Parasound Zpre3

Well, I did it. After ,months and months of refusing to think a separate preamp could be *that* much better than using my AV receiver as a pre behind my Belles 400A amp, curiosity finally got the better of me. After nights of study and going back and forth whether to buy an older vintage pre, like a Counterpoint or similar tube based pre, I finally decided to give the Parasound ZPre3 a shot. Got it as a fully warranted open box for about $325.00. Why? Well, #1 it has an AV pass-through (my system is dual purpose), #2 it is exactly the same width as my PS Audio Digital Link III DAC, so can sit on top of it and takes up very little room, and #3, it is a Parasound, a respected brand, and ‘new’.

I am still integrating my Ifi Mini-Tube 2 tube buffer (and pre, but only use it as a buffer) in between the Parasound and Belles, as I have been very impressed with what it can do while using my AV receiver as a preamp. Thus, also getting a bit of tube sound from the Parasound and into the Belles and ‘warm things up’.

But man, all my concerns that this could be throwing money down the drain is no longer a fear after setting it up this afternoon and listening to LP’s, CD’s, steaming, and even cassette tape through it. I’m pretty impressed; it sounds great, and much better than my Yamaha AV using ‘pure direct’ (which I now realize sounds like garbage) or even the AV’s ‘room correction’ equalization to try and make up for its shortfalls as a ‘do it all’ AV receiver. This Parasound Zpre is a very nice improvement, and it seems like I’m finally hearing what my old Belles 400A amp is capable of.

Not sure why this little preamp doesn’t get more attention (practically none), which also concerned me when finally deciding on it. I looked at the Parasound NewClassic 200 pre as well, but as I have a separate DAC and phono stage, I really didn’t need that, and it seems that is the biggest difference between the Zpre and 200 for the additional cost.

Anyway, wanted to give a ‘shout out’ to this little preamp, thus far I’m pretty impressed, and I’m looking forward to listening some more. The definition of the imaging and overall soundstage it produces is very nice indeed. Very easy set-up, and as I am a very frugal ‘audiophile’ (especially during these times as a self employed person) the price was definitely right. If anyone else is ‘in my boat’, a unit to consider.

Were you the one I suggested it would be a better pre than the P5?

Glad you are happy. :)
I don’t think so Eric, I was only thinking of a tube pre when I began to get serious. But wasn’t really looking at Parasound at all. Johnny from Audio Connection was emphatic that I get a pre during a phone chat with him a little while back, telling me I had to get that AV out of my path to get the most out of my Belles and Vandy 2CE Sigs....and that’s when I started thinking about it more seriously.

I did see you mention something about it while doing Google searches trying to find any info on this little pre.

Thanks though.
that is very underrated

I am enjoying it. Have spent a good part of the day tweaking my Vandy’s, the Zpre, and the ifi Mini Tube 2, to explore all the various options and dial in the sound I (I think I) desire. A continual exploration, but I’m pretty darn happy with it....right now ;-)

I’m not sure if it is underrated as much as ignored because of its form factor. I have a feeling most think they ‘need’ to pair it with the rest of the smaller Z series, and that sure doesn’t seem the case for me. One of the reasons I considered it was to save space, as it fits on top of my DAC perfectly. But, I also wondered about its performance given its small size during that consideration, which is quite silly as I know what the even smaller ifi can do in my ‘large’ system. And was also pleasantly surprised how much more the ifi Mini Tube effects the sound with the Parasound in the path vs the AV receiver (which I bought to help ‘hide’ the receivers shortcomings). The options it provides are much more ‘pronounced’, detailed, defined, and refined with the Zpre.

I’m listening to Chailly conducting The Royal Concertgebouw; Mahler’s 4th, and it sounds wonderful.