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Upgrade power amp to Halo A51?

Discussion in 'AV Pre-Amp/Processors & Power Amps' started by sjp21, May 11, 2005.

  1. sjp21

    sjp21
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    I've seen a number of recent threads on the Halo A51. Its got me wondering whether my current power amp is doing my system justice or not.

    Current system: DVD (Arcam FMJ DV29), Processor (TAG AV32 Dual Processor), Speakers (Fronts: Proac Response 1sc, Centre: Proac CC1, Rears: M&K S-85, Sub: Velodyne DD-15).

    Current power amp: Primare A30.5 (5 * 120w)

    I've had the Primare for about 2 years now and during that time have upgraded just about every other component. While the Primare is a great amp, upgraditis has struck again and I'm wondering whether the Halo A51 would provide noticable improvements to my current system. Obviously the best bet will be to try and get a home demo but any advice would be helpful at this stage.

    Cheers
    Steve
     
  2. Daneel

    Daneel
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    Having heard the A30.5 and the A51 I would suggest it will sound different but not necessarily better. I loved the Primare for music, the Parasound is more neutral which may be better for movies but may not be ideal for music.

    The A51 certainly has more power (though the A30.5 is far from underpowered) but I'm not sure that your speakers need any more.

    It looks to me like you have a very nice system with no particularly weak areas, I'd be tempted to leave it alone if you are happy with the sound and perhaps upgrade the display instead?
     
  3. NMyTree

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    In my opinion, the difference and upgrade would be more along the lines of the Halo A51 providing you with a bit more headroom and more slam.

    The Halo A51 is a wonderful amp and sounds real nice. Although, you will probably notice a difference in the kind of sound your system delivers.

    Whether the Halo's sound is better than your Primare A30.5, is a matter of personal taste.

    The Halo is no slouch and it does both Music and HT ....beautifully!

    But with your speakers, I don't believe you really need more power. It won't hurt to have the Halo A51's extra power, just not so sure you need it.

    With the A30.5 having seperate power supplies for each channel, I just don't think you need to go to the Halo A51. Just my opinion.

    Although, if I were you and had my mind set on making some kind of change; I would buy the Primare A30.3 mkII ..three channel power amp, use it to power my fronts speakers (Left/Right/ Center), and use the A30.5 for the rear speakers. This way if you want to add extra speakers (sides and rear) you'll be able to step up to 6.1, 7.1 and 8.1.......without changing anything else. Simple add ons.

    Unless you have intentions of buying some floorstanding front speakers (which require more power) in the future, than getting a larger amp would be a great idea.

    I feel that the fronts and Center are the speakers that will require more power from an amp, in any system.

    What are the dimensions of your room?
     
  4. sjp21

    sjp21
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    Thanks for these comments, really helpful. I think you're both right that the extra power is probably unneccessary with the current speakers. I've tried to build a system which is equally at home with music and movies. The front speakers are definately more music orientated and are probably a good partner for the Primare. I can't see myself changing the speakers for a while, so will probably stick with the current amp. I suppose the other option would be to look at something like the Bryston 9B-ST (or SST) - same power as the Primare but better quality amplification.

    Thanks again.
    Steve
     
  5. NMyTree

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    Just for the record, I'm of the opinion that the Parasound A51 is a high quality amplifier.

    Not sure what the Bryston would have in terms of quality, over the Halo A 51. Remember, the Halo A51 is Parasounds top of the line Multi-channel Amp. It is a wonderfully designed piece of gear with very high quality parts.

    Sonically, I believe you would be closer in sound character to your current set up, than the Bryston.

    I have found the Bryston to be overly clinical and dry in it's sound presentation. But that's my ears and your mileage may vary.
     
  6. u32t5645

    u32t5645
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    I have had both a Primare A30.5 and a Parasound Halo A52 in my home pushing Vienna Acoustics speakers: Beethoven (L/R), Hayden(LR/RR), and Maestro(C). For music, the Primare kind of has it overall, but not by much, and for me it really doesn’t matter. More on that at the end. Overall, the A30.5 might have it with female vocals. It’s a tad warmer.

    Oddly enough, while I didn’t expect to notice any power related difference between the A30.5 200w/channel and the A52’s 225w/channel (at 4ohms), the difference was obvious. My preference for casual listening is around 60db. Neither amp has a problem with that. I rarely, if ever, listen at surround reference level, but I could hear the Primare having to work when getting close to that level, the low end didn’t seem as tight and wasn’t keeping up. Not what I expected at all! I doubt I would have even known if I didn’t have something to compare it to. For me, the 400w/channel (at 4ohms) from a Halo A51 would probably be over kill.

    Don’t know if this is important you, but the Primare is using unbalanced inputs. The Halo amps give you a choice with both unbalanced RCA and balanced XLR inputs with a ground lift switch. What that does is disconnect an XLR’s shield/chassis ground from the signal ground (XLR pin #1). Preference is for those two grounds to be common to help avoid establishing a ground loop problem, but not every preamp manf designs the XLR grounds the same…hence the switch on the Halos. (More info on this can be found at the Rane website. See RaneNote #110, Sound System Interconnection.) Don’t know if you have XLR on your Tag AV32, but if you catch ‘upgraditis’ again and decide the pre/pro is the problem, it could be important.

    With respect to Daneel’s comment about the Primare being better for music, I will agree…but only a little. I couldn’t tell you which amp is better for music because I think it depends on what your musical tastes are. The difference between the two amps for male voices wasn’t noticeable. I prefer a warmer sound with female vocals, but a brighter sound with electronics based compositions like Tangerine Dream’s stuff, and for some Jimi Hendrix. Other Hendrix stuff I like warmer, as I also do with stuff heavy on strings. The point is, I have to live with trade-offs no matter what amp I get…pre/pro, speakers…whatever. Some seems to work better for one genre of music, but not necessarily within a single album, as with something by Jimi Hendrix. Either amp works for me when it comes to cinema as I am a much less critical listener with that.

    Just some thoughts…
    :)
     
  7. NMyTree

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    Keep in mind that the Halo A51 is a different animal, than the Halo A52.

    Like I said the A51 is top of the line, and it's not just all about the extra power. The A51 has superior audio and superior electronics/parts.

    Listening to the A52 will not give you an idea of what the A51 sounds like.


    u32t5645, if you have the time and desire I would love to hear your impressions and experiences with the Vienna Acoustics speakers ( Beethoven). Wouldn't mind seeing a few pics, either :D

    But impressions alone would be nice.

    I'll bet your system sounds fantastic. Nice gear!

    Lately, I've been considering Vienna Acoustics.
     
  8. rags

    rags
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    The Halo components are not fully balanced which kind of semi defeats the purpose of having the XLR outputs/inputs in the first place. Very good kit though regardless.
     
  9. u32t5645

    u32t5645
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    The A51 and the A52 look exactly identical, except one is bigger. Why wouldn’t they sound the same, except one louder?
    :D

    Ok, now I'm curious about the difference between the two Halo amps. Now I need to go and listen...not like I had any other plans for the weekend.
    :)

    I’ll get back with you about the VA’s. The chief executive officer demanded the lighter maple finish. When it comes to décor, she is always right. They’re beautiful in an all white room. Waiting on SVS to build a maple cabinet for one of their new 12in subs. Should be here by month’s end.
     
  10. NMyTree

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    What I have had quite a few Parasound Halo owners tell me is, that they really love using the Halo A21 (two channel) to drive their L/R speakers, and then the Halo A51 to drive their Center Channel and Surrounds/Rears.

    This seems to get some wonderful results, by their accounts.

    I have the Halo A21, but not the Halo A51. But I do love that A21! Real nice amp!!!
     
  11. u32t5645

    u32t5645
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    Just got off the phone with Parasound. The C51 and C52 are designed to be identical amps, one with more power output than the other. There was no intent of one being better than the other. If one has any better components than the other, it is purely happenstance, not intentional.

    As far as any differences in sound, here’s what they said, “We’ve never put them side-by-side, but I would think the C51 would sound better because it has more power.”

    I have an A23 sitting in the corner, still in the box. The intent was exactly as you mention, use the A23 for the main L/R speakers, and the A52 for the surrounds. Just haven’t gotten around to it yet.

    I don’t know what, if any, difference there is between the A21 and the A23 amps. I didn’t ask. I suspect they are just 2-channel versions of the A5x amps. I think you can bridge the A21 or A23, but you can’t bridge any part of the A51 or A52. Could be the A2x are entirely different animals, but I doubt it when I consider the Halo as a series. You don’t want too much difference between components unless some part of the series becomes unbalanced in its sound characteristics. I would think any radically different equipment would be moved into its own series.

    Rags – you’re right! The Halo series is what they called a quasi-balanced system. Uses less parts. They said their “J” series of amps (whatever those are???) are true balanced systems, basically dual everything.
     
  12. NMyTree

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    That's interesting, because I seem to remember a thread on Audio Asylum where John Curl fielded a question regarding the differences between the A21/51....and the A52/A23 amps, and he seemed to indicate that the A21/A51 were utilizing higher quality internal parts, than the A52/A23.

    Maybe I misread what he said.

    I'm going to check the AA site in a little bit, and see if I can find the thread. Hopefully it's still there.

    "J" Series? Hmmmmm......could he have been talking about the Halo JC1? I know I have seen people claim the JC1 is completely balanced.
     
  13. u32t5645

    u32t5645
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    Maybe I wasn’t clear. Parasound said the multi-channel A51 and A52 are very much similar. I did not inquire as to the stereo A21 or A23 so those could very well be totally different.

    Just looking at specs, it seems the A21 + A51 would be matched, and the A23 + A52 would be matched; each pair offering either 125/200w or 250/400w of 7-channel surround. Also, an additional stereo amp (A21 or A23) could be added as bridged mono to drive a lfe subwoofer. That’s just me guessing…I have no idea if that is Parasound’s intent.

    I was thinking from a marketing point of view it might be to Parasound’s advantage to have similar equipment in a product line. If any one amplifier in the series is better than the rest, then Halo kind of fails as their ‘flagship’ product line. Again, just me guessing…and not knowing.

    Never heard of any “J” Halos. I only know what is on their website, which isn’t much. I looked at their list of manuals. Parasound has a smorgasbord of amps, but I didn’t see any “J” anything.

    This from Parasound's Halo C1 controller/processor web page:

    Halo components have earned the highest praise from top magazine reviewers and critics across the globe. The striking industrial design of these products was given the prestigious Good Design Award from the Chicago Athenaeum, and our remarkable JC 1 power amplifier was crowned Amplifier of the Year by Stereophile magazine - a significant honor which until now was bestowed only upon products at vastly higher prices.

    You should call them with any techie questions. Their toll free number is 1 (866) 770-8324. Punch either ext 2 or 4. If you start off with “I have a dumb question…” they’ll think you are me.
    :D
     
  14. NMyTree

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    Yeah, I understand....I'm sure the A51/A52 are very similar.

    But from what I understand there is a slight difference in the quality of the parts used. Form what I understand the designs are exactly the same, but some of the parts are different......higher quality in the A51 and A21.

    I found one of the quotes by John Curl, who designed the Amps.

    " Three means third class. Cheap product. Not necessarily bad product, just very cost effective. "


    There is a designation of numbers with these Halo products:

    First Tier: The Halo C1 PrePro and JC1 Amplifier being the higest quality pieces, along with the A21 and A51.

    Second Tier: C2 Pre Pro and A52 Amp

    Third Tier: The A23 Amp, the P3 Audio PreAmp and the T3 Tuner

    Parasound has a strictly multi-channel audio -Halo P2 Pre Amp coming out soon.

    There's also rumors of an Universal DVD/CD/DVD-Audio/SACD player coming out this year. Don't know the designation, but I imagine it will be in the 1 or 2 designation.

    Also heard that they are working on a Halo top of the line 2-channel audio PreAmp, that could be in the "J" designation. Supposedly it's being designed to mate with the Halo JC1 amps. Don't know if it's true....may be just a rumor.
     
  15. NMyTree

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    I'm failry confident that when he said "J" Halo, he meant the JC1 Amp.
     
  16. u32t5645

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    Thanks, NMyTree. That makes sense. If there is any discrepancy between what Curl wrote and what Parasound told me, I think I would be inclined to lean toward Curl’s description. On the other hand it could be that as the model numbers get smaller, the power of the amps gets bigger and the parts needed to build a bigger amp may be of an inherently better quality. That would be consistent with what Parasound told me. Nonetheless, I am now curious about any sonic difference between the Parasound amps in the Halo line.

    I found the JC1 amp listed on the Parasound website under [Halo] [Amps]. It’s a beast! 400w/8ohms mono amp coming in at 64lbs. I’ll take 7 of them.
    :)
     
  17. NMyTree

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    :rotfl: :rotfl: :D

    Hell yeah! I'll take seven of them too.....oh wait.....I can't afford that :eek: :rotfl:

    I think you hit it right on the head. I also think that with the A23, P3, and T3, the factory is much more liberal with the part substitutions when they run out of the originally designated part. I think that's what it all comes down to. I believe they are much more strict and committed to the correct designated parts for the JC1, C1, A21 and A51. No substitutions. Especially the JC1.

    I think they become more liberal as the designation numbers move into A52 and A23.
     

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