Parasound vs Coda


I've been doing a lot of research into moving up from my current amplifier (Parasound JC5) and have scoured comparisons of Parasound to Pass Labs and others that I've been considering. Speakers are Focal Kanta 3s, Pass XP22, Lumin U1, Denafrips Terminator Plus. The setup sounds great as is but would be interested in an amp that offers a bit more refinement in the midrange and treble. Coda from all my research could fit that goal.


One comparison I haven't found has been users who've heard Parasound and Coda amps (I'm considering the Coda 16 or possibly 8) and would love to hear about what others have heard as far as preference, tonality differences, etc. Thank you in advance!


Parasound vs. Coda is a side ways move at best. You've already said your system sounds great! You just have the itch for a new toy! Your brain is in control wanting that dopamine hit that the experience of a new amp will provide. Stick with what you have! 




Agreed sidways without big change in character.

Looks like you have a nicely balanced system.

Might consider Pass XA amp or  a good tube amp to get the character change you are looking for. 

I likke the Coda amps a lot more than I like their pres.

Gwnerally speaking, my experience with Parasound has been warm, Coda robust, and Pass lean and itchy.  No questions please.  🤣

One of the reasons I asked is if anything for a sanity check, and certainly would prefer not to make a sideways move at significant expense! I rarely get the itch but when it bites, it bites.


The two other areas outside amplifiers are to try a tube pre or add a pair of REL/Rythmic subs. There are many recommended options on the tube pre side that aren't crazy expensive and worth trying out at the very least to see how I like it.


The adventure continues.

I second the tube preamp. I run solid state amps - Pass X250.5, LSa Voyager GAN, and Ampzilla monoblocks - into tube preamps. The Aric Audio Motherlode is the best of the bunch. The Black Ice hybrid is damn good as is the Audio GD tube preamp. Switching to tube preamp seems like a bang for the buck move.

I third a tube preamp. Aric would be nice. In addition to tube rolling, you could add it in -- or not -- as desired. I very much enjoy having four components that all mix and match: Amps (tube and class A ss) and Preamps (tube and ss). A lot of variety possible all on one audio rack.

I've been trying to learn as much about the tube side as possible for a while, but have a long way to go especially since the options plus tube rolling make for nearly infinite choices. Almost headswimming as a tube noob!


Aric, Allnic, Zeto, Modwright, and others are often mentioned and recommended. I really like detail, clarity, works with all genres, but with some warmth and bloom.

I absolutely recommend going to a tube preamp. I have owned Pass preamps… I now own Audio Research… no contest in my mind… or Presto, Conrad Johnson, there are others as well. 


I had a CODA 16. I would consider it neutral with outstanding bass. It is a great company with stellar customer service. I have since moved on to McIntosh Mc 611s. I prefer more warmth and a much stronger bass/midbass response. 

@christianb5s4 "interested in an amp that offers a bit more refinement in the midrange and treble."


While I run a tube preamp when paired with my Pass/Forte’ Class A amp, and yes it sounds nice, and we also understand what your JC5 amp is, I’m wondering what you feel your XP22 / JC5 combo is missing now with midrange and treble?

i.e Is it too detailed/grainy or too soft/veiled over, or what’s going on that you don’t care for,...and now have the itch to buy another amp or another preamp. The JC5 is no slouch and neither is the XP22. Maybe there is another way to get you "there".

In other words what is "more refinement" to you - can you share a little more?





I own a Coda #8 and in my opinion it is superior to Parasound. I was making the same considerations as you. I am lucky to live 15 minutes from the factory so not only did I buy direct from Doug Dale but he took me on a tour of their small facility, and we talked for over an hour with their history with Threshold and Nelson Pass. Two huge advantages with the coda are the versions 1, 2, and 3 are all the same costs and he will do the upgrades for free minus shipping if needed. Also, these units have a 10 year warranty with 5 years being transferable. The parts quality and build on these is amazing. I’m driving some Magnepan's with them and it sounds amazing. Many people in these forums are making recommendations on this and have never heard the Coda products. Coda was rarely at audio shows, and they don't do these anymore per their owner. Legacy used to use them at shows but that's been a while. Yes, I have heard Parasound amps many times.

I had a Parasound A23 and A21+. The A21+ was rather good, though a little too warm for me and not as detailed. I got a KRELL Duo 175XD to replace it and it was much better for my tastes. Ultra smooth and more detailed, slightly less warm.

At that time, I also had a CODA #8 v1. It was not as detailed or smooth sounding as the KRELL. The smoothness is not usually something I look for but on the KRELL it was a nice sound. The CODA seemed better in every way for my taste’s vs the A21+. I liked the KRELL a little bit more than the #8.

I now have the CODA #16 to replace the #8 and KRELL. Not sure if the CODA #16 is better than the KRELL. They sound different. The KRELL is smoother, and the CODA has a bit more detail and maybe if I remember correctly a bit more bass slam.

I need to buy 1 more amp since I am down to 1 amp with 2 systems. Luckily, I am broke, so I am thinking instead of buying. I am considering the CODA #8, the upcoming Sim Audio North Collection (for neutrality), Bryston 4B3, and Mitchi S5. I am not considering the KRELL Duo XD because I do not think I would like it with 1 of my 2 speakers.

No tubes for me in either of my 2-channels systems. I use a tube amp for headphones. My 2-channel preamps are uber neutral and let the amp dictate the sound. I have a Benchmark LA4 and Holo Serene preamp. I have heard the LA4 with all the amps mentioned before. I did try a Schitt Freya+ tube preamp and it was not to my taste, nor was the CODA 07x preamp which is described as tubey.

@jeffreyw A local dealer suggested a M462 over Parasound and even above either, the 611. I ended up going JC5 used for a good deal as they didn't allow in home demos and was space limited on monoblocks at the time.


@decooney I haven't had a ton of gear in my system to compare to, but in my mind i would like a bit more shimmer / sparkle and a more pronounced upper midrange. It's definitely not veiled and the Focals shine in that department to my ears. I guess it's more so figuring out what might be the 'weak link' in the chain which based on price at least, is the amp (which doesn't necessarily mean much I know).


@willywonka Thank you for the insight, I like companies that don't need marketing or publicity yet have loyal followings for a reason. Is there anything specific you like from the Coda versus Parasound as far as performance? 


@yyzsantabarbara Krell has been one I've looked into with a lot of interest, originally the 402 and then 300XD. Personally I feel that Parasound is relatively neutral and I like that aspect, so something along that same vein but more refined / special is very much of interest hence why Coda really intrigued me. 

@yyzsantabarbara Do you know if they allow home demos? I'd be willing to put money down for any dealer willing to do that.


Covina isn't far from me either (I'm in Newport Beach).

@christianb5s4 Not sure about home demos. I have only bought some items online from them. I have gone to the store for some audio events. I definitely recommend that you make that relatively short drive up to Covina. I think the Duo XD is really great stuff. I tend to dislike tubey, warm, and smooth sound. However, the Duo XD works for me. You never get any fatigue and keep thinking that this sounds so nice.

I should really have bought it for my Magnepan LRS+ speakers, but the size of the amp is a bit big for my office. I may change my mind since I have a friend who I visit and he lives 3 miles away. If I do not have an amp the next time I visit I will visit the shop and maybe make an impulse buy.

I love the amp with a neutral preamp (my Benchmark LA4). Most will use something warmer and maybe demoed with warmer gear. I may not have bought it if I heard it that way.


@christianb5s4 I am also considering the CODA #15.5 (an upgraded model). I have a #16.

Though I am leaning towards the CODA #8 or Bryston 4B3 for my LRS+. Not in a rush.

@yyzsantabarbara There's also this one floating around, it's been re-listed a few times. CODA No. 16 Amplifier For Sale - US Audio Mart


I too am not interested in something overly 'tubey' but a touch of warmth with all the detail and refinement would be perfection. I feel the Pass XP22 is fairly neutral with a tinge of warmth so an amp with the same quality would be a great match with the Focals I think.


Fortunately for us working folks, Sunny is open on Saturdays. Maybe I can trek out this weekend.

@christianb5s4 If you do buy a used #16 be aware that there is some special setup needed to be done on the amp before it is shipped. Luckily, the guy I bought my used amp from had it checked out by CODA and they informed him how to pack for shipping. You need to open the top panel and insert provided foam inserts so that certain internals do not fall. This is to be overly cautious.

I just bought the PeachTree GAN400 amp again for $1200. I will sell it again once I have decided on what amp to get later (or maybe be happy with the GAN400 and save money). I was wrong I need an amp in my office immediately.

With the Focals I think I would go with the KRELL. For my Yamaha NS5000, which has a tinge of warmth, I went with the less warm CODA #16. That is how I hear it but a KRELL dealer I am working with insists the CODA is warmer.



@yyzsantabarbara  That's the first I've seen about the packing point, interesting! 


I'm going to Sunny and see if maybe I can put a deposit down to demo it. That would be ideal but not sure if they would. I just don't want warmth at the expense of detail really. And something that will play nice with a variety of genres!

I have the same speakers with a CODA No.8, fed by a Lyngdorf MP-40.  So not the exact same pre, but maybe helpful to know.  Before the Coda, I was running a Cherry Amp that had a better midrange, tubey magic than the Coda, but it was lost when sending in for upgrades and the owner passed around the same time.  The Coda is a more 'polite' amp than the Cherry but still very full bodied.  I still miss the Cherry for the addictive midrange magic.  I have thought about tubes for these speakers, but I think I would give up certain aspects of the sound by making that move, since the Kanta's are so needy in the mid bass and bass (power wise).

@bccarpenter I was also thinking about tubes but was wondering what my #8 would sound like with a decent tube preamp like Prima Luna EVO 400, Luxman or other somewhat high-quality tube preamp. Like yyzsantabarbara  I'm using an Audio Holo Serene KTE, now.

Coda(16) and Aric Audio(Motherlode) is a match that I have settled on for the last four years now after swapping pieces in and out at a fevered pace. I (at last)have no desire to alter this pairing as it sounds sublime in my home environment. In my experience, Pass makes great sounding amps, but their preamps are anemic and lifeless(and yes, I owned both the XP-20 and XP-30 paired with the XA60.8 and XA 160.8). Each of the XA (amazing amps) sounded far better when paired with the Motherlode Preamp. Bottom line if you take anything from my post...Pass on Pass preamps!

I've definitely seen several members with experience from Pass preamps that they aren't the most exciting or lively compared to others, granted the XP12/22/32s are universally considered improvements over the prior generation.


I think I'm going to scan for the aforementioned pre options if any pop up for a good price, worst case would break even by selling if it's not a fit. Plus most are not nearly as pricey as the amp options.

OP… “granted the XP12/22/32s are universally considered improvements over the prior generation”. Yes, exactly.

I used to own one. I would describe them as a bit thin, not natural and musical. They are good technically but lack warmth and soul. Somewhere in there I think I got it.

Ive owned both the jc5 and the coda 16 - i liked the coda better. 100 watts of class A goodness. Wonderful mids. And the thing is ULTRA quiet.

I run a Coda no8 with a Trafomatic Reference Line One tube pre and the sound is sublime.  I recently tried with the Holo Serene (which I preferred over a Benchmark LA4 with the Coda) but it didn’t have the same magic without the tubes.  I also was a bit surprised that I don’t seem to be missing much if any detail with the Trafomatic/Coda combo versus with the Serene in the chain.  

I think I like the LA4 and CODA #16 (or #8) combo the best. Though I only gave the Serene a short workout with the #16. The LA4 also works better with the #16 because it is so small, and I can hide away from the amp.

I have been thinking about of adding a tube preamp into the RCA inputs of my CODA #16, which has a nice switch on the front of the amp to flip between RCA and XLR inputs. So, 2 preamps hooked up at the same time are easy to manage.

I am going to check out the Trafomatic Reference Line One tube pre.


That's a really cool brand, will dig in on it more. So many options.


To the point on multiple inputs on the amp side, the JC5 has that too. Good idea on attaching two pres and trying both.

I found the Trafomatic on the used market after the brand was recommended to me by a dealer I trust and who I’ve purchased Innuos products from.   This is the model but I don’t believe it’s still produced:

It fit at the time between the Evolution and Lara preamps. 

Do not pass go....but go to your nearest McIntosh dealer and get the best model that you can afford and never look back !


That is very definitely true for some folks. Definitely worth a listen. But for many their sound quality is not for us. 


There's definitely something about those blue Mcintosh meters that doctors just love.


+1. I love those meters and the look. About once every five years I have gone in to buy a Mac component, sat down and listened to it for thirty seconds and gave up. The sound quality is not what I am looking for… they are like muscle cars and I like performance cars… well, if I was into cars.

I have the Coda No.8 V1. It’s much better sounding than the Parasound amps I’ve tried. The Coda sounds similar to the Pass XA25 but with way more grunt. It’s also much quieter than any Parasound amp. 

I’ve ran my No.8 with the Topping A90D and Mac C49 preamps. The latter is warmer, with greater punch, while the former is higher in resolution and more neutrally balanced. The Topping performs similarly to the Benchmark LA4 but with a hint of added warmth. One area the Coda excels in when paired with the Topping is “decay.” It produces better instrument decay than many tube amps IME. 

Suffice to say the No.8 is the best amplifier I’ve owned and likely my last. 







@helomech If you recall, what did you like more about Coda over Parasound besides being quieter? 


The Coda has greater resolution, a wider soundstage, and better instrument separation. Also, it’s more refined and has greater decay as mentioned earlier. 

FWIW, the JC5 is merely an A21+ with a slightly altered bias and better quality parts. Both the JC5 and A21+ measure worse than the original THX-rated A21, and it’s definitely audible in real world use. The newer Parasound Halo amps are a regression in performance despite the claims of the spec sheets. 



@christianb5s4 Did you get to listen to the KRELL Duo 300XD?

I have to agree with the post above regarding Parasound and CODA. Though I only had the A21+.  The A21+ is good for the price, the A23 I had was not so good, even for the price.

@helomech Thanks for the explanation, Destination Hifi is not far so I plan to go up for a demo. They're the closest Coda dealer by far.


@yyzsantabarbara I did not, I was over optimistic on how much time I had this past weekend. A weakness of mine.

I have tried Coda no 16 in my setup. The JC1+ were a much better match for my Focal speakers. They also were a better match than my X260.8 Pass monos.

Destination HiFi is about an hour from me, so it's definitely worth a drive up there if I can make time.


@reg19 If you have a minute, curious about what you liked on the JC1+ over the other reputable options you tried? 

Admittedly, I am a Coda fanboy.  I currently own Boulder 2050, Krell KAS and listen to Gryphon Solos (sold Pass XS 300 and ML 33H).  I will not part with my Coda "class A" amp.  Doug Dale has always been great to work with, like Pass, top notch customer service.




@christianb5s4 JC1+ is bigger, fuller, faster sound with better bass.
My speakers are the Maestro Utopia III. The X260.8 are sort of sufficient for Jazz. However, if you want to listen to classical, you need JC1+ with these speakers - or spend $30k more for something more substantial - perhaps Gryphon monos - whatever they cost.

I also like the low gain (23dB) option in the JC1+. I use it in low gain, high bias mode paired with a nice tube preamp.

One note with the JC1+ - they need good power cords. With Pass Labs or with McIntosh, I did not need anything more than stock cords (or, at least, the difference between stock and premium cords was minimal). With JC1+, stock cords give me a bit of a digital, 2D sound. Using AQ Hurricanes, I get a very musical, ‘organic’ presentation with a lot of depth - just the way I like it.

@reg19 Thank you for the feedback, that's really helpful. I have been on the lookout for JC1+ for sale but interestingly, haven't seen many as of late. Coda is still high on my list too.


I also agree with the power cord note, I upgraded the stock JC5 cord and it made a difference. The biggest difference however was adding multiple dedicated 20amp circuits, it was pretty stunning honestly.

Not exactly an answer to your specific comparison question, but I owned the Focal Sopra 2's for a few years and used it with Bob Carver Raven M350 tube mono blocks. These amps put out 350 WPC and to me was a very good match for the Focal's.