An all Parasound system - Good idea?


My brother- in- law visited last weekend and heard my 2 channel system for the first time.  Slightly ocd, he spent much time online and emailed me last night to say he was going to put his own system together and was planning to buy all of his components from Parasound, in part because he thinks a single brand will optimze performance and compatability, and because he is enamored by the John Curl connection. To that end, he plans to buy  a JC2 Preamp, A21 Amp and JC3+ phono amp.

I have told him focus on  speakers first, then source components. That notwithstanding, is the "All Parasound " a good idea to avoid the possibility of components not playing nice together or should he not focus on brand loyalty and shop for "best in class" components instead?

sjtm
I have told him focus on speakers first, then source components.
Focusing on speakers first and then finding an amp to properly drive them is a generally sound advice but in this case, an A21 will pretty much drive any speaker he is likely to fall in love with. He’ll be fine.

The JC2 preamp and JC3 phono stage will handle any source he will be looking at after the fact.

That notwithstanding, is the "All Parasound " a good idea to avoid the possibility of components not playing nice together or should he not focus on brand loyalty and shop for "best in class" components instead?
Sure, why not. He is guaranteed that the components will be properly matched to one another both sonically and aesthetically.

Sound like it will be an awesome system. Give him a thumbs up and enjoy his system when you go to his place.
I am a Parasound fan, so I think that's a pretty good combo. The smaller A23 also sounds really nice and warm.

I can't think of any amps in the price range which are better.

Best,

Erik
Those three pieces are very, very good. If later he moves up to the mono JC1 amps, he will have a truly stellar hi-fi system base.
If it makes him happy, then it is a good idea.
One could do a whole lot worse than John Curl's Parasound designs.
Let him enjoy his system.
I’m also a John Curl fan, and the Parrasound products he designed.

Did you look at the Halo Intergrated (John Curl design) everything but the kitchen sink comes with this, even a DSD ESS Sabre Dac and a phono stage. Not quite the power of the A21. but still very respectable.

Cheers George
The integrated, according to Parasound's website:

 http://www.parasound.com/hint.php

is NOT designed by JC. They state "Power amp circuit topology designed by legendary John Curl." Meaning, they took what JC did for other amps and adapted it.

Still a very nice Integrated!


I'm surprised more people don't use the same thought process. I use the JC-1's with the JC-2 because it just seemed to be the smart thing to do. Lol. Surprisingly they work well together. 
The most important section of the Halo Integrated, is the poweramp section, this is directly taken from the A21 23 with slightly less rail voltage which is JC design.
The rest of the integrated is a dac, phono stage, input switching and preamp gain stage is Parasound design.

Cheers George  
I have long advocated having a single manufacture provide all the components...  You can be assured that they all work to their best. 
I submit their amps are a lot better than their preamps.
ricred1 - why?
I use a JC 3, JC 2 BP, and JC 1s for stereo.  For mch and HT, front LR from a Bryston SP3 passes through the JC 2 BP, with direct feed to a JC 1 for center and to a pair of A 23s for side and rear surround.  I use an A 21 in a secondary stereo setup.  I think an all Parasound setup is a good choice. 
Generally speaking, a single brand solution can be somewhat iffy, or at least used to be.  A buddy bought an all Proton system back in the day, and the speakers had drivers from Pioneer and were really nothing special.  The cd player and tape deck were made by someone else as well as I recall and only average.  

But that said, there certainly are brands that would work well as a single brand solution, and these days good brands don't try to cheap out in this regard.   Parasound is definitely one of them, as is Mcintosh or Nad depending on the budget level.
I have all Gamut system including the cables. Audio nirvana experience.
sjtm,

I've owned their amps and the JC2 BP preamp. In my "system", to my "ears" the JC2 was one of the biggest disappointments that I've experienced. No absolutes and others my love it. My thoughts are the JC2 BP is 2 dimensional  , masks details, weak with front to back placement of instruments, and overall just a bad value to my ears. I sold it in less than two months.
Speakers first and foremost like you said. Unless budget is unlimited it is best to focus on speakers and what he likes best (got to get out there and listen). The finest source and amplification will not help if the speaker does not match the listeners desires. Speakers can vary a lot in style of presentation. I recently heard back to back the latest top of the line B&W 800 series (don’t remember which exact model) and they could not hold a candle to Wilson Sasha for me. So personal taste is important as both B&W and Wilson make good stuff. Sasha were more articulate and accurate to my ears in the all important mid range even though the B&W bass had a bit of an edge.
I don’t think Parasound makes turntables and speakers, so the idea isn't accomplish-able.
Thanks to a very fine seller, Mr. Ricred, I ended up with his JC2 pre amp.  I have owned two A21's and an A23 in addition to the JC2, so
I'm familiar with the Parasound sonic signature. I like it.  With all due respect, I think Mr. Ricred 'made his move too soon'.  After sufficient break in it's hard to find fault with this piece.  For comparison I submit my First Sound PD III vacuum tube pre amp with Emmanual Go's two most recent S upgrades.  While I prefer the FS, the JC2 is not far behind, imho.  I live with both and enjoy each immensely.  Both are dead quiet, musical, spacious, detailed, with deep and wide sound staging, and are just a joy to listen to.  The JC2 is more practical given it has a nice lightweight remote along with balanced and unbalanced inputs and outputs, and is of course solid state. The FS is tubed, no XLR connections, and no remote.  It is however a true dual mono design with an outboard power supply.  Mr. Curl did not stub his toe with the JC2, it belongs with the other well respected Parasound products he designed, again imho. 
JC2 , A21, JC3.
Would love to have all 3 of those. No freakin doubt they are optimized to work well together. For the money, you would have a very hard time finding a different combo that could beat it. Feel free to suggest one. I would be very interested in checking it out..
I have JC3+, JC2 and A21 in my setup. Recently I purchased another A21 and now I use both amps in bridge mode. 
I have JC1s (two) and the JC2 preamp. I would not recommend the JC3 phono as I prefer discrete Class A circuit topography for the phono pre-amp (as does John Curl, BTW). The JC3 uses IC op-amps not Class A discrete designs. I think you will find that JC has commented that the JC3 was a compromise he was not that happy about, but had to live with due to Parasound upper management insistence and the fact that low noise discrete JFETS were getting hard to find and expensive. I myself am using a modified Spectral DMC-10 phono stage from the mid-80's.

To counter some comments above, I find the JC-2 have very good imaging and three dimensionality. It is also very smooth and non-fatiguing. I have used it with both outputs from a Bryston BDP/BDA combo and the phono output from the Spectral DMC-10.  
I currently own the Halo integrated and love it! I always wondered what Halo separates would sound like. I say go for it. If money was no object those would be the components in my system. The A21 will provide enough current to drive any speaker. Properly matching it would be my last concern. In my case I would be more worried about the space. The Halo integrated blends seamlessly with my TV stand. A Halo separate component system would need its rack with a lot of room to breath.
markmendenhall,

I’m glad you like the JC2...like the saying goes, ’"one man’s poison is another man’s medicine." I have an all Jeff Rowland system and couldn’t be happier. Yes, a different price level, but the Jeff Rowland is significantly better and on a totally different level than Parasound.
BTW - FWIW I have a one brand system (sort of) - Marantz PM-11S3 integrated amp and SA-8004 SACD player.  Others who know far more than me praised this amp and its phono stage. Pairs beautifully with my Focal 836v speakers.  My TT is a Music Hall MMF-9.1.  Thought about the Marantz TT, but it  is actually a Clearaudio product rebranded (great TT - but the MMf-9.1 gets the job done quite nicely)..

Not to change the subject, but as I write this, I am listening to the SACD of Elton John's Tumbleweed Connection - amazing album! If you have not played it in a while or are not familiar with it, give it a spin - guaranteed to brighten your day. The magic of music is that I may keep aging but the best music manages to stay timeless.
Don't believe that if it costs more or has a more prestigious name it is necessarily better.  Different?  Certainly.  Better?  Matter of opinion.  I just invested in a Pass Labs X150.8 stereo amp, which cost significantly more than my A21 and my Bel Canto REF100M monos.  In addition to these three amps I own a pair of Jungson JA-50 80 watt class A monos.  Every one of these amps provide serious enjoyment, all at different price points and with differing technologies.  Which one is 'better'?  You tell me! I prefer the Pass in the bass region and at low level resolution and detail retrieval vs. the other amps.  But it is not as 'sexy' or 'regal' as the Jungsons.  I can and do live with all of them, and gladly. I don't believe in absolutes, nor do I believe if you spend more you necessarily find something you end up liking more.  In fact, I believe sometimes if you spend 'too much' (or 'more') you actually end up disappointed because your expectations are not met based on what you paid. 
Sorry, Bel Canto REF1000M monos. 
No absolutes in audio and I  respect everyone's opinion.  I've owned many components over the past 30 years. Nothing is as good as I have  now, based on my priorities and my ears. I could careless about the name or cost of a particular component. I have Monitor Audio speakers. They are not viewed as being high-end like Magico, Wilson, and a few other companies, but I have them anyway. My point is I never said anything about manufacturer or price determines what sounds good. I only said I didn't like the JC 2 and it's only my opinion.
Ricred, for you to describe the JC stuff as 2 dimensional, masks details(What??) and a big disappointment, there was something else at play.  It's not a case of different strokes for different folks.  Perhaps your speakers are a bad match for Halo gear, maybe you didn't break them in properly.  Your cables might be muffling things somewhat.  I know that I've cleaned all my cable connections and with deoxit and had the q-tips turn dark with carbon, and the sound improved afterward.   There had to be some other issue.

I mean, I guess one could prefer another brand, but not because the Halo stuff is 2 dimensional.


At the time I had the Parasound A21 amp and I'm describing what I heard after a couple of weeks. Initially I thought the JC 2 was fine, but after continuous listening I decided to sell it. Notice, nothing negative about the A21. 2nd point.. it's my opinion, my ears, and no one can tell me what I heard or what to think. 
My friend had 4 different amps recently: McIntosh, Absolare, Bricasti, and Rowland. The Absolare to my ears was on a different level. I prefer the Rowland over the McIntosh and Bricasti. I'm not afraid to tell my friend the Absolare to my ears was better than my Rowland. Don't want to argue about my opinion. 
Couple final thoughts: 1) Mr. Ricred is a fine seller.  I appreciate his opinion and how he treated me when purchasing his JC2. First class all the way.  2) I wish I had the time and cabbage to sample all the fine gear discussed on these forums.  I believe these days the number of good choices are so plentiful we all have an excellent opportunity to be happy pursuing this hobby.  

markmendenhall,

Thanks for the kind words. I'm a humble person and I don't think I'm the authority on Audio. I'm not rich, but I have a friend that's pretty wealthy that has allowed me to hear and own components that I couldn't on my own. I'm truly grateful for his help! 

Lets not forget that how a component sounds is in the context of the system. Maybe the cables I had at the time didn't work well with the JC2 or maybe I don't prefer the sound of the JC2. Either way my opinion in no way invalidates yours or anyone else. I'm actually happy that I sold the JC2 to someone that liked it!
Ok - so my bro-in-law and I just finished a nice bottle of red ( 2008 Col Dorcia Brunello di Montalcino) and, now well lubricated, I showed him this thread. His follow up question - " If you were going with a one brand system ( including phono amp) what would you choose?"  

If I were going with a one brand system, I would follow these steps:

1) determine budget
2) determine your musical preference(s)
3) consider room size 
4) room treatment 
5) listen to as many systems as possible
6) let your own ears decide

I don't tell people what to buy; however I do voice my opinion on what I like or don't like based on what I've actually listened to with familiar music. 
Ricred, I'm not telling you what you heard or what to think.  I'm simply saying that there was some other reason for the substandard sound.  Either way, good that you ended up with 3d imaging.
For just a taste of how nuts this can get visit higherfi2DOTcom

it can get flat out insane

all the best to you fellow audiophiles - may aural bliss find you! 

A few "one-brand" systems that I could be quite happy with:

Pass
Ayre
Parasound
Levinson
Audio Research

Now I'm only talking electronics here, speakers are a whole other can of worms but I'm an Aerial fan.  Rockport is another speaker that really impresses me.
sjtm,

I currently have a single brand system that I like.....a lot! All Rega - Rega Elicit-R Integrated Amp and Rega Saturn-R CD Player/Transport/DAC.

It's a bit different setup from the Parasound setup you originally proposed. The integrated has a built-in phono stage, saving audio rack space. The CD player has multiple Digital Inputs, including USB, optical and coax, so it can be used as a DAC for steaming audio or nearly any other digital source.

Assuming you include speakers then I'd suggest Meridian or B&O or Harmon Kardon. 
You could also go all Rega, including turntable and speakers.
all parasound gear! ??  HELL YES !!

great gear.  do it, just do it, you will thank yourself once installed and the break in process has started its countdown to amazing sound.
I work for a major audio dealer, we sell Parasound, Conrad Johson, Anthem, Unison Research, Naim and many others.

The concept of an all brand system usually doesn't sound the best, my boss has 27 years of experience, and he has shown me that to be true in many cases.

The Halo stuff is good, especially their amps. You are also better mixing in a tube preamp which sounds way better than an a solid state preamp,  CJ preamp with a Parasound amp is cost effective and sounds great, 
In my opinion Audiotroy has used different words to say the same thing that I did in an earlier post. Parasound's amps sound better than their preamps.
i love parasound have a small hca 800 II 100 wpc, great amp, however i'm retired and on limited budget. I found a vintage NAD 1600 pre that works well with the parasound driving  ohm walsh 3xo's and a set of timewindows 1a's. The cd's are played with again a vintage yamaha dvdc 996 with a adcom gda 700 modded dac, vinyl is played through a denon dp 1200 tt w/ grado green cartridge, all vintage and sounds fantastic, don't have more than 2000.00 tied up in the whole system.
You have to really like Parasound to go with an all Parasound system.  I owned an A51 and A23 and did 7.1 HT and was in heaven for 8 years. Along came 4K and I bought a new preamp and a Bryston 2.5BSST2 to run the fronts.  Long story short, after I compared the Bryston to the Parasound, I got rid of the A51 and replaced with a Bryston 9B-SST2.  The A23 is running the front heights only and it's being pulled tomorrow for as I have a Bryston 3B-SST2 on the way. Configuring a 5.1.4 Atmos setup.
I've been looking to add rears to complete my 5.1 surround sound system. I have Monitor Audio fronts and center. Most people said get Monitor Audio as rears to keep the same sound signature or rears don't make a difference. I decided to get Monitor Audio Bronze 5 and sold them immediately. I decided to buy Dynaudio Contour Compact 20's and received them yesterday. My surround sound, sounds much better. Even my wife agreed that there is a significant difference. My point is sometimes it makes since to purchase the better product over the same manufacturer.