Parasound JC-1 power amplifier

According to John Curl the Parasound JC-1 power amplifier cannot be improved, because it is already at the pinnacle of solid state circuit design. Of course I could not disagree with John, afterall he is the solid state guru...
But I would address the following (and I hope I will not offend anyone): Parasound is not an ultra high end brand like Mark Levinson, Krell, Accuphase or Boulder. It is rather a mid-fi to lower high end company where cost restrictions are very strong (because otherwise they wouldn't sell their products to the consumers). Because of this cost restrictions they simply could not build the world's best amplifier, even if John is designing some nice circuit for them. For example the parts quality is not very good, because they use cheap off the shelf parts. So in fact is the JC-1 IMHO a very compromised product. John could say that it is the best amplifier money can buy, but because of this cost restrictions it is only part of the truth.

May I ask the point of this? Have you auditioned the amp in a double blind test against some of the other amps you mention, and have audibly heard a difference? Or is this just pure speculation?
No the JC-1 is probably not the best solid state amplifier in the world. It is pretty good for the money though. It does get pretty good reviews and most reviewers agree that it gets you pretty close to the top for a real world price. I personally own a pair and have compared them in my system with many other high end brands and ended up choosing to keep the JC-1s for a couple years running now. I'll agree that Parasound doesn't get the respect as a high end company like some of the others but the JC-1s would probably cost a lot more if they had a Krell or Levinson box around them.

I think a lot of designers and companies claim their products are the best in the world. There is no such thing as the best.

Where is John Curl quoted as saying "the Parasound JC-1 power amplifier cannot be improved, because it is already at the pinnacle of solid state circuit design"?
Rydenfan: I'm only saying that an amp (in general) could not be the best sounding if the manufacturer is skimping severely on parts costs even if the circuitry design is SOTA. This is a fact whether you like it or not. I'm NOT trying to say the JC-1's are bad!

Sonofnorway: somewhere in the DIY forum someone asked if the JC-1 could be improved and John mentioned that in fact the JC-1 is already a "finished" product. He even mentioned that replacing this of that part inside the amp would not yield further improvements. Go ahead and read the discussion yourself. I'm not lying.

Steve Nugent at Empirical Audio found a way to improve his personal pair. Modding doesn't always make things better, but he has about a dozen changes in his "Turbomad", some of which John Curl seems to have suggested.
Dazzdax, don't know if you've read much about the design of the JC-1 but I don't believe you'd say "parts quality is not very good, because they use cheap off the shelf parts" if you did. Part of the reason for the quality of the sound from the JC-1 is the careful selection of parts. Perhaps not the most expensive in every case, but none selected that would compromise sonics.

And part of the cost equation is realized by Far East assembly. So far as I know, Krell, Levinson, and Boulder are still built in the US. Does that give them better sonics?

An example is the comparison of the new JC-2 line stage against the CTC Blowtorch line stage. Same design team, similar circuit, less than one-third the cost, yet I believe Mr. Curl himself suggested 90% of the performance.

So since no one claims the JC-1 is better than all other amps (so far as I know), what is the point of your post? It is what it is, ONE of the best amps available and at a reasonable price.
Mark Levinson, Krell, Accuphase, Boulder or Parasound is definetely not SOTA.
According to my opinion the only true SOTA are: FM acoustics and Rey audio, forget about all other brands.
Sounds like Kool Aide. So you are basically saying that no Parasound amp can ever best a Krell, Boulder amp, because of their marketing and pricing? As ssaid, the exact same amp would be 4x the price with a Krell stamp on it. There is also a ponit of diminshing returns. If all of the components in the Krell were "better" what does that mean? Would it sound better? Would they last longer? My Krell amp has been back to the factory twice in 5 years, while my cheapo Adcom remains strong after 14 years of use. Go figure.
No offense, but:
The parts that are inside the JC-1's are not "cheap off the shelf parts" by any stretch of the imagination.
They were carefully choosen, and carefully matched together to sound their best.
I have a friend that has the JC-1. It is a excellent sounding pair of power amps. Who can say what is best? This is totally subjective. I hate when someone says this is the best power amp, preamp, etc in the world. Even if you have heard every other power amp in the world, it is still just the opinion of the person saying it. Personally, I am much more interested in equipment that gives great sound for the dollar than I am in the "best in the world". The JC-1's are a great value.
I had a pair of JC-1's - used them on the top and bottom ends of Maggie 20.1's and on Gallo Reference 3.1's. I sold them. My experience was that the JC-1's seemed pretty flat - lifeless and uninvolving. Maybe I'm just a tube kind of guy, but my VTL 450's sounded sooo much better. If I were buying solid state, I would look elsewhere. Perhaps Plinius 102 or better, perhaps Odyssey Statos dual mono. Definitely elsewhere.
I must ask: what does "SOTA" mean..?? Excuse me, but sometimes it's not easy to follow some threads for us with English as a second or third language...
BTW, what is the current US price for pair of JC-1..?? The last I remebered was 7000USD per pair - bur dollar dropped significantly last months...
SOTA=State Of The Art
Rubinken, thanx. Interesting that googling SOTA failed help me...
Dazzdax, I don't know where you are getting your facts, but your negative criticisms of the design and parts quality are unsubstantiated and unwarranted. What ax do you have to grind with Curl and Parasound?

No claim has been made that the parts quality is without peer, but at anywhere near its price point such a claim could be made. The same can be said for its performance, which of course is subjective. I have an amplifier in house costing a multiple of the JC-1s which is a no compromise unit, each one hand built by the designer. Its performance exceeds that of the JC-1, but that should come as no surprise.
No, no, this thread is not meant to be a negative criticism towards John (Curl) or Parasound, not at all! I'm not a grim nitpicking and doomladen audio-moron (to use Romy the Cat's expression). I just want to address to some straightforward thoughts that might be not entirely true. I realize that what I said about the parts quality thing is also a bit narrow minded and therefore my apologize.


Having owned a pair of JC-1s to drive my SoundLabs, I can assure you that they are excellent amps and an incredible bargain, especially on the used market. Are they 'compromised'? Of course, but CTC picked out those 'compromised' parts so skillfully that value for money, in my opinion, goes through the roof. Is it the world's best amp? No - that distinction belongs to the Ayre MX-R :)

Mike, I would take some exception to your remarks about parts quality, but then it is built on a production line, largely automated, not by hand. As for sound, you might change your mind about the world's best amp if... :-)
I owned the JC-1s for about two years in two different systems. As far as sound/power/price ratio go they are hard to beat.
Down side is mine had to go back for repair a total of four times between them. The last was just the LED board but that was it for me. Thank God i bought them new and local.
I enjoyed the time with them. But the down time sucked. I ended up buying the Ayre V-1XE and then going with my present Krells, both of which I like more.

The word 'compromised' was in quotes for a reason. You KNOW how much respect I have for these amps.

As for the "world's best amp if" remark, well, all I can say is that it's the best I've heard in my system, and I'm extraordinarily happy with that system as it stands. Apart from one change (the TT/arm), I've been off the merry-go-round for many months now. It's not a bad feeling :)