With everything going multi-channel and home theater these days, how's an audiophile company like Parasound to keep up? While Parasound makes some fantastic pre-amp processors, they've introduced a unique audiophile solution to the multi-channel problem: the P7 7.1 channel analog preamplifier reviewed here.
Retailing for $2,000, the P7 looks nearly identical to the P3 two-channel preamp, albeit with fewer front-mounted hard controls. Around back, however, the P7 is a whole different animal. The P7 has two complete sets of 7.1 analog inputs for use with today's multi-channel and home theater audio formats, though the P7 does not do any surround sound decoding; that must be handled at the source level. The P7 also has seven standard stereo inputs, as well as a selectable MM or MC phono input, which is a huge plus for vinyl enthusiasts of both camps. The P7 has both unbalanced and balanced inputs and outputs, as well as a subwoofer output with analog bass management. A front-mounted input for an iPod or MP3 player, an RS-232 port, IR jacks and three 12-volt triggers round out the P7's connection options.
Behind the scenes, the P7's various inputs can all be named by the user, which is a feature usually found on preamp processors and/or receivers. There is a volume bypass mode for integrating the P7 into a surround sound system featuring a preamp processor or receiver. The P7 has analog bass management for all stereo inputs and can be linked to Parasound's own Zhd HDMI switcher, though it still offers no digital audio decoding. Using the P7's remote, the user has complete control over tone, balance (left to right and front to back) and subwoofer output, as well as display brightness and volume. The P7 comes with Parasound's five-year labor and parts warranty and can be had via Parasound's vast dealer network, which includes traditional and online stores.
• The P7 has a full, rich, musically engaging sound that is natural and sweet through the midrange and upper frequencies and controlled in the bass.
• Soundstage width and depth is topnotch, giving the P7 a spatial presentation few all-in-one products can touch for the P7's asking price.
• The addition of an MP3 or iPod jack makes the P7 current in today's ever-changing audiophile landscape.
• The P7 represents a true audiophile solution for today's multi-channel and home theater enthusiast. Pairing the P7 with, say, a DVDO Edge or VP50Pro makes it a sort of à la carte preamp processor solution with a sonic performance that far exceeds that of a receiver and rivals costlier preamp processors.
• With video formats changing rapidly, the P7 bypasses half the problem by keeping with what Parasound does best: sound. The P7 remains current as technology progresses, keeping the decoding at the source(s) and leaving the video to your display and/or video processor.