New Parasound Processor Make 6.1 Upgrade Easy

Have you been curious about 6.1 channel surround sound, but reluctant to overhaul your entire system just to try it? San Francisco-based Parasound has the answer with its new CSE 6.1 Center Surround Expander.

The latest in Parasound's "Z Series" of half-width custom-installation problem solvers, the CSE 6.1 is a processor that can derive a matrix rear center channel output from the left and right surround channels in program materials encoded for THX Surround EX or DTS-ES. It will work with any 5.1-channel home theater processor or A/V receiver with line level outputs for the surround channels, according to a company press release. Surround-EX depends on old Dolby Pro Logic processing, but the CSE 6.1 uses advanced Circle Surround processing, which Parasound found to be superior in testing.

With properly recorded programs, the CSE 6.1 creates "a remarkably defined sound stage that envelops the viewer in a cocoon of sound." Sonic ambience and specific sounds appear naturally from all around the listener. The technology is said to be especially effective with effects such as aircraft flyovers. The CSE 6.1 features two center channel outputs for listeners who prefer to use two speakers for their center surround effects. It also includes a Rear Sub jack with an adjustable rear subwoofer crossover (at 80Hz, 120Hz and full range) for use with subs with non-defeatable built-in crossovers. "The added impact of rear surround effects using the rear sub is substantial," Parasound claims. Auxiliary surround output channels may be used for ceiling surround speakers.

The CSE 6.1connects between the surround controller's LS and RS outputs and the power amplifier inputs. A supplied infrared remote control operates the "Engage" and "Calibrate" switches, and controls the center surround channel's level. The 6.1 processing can be bypassed, letting users run their systems in 5.1 if they prefer, but some 5.1 sources sound better with 6.1 processing, according to Parasound. The CSE 6.1 will be available in December, with a suggested retail price of $400.