|Parasound - Zamp v.3 - Compact Stereo Amplifier
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"Product of the Year" 2009 - Positive Feedback Online
"A Way Overachieving Amp"
Parasound has introduced a more powerful version of its ultra-compact Zamp zone amplifier for use in custom installations and compact audio systems. The Parasound Zamp v.3 is a stereo power amplifier capable of 45 watts per channel into an 8-ohm load, making it 50% more powerful and much cooler running than its popular predecessor, the Zamp v.2.
The Zamp won "Product of the Year" honors for 2009 from Positive Feedback Online. "In its third iteration of refinement, it’s a stone winner," raves Max Dudious.
"I'm taken with its size, its sound, and that the closest product to its size I could find was a (much wider) $1,700 Bryston amp," notes Max Dudious in his April 17, 2009 review for Positive Feedback. "It is a way overachieving amp at a ridiculously attractive price. That ranks it about an A in my rating scheme."
"It Sounds No Different from $9,000 Amplifiers"
"The Parasound Zamp v.3 is one helluva 45-watt amplifier, regardless of price tag and chassis size," reports the May 8, 2005 review in The Audio Critic. "Just because it's small and cute and cuddly, just because it costs only $299, it sounds no different from $9,000 amplifiers that have comparable power outputs… That the price and the size are remarkably small is an aspect of comparison shopping, not of audio performance."
Perfect for Compact Systems
"Designed to slip nicely in your custom equipment rack, Parasound's Zamp v.3 stereo amplifier is only 1-3/4" tall, taking up just one rack space," reports the October 2004 issue of Sound & Vision magazine.
Like all Parasound Z-series components, Zamp uses a standardized "half-width" rack-mount chassis that is just 1 rack space (1-3/4 inches) tall and 9-1/2 inches wide, half the width of a conventional audio component. This size is perfect for a compact bookshelf audio system or two-abreast in a standard 19-inch professional equipment rack.
The amplifier's small size also makes it ideal for unconventional and space-limited applications, including multi-room / multi-zone installations, PC and desktop audio, and bedroom or den stereo systems. This product is truly a custom installation problem solver.
Fully Discrete, Audiophile-Quality Circuitry
Unlike other compact amplifiers, which typically employ low-cost single-chip IC amplifier modules, the Zamp v.3 uses fully discrete, direct-coupled DC servo circuitry, high speed bipolar output transistors, and a massive, high quality toroid power transformer. In addition to its 2 x 45 watts, 8-ohm rating (20 Hz - 20 kHz, both channels driven), Zamp v.3 delivers 60 watts per channel with 4-ohm loads, or can be bridged to provide over 90 watts mono into 8 ohms.
Custom Installation Features, Too
Parasound designed the Zamp v.3 with custom installation in mind, including features like a removable IEC power cord, and rear-panel 12 Volt trigger input and output. Its rear panel auto turn-on switch can also be set so it will power up automatically when an audio signal is present, with adjustable sensitivity, or for manual turn on and off from the front panel. The unit's attractive faceplate includes a headphone jack, and individual indicators for protection or high temperature fault as well as left and right channel status.
The Zamp v.3 features gold-plated five-way binding posts for speaker connections, and line-level inputs and outputs for integration with other equipment. Rear panel level controls can be independently adjusted for each channel to ensure ideal gain staging with a variety of preamplifiers or multi-room controllers. The Zamp also features no-mar isolation feet.
Owner’s Manual (250k PDF)
- Compact power amplifier with multiroom features
- 45 watts per channel into 8 ohms
- 60 watts per channel into 4 ohms
- 90 watts bridged into 8 ohms mono
- Fully discrete circuitry with Toroid power transformer
- Low heat design
- Headphone jack
- Indicators for AC present and channel operating status
- Automatic on / off by 9 - 12 V trigger
- Automatic on / off by audio signal with adjustable sensitivity
- Level controls for each channel
- Ground lift switch
- Gold-plated RCA input jacks and looping line output jacks
- 5-way speaker terminals
- Unique half-rack width chassis; 1 rack space high
- Fastening hardware available for rack mounting
- Continuous power output: 45 watts RMS x 2, 20 Hz - 20 kHz, 8 ohm, both channels driven; 60 watts RMS x 2, 20 Hz - 20 kHz, 4 ohm, both channels driven; 90 watts RMS x 1, 20 Hz - 20 kHz, 8 ohm, minimum impedance
- Current capacity: 12 amperes peak per channel
- Frequency response: 5 Hz - 100 kHz, +0/-3 dB
- Total harmonic distortion: < 0.07 % full power; < 0.02 % typical levels
- IM distortion: < 0.05 %
- Dynamic headroom: 1.5 dB
- Inter-channel crosstalk: 80 dB at 1 kHz; 60 dB at 20 kHz
- Input impedance: 33 k ohms
- Input sensitivity: 600 mV; 1.5 V for full output
- S/N ratio: 116 dB, input shorted, IHF A weighted
- Dimensions: 9.5" wide, 1.75" tall (2" tall with feet), 10" deep
- Net weight: 7 lbs.
- Manufacturer's limited warranty: 2 years
"Product of the Year" 2009 - Positive Feedback Online
"I'm taken with its size, its sound, and that the closest product to its size I could find was a (much wider) $1,700 Bryston amp."
It is the handiwork of the Parasound design team, with final evaluation and critique by John Curl. Curl doesn't like his name to be on a design he wasn't involved with at every level, but he did sneak a peek at this one a few times along the way, and C.E.O. Richard Schram says, "his remarkable insights amounted to very helpful suggestions," ice-cream on the rhubarb pie."
What we have here, then, is an amplifier that out-performs its original design goals, that has many of the characteristics of the Parasound "house sound," but with 10% of the power rating of a pair of 400W JC-1 amps, at about 5% of the price."
it has very wide bandwidth, low noise, high S/N ratio, and a fast slew rate, which usually adds up to great sound. It's dynamic, yet refined; punchy, yet transparent; powerful, yet delicate; transient-friendly, yet with great resolution of details down in the mix. It's on the sweet and warm side of the menu, with great bass. Perhaps the Zamp is most like Parasound's JC-1 in its ease of presentation."
It is a way overachieving amp at a ridiculously attractive price. That ranks it about an A in my rating scheme."
- Max Dudious, Positive Feedback, April 17, 2009
|I purchased the Z-Rack several months ago, including the Z-Pre, Amp, tuner, phono stage and fan. Along with it, I also got the Rega RP3 +Elys and run everything through new KEF bookshelf speakers in an attic office 11 x 14. I like everything about this system! After 2 or 3 days, everything really broke in, the sound is fantastic and the components are very easy to use. I listen mainly to vinyl classic rock, jazz and some classical. Theres nothing that doesnt sound great, from moderately loud Miles Davis to louder Floyd or Zep or Howlin Wolf. And the footprint of this system is nice and compact. You could fit it on a bookshelf. Both AA and Parasound were were very available and easy to work with. My only complaint is that the fan is a bit loud. I dont run it unless Im listening at a certain volume. I would certainly purchase this system again if I had to do it all over!|
|- Al T, PA|
||Really, so much from something so little?
|I bought the Parasound zamp V.3 along with an Audioengine D-1 usb DAC to power a 2.1 system, and I have been in heaven. I have passive monitors with a power sub, and the Zamp made my life so easy with the RCA loop outs low level to the sub. I first kept the sub out to better audition the Zamp, and WOW! I didnt know what my monitors could do, I do now. Smooth, articulate, with plently of power, I have yet to hear any strain and I have had it loud. I love the ability to set each channels gain, which led to a tightly focused image. They say a poperly set up sub should only be noticed when you turn it off, which i agree with, the Zamp helped make the intergration between the monitors and sub even smoother thanks to its ability to get everything out of the monitors. I have been very happy with the sounds coming from this system, and the Zamp is a big reason why.|
|- Douglas B, CA|
|I bought this amp as a temporary replacement for my $3000 255-watt Musical Fidelity stereo amp, only to find that this cool little Parasound Zamp v.3 sounds remarkably better in all areas including punch, clarity, openness, and that ever-elusive but wonderful quality of musicality. At all volumes, including at low volumes for late-night listening, this amp sounds just fantastic and never fails to satisfy - this little amp is the best purchase Ive made in years! Also, I really love the music auto-sense circuit, which we use every day. The level controls on the back are also extremely useful and transparent to the music. There is no hum/buzz from the amp internals or through my speakers, at all volumes - and the amp runs cool even after working for hours. Its size is perfect for integrating into virtually any modern hifi system. I actually like this Zamp v.3 better than the Halo amps, which are excellent as well. Well done Parasound!|
|- Thomas S, OR|
|My system is clearly beyond the expected results I thought I would get with the v.3. The system started out as a serious reference system. As the years evolved, I realized I was content to listen to mp3 320 kbps and began to simplify the system.
The v.3 is driven by an Airport Extreme to an Airport Express via ethernet, optical out to a Beresford TC-7510 DAC to a FT Audio Little Wonder to the v.3. The prior amp was a Music Reference RM-9 which one would think is quite a step backwards in terms of performance. Speakers are SD Acoustics SD3s which are extremely revealing though not for everyone as they are lean, as is the Little Wonder my preference.
When I first started using the amp it was, as expected, awful. After an hour it started to sound ok to good. Its been running for about 20 hours now and the sound is unbelievable for an amp costing $350. Its not yet? the texture, fluidity and pure joy that the RM-9 tube amp produced but, it is very good. Better than a host of amps I can think of that cost well over $2,000.
Ive now plugged a $3,000 cd player destined for eBay back in and played some well produced cds. The sound can be described as full, good to excellent soundstage, well balanced, and delicate. For me, that is saying a lot. Compared to the RM-9 its not quite as smooth at the high end but Krells arent either, this may resolve itself with further burn-in. The SD Acoustics are murder in this area so I imagine most people wont notice whats not there.
Very highly recommended. I think this amp is amazing.|
|- Ray R, FL|
|Bought this initially for its extremely compact size and restrained design. Sound quality, however, turned out to be excellent -- better than the larger, audiophile amp I had before, giving a better soundstage and better clarity into the music.|
|- Robert F, CA|
||These do not cost enough!!!!!
|There is nothing wrong with these amps except for the price! It is far too low and does not begin to reflect the quality of the product or the sonic purity.
Seriously, I love these paired with the Zpre... A great small office or zone setup! Probably the finest value for any setup at two to three times the price.|
|- Vic W, VA|
||PARASOUND killer ROCKS classic, jazz, world,... MY I&I MUSIC
|I have a home office setup that consists of a Mac Mini with an external Terabyte of AAC 320 music library -- optically connected to a mid range DAC which spits its output into a PARASOUND Zpre and from there two Zamps. The sound stage and sonic quality is PHENOMENAL for the size and cost!
I can also optionally shape the sound with a Behringer Ultra Curve Pro and Gemenni 2-3 way crossover -- but frankly I hardly ever use those given how sweet the PARASOUND sounds.|
|- Vic W, VA|
|Ive always been a tube guy, but this
guy has me re-thinking my bias.... pun intended! It actually equals, and in some areas, beats the overall sonics of my SET amps....and, at a fraction of the cost!|
|- Gerry D, VA|
|This amp by parasound is a dream. It produces unbelievably open and airy sound!|
|- steve v, PA|