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JC 2 - "Product of the Year" 2008 - The Absolute Sound Magazine
JC 2 - "Best Solid-State Preamp" 2008/2009 - The Absolute Sound
Featuring a Home Theater Bypass Function
When Parasound designed the highly acclaimed JC 2, the company underestimated how many enthusiasts would want to use the JC 2 in a blended stereo-surround system. The JC 2 BP accomplishes this seamlessly and with no compromises. And its sound and specs are identical to the JC 2.
The JC 2 BP is identical to the original JC 2 stereo preamplifier, with the addition of a home theater Bypass function. The new Bypass function enables your surround system’s left and right front speakers and their power amplifier to do double duty as the left and right channels of an analog stereo system.
Simply connect the JC 2 BP between your surround processor or receiver’s left and right channel line level output jacks and the input jacks on the power amplifier which drives your left and right front speakers.
Your stereo analog sources will connect to the JC 2 BP so you can listen to your favorite music without compromises to analog purity that are inevitable when digital processing circuitry is in the same chassis.
When you want to watch movies with digital surround simply press a button on the JC 2 BP’s new remote control and the left and right front channel signals from your surround processor or receiver will pass through the JC 2 BP as if it wasn’t even there.
Enjoy the best of both worlds with perfect analog stereo and a seamless transition to digital surround.
How Does the JC 2 BP Bypass Work?
The JC 2 BP lets you bypasses its master volume control and the left and right channel gain controls. Fixed resistors set the signal level at its output jacks for 'unity gain.' This means the signal level at the JC 2 BP output jacks is exactly the same as the signal level at its input jacks so you won’t need to re-calibrate the speaker levels in your surround system. The JC 2 BP Bypass function operates with both its unbalanced and its balanced inputs and outputs.
The Bypass function does require the JC 2 BP to be powered on, since the bypass circuit is active.
See below for information on the amazing JC 2.
JC 2 - The Quietest Preamplifier Ever Built
The Absolute Sound magazine rated the Halo JC2 as the "Best Solid-State Preamp" in the Winter 08 / Spring 09 issue. "The new JC-2 lives up to its legendary forebear, offering outstanding neutrality, very low noise, high resolution of inner detail, excellent timbre and texture, excellent large-scale and small-scale dynamics, and a surprisingly large taste of the air and bloom that only tube preamps used to own."
"A Product of the Year in Any Year"
The Absolute Sound Magazine honored the Parasound JC 2 with a "Product of the Year Award" in its January 2009 issue. "This is a terrific linestage preamp that would be a Product of the Year in any year."
"My guess is that the Parasound Halo JC-2 can compete successfully against preamps, solid-state or tubed, that sell for twice the price -- or more," reports Sam Tellig in the December 2007 issue of Stereophile. "Like the JC-1, the JC-2 is up there with the best of them, but down to earth in price."
"Shockingly Realistic Sound"
"The JC 1 / JC 2 combo produces a remarkably detailed and shockingly realistic sound," marvels Steve Guttenberg in the June 2008 issue of Home Entertainment magazine. "If you are new to high-end audio, Parasound’s JC 1 / JC 2 combination is a great place to start."
The Halo JC 2 is a pure analog preamplifier that is the product of pure genius. John Curl's CTC Builders, creators of the famed JC 1, designed the JC 2 to be Parasound's next legend. The design team achieves an amazing 116 dB signal-to-noise ratio with the JC 2 by isolating its dual-mono audio circuits from the power supply by placing them behind noise-killing 3/8"-thick shields. Balanced inputs and outputs -- featuring Neutrik XLR connectors -- a switchable polarity invert, and a full-function wireless remote control all contribute to the affordable luxury of owning a Halo JC 2.
Absolutely Dead-Quiet Operation
"The JC-2 allows music to emerge intact -- withy body, bloom, and dynamics, with definition and detail -- from an utterly silent background," reports Sam Tellig in Stereophile.
From the beginning, Parasound made quiet operation a priority of the JC 2. In fact, the company wanted this to be the quietest preamp that you can buy – at any price. Instead of relying on a toroidal transformer, which is typically found in quality AV components, the design team opted for a high capacity R-core audio power transformer and inductor with additional filters and special low-ESR capacitors. Unlike a toroidal transformer, this premium technology does not pass noise through to the rest of the circuitry, contributing to the JC 2's dead-quiet operation.
The heavily regulated dual-mono power supply boasts hyper-fast soft recovery audio bridge rectifiers diodes. And there's an independent power supply for controller, relay coils, triggers, and LEDs, an approach with keeps the preamps 'housekeeping' circuits well out of the audio chain.
"I can vouch for the results," says Alan Taffel about the ultra-quiet design in his January 10, 2007 report on the CES show for AVguide.com. "In one of the simplest but most effective demos of the show, I placed my ear directly against the driver of a speaker being fed by a JC-2/JC-1 combo set at maximum volume. I could hear absolutely nothing."
Dual-mono left and right channel circuit boards minimize crosstalk. The direct DC servo-coupled design uses no capacitors in the signal path. The premium four-gang motor-driven analog master volume control uses separate TKD brand analog gain controls for L and R channels. The audio mute is switched by independent L and R relays.
Balanced and Unbalanced Input Switching
The JC 2 includes six pairs of unbalanced RCA line-level audio input jacks. Two input pairs can be switched to XLR balanced connectors. There's an independent balanced/unbalanced select for the left and right channel, and each channel's input is switched by its own gold-on-silver contact relay.
Separate output jacks are provided for simultaneous normal and non-inverting polarity. The four output jack pairs have specialized functions. One main output jack pair is balanced XLR, and the polarity can be switched by the wireless remote. One main output jack pair is unbalanced RCA, and polarity is also switched by remote. Of the two remaining outputs, one pair is unbalanced RCA, inverted polarity only, and the other output pair is unbalanced RCA, normal polarity, featuring a fixed level for recorders. Remote control polarity switching uses gold-on-silver contact relays.
Hand-Picked, No-Compromise Parts and Pieces
Every section of the JC 2 uses premium internal components that were specifically chosen for specific functions in specific areas. These include hand-matched, complementary input-stage and output-stage FETs, Vampire brand 24k gold-plated RCA jacks, Neutrik brand premium XLR connectors, and Canare brand internal wiring.
The rear panel of the JC 2 is made of aluminum, for less magnetic impact on the ground plane and the signal jacks. And speaking of those connections, all grounding for the JC 2's inputs is completely isolated from all grounding for the outputs.
The included wireless remote controls all functions using discrete IR codes. A two-way RS-232 serial port connection and 12-volt trigger systems allows for easy system integration. Four 12v trigger output jacks allow for power amp auto turn-on. Two 12v trigger jacks are switched by the remote, and two 12v trigger jacks are live when the JC 2 is turned on.
How is the JC 2 BP different than the JC 2?
The JC 2 BP has Bypass circuitry and special software control which allow you to easily integrate it into a surround sound system. The JC 2 is not equipped with this.
Should I buy the JC 2 BP or the JC 2?
You should buy the JC 2 BP if you want to use the same left and right speakers and amplifier for both your analog stereo sources and for your digital surround sound sources. If you have the luxury of two entirely separate systems for stereo and surround you should consider the JC 2 because there will be no advantage to the JC 2 BP.
Do the JC 2 BP and JC 2 sound different?
In a word, no. The JC 2 BP sound and specifications are identical to the JC 2 in every respect. The Bypass function in the JC 2 BP is implemented without modifying the JC 2 left and right channel audio boards in any way.
Can my present JC 2 be modified to include the JC 2 BP Bypass function?
Yes. Parasound can modify your present JC 2 to include the new Bypass function. You can find additional information at www.parasound.com or by writing to email@example.com.
Praise for the JC 2
The Absolute Sound "Best Solid-State Preamp" 2008/2009
"The new JC-2 lives up to its legendary forebear, offering outstanding neutrality, very low noise, high resolution of inner detail, excellent timbre and texture, excellent large-scale and small-scale dynamics, and a surprisingly large taste of the air and bloom that only tube preamps used to own."
"The Parasound may not be quite as wide or deep in soundstage as some tube units, but it's still an excellent imager and soundstager and, overall, just plain astonishing for this kind of money."
"Unequivocally the best preamp I have ever heard. One listen, and I just had to own one."
- Wayne Schuurman, President, Audio Advisor
"Curl has managed to create a quite affordable preamp that does seem to offer some of the same dimensionality and air and bloom and neutrality that, previously, only tubes gave you, without sacrificing any of the bandwidth, transient speed, or clarity of solid state tubes."
"This is a terrific linestage preamp that would be a Product of the Year in any year."
- Neil Gader, The Absolute Sound, January 2009
"The JC-2 allows music to emerge intact - with body, bloom, and dynamics, with definition and detail - from an utterly silent background. It allows your CD player and other sources to do their stuff. One more thing: the JC-2 excels at the reproduction of space. It helps the JC-1 power amps through a huge soundstage."
"My guess is that the Parasound Halo JC-2 can compete successfully against preamps, solid-state or tubed, that sell for twice the price - or more. Like the JC-1, the JC-2 is up there with the best of them, but down to earth in price."
- Sam Tellig, Stereophile, December 2007
"The JC 1 / JC 2 combo produces a remarkably detailed and shockingly realistic sound."
"The JC 1 / JC 2 sound strikes a keen balance between offering superlative resolution and sounding beguilingly sweet and natural. I find myself totally absorbed by CDs that previously bored me."
"If you are new to high-end audio, Parasound’s JC 1 / JC 2 combination is a great place to start. It would be worth your time to experience them firsthand through a dealer. Bring along some of your favorite music, and be prepared to hear it like never before."
- Steve Guttenberg, Home Entertainment magazine, June 2008
"The Parasound Halo JC 2 is a line-level preamplifier that delivers superlative sound. Like any good preamplifier, its primary function is to "get out of the way" of the signal coming from the music source and not impart any coloration of its own. The JC 2 is one of the closest preamplifiers I've heard to attaining this ideal, and lets the music come through with exquisite detail and clarity. It's solidly built and performed flawlessly during hundreds of hours of operation. Although not cheap at $4,000, you get what you pay for without question."
- Frank Doris, HomeTheaterReview.com, February 2010
|Write Your Own Review|
|shocked in a good way|
I use my home theater system for mostly 2 channel stereo but my Onkyo PR/SC 5508 pre-pro and M5000R mono blocks just weren't doing it for me. I thought I would add the add JC2 BP to try to improve the two channel side. Wow I was shocked at just how great this pre-amp performed. Really astonishing stuff. My M5000 amps kicked it up several notches and the Scansonic MB3.5 speakers really found some roots. I was so impressed I bought a pair of JC 1 amps and they blew me away too. So I took the next step and added the JC3+ phono amp. Two channel heaven around here. The bypass mode works great and the front channel speakers are now fed by the JC 1's clarity is off the charts. Best investment ever. Audio Advisor is the only authorized internet retailer and they are great to work with.
|- Jeff R, OR|
Having reached "a certain age" I assumed that I would no longer appreciate subtle differences in electronics. Maybe, but the difference the JC2 preamp makes isn't subtle. I'm hearing things I never noticed before. If you want for your music what a soft filter does for film, look elsewhere. This thing is astringent. It reveals all that's there regardless of whether it's beautiful or less so. And that's beautiful to me.
|- Stephen G, TX|
A friend told me I needed to upgrade my old tube preamp to this Parasound. I was skeptical about getting a solid state pre. He was right and I was wrong. This JC2 is so much quieter and more revealing than my old pre I still can't believe it. Tube or solid state - who cares? A good circuit is a good circuit and this John Curl - designed one is phenomenal. I'm two weeks in and its still getting better. I'm hearing definition on recordings I never knew existed - like doors opening and closing, papers rustling on the stage, things like that. It all contributes to the feeling that I'm no longer in my room but actually in the concert hall with the audience. One upgrade I need to mention. My sales guy recommended I give the Pangea 14XL power cable a try with the JC2. I listened to the same lp's with and without and yes, the recording sound quieter and cleaner with the upgrade power cable. Both are Highly Recommended.
|- John S. P, TX|
|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 auditioning one if youre looking for a piece that balances musicality with razor sharp detail retrieval.
|- Eric S, MO|
|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|
This preamp is a stand-out bargain! Installing it was the single biggest improvment my system has ever seen! It sounds incredibly neutral and dynamic with plenty of 'bloom'. Let me explain. It offers a ton of impact and bass is powerful and articulate - like turning up the volume on everything except the noise - 'because the JC2Bp is simply dead quiet. Low level detail is now clearly audible. Channel separation is so much better than any other preamp I've owned, it was like upgrading to mono block amps. Sound is highly detailed but without getting harsh or overly analytical - just sweet. $4,000 is a lot to pay for a preamp but when you compare it to anything else out there it's a very great bargain.
|- Booker J, CT|
Using with a pair of Parasound JC1 mono amps and Vandersteen 5As love them! and the sound is spectacular! Rich, full, fast, and effortless. I tried a bunch of preamps before buying the JC2 - including a very expensive tube model borrowed from an audio friend - but none could match the speed and accuracy across the music spectrum of the JC.
|- Rosebud W, CA|
I just got done burning in the JC 2bp for a week and Wow! This thing is great. I'm hearing the deepest, tallest, widest soundstage I've ever heard with amazing focus and pinpoint clarity. It also pushes my twin REL subs to their limit. The reviews on this preamp are no joke. The thing is dead quiet. And natural. And completely transparent. OK, I'll stop now. Love it!
|- Stonegate R, MN|
Color me impressed. The Parsound makes my system sound more dynamic and open. Vocals seem to float in space. There's more harmonic bloom and a richness I wasn't hearing before with my Pass preamp. Now only one week into the break-in. Somebody told me it needs two weeks. I can't wait!