The Halo is their top line of products.
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I owned a Parasound Halo P5 for a short time. I bought it based on reviews, features and price. I did not really need most of the features, I just needed a 2-channel pre-amp. I found the P5 to be underwhelming as a 2-channel pre-amp. Feature rich, but lackluster sound quality. If you need/want all of the features that are often/typically not part of a standard 2-channel pre-amp, I guess it could be a consideration. However, if you are looking to maximize sound quality, I think the P5 would hold you back.
That's just me experience. I've been around the audiophile block a few times and have owned many components and systems. Other people's opinions are just as valid as mine. But that is my opinion.....
Good luck in your search.
I believe you're a experienced audiophile, while I'm just getting my feet wet! I do know I don't like to hear background hiss or hum, so that is important to me. I don't doubt it wouldn't sound as good as other pre amps which were not a feature rich as you say, yet it might be fine at this point for me. If you don't mind saying, it would be interesting to know what pre amp did you replaced when you got the P5, and what did you replace that P5 with? Again, thanks for sharing you opinion!
I also have to echo @reubent 's sentiments. I recently had a chance to demo a Parasound A21+ with a Halo P6 preamp. I found the sound to be completely lackluster and underwhelming.
I swapped out the P6 for another pre I had laying around the house and my system came to life. The Parasound pre had no life to it.
I recommend you look elsewhere.
OP: I had a Parasound P5 a few years ago. I think back then they didn't use the word 'halo' in the model name but I could be wrong. I used it with Parasound A21 and for the price it sounded really good -- balanced from top to bottom, a bit on the warm side, could have been more resolving but that's expected at the price point. I later replaced it first with a Peachtree Nova 125, and then with a Cambridge Audio Azur 851D to serve as the DAC and preamp. In hindsight, P5 was substantially better than Peachtree and Cambridge Audio. I regretted selling it.
You can also look at it this way ... you will pay retail, or close to retail, if you get the NewClassic 200. You will always wonder if P5 would have been a better choice. Eventually, this feeling will get the better of you and you will end up selling it in the used market. Because you paid close to retail, you'll take a bigger hit. Now if you get the P5 and don't like it, your loss will be smaller if you try to sell it later on.
I say go for the P5. Emotiva should only be bought for your in-laws.
@mrgary321 - You shouldn't hear any background hiss or hum from any modern solid state pre-amp. If you're hearing hiss or hum, be certain it is being caused by the pre-amp before moving to a different model.
I replaced the P5 with a Placette Passive Pre-Amp which is a completely different type of pre-amp. In fact, it's probably 180 degrees different from the P5. It had no "features" and essentially no active electronics inside the chassis. It a very well matched resistor array made from very expensive resistors. Otherwise, it only had a switch to choose inputs and a remote volume control. Not an apples to apples comparison as they are so different in their approach. For me, the "simple is better" approach of the Placette was a breath of fresh air, literally! So much resolution, air and all the other audiophile attributes. But utterly featureless......
My experience with the P5 matches @audionoobie experience with the P6 (which I understand is based mainly on the P5).
However, @arafiq has a valid point too, and compared the P5 with more similarly priced pre-amps that had more features than the Placette.
Here's the deal: You can buy the P5 and try it in your system. If you don't love it, they are pretty popular, so you could re-sell it for little/no loss, except maybe shipping. That's exactly what I did when I purchased mine. I bought it used, at a good price, tried it to see if I could get great sound quality and features (that I didn't need at the time, but was considering integrating with my HT system). It didn't meet my standards for sound quality, so I resold it for what I paid, and moved on.
Good luck in your search. As you said you are "just getting your feet wet", I can only offer this. Remember, it IS all about the music. If music played through your system makes you happy, that's all that is important (IMHO).
Lastly, I moved on to a series of Integrated Amps due to simplicity. For the last 3 years I've been using a Rega Ilicit-R w/built-in phono pre-amp (no built-in DAC). I have the matching Rega Saturn-R CD player/transport/DAC. The combo is fantastic and simple. But it's also about $6K MSRP (about $3K used, approx. $1500 for each piece).
Wow, lots of good advice! I also came to the conclusion that buying used, I can't get too badly burned. In my searching, I've come across a P6, which is the current offering, for $950 vs $700 for the P5, new P6 retail is around $1500, so it seems like a good price. P6 supposedly offers a better DAC, better volume control, extra optical input and higher gain for MC phono over the P5. Again, thanks everyone for the input!
Well if you want analog and phono its probably not the best idea but if digital only I can reccomend the RME ADI 2 direct into power amp. Also has very transparent EQ so you can taylor to your tastes. If only digital no need for a Preamp at any price unless you want to color the sound in some way with say a tubed pre.
I know one guy on here that was using a pricey Modwright preamp and is now going RME direct. I'm sure there are other dacs that may be just as good doing this.
This dac or many others in this price range I believe are going to be way better than whats in the P6.