Parasound HCA-1500 or alternative

Howdy!  I got into audio stuff several years ago, bought the things I wanted, and then left the scene for a bit.  Now I want to set up a new system, but I'm not sure what's what anymore, and I'd like some input from folks.  Specifically, I'd like to get an amplifier that sounds like the Parasound HCA-1500.  I had one for a while, and I really liked it.  Not a miracle worker, but a great, smooth sound (I'm pretty sure MOSFETs are the key here).  Not as grainy as the various Adcoms I'd used previously.  Also, it had a good bit of grunt, and powered my 200w speakers very well.  It cost me a little less than $400, used.

I'd like to get another amp, around $400, that sounds like that Parasound.  If I can find another HCA-1500, great; although they seem pretty scarce, and I wonder if they're getting a little long in the tooth.  Would anyone have a recommendation for a great-sounding, high-powered amp (probably with MOSFET transistors) that costs about $400 used?  I've heard some Rotels that sounded similar; I've also been impressed by NAD, although I wouldn't know where to start in terms of model names/numbers.  Also, should I be looking at new amps, too? Are we at the point where a new $400 amp sounds as good as a 20-year-old amp that cost $1000 new?  Thanks very much for any feedback!
you can still get a 1500 for $400-500, and they show up on the 'bay every now and then. You'll have to wait patiently, though.
I’d like to get an amplifier that sounds like the Parasound HCA-1500

I’d like to get another amp, around $400
I believe they were BJT (bi-polar) output stage, not Mosfet, for higher current delivery. May have been Mosfet for input and driver stage only.

Great amp, designed by one of the audio gods, John Curl, up there with Nelson Pass Dan Ago and others.

With $400, your not going to get much of a choice, if you want used and still JC design HCA-1000, HCA1205A, HCA2200MkII, and HCA3500.

Or the much later Parasound Halo integrated or the JC1 monoblocks, but these are far dearer.

Cheers George

The parasound hca 1500 uses a three stage gain topology,
which is common to many of parasound amps.

Cascoded Class A input stages with matched J-FET pairs
Handpicked complementary MOSFET transistors in high voltage driver stage
8 complementary pairs of 15 ampere 50 MHz output transistors

The output transistors are most definitely bi-polar and not mosfets for this amps high current output capability.

Best of luck to you,


You know what?  I knew that, once.  J-FET.  Thanks for pointing that out.  Yeah, my old HCA-1500 made me a fan of Mr. Curl and I miss it.

I'm curious whether Rotels, which have sounded similar to me, use a similar technology.  Very black background.  Adcoms always seemed a bit noisier.

I'm also curious about NAD.  I've been very impressed with some that I've heard.  Are there models in the $400-500 dollar range, used which stand out?

This is basically a budget used amp search, I guess.  I'd like to upgrade eventually, but I'll need something to tide me over for a bit.  And I'll probably have to spend $500.
the 990, 1080 rotels are also premium amps for bargain prices, if you liked the hca-1500's qualities. they used (the 990 anyway) what are essentially dnm slit foil main power supply capacitors. These were not cheap. I'd rate them in the same category of quality as the better nichicon muse power supply capacitors.

a quick mind and finger (on ebay or whatnot) can net you a 1080 or 990 for under $500. Broadly similar sound quality as the 1500.

I like that Parasound HCA series power amp as well. Finely built and still a very good power amp in 2017.  The classics never go out of style, IMO.

Happy Listening!
i own both the rotel 990 and several parasound hca and would opt for the parasound, which have more oomph and low end.
At that price,  I'd look at a Muse model 100 or a Sumo Polaris II or Polaris III....  The Muse is old, but a solid performer.  The Sumo is Mosfet and has that quality that you described. Either can be had for $300 or so and both compete well with the Parasound of that level. 

I love the old HCA series amplifiers.  I have a couple that I bought used and recapped the power supply but don't know if they really needed it even after 20 years. 

I have a 50 year old mcintosh 2300 that was starting to exhibit power supply humm. 

I think that the HCA amplifiers are a steal on the used market