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  1. #1
    Administrator Tracy Rainwater's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003

    Parasound Halo P5 2.1 Channel Preamp Review

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    If you are like me, you have struggled to find a preamp/processor that truly does everything well. While most are great at processing movie soundtracks, they can suck the life out of music.

    If you are still with me, here's a product that may interest you, Parasound's Halo P5 2.1 Channel Preamp.

    The P5 is unique in that it is not only a stereo preamp, it is .1 better. Yes, it does indeed have a dedicated subwoofer output and bass management to back it up. In addition, Parasound has incorporated Burr-Brown PCM1798 DACs with USB, Optical and Coax inputs for you digital sources and a home theater bypass, for easy integration into your existing system.

    Another thing that oddly enough has me stoked is the appearance of bass & treble controls with defeat from remote or front panel. Call me crazy, but I miss a preamp with physical tone controls.

    Here's a bit of Dennis Burger's review:

    The Halo P 5 2.1-channel stereo preamplifier, a feature-packed product with nearly everything the digital and analog audiophile could hope for all wrapped up in one pretty package. In addition to its USB DAC capabilities, the P 5 features coaxial and optical digital inputs, five sets of stereo line-level inputs and one balanced XLR stereo input, a switchable Moving Magnet/Moving Coil phono input, home theater bypass capabilities and, perhaps most strikingly, as its name implies, a subwooferoutput with analog bass management.

    All of those capabilities are housed within a gorgeous rack-mountable chassis measuring 17.25 x 13.75 x 3.5 inches (not counting its tootsies) and weighing in at a respectable 14 pounds. The P 5 feels incredibly well built for a product in its price class ($1095), and although I'm not overly enthusiastic about the plastic that frames its brushed-aluminum front panel, that's the only subjective black mark against what is otherwise an exceptionally well laid-out and beautiful-looking façade. Its larger buttons at the bottom left and right (for standby power and muting) are a pleasure to the touch and seem quite sturdy, despite their delicate look; its smaller knobs (for bass and treble tone control, input selection, sub level, and balance) have a wonderful soft-touch feel, and its volume knob delivers exactly the amount of physical resistance, solidity, and smoothness of operation that I would aim for if I were in the volume-knob-design business.

    As I said, I began my evaluation of the Halo P 5 connected directly to my Paradigm A2s, sans amp and subwoofer, in an effort to minimize variables. My initial impression of the P 5 compared with my Emotiva XDA-2 was that the Parasound preamp was a weensy bit meatier and fuller-bodied, with a smoother high end. It's a subtle difference, no doubt about it, but an appreciable one nonetheless. Which is more accurate? I honestly couldn't tell you, but I do prefer the bit of extra meatiness and smoother treble delivered by the P 5.
    It took a bit of listening before I picked up on another, perhaps subtler but more meaningful difference. In the track "What Are You Going to Do When You Are Not Saving the World?" from Hans Zimmer's score for Man of Steel (WaterTower Music), there was no denying the fact that the rapid string riff that kicks in at the 1:27 mark, as well as the sledgehammer percussion assault starting at 2:39, were cleaner and more precise via the Parasound, with a sound that more accurately represents actual instruments (). Perhaps it's better handling of transients. Perhaps it's the fact that, despite only supporting USB Class 1 Audio, there's better digital-to-analog conversion going on here. At any rate, it was clear that, on its own, the P 5 does a wonderful job of resolving fine details in music.

    Click the link above to read Dennis' review in its entirety.

    Anyone heard the Halo P5? I may have to clear up some rack space for this.

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2013

    I've kicked around a Parasound P7 more than once... would run an oppo bdp 105 directly into it. It's not the P5, but imagine they are close.


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