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Parasound P6 and A23+ into Khorns

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Hi everyone,

 

Thought a quick impression of my new system might be of interest. Over the last couple of weeks I've integrated a new P6 and an A23+ into my system. 

 

It was an instant upgrade to my phono stage, my DAC, my CD player and my horns. I am impressed. I now have a big sound stage with remarkable imaging. Voices and instruments have space around them and clarity I have not heard before. There is an airiness that is present at all volumes from a whisper to more than too loud. The sound is really remarkable. Records that I previously thought of being noticeably compressed (Eddie Harris Exodus, VJ; Bowie Low, RCA; Modern Lovers, Bezerkly) are now spread out, untangled, and not overwhelmed by the low mid range. The distinction of various sounds is very musical and still adds up to a whole The KHorns (big room, good corners) always produced a balanced range of frequencies, but the new clarity makes them really fun. 

 

Over the years, I stepped up through RF3s, Cornwalls and 15 years ago got the horns. My electronics have lagged a bit. My philosophy was a great cartridge and great speakers would make for a great system. I've run massive Fisher monos (200s, the last of the 50a series) from the Fisher 400 stereo pre, Marantz 7t into AudioSource or Teac A-l700P, and Adcom 555II into an unrestored ST-70) andI thought everything sounded good. It all really did sound good and there were enjoyable differences between each iteration.  I'll get the Fishers serviced and put them back into service this winter. It will be interesting to see what the difference is. 

 

Everything sounds better and more musical today. I did a late night blast of James Brown's "How Long" (Prisoner of Love, King)  and despite the radical dynamic range, the equipment took me on a perfect ride. Mr. Brown never sounded better. If you know the recording, you know that it would be a place to find sag, distortion and sibilance, and I heard none. Julie London (Julie, mono Liberty) sounded like she was 4 feet in front of me and her small combo just behind her. Imaging in mono? I was delighted to find it. One of the best recorded pieces of vinyl in my library of ~4k albums. 

 

I love that the DAC is fed by USB (my Mac), Opitical (Tascam Pro is now just a transport via optical) and that the pre and amp are connected with balanced interconnects). The only RCA connection is coming from my Technics SP-15. How cool is that? Aesthetically, I am very pleased. 

 

My only complaint is that the source knob is small and a little fiddly for my taste (the buttons on the remote are fine, but I wander over to the pre) and that the lights indicated what source is selected are indented and not visible when I am standing at my system. I need to bend down to see what source is selected. It could be worse and I count 4 clicks between phono and usb and that works fine now that I am used to it. The momentary muting while the source changes is really nice. There are lots of nice details like that - bypasible tone controls, a trigger between the pre and the amp (one button on and off), two different volume memories and perfect black silence at idle that I really like. I think these products are really well designed for using, looking at, and for listening. 

 

I am sorry that I cannot compare them to anything more familiar to this group, I haven't bought or listened to new gear for a long time. I don't have any cause to now. I am really satisfied with the sound in my home. 

 

The A23+ runs class A up to 3 watts or so (according to Parasound) and I don't think I exceed that by much too often. The amp feels only slightly warm to the touch after hours of listening at festive levels. 

 

The signature of my sound remains the horns but they are certainly benefitting from good clean articulate signal. 

 

Thanks for reading,

 

Ned

 

 

 

 

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Thanks for the review.  I was looking at a used P5 but reading a couple of reviews makes me think I should bite the bullet and get the P6.  My tubed Quicksilver pre is getting long in the tooth though it still works fine.

Are you using a moving coil cartridge?

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16 minutes ago, Tarheel said:

Thanks for the review.  I was looking at a used P5 but reading a couple of reviews makes me think I should bite the bullet and get the P6.  My tubed Quicksilver pre is getting long in the tooth though it still works fine.

Are you using a moving coil cartridge?

No.  MM.  I have a variety of grado carts and seem to prefer the gold with an 8mz stylus over the platinum right now. 

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Hi Tarheel,

 

I bought the P6 first and rolled some amps by it. I thought I was buying a front end for the ST-70 but the old iron didn't seem like it was keeping up with the P6. Hard to explain but it seemed to be missing snap - quickness. The $100 Teac chip amp sounded pretty good. It has low mid control but it is pretty bright through a mid horn. Also, on a song like Can You Hear Me Knocking - Sticky Fingers - when there is a big dynamic change (and is there ever!), it doesn't have the umph. That's at drinking volume. I wanted more.

 

Then I got the P23+ because it had a big transformer and a big bank of capacitors. I figured that that what the digital amp and the Dyna were missing. They're probably missing much more but that's all I know. My world changed.

 

I hope you like the pre as I do. it alone made a big difference in sound and enjoyment.  As I said on a different thread, I heard the acoustic guitar on Link Wray's Rumble. Turns out it plays through the whole song on the P6 and a budget amp.

 

ned

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The ATI 1502 should be able to keep up with the P6.  Maybe the Horn Monos too though they are more "laid back".  We shall see.

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That looks like a great amp. My high school girlfriend's folks had SAE running into JBLs hanging from the ceiling and it was the first real hifi I heard (c. 1980). Looks like fun.....

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On 8/10/2019 at 11:37 AM, ned said:

Hi everyone,

 

Thought a quick impression of my new system might be of interest. Over the last couple of weeks I've integrated a new P6 and an A23+ into my system. 

 

It was an instant upgrade to my phono stage, my DAC, my CD player and my horns. I am impressed.

 

Enjoy the music!

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On 8/10/2019 at 12:37 PM, ned said:

 

The A23+ runs class A up to 3 watts or so (according to Parasound) and I don't think I exceed that by much too often. 

 

 

I think it's actually more like 8.  The JC5 is more like 12.  

On 8/10/2019 at 12:37 PM, ned said:

 

The amp feels only slightly warm to the touch after hours of listening at festive levels. 

 

 

It stays surprisingly cool at 8 ohms stereo.  Believe it or not they are stable bridging into 4 ohms in which the amp is seeing 2 ohms at that point.  They  can get pretty toasty in that situation.  

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On 8/10/2019 at 12:37 PM, ned said:

 

The signature of my sound remains the horns but they are certainly benefitting from good clean articulate signal. 

 

 

I'm sure some people think it's BS but one thing that Parasound claims to do well is minimizing the upper order harmonics in the harmonic distortion, or however you say that.  Basically your 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th order harmonics are supposedly extremely fatiguing if you have any of it at all.  They claim to go out of their way to minimize this so it's more pleasant.  A lot of people with horns have said that their Parasound gear seems like it sounds warmer than other amps, more tube-like, less shrilly and fatiguing.  It's probably due to this aspect.  

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9 hours ago, MetropolisLakeOutfitters said:

 

I'm sure some people think it's BS but one thing that Parasound claims to do well is minimizing the upper order harmonics in the harmonic distortion, or however you say that.  Basically your 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th order harmonics are supposedly extremely fatiguing if you have any of it at all.  They claim to go out of their way to minimize this so it's more pleasant.  A lot of people with horns have said that their Parasound gear seems like it sounds warmer than other amps, more tube-like, less shrilly and fatiguing.  It's probably due to this aspect.  

Thanks Outfitter - the combo is definitely not fatiguing. I am happy listening at a pretty good volume indefinitely. I am not sure about warmth, just seems very clean and true to the source. Sounds complete at low volumes too which is great when people insist on chatting or eating meals. Last night I listened through many of the RVG Kenny Burrell offerings on iTunes and small combo jazz was really vivid. Where he plays with Jimmy Smith - guitar and organ - was great. There was great distinction in the register that those two voices share. 

 

Super fun.  

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I wonder if the P6/A23+ combo is a better sounding setup than simply buying the Halo Hint 6 integrated amp?   I think the A23+ is rated at 160 watts vs 180 watts on the Hint 6.  Personally, I'd guess that the separates would sound better and the slightly lower wattage might work better with a high sensitivity speaker.  This is pure speculation though.  Id love to hear anyone's opinion that's listened to both. 

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Same price for the integrated or separates. I think having different power supplies for the low current and the high current parts is neat. Also, there is more capacitor capacity in the separates. More flexibility of application as well. And they look good.

 

Have not heard the integrated. 

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Is there a noticeable change in the tone of the amp when it switches to AB wattage?  I think the class A operation at lower volumes sounds like a cool idea, but is it noticeably "better" sounding at lower volumes?  (4-5 watts is still fairly loud on a Khorn admittedly)

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I can't hear any identifiable change as the volume goes up. There is certainly a sweet spot around 70dbs where everything sounds great.  Notably, the Parasounds and Khorms sound clear and precise at low volumes too. I made one attempt at hearing just how loud i go without distortion and did not find the point of maximum volume. I abandoned the test because it became uncomfortable. Louder than concert level. I don't think the signal was breaking up, but who knows. Undoubtedly I try again some night when my judgement is impaired.  

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5 minutes ago, ned said:

Undoubtedly I try again some night when my judgement is impaired.  

Smart man 

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8 hours ago, Hasty said:

Is there a noticeable change in the tone of the amp when it switches to AB wattage? 

Not to my ears.   

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You may be on to something by mentioning that separate s may be the way to go... Forbid something should happen where you want to send in a unit for service... unless dealer has a loaner (doubt) you can sometimes keep going with other. Also, there is the separate upgrade (?) Option... advantage.

Enjoy...

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27 minutes ago, billybob said:

 Also, there is the separate upgrade (?) Option... advantage.

 

 

People speak very well of the A21+. It looks like a monster. 

And like the A21+,  the A23+ can be bridged into mono - then you can run two! 

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11 hours ago, Hasty said:

I wonder if the P6/A23+ combo is a better sounding setup than simply buying the Halo Hint 6 integrated amp?   I think the A23+ is rated at 160 watts vs 180 watts on the Hint 6.  Personally, I'd guess that the separates would sound better and the slightly lower wattage might work better with a high sensitivity speaker.  This is pure speculation though.  Id love to hear anyone's opinion that's listened to both. 

According to the Parasound site, the Hint is also 160 watts. Seems like plenty of overhead to me. I would guess that the separates and the integrated are essentially equivalent in terms of sound. I bought the P6 first to run through a small collection of amps that I have - I wanted the phono stage, the DAC and the optical inputs. The P6 made such a substantial difference on its own that I decided to pop for the matching amp. I am happy with how it all worked out. Listening to the Blues Breakers LP right now. Life is good.

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