Sound & Vision|April - May 2020
I LIKE SIMPLE. Simple is good. Simple works. Simple makes my job easier and helps me sleep at night.
Parasound, a Bay Area maker with a half-century of success walking the parapet between high-end audiophilia and value-engineering design, apparently concurs. The company’s new NewClassic 200 Integrated is, as you might well guess, an integrated amplifier, with a high-quality onboard digital-to-analog converter section. The 200 Integrated was in fact derived by the simple expedient of sliding a class-D stereo power amp sourced from Danish class-D amp-module stalwart Pascal Audio into its otherwise-identical preamp stablemate. This slim, two-channel module delivers a claimed 110 watts per channel into either 4-ohm or 8-ohm loads with typical class-D efficiency, pulling only a modest 50 watts from the wall.
Simple, in this case, does not mean stripped-down, however— not hardly. The Parasound is well-constructed on an oldfashioned steel chassis and nicely but unfussily finished. The amp’s D/A converter, a 24-bit/192kHz design borrowed from the company’s well-regarded Halo P 5 preamplifier(discontinued) is limited to 96kHz from its USB input but tops out at 192kHz from optical or coaxial digital connections.
There’s also an onboard phono preamp compatible with both moving-magnet and moving-coil cartridges, an unusual bonus. Next, analog-domain bass management is manifested by subwoofer outputs and crossover filtering supplying both a fixed 80 Hz low-pass and an unfiltered sub output, along with a variable (and, of course, defeatable) high-pass to the main left/right outputs present on both speaker and preamp-level outs. (The full range sub output could also service a mono whole-house zone.) Parasound’s clever “bypass” input— basically, a power-amp input—lets it integrate with a volume-controlled source like a music streamer or stand-in for the front left/right channels of an A/V receiver for serious two-channel listening. In the latter use-case, the 200 Integrated could drive the front main speakers with more or “better” power for both stereo and multi-channel listening while providing the option to select among the dedicated listening sources feeding its own inputs.
The 200 Integrated’s front has two nice-feeling knobs for volume and input-select, along with a mini-jack headphone output and mini-jack stereo input. Around back are speaker outputs on solid multiway posts, a pair of line-level stereo RCA inputs, and a phono input with selectable gain (the portable device-friendly front-panel minijack overrides one of these). Digital inputs comprise optical, coaxial, and asynchronous USB type-B. There’s also a 12-volt trigger output, an IR input, and an RS-232 port to link the 200 Integrated with a whole-house system using Control4, Crestron, or other protocols.
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April - May 2020