When Parasound announced it was releasing a line of products with legendary designer John Curl under the moniker Halo, the press release alone was spank material. At the top of the product line sat the JC1 monaural amplifier, named after the man responsible for bringing it into existence, John Curl. The JC1, when it was released, ranked among the most coveted pieces of audio gear in history and remains on that list to this day. However, unlike most coveted pieces of audiophilia, the JC1 was hugely affordable at $6,000 per pair, which meant that many audiophiles could actually own a piece of audio history, as opposed to just reading about it.
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The JC 1 on looks alone was a showstopper. Until its release, nothing, and I mean nothing, looked as modern and relevant as the JC1 as the amp was simply stunning at first glance. Its slightly rounded silver faceplate, with pale blue glowing on/off switch, was as subtle as it was impactful. As soon as one got over the initial shock of the JC1's "face," one couldn't help but notice its massive heat sinks and how unthreatening they seemed, given what power was lurking just beneath the surface. And what power it is. The JC1 is a THX Ultra2-certified true monaural design, pumping out 400 watts into eight ohms, doubling down into four and maxing out at 1,200 watts into a two-ohm load. The JC1 runs in pure Class-A up to 25 watts at eight ohms, with its bias set to high and ten watts into eight ohms with the bias set to low. While 25 watts of Class-A power may seem like a miserly number, trust me, it is not, considering that even during loud passages most music won't tax your amp past 25 watts. The added power is there for dynamic swings and peaks and control for when the going gets rough. Regardless, because of its A/AB design, the JC1 runs warm, though not blistering hot, and will power any loudspeaker with ease.
Aside from the JC1's power output, it features both unbalanced and balanced connection options, as well as 24k gold-plated binding posts. Like other amps in the Halo line, the JC1 features a complimentary MOSFET driver stage and a JFET input stage. The JC1 features one of the largest power transformers I've seen in recent memory and is largely the reason for the JC1's 60-plus pounds of weight. The JC1 comes standard with rear-mounted rack handles, as well as a full rack-mounting kit, and features Parasound's ten-year parts and five-year labor warranty. Read about the high points and low points of the JC 1 on Page 2.