Parasound Halo P 7 Analog 7.1 Preamp
Audiophiles know how good Parasound equipment is, but their equipment tended to cater to the stereo crowd. It's about time they acknowledge that serious listeners like to listen to surround sound, be it movies or multi-channel music.
Parasound probably missed the boat with DVD-Audio and SACD, coming out with a new multi-channel analog preamp after those ships have seemingly sunk. However, for Blu-ray with built-in decoding or even good old-fashioned DVD, this is an audio-enthusiast's dream.
The Parasound Halo P 7 is designed to work with anything from 2-channel stereo to 7.1 with sets of balanced XLR and RCA inputs and outputs. What else do you get for your money?
There is front/rear balance and left/right controls in addition to more precise gain controls for all ten inputs. It has analog bass management for the subwoofer output. There are two sets of 7.1 inputs, seven stereo inputs, a phono input, and a front-panel aux input for an MP3 player. Ironic, no?
Custom installer-types will appreciate the RS232 serial port, rear panel IR input and three 12v triggers. There's a theater bypass mode if you wish to use a digital surround receiver.
Specs look good. Frequency response is 5Hz - 100kHz with a S/N ratio over 110dB. THD distortion is less than 0.006% at 20kHz, and crosstalk is 85dB at 20k.
How much will this beauty set you back? If this type of equipment is your "thing," the $2,000 price tag shouldn't be too outrageous. -Leslie Shapiro