Parasound HCA-1200 Amplifiers

HCA-1200

200 Watt Power Amplifier - Bridgeable (1990-1993)

User Reviews (11)

Showing 1-10 of 11  
Byron4   AudioPhile [Aug 27, 2010]

I purchased this product new in 1993 and have used this product for about 17 years driving both my Acarian Alon 1's and my Magnepan MMG's. First of all the the reliability of Parasound products are great. I have also purchased their PHP-850 preamp and HCA-600 power amps about 13 years ago which one of my kids and my wife are now using. These products are indestructible and just keep on working with absolutely no problems despite constant use.

One of the problems with my Acarian speakers is they are very sensitive to the amplifiers driving them. About 15 years ago, I was at a high end shop where Acarian speakers were being driven with an Aragon amp that must have cost twice as much as my Parasound and the speakers sounded awful. Light weight bass and a shrill harsh sound that made me thankful I had bought my Parasound amplifier. I have also listened to Acarian speakers being driven by Krell electronics and that combination sounded wonderful. Obviously certain speakers such as Acarian (or now Nola) need enough current to get the most out of your speakers and amplifiers like Parasound are definitely up for the job. In addition these speakers will pass through whatever bad sound your amplifier makes.

My Parasound also had no trouble driving my Magnepans. Magnepans are another current hungry product, however, my Parasound never ran out of steam. These are now in a home office and I could listen to them all day and not wish I had something better.

Parasound makes a wide range of products and I am not familiar with their upscale Halo line but I would find it hard to improve on their Classic line which would be the comparable models to Parasound products I have purchased. If you want a great sounding product that will last a long time this would be the products to buy. Since these products are low maintenance you may never need to replace them.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
stoneeh   Audio Enthusiast [Aug 09, 2010]

Picked this up recently for 350€ on Ebay.

I've used quite a few amps so I have some comparison here.

Concerning kick and tightness of the deep bass, this is one of the best amps I've heard so far. It has its flaws in the bass too, for example it's a bit harsh and won't carve out details as refinedly as some more expensive amps to. However, these are complaints at a very high level.

Concerning mids and highs, this isn't even bad. It tends to be on the harsh side in the upper mids, and if you crank up the volume this gets worse. But this amp has an authentic sound to it. Music comes through clear and straight.

Overall, I wouldn't prefer it to some more HiFi type of amplifiers, like the great Sony TA-F808 ES or the Denon PMA S10 II which I currently use, but still, I was pleasently surprised, and I think it can make a great bass amp in many systems.

Those Parasound amps are sometimes mentioned in the same breath as the Yamaha AX-1050/1070/1090, or the Denon POA 4400/6600. Don't let yourself be fooled. This Parasound has better sound in all spectrums than these amplifiers, and can hold its own in terms of power too.

Overall great bang for the buck!

OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
5
Daniel Naveen   AudioPhile [Oct 03, 2007]
Strength:

-It has a beautiful and unique sonic signature.
-Doesn't try to analyse the music, makes it enjoyable instead.
-Powerful.

Weakness:

- Sound stage could use more height.
- Looks like a lump of just some amp(but then it isn't)

I just bought one of these from the used market (for 11,000INR) and its one amazing amp, at the price i paid for it i've heard nothing that even comes close. This is very good value for money and i actually prefer this over the 1200mkII. The sound isn't silken smooth at the top but neither is it as bright and clinical as a NAD 216(still a good amp).

Similar Products Used: NAD 216, NAD 208 .....
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Daniel   Audio Enthusiast [Nov 15, 2002]
Strength:

Can play loud, very dynamic, truthful to the original reproduction. The unit really is built like a tank!

Weakness:

No longer in production, though authorized Parasound retailers still have the ability to fix it if parts go kaput.

I'm not willing to take out a loan to purchase my audio system in one fell swoop, so I've instead run the strategy of purchasing components as I can afford them. My quest started four years ago when I wondered into a local audio boutique named "Audio Labs", where a very good salesman took the time to explain to me the difference between consumer audio and audiophile equipment. The argument was supported by cut-out views of the inside of a Bose speaker and the inside of a Paradigm Monitor Series speaker. Suffice to say, alot of what is mentioned in the Bose FAQ (try a search on google) is absolutely right, and applicable to most of the mainstream manufacturers. Three months after my first visit to "Audio Labs" I had saved up $600 and purchased a pair of Paradigm Monitor 7's. These were hooked up to an old Kenwood amp and ca. 1984 Sony CD player. The difference between the 7's and the previous Radio Shack speakers were immediate. Much better representation of sound, across the entire spectrum. But I didn't really get any of the "imaging", etc, etc. that a lot of audiophiles seem to rave about. And I found I was getting headaches after listening at moderate volume for more than an hour (also known as listening fatigue). Two years later I drove down to Kansas City to review the NAD T550 DVD player. I'd read a couple of reviews on NAD's website and here on Audioreview.com, and decided to give it an audition. I returned to Des Moines with a T550 in hand and $800 less in my pocket, but the purchase was well worth it. That DVD player was designed primarily with audio in mind. Go and check out NAD's website, you'll see what I mean from reading the reviews. Once again the sound in my (then) apartment was greatly improved, both for CD's and movies. The next set of upgrades would be a Parasound preamp and amp, because whenever I visited "Audio Labs", that is what I listened to, and every time I got that *tingle*, the feeling that I was actually in the same room as whatever performer I was listening to. I should mention I try to attend as much free live music (country, blues, jazz, choral, orchestra, church) as I can, which the midwest is good at providing. This past summer I got the money together to purchase the $850 Parasound AVC 1800 home theater preamp from "Audio Labs" (It was on clearance). It sat in the box until I purchased the Parasound HCA 1200 on ebay. I intend to purchase a Parasound HCA 855A or 1205A, but do not currently have the money to purchase them retail (support you local outlet or else they'll go away!), and decided upon the 1200 as a two channel stopgap. The nice thing about the 1200 is it can be bridged, and I intend to run it on my homemade subwoofer (8 cubic feet internal volume, 18" cone, double 3/4" mdf sheets for the front baffle) once I make my final amp upgrade. The 1200 is awesome. The bass control is tight and low. The prior Kenwood amp (rated at 100 wpc) just could not get the Monitor 7's to produce any low frequency waves, which I knew should be possible from visiting the dealer. With the Parasound replacements, I can hear the subtle whump whump of Sully's footsteps in Monster's Inc. The top end is also much improved; I can walk around the room I'm playing music in and be working on something and still hear stereo separation! The headaches are a thing of the past. Lastly, the 1200 will play a LOT louder, and does a good job of not distorting the sound when doing so. Suffice to say I'm very happy with this purchase. I do believe, though, that the HCA 1500 is a slight improvement over the older 1200, but the 1500 will run you quite a few more $$$. I would not consider the HCA 1000, it's just to small physically, and a good portion of having spent the money is having eqiupment which weighs 40lbs shipping weight!

Similar Products Used: Have listened to Krell (spendy, why bother?), Marantz (poor quality IMO), Rotel (good stuff, check them out), Onkyo (mainstream, but still pretty good), and NAD (also good stuff, but not as lb. heavy
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
Stevie Z   AudioPhile [Sep 23, 2002]
Strength:

Extremely dependable and powerful. Easy to operate. Has protection circuits for overloads and hi temps (won't ever need them) Can be rack mounted using the RMK-1000 rack mount kit. Great Amp!

Weakness:

No RCA speaker connections

I have been a mobile DJ for over 12 years now. Started at a bowling alley in 1990 doing a Friday Night 4 hour Rock-N-Bowl. This was my first amp that I had for my DJ business and have used it for over 12 years now. It continues to impress me day in and night out. I knew that it wasn't a commercial type of amplifier but it was all I could afford back in 1990 when I was first starting my business. It is truly and undoubtedly one of the most dependable and powerful amps that I've come across. I also have a Peavy CS 1000X that I don't even use because I feel the Parasound is the far better amp. It has not even breathed hard and I have driven it for as long as 10 hours straight at very high volumes, no kidding!! This amp doesn't even have a cooling fan. It has never gotten hot, never clipped. It's like the energizer bunny***keeps going and going. I will continue to use it until it croaks and I honestly believe it never will. I drive a pair of 12" and 15" 2 way JBL PA speakers with this amp at the same time. It will also drive a twin 15" subwoofer (4 ohms at 600 watts with no problem. The amp is so crystal clear and extremely powerful to drive most any speaker out there. It's been a true winner for me and I highly recommend it!!

Similar Products Used: Peavy CS 1000X. This is a good amp but I would put the Parasound HCA 1200 ahead of it. Had some clipping problems with the Peavy at medium volumes. Have never had "any" problems with the Parasound HCA
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
john safron   Audio Enthusiast [Sep 01, 2002]
Strength:

power vs. price

Weakness:

bright high's

i have owned many diferent amp's (rotel,denon,nad etc.)granted none of these are high ticket pieces of equipment,but for the price, i paid $400 i ended up buying another for biamping purposes. the highs is somewhat bright,but for price and power, these amps are well worth their weight on the used market (ebay audiogon here)

Similar Products Used: see above
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
Mario   Audiophile [Feb 28, 2000]
Strength:

Good csometics.

Weakness:

Bright, grainy sound.

I purchased one of these (A 1200II) at a price that was irresistable; so I bit the bait in hopes of tweaking it for better sound. But, I have to say, you get what you pay for. The fact is, this thing sounds little better than a Mid Fi product. Tight, anal-retentive bass does blend good with a bright, grainy, high end! A Krell it ain't.

As for tweaking, a good ac power cord is a must! And stay away from any interconnects that have even the slightest hint of brightness. And oh yes; beware of transformer hum. that is the reason for the input level controls in the rear of the of the thing. But the thing that bothered me most with the 1200II was grain and lack of depth to the imaging.
If you doubt what I say, check out Anthony Cordesman review of Parasound's top-of-the line System in the January 2000 issue of Audio magazine. They echo my feelings totally. And Cordesman (The man who saved ADCOM's ass with his rave review of the ADCOM 555 amp, one of the worse sounding amps ever to pass as 'high-end on us poor suckers)
is definitely NOT one of my favorite reviewers.
The bottome line is, always go for synergy AND musicality.
Not to pick on Parasound, but the fact is, hyper detail and high power ratings aren't everything; you also need musicality!

Similar Products Used: B&K EX442, HK Citation, Anthem Amp1
OVERALL
RATING
2
VALUE
RATING
3
Dave Ward   Audio Enthusiast [Dec 25, 1999]
Strength:

Tight Bass Articulate powerfull


Tight Bass Articulate delivery.
This amp delivers! I push my speakers hard at times but the amp never sounds harsh which is a sighn of clipping before I reach the level I somtimes desire.
I purchased this amp new in 1995 and have had no trouble with it,and the way it has performed over the years I dont exspect to.

Dave.

Similar Products Used: Harmon Kardon amp
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Dennis   an Audio Enthusiast [Jan 29, 1999]

I picked up one of these for $400 used and have been very happy with it. My only complaint is the pop you hear in the speakers on power-up. This thing is built like a tank and has plenty of power. I hear things in the music now that I never knew existed! Thanks Parasound!

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
Crispy   an Audiophile [Jun 04, 1999]

I have used many different amplifiers over the years, and I would have to say that this amp has been hands-down the most musically impressive of them all. I am not, perhaps, in the company of the most elite of listeners: i.e. tube amps with five and six digit price tags... but I am a pretty good judge of quality sound. I would have to say that I agree with a previous entry, in that you WILL HEAR things in music that eluded you prior to your Parasound experience. I would really like to have a second one of these, and if someone out there is willing to part with an HCA 1200II for a reasonable price, I would probably snatch it up! Newer listeners into the market should not hesitate to purchase one of these over the "common genre" of amplifiers on the market. You will not be disappointed, although I encourage you to run a dedicated power source and read the operation manual thoroughly to fully understand and appreciate this amp. (Yeah for John Curl!)

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
Showing 1-10 of 11  

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