I have been informed that the sonics of both the older and new Parasound A21s are very similar. I have never heard a Parasound product, let alone this model. Forgetting for this moment system synergy, how good do you rate is this amplifier? In basic sound character, is it a smooth operator with a non grainy, non fatiguing signature, that with proper systems matching will throw a 3d soundstage? Is it the entry-way to a high end, high power amplifier? Please feel free to provide any down sides to this amplifier. Last, what other amplifiers new or used in this $2,500-$3,100 price range would you consider? I will mention that I generally hold onto my amplifiers for a long while so I prefer to buy new.
I have scoured and read many prior posts on this subject, but would just like some current opinions. Thanks in advance.
It sounds like you already know the sonic characteristics. I hope by now you have listened to them. They are a great value, and very good sounding. I like them better than a lot of Pass amps. Of course, Audiogon is Pass country, but that's my opinion.
Amps I might trade them for are from Ayre or Audio Research modern integrated.
Hi Erik, I have not had a chance to hear any Parasounds. I live in Vermont and the closest dealer with them is 2 hours away. Even then, I won't take the dealers time knowing whatever I end up purchasing will be online.
My brother has an A21 and I have a pair of JC1's I use in a second system. Great amps for the money. Definitely punch above their weight. Their ability to put out the first 10 or 25 watts pure class A makes them very resolving and natural sounding. Great bass too.
In my main system I am now running PS Audio BHK 300. In fact, over the last couple of years I have become quite a convert of theirs and have many of their components. While I haven't heard them personally, they have the Stellar M700 mono blocks in your price range. I read tremendous things about them including Sterophile's coveted "A" rating. If I was shopping in your price range I would definitely give them a listen. New, there are a number of PS Audio dealers that run specials on them so they can be bought right too.
Much appreciated all, please keep your comments coming. Daeone, I was just reading the online reviews of the PS Audio Stellar m700s. I was not aware of them but you are right, I can’t remember seeing such positive reviews, especially of a class D amp, and again especially when they are referring to it as warm and tube like. All for $3K seems amazing. There aren’t any you tube demos I could find (I know you can’t tell anything sound wise but interesting to watch). Only a few Agoners seem to have the m700s as they are new. Has anyone listened to them recently, and if so can someone give an opinion how they compare to the A21 or A21+?
Again though, it was the A21 or A21+ I was thinking about, should I be looking elsewhere, such as the m700s/others?.
you can find new PS Audio Stellar amps from authorized dealers, for about 30% off. I have the S300 and it is excellent. For the price, I'm not a fan of the Parasound, but many others love them...you gotta go listen
I have been using the A21 for about 6 years. The best sounding amp I have had, but have never paid over $2.5k for any amp. Funny, I had the Odyssey amps and the A21 is much better, not to mention the Stratos failed on me....twice. John Curl designed and they sound like 2x what they cost. Also you can run balanced cables into them. The only amp I owned that was close was a McCormack DNA 125, it was sweet sounding but it was not nearly as powerful as the A21. Maybe the DNA-225.
Years ago used to own an A21 and then JC-1; just bought a used A23 for my girlfriend's system. It's just like I remember the A21 - smooth, powerful & dynamic sound with just a touch of warmth. Very, very sweet! It's got the good points of solid-state amplification with really none of the bad - certainly nothing that draws attention to itself. And I'd long since gone to tube amps in my main system. Love that little A23, but of course now I wish we'd gone for the bigger A21. Great amps.
I just visited the Parasound website and didn't realize their A52 amplifier is a 5 channel home theater amplifier. I settled for an ARCAM AVR550 instead. I wonder how much I gave up in terms of sound quality. I wanted to find something I could listen to in both 2 channel and 5.1 channel surround. I love the way the Parasound Halo integrated amplifiers sounds for the money.
I use an A21. Happy with sound. And, delighted with recent improvements to sound resulting from replacement of stock fuses with HiFi Tuning Supreme units. Speed and resolution has improved, and sound has more presence. Remarkable improvement for a modest investment. See description of change and account of experimenting with Furutech TF Audiophile fuses in my recent post to following thread: https://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/hi-fi-tunig-fuses-parasound-a21?page=2
My system: Bluesound Vault 2 --> Parasound Halo JC2BP --> A21 --> Vandersteen Quatro Wood CT. @mulveling@daeone Curious to hear your impression of comparison between A21 and JC1.
I Recently purchased the Halo A21 and A52+. Both sound wonderful. They replaced a Parasound NC 2250 and 5250 in my system. The Parasound product is very hard to beat for the money.
If if you look at the innards of both the A21 and the A21+ they appear to have very similar topology. The majors gains in the A21+ come from a much more robust Power Supply and refinement of the A21 design.
I wrote an end-user review of my impressions on the equipment if interested...
BTW... the high end is extended and pristine with my speakers. I would guess that some speaker/amp/cable combinations may adversely affect the amps ability to deliver full range sound but would think you would have to work very hard, or be extremely unlucky to come across that negatively impactful combination :-)
If it were me and i wanted that 3d hifi sound as OP describes, I would want to know what speakers, what pre amp, how big the room is, etc. That amp could be a perfect match or a horrible one, depending on speakers It does offer gobs of power and is 4ohm stable.. I would really try to steer you towards tubes, might as well really hear the magic.if thats the goal. . The poster who says its pure class A, is misinformed, its an AB amp. Its also not very smooth in the midrange for an audiophile grade amp. I'm not a fan of Jfet input and mosfet driver stage myself,
I run the A21 with a pair of Wilson Sophia 2 speakers and I have never for a moment found myself wishing for more. The raw power of the amp complements the dynamic punch of the loudspeakers very well, with a full bottom end, palpable mid-band, and crystal highs. Years ago when I bought the Parasound unit I was listening to other models at local hifi shops, like Rotel, Yamaha, Bryston (oh, how I loved the 4B SS2), and some pricey equipment from Balanced Audio Technology (...sweet stuff...). I really appreciate how effortlessly the A21 performs, letting you pick out singular instruments in detail amidst a layered, complex passage of a recording. Working with some other amplifiers I've also learned to respect the A21's apparent immunity to hum introduced by AC line noise. The transformers in my other home-theater amp sing like birds when certain household devices are running... You may buy one and later fall in love with something else, but you will still feel like you got more than you paid for!
I own the A51 and an A23. Both are solid amps, great value. I have listened to the A21 and it is even nicer. I recently purchased the m700 mono amps for a new basement system. The M700's are a good value, but not as nice as the A-21. I have returned the M700's and the PS Audio BHK 250 is arriving next week! I also swapped in my Classe CA 2300 for the M700's and there was no comparison how much better the Classe was. That is why I am getting the BHK 250. Can't wait! The m700's are smooth and warm, but lack the detail, soundstage and clarity I am looking for. Ken
batman, unfortunately my speaker brand is not one that you can say the name and people will recognize. They are called Avance speakers, a Danish brand that is sold by dealers in 10 or 11 countries but not the U.S. I picked up mine a while ago from a Canadian shop when they were selling in Canada, but no more. They are two and 1/2 way with all scanspeak drivers, not unlike the Dana's on the attached but with one less driver. About 86 dB, 6 ohms nominal. http://www.avance-audio.dk/
fastfreight, thank you for your post. I did order the A21+ a few days ago and started reading about the M700's which I just became aware of. Having you provide hands on experience with both amps was right on. I did do my share of reading and did consider Luxman integrateds, Pass and a lot of other more "Audiophile Check the Boxes" amps, but right now wanted the Parasound. I have mentioned before I am two hours from an audio shop and just won't go in and test the amplifier at the store knowing I would be buying online.
It will be delivered next week and we will see how it goes, but I am sure I will like it. To whoever mentioned tubes, my preamplifier is tube (12AX7) based and I have had, and enjoyed, tube amplifiers in the past.
Hands down best sounding equipment for the money and even outperforms systems at twice price point.
Have had other high end amps... Krell FPB series, Pass X series, Levinson 333, Parasound JC-1’s.... and A21.... all were amazing.... completely satisfied with the job Parasound did with the + series. Quieter, channel separation better, just a more liquidy/? sound that draws me in... just has to be heard to appreciate.
Hi ribd11, I received my a21+ a month ago and agree regarding how it draws you into the music. I have an older pair of speakers that are 2 1/2 way with 7" scanspeak mid/woofers made in Denmark by a company named Avance. I have not posted remarks regarding how good it sounds because I really don't have the experience with other amps as you and others. I have used Museatex-Meitner mono blocks, Dynaco ST70 series one and series two, and most recently a Nuforce STA200. I have paired the amp with a very nice sounding Copland CTA305 preamp which uses 12ax7 tubes. There is just a rightness to the way my system sounds now.
I find this discussion very interesting. I have an old Parasound H2200 which is getting a little long in the tooth and may be in need of a refresh (It sounds good to me but I reently had a hum - not through the speakers that was resolved by tightening all the screws I could reach and the right channel positive output is fussy about how the speaker lead is inserted - banana ). It seems it is the predecessor to the A21. I am thinking to upgrade. I have a tube pre-amp and a pair of Magnepan 1.7i's
From a look the A21 seems to have similar specs but a cleaner layout (not so many caps strewn about the place) From the specs, the + adds about 25% more power,20% more uF (whatever that does for you) 50% reduction in THD at full power and small increase in signal to noise ratio.
I also have an opportunity to purchase 2 A21's (not plus) for 1380 each. I could use them as mono's or use them to bi-amp my Maggies.
I don't know I could use them as monos. My HCA2200 is not rated to drive a 4ohm load in bridged mode, if I remember correctly.
I had Parasound A21 (not A21+) for few weeks attached to my system. I listened to it with Benchmark DAC3 + ATC SCM19 speakers. It came across as neutral, clean and detailed. But it sounded a bit flatter and as a result less involving/engaging. I like the sound staging and tonality of my other amp (Benchmark AHB2) much much better than A21. If you are still looking for the amp (and do not need more than 100watts), you should definitely give AHB2 a try. Its about the same price point as A21. Good luck.
@markainsworth, Search for "Club Halo Parasound" on Google and the first link will be a Parasound forum. Tons of the folks there are using the Halo amplifiers to power their Maggies. You would get tons of information on the EXACT combination of your loudspeaker and Parasound A21 combo. Good luck.
Fwiw I've been running an A21+ for about 2 months now. The right channel is almost completely dead now. After 2 weeks it would take a long time for the right channel to start playing after system power up. Now it just randomly cuts in and out. I'm attempting to return it to my dealer, I want nothing to do with this. So irritating given the price.
Here is an update on my amps; I replaced the M700's with the BHK 250. A nice upgrade, more detailed and smoother. But between the BHK preamp and BHK amp I could not deal with the noise or hiss from my efficient B&W N802's. I swapped in my Classe CA-2300 and a big improvement. But when I swapped in my AudioNet Preamp (Pre 1 G3) I was astonished at the improvement in detail and quietness. Oh yes the Parasounds...I currently own and have owned an A51, and A23 amps. Never had an issue, last for years, solid sound and great value. But not on par with the Classe or other newer amps listed here. But you can't go wrong with any of the Halo amps IMHO.
The problem with comparing amps is that there are two variables that have nothing to do with the amp alone.
1. What speakers are they driving? If it is a speaker that presents a low impedance load (4 ohms and below), then an amp with a lot of current is going to sound better than one that has less. If the speakers are an easy load then the current of the amp is much less important. 2. What are your tastes? For example, I greatly prefer the Parasound JC 1 monoblocks--and even the A 21--over the Pass Labs XA 25, even though the XA 25 sounded more transparent and probably more refined. The reason is that both Parasound amps--especially the JC 1--offered considerably more dynamic slam and toe-tapping rhythmic drive. Someone with a different set of sonic priorities could very well come to a different conclusion.
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