Parasound 5250 5-Channel Power Amplifier Comparisons & Conclusion
The one thing I would wish for in the Parasound 5250 is balanced inputs. According to the company, most people don't use them, so they were omitted in order to maximize performance and build quality while keeping the cost down. If you really want balanced inputs, you can get the Parasound Halo A 51, which lists for $4000.
Alternatively, you might consider the Wyred 4 Sound Ice Cube MC ($2995), a 5-channel, Class D switching amp based on the ICEpower technology developed by Danish manufacturer Bang & Olufsen. Class D amps are known for their relatively light weight and have earned respect among audiophiles for their sonic qualities. The Ice Cube MC offers a maximum rated power output of 250Wpc into 8 ohms, the same as the Parasound 5250. But that's where the similarities end.
The Ice Cube is a modular amplifier, meaning it can be configured for additional channels in the future—up to seven total. The front L/R channels feature a selectable 80Hz, 12dB/octave crossover for bi-amping the front speakers. I consider this to be a valuable feature because bi-amping can significantly improve sound quality if your speakers can accommodate it. The Ice Cube has RCA (unbalanced) and XLR (balanced) inputs, whereas the Parasound has only unbalanced RCA inputs.
On the other hand, the Ice Cube does not have a 12-volt trigger or a signal-sensing auto-on circuit, two useful features included in the Parasound. Such features are essential for control systems used in sophisticated home theaters.
In his review, David Vaughn noted that the Ice Cube MC had an excellent soundstage and imaging with 2-channel material. He also praised its outstanding 360-degree soundfield when playing Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD movies.
I like the Parasound 5250 for the same reasons. It's a fine amplifier, worthy of consideration for any premium home-theater system. Although I am swayed by the Ice Cube's balanced XLR inputs, I consider the Parasound to be a better value at nearly $500 less. Like a high performance automobile, it easily handles the twists and turns on the home-theater highway.
Excellent dynamic headroom
Great transient response
Trigger and signal-sensing auto-on functions
No balanced XLR inputs