Parasound A23 - Amazing comments from a self-proclaimed expert (part 1 ... see part 2 on my next thread)

Mr Tripp

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Aug 1, 2019
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Hello - I am new to this forum, but belong to a few others and have been a fan and owner of high end audio equipment since the '70s. Unfortunately, due to a recent change in my living arrangements, it became necessary for me to sell my entire previous system and replaced it with something more appropriate for the size of the listening room in my new residence. Included in this system is a NOS (new old stock) Parasound A23 power amp. Parasound does not specialize in ultra high end products, but has a reputation of manufacturing high quality audio components viewed by both the audio industry and consumers alike as excellent "value plays".

Prior to purchasing the A23, I took time to audition it and several other comparably priced power amps in a number of different set-ups. I also undertook some online research to familiarize myself with each of the amplifiers I was considering. All of the reviews that I read were, with the exception of one (which is the subject of this thread), generally positive in their assessment of the A23. I also read a number of audio blogs / forums to learn what other folks had experienced with the A23.

In one particular forum (name withheld in the interest of journalistic courtesy), I came upon the negative review of the A23. The author of that review (who happened to be that forum's administrator) offered a most unfavorable opinion of the A23. Unfortunately, he chose to do so by using numerous scathing, obnoxious and unprofessional descriptive comments that were largely unnecessary.

To offer some comic relief to those taking time to read this thread, presented in the following paragraphs are excerpts from that author’s assessment of the A23 which, as you will see, is not supported by any laboratory-based evidence whatsoever.

“In light of our slow shift toward two-channel audio, I decided it would be a good idea to start with something basic, like a stereo power amplifier, and after considering various brands and models, I decided on the Parasound A23. Reading through the marketing literature of the A23, we note that the circuit is designed by John Curl of Mark Levinson fame. I guess this is supposed to be a good thing, but on the other hand Parasound’s decision to blurt this out makes me apprehensive … sort of like when Carly Fiorina invented the HP slogan “invent” when, in fact, HP was no longer inventing but instead was merely making shitty inkjet printers for the masses.”

“Looking at the back of the unit, I see two pots which control gain for the left and right channels. The maximum clockwise position is marked “THX Reference”. Oh shit! A look at the front of the panel reveals the THX logo. Double oh shit!! Now, I wonder how much money Parasound give to THX and, thereby, pass on to the customer. Well, my friends, Parasound is a big name so I assure myself that maybe they didn’t have to pay too much. Regardless of the THX certification, I didn’t like that these gain controls were pots and not steppers or even multi-position switches. And I sure don’t like having to resort to measuring any near gear to ensure that the L / R channels are within 0.2db of each other. Sometimes steppers make sense, but six, or even four positions, would have been enough here. And, by the way, what the hell is “THX reference level”? This should be clearly defined somewhere … like in the owner’s manual … duh. Never assume consumers, yes, YOUR customers Parasound, are stupid.”

“On the back panel, there are unbalanced and balanced inputs, an RCA loop out and one set of speaker terminals for L & R. There also are three switches for ground lift, selecting between inputs and a mono bridged mode. I’ll be upfront here. The arrangement of the inputs and speaker outputs on the back panel is utterly SHIT-TASTIC! Unless the unit is racked and not sitting on a surface, the speaker terminals are positioned far too low to allow the use of spade connectors unless they are oriented downward from the cable … a very unnatural arrangement. The problem is that arranging spade connectors this way impedes the connection of balanced XLR inputs. This is simply terribly poor design and caused a complete clusterfuck when trying to connect everything.”

“Now, let’s move on to sound. I hooked the A23 to my Schiit Freya preamp and the 90db efficient FOSTEX BLH horns that use the Fe108 Sigma driver, then pressed play on my CDP. I also had the supertweeters hooked up.”

“Well friends, my jaw dropped in horror. I paid a little over $900 for this crap, this utter garbage. This amp is COMPLETE UTTER GARBAGE! Apologies to Parasound, but being nice also compels me to be honest with our readers and, in this case, I will invoke the Mr. Spock clause – “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few” … or even the one. Besides, no one is going to believe me any way, especially in the backwoods of the Internet, and Parasound will continue to sell lots of this garbage to the uninformed masses, so no harm done by me.”

“The bass is rubbery, the overall sound is smeared, the soundstage is flat and compressed and the resolution is extremely poor … no ambiance, no decay, simplified and very blurred microdynamics. The highs are OK, but there is a distinct disjointedness between the bass and treble. Those who know me know that I place a very high priority on a cohesive presentation throughout the entire audio band. At least the midrange rendering, when taken into isolation, or with bandwidth limited recordings, is reasonably nice and has sort of a euphonic presentation.”

“In summary, the Parasound A23 is like a student artist who has great ideas along the lines of Dali, but cannot execute the basics … like draw. We hear occasional flashes of potential greatness, but what ends up on the canvas looks like my eight-year old son’s drawing of our pet cat. I don’t expect Dali, but I do expect basic competence. BTW, the Crest CA2 amplifier is much better sounding. While the presentation is more literal, non-audiophiles will most certainly agree that the CA2 renders far superior control, focus, attack and resolution than does the A23. No, it doesn’t take specialist audiophile ears to hear the difference between the Crest CA2 and Parasound A23. The back panel of the Crest CA2 offers a far more sensible layout with the speaker terminals oriented vertically and the inputs far away from the speaker inputs. Also, the CA2’s switch for bridge mode is indented so not to be accidentally triggered as occurred with the poorly designed A23.”
 

cjfrbw

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2010
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Pleasanton, CA
Years ago I found an A23 at Goodwill with the electronics paraphernalia for $45, so I bought it. You have to let these amps stay on for a while to get best sound, like, for hours. It did sound a little steely to me coming from tubes, but not terrible, though the amp did get hot. It was certainly not as awful as the review suggests.

Good news was I sold it for $480 a few years later, one of the very few 'profit' things vs. large loss I owned in audio.
 
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Mr Tripp

Member
Aug 1, 2019
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0
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Years ago I found an A23 at Goodwill with the electronics paraphernalia for $45, so I bought it. You have to let these amps stay on for a while to get best sound, like, for hours. It did sound a little steely to me coming from tubes, but not terrible, though the amp did get hot. It was certainly not as awful as the review suggests.

Good news was I sold it for $480 a few years later, one of the very few 'profit' things vs. large loss I owned in audio.

Dear Forum Member - The A23 uses solid state circuitry, not tubes.
 

cjfrbw

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2010
2,969
778
550
Pleasanton, CA
Yes, I am aware A23 is SS and that is the amplifier that I am talking about. I said 'coming from tubes' not A23 uses tubes. It was a comparison.
 

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