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Parasound 200 Pre Review (DAC, Preamp, Phono)

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of Parasound 200 Pre DAC, Preamplifier and Phono Stage. It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $895.

I absolutely love this combination of features and Parasound delivers it in a rather attractive package:

Parasound 200 Pre Review DAC phono preamplifier.jpg


The input selector can be pushed to then adjust bass, treble, and balance. On the back side you can see the rich feature set for the custom integrators where this product is targeted:

Parasound 200 Pre Review DAC back panel phono preamplifier.jpg


Lots of controls and even such features as sub output.

For my testing, I choose to test the DAC, pre-amplifier and phono stage each enough to get good understanding of the performance of said subsystem.

Parasound 200 Pre DAC Measurements
I plugged in the UBS cable and ran our usual dashboard:

Parasound 200 Pre Measurements DAC.png


The rather high distortion causes ranking to be pretty low among all DACs tested:

Best dac preamp review.png


Fortunately noise level is good:

Parasound 200 Pre DNR Measurements DAC.png


IMD test shows that the output saturates early causing that distortion:
Parasound 200 Pre Measurements IMD DAC.png


I think we know the story of the DAC. Let's move on.

Preamplifier Measurements
Here is our performance with 2 volts in/2 volts out:

Parasound 200 Pre Measurements Preamplifier.png


Sadly it is as bad as digital input. Maybe this is the problem and not the DAC. Noise performance is much better though:

Parasound 200 Pre Measurements Preamplifier SNR.png


Frequency response is flat enough:
Parasound 200 Pre Measurements frequency response Preamplifier.png


Phono Stage Measurements
Line input 1 can be selected to be either MM or MC phono preamp. I went with the former:

Parasound 200 Pre Phono Measurements.png


This is another disappointing result. Usually I like to see no distortion spikes above noise floor but we have a few here. That knocks down our overall SINAD to lower tiers:
best phono stage review.png


Frequency response is not bad but I like to see the RIAA compensation to be better and matched between the channels:

Parasound 200 Pre Phono Frequency Response Measurements.png


Finally, there is little headroom available so pops and clicks are liable to be quite a bit louder than they would be otherwise:
Parasound 200 Pre Phono headroom Measurements.png


Conclusions
Parasound has a very nice package of features in the 200 Pre. Alas, the performance targets are quite low by our standards. For its intended custom install market, it is perfectly fine. But if you aspire the best, you have to look elsewhere.

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Every year I plant a few eggplants. Never get enough to do much with it. This year I went all out and planed a bunch over heirloom varieties and more of them. Got a great harvest which we already used to make eggplant parmigiana and my favorite Chinese eggplant stir-fry. Yum! Here is what is still left to cook besides what is in the garden:
Eggplant.jpg



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Doodski

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From the Owners Manual>
The RS 232 DB9 serial port permits the 200 Pre to be controlled by home automation and control systems such as Crestron®, AMX®, Control4® , Savant® and Elan®. When the 200 Pre is connected to such a device, it can be controlled from keypads or touch-screen panels throughout your house. The RS-232 port is a 2-way signal for both control and status feedback.

How often is this interface used these days? Is this type of home automation common in new construction?
 
OP
amirm

amirm

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It gets used a ton and is much preferred to IR control. IP control is getting used as well if it is provided and available (which is not in this case).
 

DACs_Lover

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Another HIFI audiophile gear exposed by ASR.
I wonder how Stereophile / The absolute sound editors think when they write subjective product reviews nowadays.

Subjective reviews to promote dubious gears / snake oil items will be useless when the measurement by 3rd party are available for free like this.

Long Live Amir and ASR.
 
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pma

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Sadly it is as bad as digital input. Maybe this is the problem and not the DAC. Noise performance is much better though:

It is good in fact, not bad, for the reason that only low order H2 and H3 are higher than perfect but these low order harmonics of this level are inaudible under any circumstances. It only indicates to lower feedback factor. So no reason for complaints. I am missing THD vs. frequency plot and 19+20 kHz IMD. These measurements belong to basic measurements of the analog preamp and should not be omitted. For this reason, I am disappointed with the review.
 

GWolfman

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...my favorite Chinese eggplant stir-fry. Yum!
So when should I expect my dinner invitation in the mail? ;)

On topic: too bad on the performance, this could've been a solid selection (i.e., it had a lot going for it).
 
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Pdxwayne

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Another HIFI audiophile gear exposed by ASR.
I wonder how Stereophile / The absolute sound editors think when they write subjective product reviews nowadays.

Subjective reviews to promote dubious gears / snake oil items will be useless when the measurement by 3rd party are available for free like this.

Long Live Amir and ASR.
Really? What exactly is exposed?

Are you saying you can sense 92db sinad as compared to 120?
 

Koeitje

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I think this is actually not that bad, it might not break records but it will probably sound transparant while having a good unique feature set en decent pricing. Haven't seen another pre in this price range that offers double subwoofer outputs and high-pass outputs for our power amps. The MiniDSP SHD is still a lot better, but also significantly more expensive.
 

garbulky

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I was looking forward to some parasound stuff. Thanks Amirm. Any chance you have any Bryston or Pass amps waiting to try?
 

xaviescacs

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[[Cooking off-topic on eggplant.]]

The eggplant is very versatile! Here are a three more ideas (I assume with google translator anyone can get a reasonable translation):
  • Stuffed in Menorcan style: link
  • Fried with honey in various Andalusia / Mozarabic styles: link1, link2
  • Combined with other vegetables in the oven with or without anchovies in a Catalan style: link1, link2
 

Matias

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carlosmante

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Another HIFI audiophile gear exposed by ASR.
I wonder how Stereophile / The absolute sound editors think when they write subjective product reviews nowadays.

Subjective reviews to promote dubious gears / snake oil items will be useless when the measurement by 3rd party are available for free like this.

Long Live Amir and ASR.
"Another HIFI audiophile gear exposed..."?
amirm said "For its intended custom install market, it is perfectly fine."
IMHO HiFi audiophile and custom install are two different things.
 

milosz

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This product is not intended to be used by folks interested in HiFi audio, though I'm sure Parasound would be glad to sell units to such customers if they wanted to buy them.

This is intended for custom integrators, in a sense this is like the factory stereo in an Acura, but targeted to rich people buying a house. It's part of the "factory stereo" in a new house, being sold to people who will enjoy it and probably wouldn't notice - or care- if it had an extra 10 dB of SINAD. I see this thing built into some fancy cabinet in some rich dude's Master Bedroom, with some power amps and in-wall speakers, controlled by a Crestron box next to the bed.
 

tifune

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I think this is actually not that bad, it might not break records but it will probably sound transparant while having a good unique feature set en decent pricing. Haven't seen another pre in this price range that offers double subwoofer outputs and high-pass outputs for our power amps. The MiniDSP SHD is still a lot better, but also significantly more expensive.

Agreed; I think it's important to remember Parasound specs line up closely with these tests:

S/N Ratio – Line Inputs:
> 100 dB, input shorted, IHF A-weighted
> 90 dB, input shorted, unweighted


S/N Ratio – Digital Inputs:
> 100 dB, input shorted, IHF A-weighted
> 90 dB, input shorted, unweighted

Total Harmonic Distortion: (20 Hz - 20 kHz)
< 0.03 %


So, it would be one thing if we were getting grandiose claims but really Parasound themselves are claiming "good enough" plus a few useful features you don't often see for the price.
 

restorer-john

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That distortion looks like a volume IC is used.

We know there is a volume IC used as the display indicates the attenuation. Must be either a pot/AD front end or an encoder.

I see little wrong with the digital front end. It's pretty much at the limit for 16/44.1. Sending 24 bit 44.1 to the unit is hardly representative of typical data or content.

The bass roll-off is likely the (cap) coupling to the AP in any case, I wouldn't worry about it.

The MM and MC overload are dreadful however and rule this thing out for anything except an emergency RIAA stage...
 

Katji

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[[Cooking off-topic on eggplant.]]

The eggplant is very versatile! Here are a three more ideas (I assume with google translator anyone can get a reasonable translation):
  • Stuffed in Menorcan style: link
  • Fried with honey in various Andalusia / Mozarabic styles: link1, link2
  • Combined with other vegetables in the oven with or without anchovies in a Catalan style: link1, link2
Interesting... Here it is called brinjal, only, but [^links^]...berenjenas.....but I will go to the Food section with it. :) + I see that Catalan is quite different - I'm not surprised, I just never thought of it...
 

AM88

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That is a shame that group of features really is very useful.
 
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