Reviews 1 - 1 (1 Reviews Total)
a Audio EnthusiastDate Reviewed:
October 9, 2006Bottom Line:
I've always been of the belief that, given a system of excellent components all around, if preamp "B" sounds better than preamp "A." then, if the speakers are changed with another pair of commensurate quality, preamp "B" will still be the better performer. Hoo Boy, have I discovered now that that isn't true, and "component-matching" is a very real aspect of this business/hobby.
I own both the Adcom GFP-565 (a very highly rated and regarded unit) as well as the Parasound PLD-1100, and had initially replaced the Adcom with the Parasound to drive my B&W 802F Specials, using an Adcom GFA-5800 amp. I lived in a different home at the time, with an entirely different acoustic environment, and after moving fairly recently to a home in which my listening room offers substantially superior acoustics, I decided to give the 'ol Adcom another try, after having used the Parasound PLD-1100 for a couple of years. In my new home, unlike my previous one, the Adcom seemed a better match with the B&W's. Its analytical detail worked well with them, reducing a lot of midrange "glare" I felt I was getting with the Parsound (something that wasn't so in my previous home and listening room).
Not too long ago, I dragged out my old Dahlquist DQ-10's, and after having the woofers completely rebuilt by Regnar in NY, connected them instead of the B&W's and was astounded at how much better the DQ-10's sounded in this new environment. I've written extensively about the DQ-10's before, so I won't clutter up this review with my comments about them.
Then, onlyl this past weekend, I decided to swap out the Parsound PLD-1100 for the Adcom, as now that I was hearing the DQ-10's as I'd never heard them before, I thought I's see how they sounded with the Parsound PLD-1100, as I'd never before listened to that combination.
Well, the difference is all but astonishing, and very much in favor of the Parasound unit: much more "punch" with most music; far stronger and better detailed bass; and a much broader and deeper soundstage. I also made this switcheroo while three other non-audiophile "types" (my wife, my neighhbor and his wife) listened. I first played four different recordings, of four completely different kinds of music. Then, I switched out the preamps and played all four pieces again. Every one of us felt, without question, that the Parsound sounded better in every respect. On a David Lanz CD, his piano sounded more like a real piano, than an electronic one; on a Telarc recording of one of Dvoraks "Slavonic Dances," there was considerably better inner detail, and less midrange "smear;": on the "Alleluia" from Ben-Hur on another Telarc dsic, the voices were clearer, more distinct, and noticeably further back, behind the speakers; and on an Enya disc, all the electronic stuff (that she uses lots of!) sounded better defined and with a good deal more, and better delineated bass.
In terms of specs, the Adcom "outperforms" the Parsound, but then, can you REALLY hear the difference between .0025% and.005% distortion? I hardly think so.
The Parsound PLD-1100 is a "Line-Drive" preamplifier, designed by John Curl, an industry legend and pioneer of high end audio gear. All inputs must be of the same level, and as such, there is no phono stage. I found this quite surprising, and had no idea that the unit lacked a phono circuit. Fortunately, the PPH-100 Parasound phono preamp costs (if anyone can still find one around) only $100, and does a wonderful job.
The phono stage of the Adcom was its most highly praised attritute, with Sterophile claiming that it actually sounded better than a $7,000 unit from another manufacturer. To my ears, while the Adcom phono stage is quite excellent, the outboard Parasound unit , connected to the "Aux" input of the PLD-1100 sounds better in every way imagineable. I suspect a fairer comparison of phono stages would have been to connect the PPH-100 to the "Aux" inputs of the Adcom, and then compare that sound to the sound of the phono through the Adcom's internal phono circuit, but I never did that.
In terms of features and functions, the Parsound may be considered somewhat lacking. The front panel consists only of a few selector switches with a very small balance knob, and a larger, remote-control Alps volume knob. There are no tone controls; no "loudness" compensation; no high filter; no processor loop; and, to my surprise, no tape monitor. I suspect this was to keep the signal within the unit as "pristine" and "un-fooled-around-with" as possible, but as a tape monitor is only a loop, I think this was a serious oversight. I don't do much recording on either my Reel to Reel or Cassette decks anymore, but on the rare occasions that I do, I can only monitor the recording itself during actual recording via headphones on the tape decks themselves. Not the worst problem in the world, but annoying nonetheless.
I use a Definitive Technology SP-15F powered subwoofer, and with the PLD-1100, the bass is stronger, has a definite musical quality instead of just "boom," and goes a good deal deeper than it did with the Adcom. Organ pedal notes, as well as some of the deep stuff from synthesiziers shake me to the core! Both preamps have a several sets of outputs, allowing me to run my main speakers (whether the 802's or the DQ-10's) full-range, along with the sub. On the rear of the Adcom, all the inputs and outputs are very, very close together, making the use of some "super" (and super expensive!) audiophile cables all but impossible, as the thicker, and better insulated ends either touch one another, or just don't fit. That's not a problem at all with the PLD-1100, with its far more widely separated inputs. Both units have gold-plated inputs. The Adcom has additional AC outlets, but the Parasound has none.
The Parasound PLD-1100 also has a "Direct" input, which, according to the instruction manual, provides the cleanest and least obstructed path for the signal to go to the unit's outputs. That's fine, and I suspect that the material I listen to through the "Direct" inputs (CD's) does sound better than if played through the "CD" input, but there's no signal sent to the tape outputs, so one has to disconnect the cables from "Direct" to "CD" if one wishes to record a CD. That IS a nuisance.
For most of us audio "enthusiasts" (I still don't consider myself an "audiophile"), putting up with a unit's idosyncracies is part of the game, and I'm willing to put up with a few inconveniences, if having to do so provides me with better sound. And, at least to my ears (as well as the three folks I mentioned at the start of this review), better sound is indeed achieved with the Parsound PLD-1100 than with the Adcom GFP-565.
The Parsound PLD-1100 originally sold for $1,000, but can occasionally be found for a mere fraction of that on various online websites. I got mine at a 50% off "insider" discount (as I was employed within the industry at the time, and received this discount on just about every audio component I've ever owned), and think that now that others can buy it for less, all I can say is, "What are you waiting for?"
Used product for: More than 1 year
Duration Product Used: Audio Enthusiast
Product model year: 2001
Purchased At: Direct from Parasoun
Reviews 1 - 1 (1 Reviews Total)