You have assembled a great system. Though I'm not familiar with your speakers I have spent quite a few hours listening to the Parasound combo you have. Anytime I've listened to them I've been very impressed with the treble. It has excellent detail and resolution and the decay of notes is the best I've heard this side of tubes.
I use the WireWorld Oasis SC along with the WireWorld Equinox IC. If I had the gear you have I think I might try the WireWorld Equinox or Eclipse IC before I considered any new components.
I think it would very interesting (in a good way) to hear a WireWorld combo with your Parasound gear.
I've received other communication suggesting it's not the Parasound stuff. When I compared using the same tracks, it seemed to me that a Nad C356BEE had a little more high frequency detail, though it was not as refined as the Halo gear.
I'll try swapping in a different cd player tonight. I don't have much in the way of speaker cable options, but 14 gauge fine strand copper right now.
Yes, listening to what another CD player sounds like it would be good idea. Does the 356BEE sound soft playing CDs direct to the P7? Makes me wonder if the iPhone/iPod doc passing digital to the 356BEE might be causing the soft top end.
I still think it would be very interesting replacing the Morrow interconnect with WireWorld. Your Oasis 7 speaker cable is excellent.
The reason the Parasound is softer on top isn't because it has less high end!
Its because it has less distortion! John Curl (the designer) is well aware that the higher ordered harmonics in trace amounts can cause brightness, since the ear converts distortions of all types into tonality.
This is why tubes tend to sound smooth BTW. They don't make as much higher ordered harmonic distortion.
If I were you I would hang on to the amp- if you want more high end I would look into cables and possibly a preamp with tone controls, or do something with the room to make it more lively (the room is 50% of any system's sound so this might be the place to start).
Just to be clear, the C356BEE is an integrated amp and the Nad C565BEE was their top CD player. With an ipod doc I can connect my phone and pass digital to the C565BEE as it has digital inputs and also functions as a DAC. Either way, thank you both for your thoughts, perhaps I do have to do some more experimenting.
I agree with atmosphere's comments, but your A 21 would pair well with a Parasound JC 2 preamp. The used market seems to be around $2K. The JC 2 has been characterized as approaching an ideal strait wire with amplification.
If you want to integrate it into an HT setup, Parasound can add a BP capability so any channel can be unity gain. The cost of the mod is reasonable.
Disclosure: I use a JC 2 BP with a pair of JC 1 monoblocks.
The Parasound Halo A21 is a fine amp, it would be a mistake to swap it for an integrated. The preamp is largely responsible for the timbre and sonic signature of the system.
There are many options for a preamp with more dynamics and extended range.
I think the JC2 would be out of my budget at this point. I’d like to keep the amp for sure unless a really fine integrated is an option. I listened to the P7 again after I started this thread, and it really does sound pretty nice. I’m just wondering is there a stand alone 2 channel pre that would supersede it for say under 1100 new or used.
As for a replacement preamp, I’m kind of scratching my head for something that has at least a few inputs and a phono stage. I don't need to integrate it into a theater set up, I have a separate system for that.
As a current P7 owner, I have some thoughts.
I have had the chance to listen to the P7 vs. the Mytek Brooklyn DAC wired directly to my amps. The Brooklyn has it's own analog volume control. So I've been able to directly compare how the P7 changes the sound.
By comparison, I don't think the P7 is tonally at fault, so much as slightly compressed, and lacking in imaging when compared to the very best tube preamps. It doesn't lack extension so much as effortlessness.
Still, it's a trade-off I make for being able to have a single system for music and home theater. That and the fact I'm not made of money!! :)
If you have a smaller budget, you might consider getting an older tube preamp and having it refurbished. But the question is whether you would need tone controls or not.
You've not really talked about your room! I know its carpeted; what sort of furniture is there? What are the walls and ceiling like? If the room itself is really dead, you may not be able to get more highs (properly) without a tone control or the like. I personally think its a Bad Idea to equalize the room; in every case I have seen where room correction was employed the room correction device itself proved to have its own signature.
So I find it easier in many cases to work with the room itself.
The room has the usual wallboard walls and ceiling. I didn't mention that aside of the 17x18 ft room, there is an offshoot, an "L" that is 10 x 16 with 8 ft ceiling. the whole space is kind of a work out/multi use/storage area. The main part has only furniture around the edges; cd rack, big bluray/LP rack, computer desk, treadmill. But I'm just trying for a little more air in the sound. There is nothing between the listening chair and the system, about 9-10 feet.
Perhaps as several have said, the P7 or A21 are not at fault. I'll try the Pioneer cd player and maybe swap out the cables for some cheap fine strand copper. I was going to sell the P7, but it looks like I'd need to either increase the budget by a fair bit or go with tubes. And I'm not interested in tubes either.
The main part has only furniture around the edges; cd rack, big
bluray/LP rack, computer desk, treadmill. But I'm just trying for a
little more air in the sound. There is nothing between the listening
chair and the system, about 9-10 feet.
Have you tried adjusting your speaker placement to improve imaging and top-end sonics? For example, if you have an equipment console between the speakers, move the speakers forward into the room away from the front wall and console. Don't place speakers next to any furniture.
Try firing speakers straight ahead or toe-in at an angle to face your listening position. Try moving them wider apart to create more "air" around the speakers.
Also make sure that the tweeters are pretty close to your height at the listening position.
Thank you, yes, I've experimented with speaker placement extensively, and have stands that have the tweeters at ear level. I didn't get a chance to change out my cd player last night, but will do so today and also cables.
Save your money and take your system to a higher level. I own 2 A21 amps and a while back I went to a passive preamp (basically a stepped attenuator). I purchased a Goldpoint Level Controls stepped attenuator and for the first time, I felt like I was listening only to the source and not a preamp. It makes sense because it only adds a resistor or two between the source and the amplifier but the purity (clarity and timing) is something that I was not able to achieve with an active preamp.
Funny that audioman2015 brings up passive...
Just took delivery of a Schiit Freya preamp. One of the 6sn7 tubes shipped with it was very microphonic. They are sending a replacement set. In the meantime listening to it in passive mode. VERY impressed. Way better than I expected passive would be . Plenty of heft and slam along with another level of resolution over what I’d been hearing with my Consonance Ref. 50 tube preamp. Lyrics have never been more clearly intelligible. And this after less than 24 hrs. of use.
Something from Parasound (P3, P5, P7?) was considered - beautiful looking gear - but I didn’t want to spend for an unneeded internal DAC or phono-pre. I was looking for a balanced design since 2 of my sources and power amp are balanced. Freya is a balanced design and equipped with a stepped attenuator volume control (128 steps!). Price is a bargain too. 15 day return policy (5% restocking charge) so it might be worth checking out.
I recently upgraded from Marantz 7702 and their MM7025. At first I replaced the power amp to your same Parasound A21. For a couple months I ran the A21 with the Marantz 7702 pre/pro. It sounded good but I wanted to upgrade another step and bought a Parasound JC-2BP. The change in sound (for me) was very pronounced.
The combo sounds excellent! I read a great deal of reviews about the JC 2, and in their words it has a "vanishingly low noise floor". I am certainly no high end audio reviewer, but this sounded exactly as I would describe it. IMHO, if you are looking to upgrade, save up and get something that will make a big difference and sounds great to you.
I am currently using the Wyred 4 Sound STP-SE and I love it. I initially thought it was a little rolled off on top, but soon realized that it is just very smooth in the high frequencies. It is really nice to be finally rid of brittle, bright treble.
The other thing I like is the unique gain structure which apparently acts like a passive pre, but has 6 dB of gain available if needed. It is the first preamp I've owned where the volume can be set accurately with the remote control.
Be aware that it does not have line-out for recording, if that's a concern.
I also have a NAD C165BEE which I was not at all impressed with.
Nice to hear from so many, this really is a great place to bounce ideas off the walls.
Okay, I just finished A/B'ing different cd players to see if my spare had any more top end or air than the one in my main system. There was no difference that I could tell.
It's something that I can't figure out, and I'm one of those people who has a hard time letting things go sometimes! In my car system using the same track I can hear more top end extension, and I guess I could chalk it up to the speaker's frequency response or just the gains I have set for the fronts at the amp.
I think I need to just enjoy the music and listen to the music instead of the system.
At this point I would say to treat the room. There may be too much absorbtion, which reduces upper mids and highs.
One more question regarding speakers, are you using any spikes or footers beneath the cabinets and the monitor stands? Try to keep the cabinets as lively as possible by decoupling them from the carpeted floor.
You can use a hardwood or marble platform underneath the speakers.
In my car system using the same track I can hear more top end extension, and I guess I could chalk it up to the speaker’s frequency response or just the gains I have set for the fronts at the amp.
Are your tweeters damaged? They are very easy to damage if you overload the amplifier! If they have removable grills or if you know where the tweeters are, run the system, put your ear to the tweeters and see if they are even working. If you have clipped the amplifier at any time in the past, it would only take a second or two to fry the tweeters. This would explain a lot...
No sir, the tweeters are fine. When I tuned the system I needed little gain on them because they are in the corners of the dash and project into the cabin almost too well with the windshield. They are crossed over at 3000, so a lot of the voice and up is in the tweeters.
As for my home speaker cabinets, they are on stock spikes which I painstakenly leveled and seem to decouple fairly well. The platform idea I should look into however!
@213runnin?? I was talking about your tweeters at home not the ones in the car. Did I mistake your response?
Oops, sorry. When you quoted my comment about the car system, I assumed you were referring to the car tweeters. The home speaker tweeters are not damaged either.
By the way, thanks for all of your contributions, in reading this thread, some things became apparent on my part. A) I did most of my posts at work between calls and things vying for my time. As I tried to figure out at work what was going on at home, and in my car, I forgot some things, and realize I blamed the P7 for being warm sounding when the issue was my car.
The car tweeters are located in the corners of the dash, just below the windshield. As one can understand, the dash and windshield form a kind of megaphone that directs the highs into the cabin in kind of a compressed fashion that will affect the sound. So when I noticed that my car system played certain tracks with more highs present, that was most likely the reason why.
Then the tweeters frequency response is most likely higher than typical home speakers as the car environment is noisy and pretty bad for sound reproduction. So after reconsidering, I realize that I was blaming my home system, and P7, for something it had nothing to do with.
I was actually thinking of selling it, trying to chase that last 3 or 4 percent of sonic bliss. Gosh, that would have been a mistake.
I just do not get how you are comparing car audio 2 ur home audio, it just doesn't make sense 2 me.