I can't say I've heard that particular model by Parasound but have heard many models of their amps. I have also listened to the Bryston. With my speakers and associated equipment, I preferred the Bryston. I felt the Bryston had the speed, finesse and warmth that made the music more engaging. I do own some Parasound gear and respect the company but I have always found the Parasound amps to be a little sterile. I'm not sure what pre-amp you're using but the most important aspect of your decision will be how the amp matches with your preamp. I suggest you audition both if possible.
Never listened to Parasound. But I owned the 3bst for
1 1/2 yrs and it powered my martin logans pretty good. Good bass control, speed, good highs and a little laid back in the mids. 20 yr warranty to boot. thats hard to beat. true test will be as treyhoss has said audition with your equip........
20 YR warranty has to make this a no brainer.
According to John Curl, the designer of the Parasound amp in question, the HCA-3500 was "cut cornered" by the bean-counters. The parts that he spec'd for them to use were ignored and cheaper, more easily available pieces were substituted. Even with that being done, supposedly just changing two resistors will produce a completely new level of performance in these amps. I've been thinking of picking up one of these myself to play with, but i've got to get some other stuff straightened out first. As to the Bryston stuff, the 20 year warranty is AWESOME to say the least. After that, all that i can tell you is that you better listen first before buying. Sean
I am currently using a 4B-ST with Paradigm Studio 100s, highly recommended and tough to beat that warranty to boot.
I had the Parasound 3500 in my setup for about a year with the same speakers, then decided to upgrade from Paradigms to B&W's, and after the speakers (CDM 9NT's) were burned in, there was a huge difference in the sound, with better, less sterile mids and much silkier highs, less grain in the top end. I agree with Treyhoss about the sterility, but IMHO it is due to the pairing of the amp with the Paradigms and not to the amp itself. It could also have to do with the speaker wire?
Anyway, in my current setup I find the Parasound to be very transparent with no sound of its own, very accurate.
Just my 0.02.
After auditioning both the Parasound 3500 and the Bryston 4B-ST about a year ago, I bought the Bryston. It is an outstanding amp with first-class build quality, excellent power and soundstaging, and the unmatched 20-year transferrable warranty. Bryston also provides customer service that is the standard for the industry. If you decide to buy the Bryston, I suggest you contact Danny Oovlin at "Bestofdeal", who operates a clicks-and-mortar audio dealer in Santa Clara, CA. Danny offers excellent prices on Bryston equipment, and I found his service to be prompt and professional. The easiest way to reach Danny initially is by E-mail at: email@example.com. Send him a note with your phone number and he will call you back.
I have heard the Parasound and own a 4BST. IMO, the Bryston is better in every way I can think of.
I gave up a Class "A" Stereophile rated amp for a Bryston 4BST. O, I didn't mention that the amp was a tube amp rated at 125wpc. I don't regret it. The Bryston isn't just another muscle amp, but a very delicate, smooth, articulate amplifier which is very hard to beat for the money, and hard to beat period. What would I rather own? The 7BST, which is two 4BST's in mono. The only thing I don't like about the amp is the binding posts. You have to have thin spades or they won't fit. The posts are idiot proof however. It is going to be hard to short them out. Bottom line, buy them both, keep them several monoths, and sell the one which you like least. Jeff
I have listened to both in my system adn when it came down to purchasing one I went with the 3500. Although this post (mostly) disagrees with the majority of the other responses, it came down to the reproduction o fhigh frequencies. With the 4Bst the highs were just a little too shrill/electronic in comparison to the warmth of the Parasound on the upper end. As far a bass is concerned, Bryston amps have always been superb (accurate, meaty, full). This was my greatest worry about purchasing the 3500, would it be able to match the 4bst. IMO the answer is most certainly yes. The 3500 bass is accurate, ample and enjoyable. One area the 3500 simply excels is in the low volume listening, the first 15 watts are Class A. The sound at this level is clean and non-fatiguing...
As far as the Curl opinions, I have read this stuff a number of times and I believe that it is web myth. Curl cleared this up a while ago in Stereophile. I wouldn't base purchase decisions on this gossip.
Purchase price of approx. 1500$ (audioadvisor.com) makes the purchase more palatable, closer to the 3bst price. The 3500 is clearly a more enjoyable amp than the 3bst. No one can beat the 20 yr warranty of the Bryston, but the 10 year Parasound warranty is pretty good, too.
Associated equipment: B&W 801, 805s; Adcom 750 preamp, MIT cables, various sources.
Hope this helps.
Rx, i beg to differ. Mr Curl flatly stated that changing two resistors in the amp would take it several steps higher in performance. I have also been told this first-hand from his business partner, Bob Crump of CTC. Bob takes the standard Parasound 3500 and basically rebuilds / re-voices it to CTC spec. Once the 3500 has been built the way that John wanted it built in the first place, it is then called a CTC "BBQ" amp. They retail at about $5000 and are said to be quite awesome performing. I know that Bob sold a set to a gentleman in England that used these to replace a set of $40,000+ monoblocks. Sean
Sean is correct, this is not myth. And for those interested, Parasound is going to soon be producing a CTC monoblock version of the BBQ, designed by John Curl, Bob Crump and Carl Thompson, the people who make the Blowtorch preamplifier. This sounds like a phenomenal amp, with CTC given carte blanche as far as design and parts selection, and best yet, is going to be reasonably priced.
Thanks to all of those who responded to my thread.
I stand corrected. Who do you contact about the CTC upgrade...?
The HCA 3500 makes for one hell of a sub woofer amp.
You can contact Bob at the following email address:
Hope this helps. Sean