Parasound Halo C 2 Surround Processor and A 51 Multi-Channel Amplifier Reviewed

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Moving on to multi-channel music, the amp really strutted its stuff. In comparison to the A 52 or the Glasse', the speakers seemed to have much greater dynamic energy, which sewed to make the soundfield even more cohesive. It was as if the energy from each speaker was so strong that a true bubble had been created around me. Combined with the excellent imaging and soundstage of the KEF Reference speakers, the sound-field just extended from speaker to speaker. The A 51's power was able to extract enough bass from the 207s that it often sounded as if I had a subwoofer on when I did not. Explosions and loud, deep noises had significant impact.

Those with greater power needs than what this amp can provide had better look to dedicated mono amps such as the JC 1 or dedicated stereo amps.

C 2 and A 51
As you can probably tell, I have been very impressed by the Halo products. After reading the above, one may rightly point out that there must be some negatives. With the C 2, I really wished for a third component input like the C 1 has. The two-channel performance as a DAC is very good, but perhaps not quite as good as the Krell Showcase. At times, the bass output of the A 51 and the KEFs was so strong, that the midrange almost seemed slightly overwhelmed, but this is really nit-picking here. This was not something present when the C 2 was used as an analog preamp. It would have been nice if the C 2 had an AM/FM tuner, and it would have been really nice if it up-converted composite and S-video

to component. This is not really fair, as the latter is still very rare. The one really annoying problem that popped up was not even the fault of the C 2 at all: it seems the Krell DVD Standard and the C 2 share the same remote control codes. Otherwise, the C 2 was relatively bug free, not even a pop when switching between sources. This is remarkable considering that it is an all-new product, and I had one of the first production versions.

I have almost no negatives to say about the A 51 amp. It is a superlative performer in the $4,000, multi-channel amp category, and one that I strongly recommend people to audition. If I had to complain about anything, I could wish for a back panel that was slightly less crowded, but this seems to be out of necessity for the large heat sinks.

Overall, this is a class leading pair, and I do not say this lightly. The C 2 package with its sonic performance, automatic calibration, complete feature set, excellent remote, programmability, beautiful aesthetics, and hardware/software upgradeability is quite possibly the most complete processor package in the $4,000 arena (one that is extremely competitive at this time), and rightly takes its place at the head of the pack. The A 51 so thoroughly bettered the performance of my Class& amp with the tough-to-drive KEF speakers, that I cannot imagine going back to it. Parasound has totally hit the proverbial home run with the Halo C 2 and A 51, and I very strongly recommend them.

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C 2:
17-1/4" W x 5-7/8" H x16" D
Dolby Digital EX, DTS ES, Pro Logic II, THX Ultra2
Certified with THX Surround EX
7.5 Channel Enhanced Surround
7.1 with 4 programmable outputs
9 balanced outputs, 2 balanced inputs
with XLR connectors
8 digital inputs; 2 digital outputs
7.1 analog input with pure analog path,
bypasses DSP
6 audio/video inputs with composite
and S-video connectors
3 composite video and 3 S-video outputs:
OSD, no OSD, record
2 assignable component/RGB video inputs and
1 output with separate H and V Sync
Calibration microphone with 25' cable included
Dual zone control with analog audio and
composite video outputs
Fully upgradeable and controllable
via 2-way RS-232 port
10 years parts, 5 years labor warranty
MSRP: $4,000

A 51:
250 watts per channel at 8 ohms
400 watts at 4 ohms
17-1/4" W x 7-5/8" H x 20" D
THX Ultra2 certified
High bias Class A/AB operation
Balanced inputs with discrete circuits
and XLR connectors
Direct Coupled - no capacitors or
inductors in signal path
Heavy-duty 24k gold-plated,
5-way speaker terminals
S/N ratio: > 112 dB, input shorted,
IHF A-weighted�
Damping factor: > 1100 at 20 Hz�
MSRP: $4,000

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HTR Product Rating for Parasound Halo C 2 Surround Processor and A 51 Multi-Channel Amplifier

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