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"Heartily Recommended" – Stereophile
Parasound’s Halo P 5 replaces the popular and long-lived Halo P 3 stereo preamplifier. Among its many advantages over the P 5 are a high-quality DAC with coaxial, optical, and USB inputs, subwoofer outputs with analog bass management, Parasound’s most advanced home theater bypass to date, a phono stage with moving-coil capabilities, and a precision, motorized volume control.
It does so much, founder and president of Parasound, Richard Schram, calls it “the Swiss Army Knife of stereo preamps.”
How good does the P 5 sound? “It’s audibly superior to the P 3 in every respect,” observes Richard. Considering the superb audio performance of the P 3, that makes the new P 5 extremely special.
"What's Not to Like?"
"This is about as fine a $1095 preamp as I can imagine in 2014. Heartily recommended," reports Art Dudley in his April 7, 2014 review for Stereophile. "Exceptional clarity. Exceptional dynamics. Neutral without being colorless. Very well made and complete for the price. What’s not to like?"
"It performs exceptionally well, quiet for a preamp, a low noise floor, balanced input/output, digital processing and bass management," notes Piero Gabucci, in his Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity review for July 21, 2014. "The fact that it replaces up to four separates is more than just space saving, it’s smart in our economic climate, for me anyway."
A Value-Conscious Upgrade
"For 10 years, the Halo P 3 has been a mainstay of our line for value-conscious audiophiles," reports Richard. "However, new technologies have changed the ways audiophiles connect to and enjoy their music. So, the addition of a high quality DAC was an obvious choice for the P 5. There has also been a resurgence in turntables, so we upgraded the MM-only phono stage to also handle MC moving coil cartridges with a choice of load impedances."
While the P 3 has outstanding two-channel sound, many audiophiles today have 2.1-channel stereo speaker systems with robust subwoofers. The P 5 actually creates a sub channel output for 2.1-channel listening.
Adjustable Low-pass and High-pass Crossovers
Among the P 5's many benchmark features is the ease with which it allows you to integrate audiophile stereo speakers with a home theater surround system. It is probably the only audio component currently on the market that includes switchable and adjustable low-pass and high-pass crossovers. Infinitely variable rear-panel controls let you set both crossover points exactly where you want them.
The addition of an XLR balanced subwoofer output contributes to the convenience in a home theater set-up. Most people like to position their subs on the other side of the room, so a balanced output makes excellent sense. And for connection versatility, two RCA unbalanced outputs are also provided.
The Parasound Halo P 5 incorporates a very high quality state-of-the-art DAC. This DAC can process a wide range of digital sources with its coaxial and optical inputs accepting up to 192 kHz rates, and the USB input accepting up to 96 kHz. The P 5’s Cirrus Logic Digital Receiver scrubs the digital clock to attenuate jitter not only for the USB but for all inputs. This enables its acclaimed Burr- Brown PCM1798 DAC to achieve outstanding, natural sound quality for all of your digital sources.
Five Line-level Sources Plus a Phono Input
The Halo P 5's analog audio inputs include consist of RCA line-level stereo input, one pair of balanced XLR inputs, a phono input, and a front panel 3.5mm mini jack for portable audio players or smartphones. The line outputs are balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA, plus a choice of balanced or unbalanced subwoofer outputs. The main and subwoofer outputs can be run full range or placed under the careful regulation of variable frequency analog high-pass and low pass crossovers.
The phono input is compatible with all moving magnet cartridges, and virtually all moving coil cartridges, with a 100 ohm/47k ohm switch to select the appropriate load impedance matching.
Defeatable Tone Controls and Much, Much More
The front panel has a headphone jack, controls for source selection, level, bass, treble, tone defeat, balance, and subwoofer level. There is an auxiliary input with an additional 12-dB gain stage to compensate for typically low output of portable devices. An included remote control duplicates these functions. The IC volume control of the P 3 has been replaced with a premium Alps motorized potentiometer.
In addition to upgrades to the analog audio circuitry, the P 5 features a 0.5 watts standby power consumption to meet the new Energy Star requirements. A 12-VDC trigger circuit and a IR connection and loop-out make it easy to interface with sophisticated AV systems.
*Note: Input 5 is shared with the XLR balanced input, therefore the RCA and XLR jacks for input 5 should not be connected at the same time.
"This is about as fine a $1095 preamp as I can imagine in 2014. Heartily recommended... Exceptional clarity. Exceptional dynamics. Neutral without being colorless. Very well made and complete for the price. What’s not to like?"
– Art Dudley, Stereophile, April 7, 2014
"It performs exceptionally well, quiet for a preamp, a low noise floor, balanced input/output, digital processing and bass management."
"The fact that it replaces up to four separates is more than just space saving, it’s smart in our economic climate, for me anyway. If DACs become more sophisticated and technology changes, the P 5 can still remain the controller."
"My advice is simple, just get one, I recommend it strongly!"
– Piero Gabucci, Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity, July 21, 2014