Parasound Halo JC5 power amplifier Page 2

The result is an amplifier operating with an enriched bias and claiming to deliver its first 12W in Class A. It uses a high voltage input stage, a technique not unlike that seen in some T+A amplifiers [HFN May '17], together with substantial reservoir capacitance in the PSUs for the input stage (8,880µF) and power output stage (132,000µF), the latter sourced from capacitor specialist Rubycon. These are visible in our inside shot alongside the massive (blue) toroidal transformer with its premium grade steel core and separate windings for each channel.

sqnote.jpg Prodigious Power
Parasound rates the JC5 down to 5Hz and that bass extension seems entirely credible when listening, as does the prodigious multi-hundred watt power rating. Be in no doubt: this amplifier can sound totally brutal when the music requires. During the review period I ran it on the end of the excellent Benchmark HPA4 headphone amp/preamp [HFN Nov '18] – which, despite its compact dimensions, is more than up to the task – and discovered the JC5 capable of a massive, yet clearly resolved sound.

With the recent 96kHz/24-bit remaster of Led Zeppelin's The Song Remains The Same [Swan Song 0603497862757], it powered out the basslines on 'Dazed And Confused' – yes, all half hour of it – and then thundered through Bonham's workout on 'Moby Dick', phase effects and all. This is one fast, hard-hitting amplifier, and it exerts a superb grip on the speakers (my PMC OB1s in this instance) to make sure they do what it wants, as was clear from the drums pounding the listening room.

Of course, you don't have to give the JC5 a rock workout to hear what it can do in the power department, for it's just as convincing with the attack and scale of a large symphony orchestra in full flight. This was certainly the case with the recent 192kHz/24-bit Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin/Robin Ticciati recording of Ravel's Valses Nobles et Sentimentales [from Aimer et Mourir; Linn Records CKD 610].


However a recording such as this also allows the amplifier to show its light touch with the finer details of both the music and the production. But this isn't a Jekyll and Hyde job, with finesse in the first few watts followed by screaming, relentless power when you push the levels. Rather, it undergoes a subtle transformation between the two, maintaining its control as it unleashes all that extra oomph.

Exciting Ride
That said, it can get a bit raucous around the edges when really pushed, and certainly won't please those who like their music either sanitised or delivered free of nasty shocks. So if you're more of a genteel audiophile listener than a warts 'n all music fan, you might find the sound of the JC5 a bit forthright for your tastes, choice of partnering loudspeaker notwithstanding. But what it lacks in rose-tinted lushness it more than makes up for with the sheer level of excitement it can generate, plus the ability to drive speakers hard while keeping them under control. Nevertheless, the JC5 can still play nice…

Listen to the amp playing something as simple as Chas & Dave's 'Sling Your Hook', the late Chas Hodges' message to the cancer that finally took his life [from the pair's last album, A Little Bit Of Us; Rockney COOKCD704], and the combination of humour and determination is made clear in the performance, the sound giving fine presence to both the vocals and the instruments. If you ever needed convincing of the fine musicianship belied by the knees-up 'songs round the old joanna' misconception of the duo, this will deliver it, and the intimate ambience is clear with the JC5 at cruise level, as is the speed of the amp when Hodges gives it some real Jerry Lee stride on his reading of 'Roses Of Picardy'.

Fresh From The Box
I also noticed that the amplifier doesn't seem to require much running-in or warm-up, the sound remaining consistent whether just powered up from standby or left on for an extended period by bypassing the auto-power switching. But to say it simply comes out fighting would be doing it a disservice because, as we've already discovered, it's far from being a one-trick bruiser.

More to the point is the joyous realisation that the JC5 is an entirely fuss-free performer, requiring no tweakery or molly-coddling to be heard at its best.

Hi-Fi News Verdict
It's more than possible to have an absolute blast with this amplifier. Those who think nothing of using for parties the kind of five-figure system at the heart of which it will sit won't be disappointed in the least – it will just keep on going as long as you can. However, there's so much more refinement than that on offer here, and the JC5 will please even if you never explore the limits of its performance envelope.

Parasound Products, Inc
California, USA
Supplied by: Connected Distribution Ltd, Gloucs
01242 511133