slide it to your right side.

    The faceplate will not come completely off unless you disconnect the wires running to the red "P" LED and the thermal warning LED. However, it is really not necessary to disconnect those LED's in order to access the power switch LED board.

    It took 11 minutes to take the faceplate apart and access the power switch LED board and another 10 minutes to replace the LED. The most difficult part of the process was removing, transporting, and reinstalling the amps.


    Figure 5. The wires leading from the power switch LED circuit board are bound to other wires behind the frame front. A binding strap must be cut to separate the LED wire ribbon so that the board can be removed and brought forward to work on.


    Figure 6. How faint. The blue LED is just a common 5 millimeter diameter LED with an intensity of 300 mcd (millicandelas).The pastel purplish-blue light comes from mixing the light from the red and blue LED's.


    Figure 7. The stock 300 mcd LED was replaced with a bright blue LED with an intensity of 3460 mcd. This equated to a increase in light intensity 4 times greater than the stock LED. I get pure bright blue light because the red LED's are "drowned out".

    The replacement LED's are 5 mm diameter parts with a radiation angle of 15 degrees. They were purchased from LEDSupply.com and cost 88 cents each (part #L1-0-B5TH15-1).


    Figure 8. If you decide to try this at home, please don't hold the teeny, tiny LED circuit board with your fingers. An unpleasant accident could occur with the desoldering and soldering irons that close to your fingers. Get help.


    Figure 9. Post surgery, the power switch was surrounded by a bright blue halo.:)


    Figure 10. If I sit the JC 1's directly on the audio cabinet bottom, the bottom of the door frames cover the power switch and thermal overload LED's. That is not a good thing. A couple of 16" x 18" x 2" solid maple cutting boards raised the JC 1's to the required visual height.

    The cutting boards had no effect on the sound. Which is what I expected. The JC 1 has a highly damped frame and was designed to be highly resistant to sonic degradation due to internally and externally generated vibration. The cutting boards have the additional practical benefit of making the JC 1's much easier to slide in and out of my audio cabinet. By the way, those are just common kitchen cutting boards. I didn't believe that the much more expensive, audiophile approved, "isolation stand" cutting boards were warranted in this application.:)


    Figure 11. Ahhhhh....much better. Now the JC 1's can keep up with the rest of the two channel light show.:) Such Good Light.
    Last edited by DarqueKnight; 08-07-2008 at 10:00 PM.
    "Polk SDA-SRSs are hopelessly out of date both sonically and technologically... I see no value whatsoever in older SDA speakers."~Audio Asylum Member
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  2. #2

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    Personally, I've always found bright LED's distracting, even down right annoying if they are blue.

    I have several pieces that I have modified the LED's on, but to make them dimmer, and change the color to anything but blue. This includes both my power amps, both power conditioners, and even the LED on the front of my HDTV.

    Whatever floats your boat.

  3. #3

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    Awwwwwww. Awwwwwwww.
    "Polk SDA-SRSs are hopelessly out of date both sonically and technologically... I see no value whatsoever in older SDA speakers."~Audio Asylum Member
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    Gee, I didn't mean to offend you. It just seemed odd that you would find dim LED's distracting, and bright LED's less distracting. That's all.

  5. #5

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    Yeah I'm not a big fan of bright lights either. I do like the blue however, and I will be using some in the near future :)
    Ben
    Please. Please contact me a ben62670 @ yahoo.com. Make sure to include who you are, and you are from Polk so I don't delete your email. Also I am now physically unable to work on any projects. If you need help let these guys know. There are many people who will help if you let them know where you are.
    Thanks
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    Quote Originally Posted by WilliamM2 View Post
    Personally, I've always found bright LED's distracting, even down right annoying if they are blue.

    I have several pieces that I have modified the LED's on, but to make them dimmer, and change the color to anything but blue. This includes both my power amps, both power conditioners, and even the LED on the front of my HDTV.

    Whatever floats your boat.

    LOL...my gear is more like a christmas tree....but it's all on the right side wall, nothing but the little red light of the t.v. is in the front.

    Joe
    Amplifiers: 1-SAE Mark IV, 4-SAE 2400, 1-SAE 2500, 2-SAE 2600, 1-Buttkicker BKA 1000N w/2-tactile transducers. Sources: Sony BDP CX7000es, Sony CX300/CX400/CX450/CX455, SAE 8000 tuner, Akai 4000D R2R, Technics 1100A TT, Epson 8500UB with Carada 100". Speakers:Polk SDA SRS, 3.1TL, FXi5, FXi3, 2-SVS 20-29, Yamaha, SVS center sub. Power:2-Monster HTS3500, Furman M-8D & RR16 Plus. 2-SAE 4000 X-overs, SAE 5000a noise reduction, MSB Link DAC III, MSB Powerbase, Behringer 2496, Monarchy DIP 24/96.

  7. #7

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    Nice work. I find myself focusing on the LEDs of my XPAs all the time when dark. I kinda fall into a trance where my vision becomes less focused. That's when I know I'm doing more than just listening.

  8. #8

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    matching LED light color is actually somewhat noticeable to me as well. My current 2-channel gear is all silver with blue LED's.

    I'm such a loser. . .

  9. #9

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    That looks great!

    Although to be honest with you, I'm not a big fan of bright LED's either, but I can see for matching purposes.
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  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by WilliamM2 View Post
    Gee, I didn't mean to offend you. It just seemed odd that you would find dim LED's distracting, and bright LED's less distracting. That's all.
    I did not find your comments offensive.
    "Polk SDA-SRSs are hopelessly out of date both sonically and technologically... I see no value whatsoever in older SDA speakers."~Audio Asylum Member
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  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by DarqueKnight View Post
    I did not find your comments offensive.
    Cool, of course, now I am really confused by your response.

  12. #12

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    What exactly, do you find confusing?
    "Polk SDA-SRSs are hopelessly out of date both sonically and technologically... I see no value whatsoever in older SDA speakers."~Audio Asylum Member
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  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by DarqueKnight View Post
    Awwwwwww. Awwwwwwww.
    _____

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    I love it, a tremendously detailed write up for changing a LED. The only thing that could of made it better was a picture of your rig with all the lights out before you changed the LED.

    Btw, it would have bothered me also, the same way my cable box with it's silver face looks with the rest of my black faced gear. Luckily, the rest of my lights are similar in color and intensity though.

  15. #15

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    That's one of the reasons I have cable cards rather than boxes.
    "Polk SDA-SRSs are hopelessly out of date both sonically and technologically... I see no value whatsoever in older SDA speakers."~Audio Asylum Member
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  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by DarqueKnight View Post
    That's one of the reasons I have cable cards rather than boxes.
    That's not possible here. But, I believe you may have inspired me to relocated the box next week when I re-arrange the room.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by WilliamM2 View Post
    Cool, of course, now I am really confused by your response.
    The term for what I was expressing is called "mock disappointment".
    "Polk SDA-SRSs are hopelessly out of date both sonically and technologically... I see no value whatsoever in older SDA speakers."~Audio Asylum Member
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  18. #18

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    I'm a not a fan of bright LEDs and often use a sharpie to lessen the output of the them on my equipment. However, the Halo series equipment is a little different because the LED light is diffused by the power switch. You don't have the bright piercing 'flashlight' effect that you get from some equipment (my Energy Sub for instance)

    Overall, I think this is a cool upgrade.

    I'm also glad you saw past the need for anything more than kitchen grade butcher blocks to set these amps on.

  19. #19

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    Very good write up, Thnaks for sharing... More chanllage... I still see 2 red lights. what is up with that... the parasound had one red and one blue, but you just changed the less bright blue to the bight blue, it is time to change the red light too. I am just pulling your leg.. Good work!
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  20. #20

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    I think that looks great! Good job, William!
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  21. #21

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    I cover up as many lights, LED's, etc. as possible. So much so that I have only audio stuff on the power center and everything else on a different strip.

    Wes
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  22. #22

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    I too like the end look, nice job. :)

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    DarqueKnight, I also have a pair a JC-1's in which the blue LED has pretty much quit working. Over the years they got dimmer and dimmer.

    I am considering doing what you did, and replacing them myself. Spending over $80.00 each to ship them for warrenty work for a simple LED is ludicrous. I do have a question for though, if you know the answer. Why do you think these blue LED's fail in the first place? I have devices with LED's that have lasted Decades. Is it something about the Blue ones?

  24. #24

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    There is nothing about blue LED's that makes them more prone to failure. In this case, a fair number of the first batch of blue LED's received by Parasound were bad. Some were dead on arrival and some suffered from infant mortality. The early LED's failure only affected some of the earlier JC 1's.
    "Polk SDA-SRSs are hopelessly out of date both sonically and technologically... I see no value whatsoever in older SDA speakers."~Audio Asylum Member
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    Ah, okay. Thanks for the info. I have ordered a batch of the Blue LED's that you listed in your original post. I not only have two JC-1's, but also have two A-21's on order. So with all of these Halo products, I wanted to be sure I'm covered in the long term. Did I understand you that the replacements are a different blue LED (brighter) than the one's used originally?

    Also, thanks for your original post. I'm not so sure I would have tried to tackle replacing the LED's on my own without it. Plus, I would have been too concerned about voiding my warranty. So it's nice to know that I can replace these without doing that.

  26. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by DarqueKnight View Post

    Figure 6. How faint. The blue LED is just a common 5 millimeter diameter LED with an intensity of 300 mcd (millicandelas).The pastel purplish-blue light comes from mixing the light from the red and blue LED's.

    Figure 7. The stock 300 mcd LED was replaced with a bright blue LED with an intensity of 3460 mcd. This equated to a increase in light intensity 4 times greater than the stock LED. I get pure bright blue light because the red LED's are "drowned out".
    The replacements I used are much brighter than the stock LED's. If your other component's LED's are not similarly bright, this might become visually annoying over time. Of course, stock replacements are "free" from Parasound if your amps are still in warranty. It's the shipping that kills you. Some people have been able to get Parasound to just send them the replacement LED's and some have not. It just depends on who answers the phone when you call. If you are lucky, you will be able to get someone at Parasound to send what you need free of charge. If you call and get the usual party line, they will insist that you send it back to them or to a service center for the repair.
    "Polk SDA-SRSs are hopelessly out of date both sonically and technologically... I see no value whatsoever in older SDA speakers."~Audio Asylum Member
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  27. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by DarqueKnight View Post
    The replacements I used are much brighter than the stock LED's. If your other component's LED's are not similarly bright, this might become visually annoying over time. Of course, stock replacements are "free" from Parasound if your amps are still in warranty. It's the shipping that kills you. Some people have been able to get Parasound to just send them the replacement LED's and some have not. It just depends on who answers the phone when you call. If you are lucky, you will be able to get someone at Parasound to send what you need free of charge. If you call and get the usual party line, they will insist that you send it back to them or to a service center for the repair.
    Okay. That's a good idea. My Parasound dealer is actually a friend of mine. I'll see if he will call them on my behalf and get Parasound to send the correct replacements. But if worse gets to worse, I will still have the LED's that I ordered from LED Supply.

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    DarqueKnight, let me ask you one other thing. Does the little circuit board that houses the LED's and power switch just plug in with connectors on both the front and back? From the photo, I can see the connector on the front. But I cant tell if there is another connector on the back, or if there are wires directly attached, or if there is anything connected on the back at all.

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    That looks awesome. I've always been a fan of light in my equipment. I don't really find it distracting like a lot of people say...I kind of like having it there myself.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rutgar View Post
    Does the little circuit board that houses the LED's and power switch just plug in with connectors on both the front and back?
    The ribbon connector shown in Fig. 5 above is the only wiring that connects to the power switch LED circuit board. However, this connector is soldered to the board. The ribbon cable that runs back from the LED board goes to a logic controller board and it is soldered on that end as well. The LED ribbon cable is tightly bound with a cable tie to some other cables, so you will have to carefully snip that cable tie in order to have enough slack in the LED ribbon cable to bring it forward to work on.

    You could desolder the cable from the LED board, but this is really not necessary. You will need something to hold the small LED board in place while you desolder/resolder the LED's (see Fig. 8). I definitely do not recommend that you hold that tiny board in one hand while you are soldering with the other. This would require that your hand/fingers be in close proximity to hot iron.

    Some other things to remember:

    1. You must note the orientation of the anode and cathode leads on the original LED. This is easy to see just by looking at the internal arrangement of the LED.

    2. You will need a desoldering iron with suction bulb to remove the original LED. You can also use desoldering braid, but I prefer the iron.

    3. Keep track of your screws. When there are a lot of screws to remove, I like to keep track of them by laying them out on a sheet of paper in the pattern that they are arranged on the chassis.

    4. Make notes and sketches if required to remember how things fit back together.
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