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Three functions done right, for once!

Between the 3 or 4 hundred dollar entry level preamps and the 30 to 40 thousand dollar boutique jobbies there is a wide gulf and an enormous range. The JC-2 has reared back and thrust a huge stake in that ground and claimed it as its own. I have a roughly 40k system. I have been an audiophile for 40 years and have heard many systems and components – with some preamps of equal and greater cost. My assessment: he JC-2 takes the cake. Enough blurb, I can hear you thinking – what exactly does it do so well? Simply, it does the low end, the midrange and the high end best, and integrates them to a T. “But” – you may be saying – “a preamp has such a limited role. It provides for a switching of inputs; it controls gain; and it provides a buffering between impedances on input and output. What’s the big deal?” Well, maybe doing those very functions without messing up all the transfers of what is, after all, a weak and very fragile signal – at that point – that’s what it DOES, and does it so right. Those are only 3 macro categories, but there are probably dozens and dozens of ways of messing up. I could supply names but other designers would hate me. This is where the JC-2 comes in with no mess-ups at all. I could talk of the way instruments appear with “air” and “space” around them, which they do. I could rhapsodize over subtleties which really make the difference when you listen intently to good music, that really draw you in to the moment; quite true. Micro-nuances are brought out on acoustic instruments that have me wondering at all the listening I’ve been missing out on. In 40 years, this preamp, which does those three functions so well – has made the single greatest improvement in my system of any upgrade. No joking here. For this I would have tried to pay double shh! – don’t tell Parasound. The team of John Curl, Carl Thompson and the deceased Bob Crump rightly deserve the credits and accolades bestowed on them for bringing such a jewel to us music appreciators. But Parasound itself deserves a hand for keeping tight control over the very difficult sourcing of high quality parts, which it is loaded with. This is no small feat when you know something of the snafus that often dog those in pursuit of product consistency. Yes, I know. It’s relatively pricey. No getting around that. But if you have a reasonably controlled room and have been around the audio block a few times, give it a test listen; the fine folks at Audio Advisor will let you give it a test run and then, THEN, see if any roaming team of wild horses will be able to tear it out of your listening room! The price seems like but a petty interference with long put-off musical verisimilitude. No way I’m letting go of mine. I tell you what, give Matt Grauman or one of the other Advisors a call and he’ll talk you through the process and answer any nagging questions you might have. Tell ‘em Bob Gallo sent you. Thanks a lot, Matt! I’m aware that reviewers gain credibity by pointing to a flaw here and there – they might say, “Yes, but the transition from upper bass to lower midrange lacks the liquidity of such and such tubosities.” Or, “Yes, but there’s a slight graininess between 13 and 15 kHz on Brazilian cymbals.” Or other such stuff. None of those buts’ here! I haven’t had trouble with the volume control as one reviewer remarked – it’s a standard, high quality Alps potentiometer that works fine for me. My only gripe. If it were cheaper I would buy all my audiophile buddies one of them for Christmas. Cheaper by the dozen, Matt? Now it has me wondering: maybe all the hype over those JC-1 amps is real? To be continued.

- Bob G, MD
 
Transparent, silent, revealing, open, neutral, and spacious

Hello, Please see my review of the Parasound A21 power amplifier stereo / 2 channel as my comments for this are the same as applicable since my wife and I listened to them together. The only flaw or very limited short coming of this preamplifier is the motorized volume control when operated via the remote control. It has a strong and consistent tendency to go past the level or amount of change that you want to somewhere else that is either a bit too high or low. Parasound should have applied much greater control over this as the listener really has to try to get the right amount of pressure and time using the volume control to get it exactly where desired. You have to try multiple, rapid, very short presses to hopefully end up with where you want it. Personally, I much prefer digital / microprocessor controlled volume levels for the avoidance of this annoying yet minor dilemna in usage. Aside from this set back though, this is a preamplifier without equal at this price point, and at several thousand dollars more too as it just disappears and imparts no sonic character of its own on the signal music. It allows a system to have a clean signal to feed the amplifiers with. Silence between notes, air between instruments, space between performers, and space from front to back along with depth and height are all generous and luminous all the while being distinct, pure, and elegant without ever sounding colored or hazy, let alone slow or euphonic like so many tube preamplifiers or lesser solid state components. It is obvious that the circuitry and parts are upper echelon as is the thought put into this in concert with the listening time invested by its designers to only offer a product of uncommon value and performance. As with the Parasound A21 power amplifier, you would have to, and I do mean have to, invest much more money to get a noticeably better sound. For the volume control issue, I can easily get past that, and have. As for this preamplifier, I can easily live with it, and very happily at that. Sincerely, Tom & Erin near Allentown, PA.

- Tom F, PA
 
Sound Staging Champion!!!

This preamp can throw a holographic sound stage that suspends the performance in inky blackness. Cymbals shimmer and decay with errie naturalness, Bass is extremely taut and full bodied without overpowering the upper frequencies and the faintest details are revealed as even the most subtle artificial harmonic can be clearly heard. This preamp delivers the most organic playback Ive ever heard...It breathes!!! Id highly recommend audtioning one if youre looking for a piece that balances musicality with razor sharp detail retrieval.

- Eric S, MO