Parasound's A23+ Power Amplifier Swung For the Fences!
Over the past year, I have used the Parasound P6 Preamplifier within my two-channel system paired with various amplifiers. I have been delighted with its performance, ease of use, and overall styling. After matching it with its counterpart, the A23+ from Parasound, it became a magical fit for my system all around.
Those of you who have never heard of Parasound is a company that prides itself on making solid products without trying to take your entire life savings. I believe a system comprised of Parasound components can be impressive enough for the consumer seeking an excellent sounding system without having to refi your house. Price is always a touchy misconception in HiFi; however, this article isn't about pricing politics. Parasound does have a wide range of offerings; however, they have always been known for their excellent amplifiers.
Upgraded from its predecessor, the A23, a staple in the company's line of Halo products for 17 years, has packed the A23+ with new goodies. At 8 ohms, the amplifier is capable of 160 watts per channel instead of the 125 that the A23 produced. It has a heftier transformer, which I would assume is the source of the increase in amplification. There are a few cosmetic upgrades, like the aluminum end caps and gold highlights. Parasound has also added gold on gold internal audio connections. Parasound didn't leave anything to chance with this Class A/AB powerhouse.
The circuitry was designed by the legendary John Curl. For those of you who don't know John Curl, he's one of the most respected circuit designers of all time and the creative genius behind Parasound's high-end audio and home theater amplifiers. Before working with Parasound, he did some fantastic stuff for Ultra High-End brand Mark Levinson. Parasound found a unicorn within Mr. Curl since his philosophy on designing amplifiers is an approach that is rare amongst the mass market factories. He insists on only using the finest parts and balanced circuits. He avoids excess design, which keeps the product at a reasonable value but maintains high quality since he refuses to source cheap components. This gives Parasound an incredible competitive advantage in the amplification market because their products are premiere on the inside as they are aesthetically gorgeous on the out.
Available in Black or Silver, one of my favorite design features is the gold accents and trim. The gold accents on the black model add so much distinction to what is usually a more industrial design in their ZoneMaster and New Classic product lines. The Halo series has a more luxurious look to the outside of the amplifier. The front panel is very minimalist and matter of fact. It has an illuminated on and off button and a few indicator lights to make you aware of whether the amp is functioning correctly. There are two sets of heavy-duty 24 karat gold plated 5-way binding posts on the rear. There are gain knobs for each channel so you can fine-tune your listening experience. The A23+ also features left-right loop output connectors that pass through the input audio signals for connecting several devices in a linear series. For example, adding additional external amplifiers or connecting a subwoofer. The main power switch is near the power connector, the turn-on option switch, and the 12v trigger input and output can be found on the left side of the back panel. If you want the entire list of specs and features, visit their website here.
As I mentioned earlier, I paired the A23+ with the P6 Preamplifier, which I have been using for a while now. I love the P6; the features and functionality are spectacular. It's everything you would want from a superb Preamp. However, the system sang beautifully paired with the A23+ and the Dali Oberon 3's streaming through my Bluesound Node 2i. This amplifier has a well-balanced sound character and incredible detail in every frequency range, maintaining its brilliance even at higher volumes without struggling to drive the Oberon's without a hitch. I played a variety of genres as I always do; however, where this matching really shined is the low-end frequency range. I have never heard bass from the Oberon's as I did with this match. It could be because at full power, the A23+ is rated all the way down to 5Hz, so your speakers can just open up and play as low as they want.
Parasound is now two for two with me, providing two fantastic experiences. I am curious how the Hint 6, their integrated offering, operates alongside the P6 with the A23+. Overall, the A23+ has the outstanding build quality of a high-end amp and a clean design that anyone would be proud to showcase in their setups. It delivers a natural sound with exceptional dynamics and a nicely balanced and neutral sonic signature. It exceeds expectations in the low-end frequencies in an outstanding manner. At under $1,600, this is a win for me. I would recommend this amplifier for someone serious about their signal chain's sound and want a versatile product that can scale with their system. I believe the P6 paired with the A23+ is one of those matches that could very well last 10 or more years without even a thought of upgrading.