PARASOUND- Richard Schram & John Curl. Event write up by Larry Deniston
Parasound Event – September 16, 2017
SFAS members were treated to an interesting, enjoyable, and candid visit with Parasound founder Richard Schram and renowned circuit designer John Curl. Phil Jackson of Parasound also joined the event and presented the new Parasound phono stage, the JC 3 Jr.
The event started off with Richard describing his beginnings in Hi Fi through the establishment of Parasound. As many in the Hi Fi business do, Richard’s path started with the love of music which then developed into a love of Hi Fi, which then developed into a passion to bring music into people’s homes, and this continues to be a focal point of his work to this day. Richard started working at Pacific Stereo in the 1960s where he worked his way up through the ranks learning about sales, marketing, design, and manufacturing, working in ever-increasing levels of responsibility. CBS bought Pacific Stereo in the 1970s and Richard continued to work for CBS into the late 1980s and later became a consultant. Richard contemplated retirement, but not being satisfied with sitting around, he sought out the opportunity to start his own business, and this was the beginning of Parasound. The original Parasound product was an amplifier, the HCA 2200 which was later modified by John Curl and became the HCA 2200II. Richard and John have been working together on various products since 1989. According to Richard, Parasound has worked hard to become a high-value product line which works only with independent stores – no big chain stores and Parasound is the only company left that is both a manufacturer and retailer.
Next, SFAS members were treated to John Curl’s thoughts on his career path, which included working for the Grateful Dead and Mark Levinson among others. John’s main focus for circuit design is that the product must be done correctly, no short cuts or cheap parts. John worked for the Grateful Dead in 1970 and 1971, designing equipment while living in San Francisco. One of the more valuable lessons John learned from working with the Dead is that components such as coupling capacitors may measure OK, but may not sound very good. This drove him to reconsider how he designs circuits. John helped design test equipment to measure TIM and helped design and build the wall of sound for the Grateful Dead with the assistance of Mark Levinson. The Dead equipment was then developed into the Mark Levinson JC 2 preamp (not to be confused with the Parasound JC 2) and JC 1 phono stage.
After a short break Phil Jackson presented the new Parasound MM/MC phono stage (expected to be released in late October), the JC 3 Jr. ($1495). The JC 3 Jr. was connected to a Concept Turntable with a ClearAudio Maestro cartridge (courtesy of Music Lovers) and played through the Parasound JC 2 BP ($4495) preamp, the Parasound A21 amplifier ($2495) and Leslie’s Lawrence speakers.
Listened to the JC 3 Jr.: Phil first played Marc Cohn’s “Walking in Memphis.” which sounded clear, articulate and tonally pleasing. Then we listened to some cuts on Aretha Franklin’s Amazing Grace, which sounded equally involving, followed by Pat Metheny’s American Garage, and Eric Clapton and BB King’s “Riding with the King.” All sounded very nice.
Richard was nice enough to bring some Blu-Rays, CDs, and a Parasound Zphono phono stage to raffle at the end of the event. Scott Buzby was the lucky member to win the phono stage. Now he says he needs to set up his old turntable. Let us know how it sounds, Scott.
Our utmost appreciation to Richard, John and Phil for taking their valuable time to share their experiences and equipment with the SFAS members, plus they’ve indicated they’d like to come back and do it again! How great is that?