did you check out nad?
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As a general rule based on past amplifier production, Parasound has a tendency towards giving you a brighter and leaner presentation. Earlier B&K products were noted for being warmer and smoother, especially their first series of products, but the newer products are noticeably brighter. This does not mean that they are "bright" in general terms, only that they are not quite as "dark" as they used to be. Both Parasound and B&K preamps have always sounded quite bright to me.
Having said that, both product lines aim at the "bang for the buck" market, much where your Outlaw is coming from. As such, you can also add Adcom, Rotel, etc... to this list. While many will call this "mid-fi", i think that one has hit the point of diminishing returns at this level. This is not to say that one can't get noticeably better performance, as you obviously can, but it will "probably" cost you measurably more money if buying new. With that in mind, you might end up taking more of a lateral step than moving forward with your current plan of attack. It is possible that you can find something that is "noticeably different", but "noticeably better" might be a lot harder than you think in this price bracket.
If i were in your boat, i would call up each company that you were interested in and ask for customer or technical support. Tell them what you don't have a local dealer that carries their line and you are interested in what they have to offer. Ask them what model they think would be best for your specific needs or if they even have something that will give you what you want. This will also give you a feel for how you will be treated should you ever have a problem and have to deal with the manufacturer. Just remember to take everything into consideration and to keep that large grain of salt handy : )
Other than that and as Timo mentioned, Audio Advisor sells Parasound. They also carry Adcom, so throw that into the mix. Call them up and see what they have to say. Maybe they'll bring up some points that you had not thought of. You can always take advantage of their 30 day trial, which would be the best way to see if you really liked something. Sean
I recently upgraded my video from a B&K AVP3090 processor & Parasound 1206 amp, to a B&K Ref 30 & a Sherbourn 5 channel amp.
The REF 30 is an excellent piece for the money. It has a sophisticated bass management system that really works well, especially in rooms needing multiple bass point tweaking.
The Sherbourn 5 channel amp has 5 discrete mono-blocs in a common chassis. I had my Parasound 1206 for years, it never clipped or gave me any problems. I became sold on the mono-amp philosophy after borrowing a friends Bryston 9BST THX amp. What a detail champ! The Sherbourn 5/1500 is not in the same league for build & finish, but it retails for 1/2 as much and sounds close, with more power to boot,,,
Interesting Point Sean. Hadn't really thought about this being a "lateral" move. I suppose it's the same with HiFi as it is with my other hobby, astronomy, why do I have all the expensive hobbies?. Ain't no point in getting a different scope if you aren't going to get something with significantly better optics than what you have :) Perhaps I'll slow down and broaden my search a bit. Getting something that sounds "different" isn't my goal, getting something that sounds significantly better is. Just not sure I can afford it ;)
So lets open this up to new thinking! Any suggestions on amp, 2 or 3 channel, that are a step up from the B&k's, Parasound's, Rotel's etc.?
Thanks again for the input
I have a Parasound 2500u. I have enjoyed it thoroughly and use it for music & HT. The unit's remote is OK, a little hard to use and the backlight is a little sparse. You can get one of these units very reasonable on this site used. It does not appear warm for music but neither does it appear bright. I have heard that the Anthem avm v.2 is spectacular and have heard many recommend it. Check out web at audioreview.com for evaluations under Community Highlights. A lot of course depends on your speakers. I have Merlins bought used off of this site. Prior I had Martin Logans sl3's. Both while different in soundstage, still re-iterate the non-warm but not too bright comments.
The new parasound is Halo. I don't know much about it.
Here is a dealer I have used for Parasound who also sells B&K and is very reasonble. VERY. Tell him I Robert from San Antonio sent you. Although one should always support their local dealer when possible.
Steve @ Soundvideo.com