November, 2018 SFAS Event – Parasound Event with Richard Schram and John Curl
After last years’ fun and informative Parasound event with Richard Schram and John Curl, we followed up with another enjoyable event with the dynamic duo this year.
There were a couple of big announcements from Parasound at the event: The recent debut of the latest John Curl designed amplifier, the JC 5, and addition of another phono preamplifier to the Parasound line-up, the Zphono XRM.
The JC 5 is a solid-state amplifier rated at 400 WPC into 8 ohms and 600 WPC into 4 ohms. The JC 5 is designed, with minimal trade offs, to emulate a pair of the renowned JC 1 mono block amplifiers in a single chassis. The JC 5 design includes a high-bias class A/AB design with the first 12 watts being pure class A. Other features of the John Curl designed circuitry are 90 amps peak current per channel, stable impedance to 1.5 ohms, JFET input stage, MOSFET driver stage and 24 beta-matched 15 ampere, 60 MHz bipolar output transistors.
The Zphono XRM (X=XLR, R=rumble filter, M=mono switch) is the latest foray into vinyl reproduction by Parasound, filling a sub-$1000 niche at $599. This phono stage is loaded for the price point with moving magnet and moving coil gain settings and loading set by dials, not dip switches. Plus, the Zphono XRM has a balanced output. The official release date for the Zphono XRM is early December 2018.
Parasound brought and set up most of the system used at the event which included the JC 5 amp ($5,995), the JC 2 BP preamp ($4,295), the ZPhono XRM ($599 – static display), a Marantz CD 5005 ($399), Tekton Double Impact speakers ($3,000), and an AMR DP777 signature addition DAC ($5,750 supplied by Leslie), all connected with inexpensive cables.
Richard Schram started off the event with a brief description of the Tekton speakers and their high value/performance ratio. The speakers did sound quite good, filling the large conference room with ample bass, nice highs and tonally accurate music.
John Curl then talked about the new JC 5 that he designed. As noted above, the intent of the JC 5 was to get most of the performance of a pair of JC 1 monoblocks in a more manageable single chassis form. The JC 1 has been in production for about 18 years and has been included in the Stereophile Class A ranking system twice a year for the past 18 years which, in and of itself, is a remarkable feat. Richard and John let it slip that they’re working on a new JC 1 design that may be available next year.
We were treated with several music breaks with a variety of music tracks all sounding quite good through the system.
At the end of the event we had a drawing for a Parasound Zphono XRM phono stage kindly donated by Parasound. The lucky winner was Kevin Olson. The following is a quote from Kevin in an email to Parasound:
“The Zphono arrived cold and damp. I unboxed it and allowed it to warm up before putting it into my main system. I love the knob to set the MC loading. Very easy. The balanced outputs were used.
Wow! I’m impressed! Colorful rich tonality. Where are the tubes? Good imaging and dynamics. Fun!
This makes records FUN. I just kept spinning vinyl.
The Zphono XRM really exceeded my expectations. I love it.
The XRM made me question the load settings on my ‘big’ phono preamp. Changes were made.
Thank you again for the wonderful phono preamp. I was looking for one to add phono in a revamped second system. This is perfect!”