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Parasound Halo P 5 Stereo Preamplifier Preview

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The Parasound P 5 Stereo Preamplifier

The Parasound P 5 Stereo Preamplifier

Summary

  • Product Name: Halo P 5 Stereo Preamplifier
  • Manufacturer: Parasound
  • Review Date: August 30, 2013 00:00
  • MSRP: $950
  • First Impression: Pretty Cool
  • Buy Now
  • Frequency Response: 10 Hz - 100 kHz, +0/-3 dB
  • Total Harmonic Distortion: < 0.01 %
  • Crosstalk: > 70 dB at 20 kHz
  • Input Sensitivity: 300 mv: 1 Volt Out
  • Total Gain: 10 dB
  • Maximum Output: 7 Volts
  • Input Impedance: Unbalanced: 24 kohm; Balanced: 100 kohm per leg
  • Output Impedance: Unbalanced: 100 ohm; Balanced: 470 ohm per leg
  • S/N Ratio - Line Inputs 1-5: > 108 dB, input shorted, IHF A-weighted; > 88 dB, input shorted, unweighted
  • S/N Ratio - DAC Inputs: > 108 dB, input shorted, IHF A-weighted; > 90 dB, input shorted, unweighted
  • S/N Ratio - Phono Inputs: MM > 80 dB, input shorted, IHF A-weighted; MM > 70 dB, input shorted, unweighted

                                         MC > 67 dB, input shorted, IHF A-weighted; MC > 55 dB, input shorted, unweighted

  • DC Trigger Requirements: +9 Vdc to +12 Vdc, 2 mA
  • XLR Pin Identification: 1 = Ground (Shield)     2 = Positive      3 = Negative (Return)
  • Dimensions: Width: 17-1/4" (437 mm); Depth: 13-3/4" (350 mm); Height, with feet: 4-1/8" (105 mm)
  • Height, without feet: 3-1/2" (89 mm)
  • Net Weight: 14 lb. (6.3 kg)
  • Shipping Weight: 21 lb. (9.5 kg)
  • Power Requirement: Standby: 0.5 Watts; Power On: 20 Watts; 100-250 Volts, 50-60 Hz (Automatic)

Executive Overview

Looking around at some of the high end two channel offerings available today, it's quite possible you'd think that the zenith of stereo reproduction would be represented by a bare bones analog preamplifier fronted by a fine turntable, feeding a power amplifier, which in turn powered a pair of loudspeakers. While such a system can sound quite good, the fact remains, this is 2013, not 1973. The advent of digital audio and bass management has changed the landscape of audio significantly, and for the better. Fortunately, not all manufacturers opt to stick their head in the sand, case in point Parasound with their new P 5 stereo preamplifier. Priced at $950 and boasting three digital inputs (USB, coaxial, and optical) as well as analog bass management, the P 5 appears to have what it takes to be the brains of a modern, high end two channel system. How does it stand up to a first glance by the Audioholics? Read on to find out.

Build Quality & Feature Set

As most would expect from Parasound's Halo line, the P 5 preamp is (subjectively) a very attractive piece of equipment with a black or silver brushed aluminum front panel, measuring 17-1/4"W x 13-3/4"D x 4-1/8" H with the feet. Presuming build quality carries over from its Halo siblings, overall build quality is likely to be quite good, albeit not quite in the "cost no object" category. The front panel is tastefully laid out, with a headphone output, auxiliary input to connect mobile devices, tone controls & bypass, input selector with blue LED indicators, subwoofer level adjustment, balance controls, and of course, the volume control and mute button.

Moving to the rear panel, you get a useful mix of connection options, including phono inputs (compatible with MM & MC), five unbalanced stereo analog inputs as well as one set of balanced analog inputs (the balanced connection would be substituted for the 5th unbalanced input pair), home theater bypass inputs, and the aforementioned trio of digital inputs. Outputs include a balanced and unbalanced stereo outputs for a power amplifier, a pair of unbalanced plus a single balanced subwoofer outputs, and a pair of fixed level unbalanced outputs. In addition, controls are available for bass management including adjustable & defeatable high and low pass filters.

Parasound P5 Back Panel

The back panel of the Parasound Halo P 5.

Performance

In terms of performance, as a general rule Parasound's Halo line is pretty boring inasmuch as there are rarely if ever any big flaws to point out. Frequency response is rated as 10Hz-100kHz +0/-3dB, and total harmonic distortion is specified to be <0.01%, both of which are quite good figures. Crosstalk is listed as >70dB at 20kHz, which is very good, while the signal to noise ratio is >108dB, A weighted with analog and digital inputs (this drops to >88dB and >90dB respectively, unweighted). The phono inputs, as expected, do a bit worse on SNR, with the numbers dropping to >70dB for MM and >55dB for MC, unweighted. Worth noting,the Parasound is not a fully differential design like the Emotiva XSP-1.   Employing full complimentary circuitry from input to output requires greater design complexity and cost.  On the flip side, the Emotiva lacks a DAC and hence associated digital inputs.  So depending on your priorities, you need to decide which features are most important to you.

Summary

Suffice it to say, the Parasound P 5 isn't your grandpa's preamp. While the P 5's feature set pales next to even an entry level AVR, it can handle your turntable as well as your computer, CD player, and iPod. That you can add a subwoofer to the mix with true bass management is just icing on the cake, given that many speakers can struggle being driven full range. All things considered, presuming the P 5 meets its specifications, it looks to be a very capable and attractive high end stereo preamplifier without the extreme high end price.

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About the author:

Steve Munz is a “different” addition to Audioholics’ stable of contributors in that he is neither an engineer like Gene, nor has he worked in the industry like Cliff. In fact, Steve’s day job is network administration and accounting.

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Recent Forum Posts:

ematthews posts on March 23, 2014 08:15
sharkman, post: 1024239
I can't remember, did you get the defective XPA-2 back yet? Are you still going to keep it?
Yes. They sent me a brand new gen 2 version.. its sitting on the rack unused right now.
PENG posts on March 23, 2014 07:03
ematthews, post: 1024474
What about all the music that has been downloaded from Itunes already? Can this be migrated to the App?

If I understood your question correctively, the answer should be yes. I say should be because I have not tried JR, only Foobar. Foobar does work with everything from the iTune library.
PENG posts on March 23, 2014 07:00
AcuDefTechGuy, post: 1024438
Do you guys stream lossless audio from your iPad to your processor?

I stream from my iPad to my Denon and it sounds just like CD.

I have not tried the iPad, but the iPod Touch but it sounds just like CD as well. I have yet to find time to try the iPad with a DAC. Apparently my micro USB DAC can only bypass the preamp of the iPad but not the iPhone or iPod Touch.
RichB posts on March 21, 2014 08:54
ematthews, post: 1024474
Thanks. So this is best to use for my IMac 2012 version? What about all the music that has been downloaded from Itunes already? Can this be migrated to the App?

There is nothing wrong with using your iMac if it is co-located with your DAC since USB distance is limited.

- Rich
ematthews posts on March 21, 2014 08:43
RichB, post: 1024473
Potentially:

- a Music library instantly accessible and controlled by an iPad, Pod, tablet
- Potentially improved sound quality, at the very least, equal quality

Foobar2000 is free, I would start there and see if you like it.
Apps like MonkeyMote can provide a nice iPad interface.

However, J River is easier to setup and use and has a free trial and MAC version:

JRiver Media Center software

Once setup, the only time you touch the disk in is to rip it.

- Rich
Thanks. So this is best to use for my IMac 2012 version? What about all the music that has been downloaded from Itunes already? Can this be migrated to the App?
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