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Parasound JC2 Preamplifier Review

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amirm

amirm

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With those low feedback myth applied and still gets 90db of SINAD is kind of ok to me already, some ppl just buy into those myths and at least John don’t create monsters like the audiogd no?
It only gets that at 1 kHz. As frequencies go up, non-linearities get worse:

index.php


It is 10X worse at 20 kHz than it is at 1 kHz.
 

phoenixdogfan

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The first Mark Levinson preamp was originally named the JC-2 before it was slightly altered and renamed the ML 1. It broke new ground by selling for $1000 in 1977.
 

Silly Valley

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When I drop off my Yamaha MX-1 with @amirm, I'm happy to bring along my Parasound P5 with it. Currently, pulled both out of my system to try out a Soncoz SGD1 fed straight into an Icepower 1200AS2 based amp.

The P5 is an odd bird in their line-up. It's very "not audiophile" if you take a look inside.

If Amir is willing, that would be great. I have seen the P5 innards and agree it does not look "audiophile" in the classic sense. The P6 carries forward a similar approach but also has an upgraded resistor ladder volume control and different DAC. I am really curious to see how the P5 or P6 compare to the old school design JC2. I recently spoke to Parasound and they were pretty upbeat about even the NC 200 Integrated with Pascal amps. So perhaps these newer designs are delivering some decent performance but there is precious little bench testing on any of these.
 

anmpr1

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The first Mark Levinson preamp was originally named the JC-2 before it was slightly altered and renamed the ML 1. It broke new ground by selling for $1000 in 1977.
My guess is that the Parasound customer is someone looking for an original Mark Levinson but who doesn't want to spend the dollars and have the headaches that come with a 1970s era preamplifier. Can anyone think that this thing is sold based on anything other than John's name alone? Otherwise, who would spend four large for this? No one, that's who. OK...there is probably someone who would, but if Parasound changed the name to the Schmidlapp XYZ-2000 it would be no one. It's marketing and marketing alone.

Interesting how it doesn't have a phono input (does it?) but John's claim to fame was the phono module of the MLAS JC-2. At least that's how I remember it. I guess Parasound wants you to buy John's three thousand dollar companion phono stage if you're interested--and they know you will.

This is an example of why ASR is so important in consumer space.
 

anmpr1

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Is there a use case for a simple pre-amp in this day and age without the DAC functionality, just wondering :confused:

Unless it's Phono > Preamp > Poweramp
Here's the thing--a preamp is necessary for analog sources if you want to have solid control over the signal. But especially for phono. You really need a mono switch, reverse channel switch, A, and B channel selectivity, and subsonic filter. This is because of problems with LP discs and also for cartridge set up. Most high-end preamps don't have these features, but in the days of analog almost all preamps had them. Even tone controls. I don't think this preamp even has a phono stage.

Parasound's three thousand dollar add-on JC-3 phono stage does have a mono switch, but none of the other features. At least I didn't see them on my trip to their site. Maybe they do and I over looked it.

I personally don't see any preamplification value in this thing. But I'm certainly not Parasound's customer, either.
 

Sonny1

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Yikes! Another shocking technical evaluation. I always thought these were well designed and that they would perform better than an entry level Schiit preamp. I was wrong. Again!

Great work Amirm!
 

Digital Mastering System

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To me, the belief that discrete transistor designs are superior to IC designs is just ignorant, dogmatic, and wrong. SOA ICs like the OPA1656 challenge the SNR of the AP analyzer. Discrete designs are certainly not worth extra money. Just read Sam Groner's tome on opamp distortion and you can see none of the discrete opamps work as well as SOA ICs. And IC's have gotten a lot better in the ten years after Groner's paper. 25MHz of GBW product is nice to have in an opamp and it just can't be done discretely (at least not without great effort).
I suppose product differentiation is a motivating factor in having a discrete design by a famous designer, however.
("Here's $4k, Now serve me up some of that sweet, sweet, John Curl distortion!")
 

anmpr1

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Channel matching was not great though: As you see, performance drops not at the end of the scale but somewhere in before that. You get nearly 1.25 dB when listening quietly which will cause a soundstage shift./

As someone who has always been annoyed by channel imbalance, I can say that at least this preamplifier offers differential channel gain. Judicious use should correct any channel (or room/ear) imbalance. Obviously in a four thousand dollar preamp it shouldn't be there in the first place, but so it goes.

I don't know about John's other designs (Vendetta) but the JC-2/ML-1 had them. To me the idea that an analog preamplifier should just be a a source selector and volume pot is idiotic. Yet that was the case with a lot of 'high end' designs back in the day.

ML-1 balance.jpg
 

Xulonn

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Severely off-topic, but what's wrong with that cat, you've got a cat avatar too so I'm thinking you know all things 'cat'!?

LOL - are off-topic asides like this also a type of "distortion"?

I saw an opportunity for a humorous comment after another ASR member posted about Parasound vs Schiit, so I searched for a "knock me over with a feather" meme and found the cat meme that I used. And now, just for fun, before composing this response, I did another Google image search, this time for "Parasound cat" and found this:

Cat on Parasound.jpg


But while this was the only Parasound cat image I found, I found several with cats on Schiit components, and I then searched images for "cat schiit" :rolleyes::facepalm: and found several more photos. To continue down this path of silliness and pen a non sequitur, I might ask "is there a reason that cats, with their excellent hearing, prefer Schiit over Parasound when it comes to audio components?"

(I enjoy cats, and have lived with a few over my lifetime. Unlike most dogs, cats can be mysterious and aloof in their ways and not slobbering loyalists like many dogs. Many male humans cannot handle being disobeyed and ignored by cats, and prefer the undying loyalty and submissiveness of most dogs. Dogs are nice, and I have enjoyed the dogs owned by friends and housemates - and definitely better than cats at doing things you want them to do. Is there a "working" cat breed other than the "pest control" barn cats on farms? Dogs usually need a lot of care and attention to thrive as pets. Cats? Just provide food, water and a litter box or access to the outdoors. And perhaps a nice warm piece of Schiit to relax on.)

However, cats can cause problems for audiophiles:

Cat Hair - Amplifier.jpg
 

Robbo99999

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LOL - are off-topic asides like this also a type of "distortion"?

I saw an opportunity for a humorous comment after another ASR member posted about Parasound vs Schiit, so I searched for a "knock me over with a feather" meme and found the cat meme that I used. And now, just for fun, before composing this response, I did another Google image search, this time for "Parasound cat" and found this:

View attachment 74134

But while this was the only Parasound cat image I found, I found several with cats on Schiit components, and I then searched images for "cat schiit" :rolleyes::facepalm: and found several more photos. To continue down this path of silliness and pen a non sequitur, I might ask "is there a reason that cats, with their excellent hearing, prefer Schiit over Parasound when it comes to audio components?"

(I enjoy cats, and have lived with a few over my lifetime. Unlike most dogs, cats can be mysterious and aloof in their ways and not slobbering loyalists like many dogs. Many male humans cannot handle being disobeyed and ignored by cats, and prefer the undying loyalty and submissiveness of most dogs. Dogs are nice, and I have enjoyed the dogs owned by friends and housemates - and definitely better than cats at doing things you want them to do. Is there a "working" cat breed other than the "pest control" barn cats on farms? Dogs usually need a lot of care and attention to thrive as pets. Cats? Just provide food, water and a litter box or access to the outdoors. And perhaps a nice warm piece of Schiit to relax on.)

However, cats can cause problems for audiophiles:

View attachment 74133
Ha, some good funnies in there, but I was actually really wondering if there was something physically wrong with that cat or if that was normal cat behaviour or if it was an intoxicated or something.....I was just cat curious! But I can see you might not have the answer now, I thought it might have been your cat or something....I may never know the real truth over what was wrong with that cat....well ok then. Back to the real Schiit!.......
 
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Balle Clorin

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Beware if your gain structure , not many power amps need 4v in for rated power on XLR input. 0.5-1.5 is more common I think. That will affect the real Sinad values.

I am glad I can adjust my power amp gain from 16-28db to minimize noise. More amps should have that feature
 

Vasr

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As someone who has always been annoyed by channel imbalance, I can say that at least this preamplifier offers differential channel gain. Judicious use should correct any channel (or room/ear) imbalance. Obviously in a four thousand dollar preamp it shouldn't be there in the first place, but so it goes.

With increasing use of room eq, the channel balance (even between L and R) is becoming a non-issue as it is the first step done in that process. This channel gain is a hold-over from the older generation 2 channel analog only pre-dating any DSP use. Whether the analog circuits do it better for analog sources is a different debate. I am not sure how good it is doing by ear though.
 

waynel

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On distortion front alone, its SINAD would be 88 to 90 dB, so about what JC2 did. SNR is the same as JC2 as well so it won't be any better.
Are you sure about this? The fundamental is at +7 dBV while the 2nd harmonic is at -98dBV.
 

Xulonn

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With increasing use of room eq, the channel balance (even between L and R) is becoming a non-issue as it is the first step done in that process. This channel gain is a hold-over from the older generation 2 channel analog only pre-dating any DSP use. Whether the analog circuits do it better for analog sources is a different debate. I am not sure how good it is doing by ear though.

Indeed - I recently installed an AVP with very basic DSP and menu-controlled programmable channel configuration options. I too, have no need for the mechanical controls offered by an old-fashioned stereo preamplifier. That being said, I like and respect Parasound, and knew some of the SF Bay Area audio old timers from the 50 years I lived there who wer acquaintances or friends of John Curl. However, like me (an expat living in Panama), our generation is approaching the end of ourr days. John Curl has contributed a lot to audio over the decades, but represents that older generation of old school audio. I read the transcript of the 1999 John Curl interview, and admire him for his research into the dynamic aspects of base-component performance in audio.

Like Harley Davidson, Parasound manufactures big, heavy, old-fashioned style products that perform well, but are being left in the dust as new compact and very energy efficient modern technologies take over the market. As my generation (the "Silent Generation", defined as those born between the beginning of the Great Depression and the end of WW2) disappears, and the numbers of the following generation of Baby Boomers decline, the market share for these "dinosaurs" of audio gear will likely fade slowly into obscurity.

I cannot afford - nor do I have the space for - separate stereo and AV systems, I don't want - or need - an "old-fashioned" audio preamplifier or hot and heavy Class A/AB like Parasound's offerings. I sold my last traditional preamplifier in 2005. I see no opportunity for Parasound's market share to grow, but their "old-fashioned legacy audio" products will probably survive for a while. There have been some comparisons with Schiit Audio gear in this thread, and I believe that as far as boutique audio products go, Schiit, with it's modern, compact amplifiers and preamps that complement their digital products, will thrive and grow as Parasound fades into obscurity and finally drops off the radar.

I am now 78 y/o - but blessed with good hearing for my age. Over my lifetime, I have watched the world of "high-fidelity audio" evolve from monaural vinyl and magnetic tape with point-to-point hand-wired vacuum tube electronics to microcircuit digital technology. Currently, I see three primary divisions in the world of modern of audiophiles - old fashioned two-channel stereo, multichannel audio only and/or HT, and "private audio" (headphones and earbuds for "listen loud, but don't disturb the neighbors" audio).

As many others here at ASR have stated, legacy preamplifiers are becoming irrelevant except for a small market of pre-digital source lovers - vinyl, radio, magnetic tape, etc. I share some of the benefits enjoyed by the younger generation by no longer listening to over-the-air radio or CDs or watching DVDs, but rather to streaming digital audio and video via the internet, and my collection of digital media files. Because of the possibility of noise and hum with computer-based hardware in the system, I now use balanced interconnects. I don't do wireless and Bluetooth, but many modern, younger audiophiles do. I have a very small room and only a 3.0 audio system, and recently "upgraded" from a stereo DAC/HA with volume control to a 7.1 4K AV preamp with basic DSP, because 3.0 channel units with similar features do not exist and I wanted a center channel for movie dialog enhancement - and it works!. I will soon be assembling my two Ghent/ICEpower 200ASC amps (one stereo + one mono) because the only decent 3-channel Class-D XLR amp is a $1,600 Ghent/Hypex Ncore NC400 kit - 3x the price of my Ghent/ICEpower pair. Then I will sell my big, heavy vintage Classé class AB power amplifier, and be "fully modern".
 
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amirm

amirm

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Are you sure about this? The fundamental is at +7 dBV while the 2nd harmonic is at -98dBV.
Ah, I subtracted instead of adding. :) So yes, it would be much better if noise is not worse.
 

waynel

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Ah, I subtracted instead of adding. :) So yes, it would be much better if noise is not worse.
For the Anthem STR: With the biggest harmonic 105dB down do you think the SINAD could approach 100dB or is the noise to high. It’s a little tricky for me to integrate the noise visually.
Thanks
Wayne
 
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amirm

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For the Anthem STR: With the biggest harmonic 105dB down do you think the SINAD could approach 100dB or is the noise to high. It’s a little tricky for me to integrate the noise visually.
Thanks
Wayne
I don't know the noise spec. It would have to be 10 dB better than the distortion level to have no effect. That is probably not the case.
 

waynel

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I don't know the noise spec. It would have to be 10 dB better than the distortion level to have no effect. That is probably not the case.

here’s the Anthem STR preamp specs

1595188925998.png
 
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