Parasound HCA-1201A Amplifiers

HCA-1201A

High current mono amplifier. THX Ultra certified. Balanced and unbalanced inputs. 150W @ 8ohms/240W @ 4ohms. Remote turn on.

User Reviews (17)

Showing 1-10 of 17  
high-def-pro   AudioPhile [May 29, 2010]

I have a pair of these blocks and they have worked flawlessly for eight years every day. They are very clean, straightforward, no frills sounding amps. They are very flat with no color, they will not make a speaker sound better but you will hear everything in the mix if your monitors can deliver the play back. They are very detailed, the low end is quick and tight, and the top end is very controlled and articulate with no breakup. The top end is not smooth but that does not equal bad, as I said they are true and may not be a good match with bright small speakers. They have a decent sound stage, and like every other amp they are only as good as your speakers are. I use them in a professional studio everyday and they deliver all the time. I use the balanced inputs and clean monster power to power them. I think if you have a bad setup or misuse them you’re going to get negative results. As for built quality, I think they are beautiful everything lines up; the front panel finish is perfect with a clean high grade brush black face. There are well vented and also pretty heavy too for their size. Who cares about the THX logo, but it is certified and I don’t think Lucas is pretty lax about passing that badge around. These mono blocks are not super high end amps, but they are definitely far superior to a lot of amps in this price range. In fact I don’t think you could find better in this price range. Don’t listen to the hype, these are well made amps and they are from a very reputable company in amplification. By using the balanced inputs and good clean power they will deliver good solid performance. Anybody can blow an amp.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Alan D   AudioPhile [Mar 24, 2002]
Strength:

Price per watt for 1 to 2 channels

Weakness:

Poor build quality

Not what they claim to be. Nearly all Parasound amps are very solidly built, John Curl designs. However the HCA-1201A is no more than an offshore design that was originally built for Sound Design. One look at the internals and comparing it to a Parasound HCA-1000A''s internals, and you immediately know they didn''t spring from the same source. Parasound amps are built with very high quality parts and mil-spec silicon boards. The HCA-1201A is run of the mill parts. The sound is passable in a mid-quality system. I would be very concerned about long-term reliability. I had originally hoped that these would be excellent in a multi-channel system, starting first with 2 and then building up to 5, 6, or 7. A pure monoblock, true Parasound amp system would be a great foundation for a Home Theater system. However at $1500-$1750 for 7 channels, these are not a bargain, especially given the quality. This is in the same price range as the 7 channel, 200wpc Outlaw amp and the Outlaw is far better built. It''s a shame these aren''t what one would hope they would be, but, as in most things, you get what you pay for. And $250 for a high quality, John Curl monoblock turned out to be too good to be true.

Similar Products Used: Other Parasound amps, Rotel, Denon
OVERALL
RATING
2
VALUE
RATING
2
Phil   Audio Enthusiast [Feb 10, 2002]

Tried these in lieu of Roksan Caspian. What a bargain, I can''t say how these stack up to other monoblocks but noticed dramatic difference going to these. For the price I bought these I could possibly bi-amp my speakers for the price I paid for the Caspian. Much better imaging, more 3-d soundstage, dynamics improved which I figure gave my music more rhythm. Hard for me to imagine a better buy right now. As for transformer hum, I think the guy below is mistaken about lots of causes - the hum is a ground loop. Get a three to two prong adapter at walmart for 50 cents for one of your amps and the hum was gone throughout my system. My only beef is that the power cord is supposed to be 14awg... i don''t think it''s thick enough to be 14awg, more like 16awg. Pray I won''t have problems with these. At least Parasound gives them a 10-year warranty.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
jjohannsen   AudioPhile [Feb 08, 2002]
Strength:

Lots of power for little $

Weakness:

Cheap parts, made in Taiwan, average sound at best

Good design but poor quality parts and assembly. These are no more than Soundstream amps with a new face plate and the power swith moved to the front panel. My set had turn on problems. Then they made a loud snapping sound when they finally powered up. The MA500 and MA700 amps sound better and cost about the same. The ST140M blow these away (they should, they are 4X as expensive). I sent mine back to Audio Advisor and got my money back minus shipping. I am going to buy the ST140M instead.

Similar Products Used: Marantz MA500, Marantz MA700, B&K ST140M
OVERALL
RATING
2
VALUE
RATING
3
George   Audio Enthusiast [Feb 06, 2002]
Strength:

At this price, I won''t complain. I felt I got a better sense of dynamics from these amps than I did with my nad integrated. More impact.

Weakness:

These really show up the higher the front end you attach them to. A tendency to be bright and somewhat grainy. (a Citation 7.0 will make them sound this way, but my NAD 340 won''t) They try to be more detailed than smooth.

I have asses like the last guy who posted that review, (he paid $95 at ebay, but bought them from audioadvisor?) Besides, start driving most any amplifier to its max and you''ll blow it out. Who complains about an amplifier blowing out after they drive it to the max? What did they expect to happen? For the price they are great amplifiers. Balanced inputs and a detachable AC cord lets you tinker with upgrades. Lots of things contribute to transformer hum, especially what that power cord is plugged into - these amps suck in a lot of power so be warned. I think you can get better quality but for this price, you expect overseas production, and you expect better sound than you''ll get from cheap integrateds and receivers. Plus you get the 10year warranty. With that in mind, these were a great buy at $500.

Similar Products Used: Citation, Marantz, NAD, Roksan, Rotel, Infinity, Bohlender Graebner
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
Michael   Audiophile [Jan 03, 2001]
Strength:

Great power, imaging, and warmth.

I have seven of these amps for a home theater set-up (I am bi-amping the front L/R speakers so I need 7). I am using them in combination with the Parasound AVC-1800 primarily for HT, but some 2 channel as well. After about 20 hours of break-in, these amps seem to mate very well with the Paradigm Reference V2 speakers I am using. I could not be happier with my investment. I considered a few of the multi-channel amps from Parasound (2205/1505), but I felt for HT, these amps were a better choice. I cannot believe the quality you get for the low price you pay. IMHO -- these deserve an audition if you are in the market for a new amp/amps in their price range.

Similar Products Used: Rotel/NAD/Citation
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
harry   Audio Enthusiast [Jan 19, 2001]
Strength:

simple, good sound amp

Weakness:

poor build quality

Having had to take one amp in for warrenty work, I looked
at the insides of this amp. No double sided circuit boards
as stated. Hand soldered connections really bad, and
rust as well. If the review below is accurate, it explains
the above. Did john Crull design this unit, if from another
manufactuer, who knows? If it has matched semiconducters, why no color markings, for say, gain, on any of the semiconductors. If it has a 1.5 KW transformer, I'll
eat my shorts.

I like the sound of this amp, the monoblock, Parasound
concept is a good on. I wonder about the marketing
departments of both Parasound and Audioadvisor, perhaps
they should look at politics as their next step.

OVERALL
RATING
1
VALUE
RATING
3
Jimm   Audio Enthusiast [Feb 08, 2001]
Strength:

Price?

Weakness:

Many. One of these amps just could not handle the 4 ohm impedance of my Magnepan 1.6's.

These amps sound nice when working properly. The problem must be build quality, as previously stated by several posters here. One of my amps started humming and then just died when I was playing music at a moderate level! Fuses were replaced, and the problem kept on occuring. I get the impression that these things were built in a third world country with cheaper parts, given the looks of the internal electronics. Yes, there is a reason why a pair of monoblocks are only $500. Stay away from this model.

Similar Products Used: NAD, Proton, Rotel
OVERALL
RATING
2
VALUE
RATING
2
djnhxm xmhf   Casual Listener [Sep 09, 2001]
Strength:

cheap
....otherwise bullcrap

Weakness:

Questionable build quality

I bought the ad at audioadvisor and got a pair. What's too lose with their 30day return policy?
I use them to drive a pair of magnepan MMG's, i have a NAD c160 preamp and sony 9000ES dvd/SACD player (SACD is sweet).
The magnepans suck power and these amps handled them pretty well, that is until i drove them to the max. One of the amps just died on me after 20 hrs of use.
Opening them up, the fuses in the inside were blown. I replaced them and the new ones blew immediately. The interior build quality is high school electronics shop quality. The soldering job was sloppy and the connectors were not fully seated. After fixing the connectors, the amp continued to blow the fuses.
I called audioadvisor, and they were very pleasant and eager to fix my problem. They sent a UPS pickup order so i don't have to pay anything. They won't cross ship unless you put it on your CC and then get refunded upon return. That is a practice i'm ok with.
I'm not one to give out 5 stars to everything i own. The build quality is not up to rotel or adcom standards. Don't kid yourself, there is a reason why these are only $500.

Similar Products Used: Adcom, Rotel, Arcam
OVERALL
RATING
1
VALUE
RATING
1
Ken   Audio Enthusiast [Jan 30, 2001]
Strength:

lots of clean power

Weakness:

physical depth of the unit, susceptible to ground loop hum

I started shopping for an integrated amp or amp/pre-amp combo when I could no longer tolerate the intermittent noise problems with my old Carver. I'm driving a pair of Advent Heritage towers which sound nice but are anything *but* efficient, so I needed something fairly muscular.
The amp I *really* wanted was the Musical Fidelity A300 integrated. Even though it's considered a bargain, $1500 is not chump change for me. But the Parasound 1201A seemed like a pretty good bang for the buck, so I paired it up with the Creek OBH-12 passive pre-amp, figuring I owed it to myself to listen to them. I figured if I like them, great, I've saved myself $700. If I don't, just return them and (gulp!) get the MF unit. So far, I like them. They still sound a little bright to my ears, but it's clean and clear, and as they burn in they seem to be filling out in the low end. It's not really a problem, I have an EQ that's really pretty quiet, so I can tailor the sound to my taste with that if necessary.

I was very frustrated by a significant hum whenever I connected any video equipment to the system; I finally figured out that it was a ground loop, and a $1.49 2-prong plug adapter from Radio Shack seems to have fixed the problem. I've also ordered a Tributaries GroundGuard from Audio Advisor, we'll see how that works out, but it may prove unnecessary.

The 1201A is 16" long, so it wouldn't fit in my entertainment center without removing a section of the back panel. Shouldn't be a problem with an open rack setup. I was afraid they would run hot, but so far that hasn't been the case.

I wish the input impedance on the 1201A was a bit closer to 50 ohms, then it would be a little better match with the Creek OBH-12 passive pre-amp. In practical terms, though, I will *never* listen with it turned all the way up. I tried it today, just to see what it was like, and although it was quite loud, I'm certain that the amps and speakers have more to give.

In summary, I think the Parasound 1201A is an excellent value, and would work well in a lot of HT or stereo setups. It's not being made anymore, but with Parasound's 10-year warranty it seems like it would be hard to go too far wrong with this unit.

My setup:
Sony S333 DVD player
Creek OBH-12 pre-amp
Parasound 1201A amps
WireWorld Solstice III interconnects
Audio Quest Type 4 speaker cables
Advent Heritage loudspeakers

Similar Products Used: Carver, NAD
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
Showing 1-10 of 17  

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