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Parasound NewClassic 200 Pre Review

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Next, I moved the 200 Pre to my living room system, replacing my NAD Monitor Series 1000 preamplifier. A couple weeks ago I had switched my stereo components around and currently have my Acoustic Research “The AR Turntable” with a Sumiko Premier MMT tonearm in the living room. I have been using the inexpensive Sumiko Black moving magnet phono cartridge with the Deft 1 stylus playing mostly rock records. The 200 Pre was connected to my 29-year-old Parasound HCA-1200 power amplifier driving a pair of Magnepan MMG speakers. This was a great combination and, not surprisingly, improved on the NAD preamplifier, which sold for $350 back in 1993. When combined with the Parasound HCA-1200 power amplifier, the 200 Pre delivered an effortless sound.

Finally, I connected the Parasound NewClassic 200 Pre to my office stereo system: Goldring turntable with Talisman low output moving coil cartridge, Quicksilver 25-watt tube mono blocks, and Acarian Systems Alon 1 speakers. I see a lot of tube preamplifiers paired with solid state amplifiers to get the tube sound with the power of solid state. It would be interesting to see how this Parasound solid state preamplifier works with a pair of low powered tube amplifiers. I also wanted to see how well the Parasound’s moving coil phono input would work with the Talisman. Given the Parasound’s specified 50 dB gain for MC, I wondered if it might need to be restricted to use with higher output moving coils.

The Parasound NewClassic 200 Pre phono stage had no trouble amplifying the low signal without introducing any noise. This suggests to me that you should be able to accommodate a wide range of phono cartridges, both MM and MC, with this preamplifier. I played my Miles Davis Kind of Blue record and was rewarded with the natural sound, the side to side imaging, and the wide soundstage that gets you the “you are there” feeling. This also tells me that the line stage portion of this preamplifier is very quiet with no supplemental noise. The biggest difference using the Talisman versus my less expensive phono cartridges was the front to back layering of music. The Talisman also gave me the bloom that was missing. The 200 Pre phono stage is good enough to bring out the advantages of using a better phono cartridge, which is important if you play a lot of records as I do, especially classical and big band music. Using the Parasound preamplifier with the Quicksilver power amplifiers worked surprisingly well.

In the office system with the Alon speakers, the Parasound 200 Pre replaced the tubed Antique Sound Lab Line One, which is a relatively stripped-down preamp compared to the Parasound: no phono stage, DAC, tape loop, balance or tone controls. It still suits my needs and that is important. I had gone all tubes with the ASL and Quicksilver units in order to tame the upper midrange and get rid of some harshness from the  Alons. Yet with the solid state 200 Pre, the system was engaging and very satisfying with all of the records I played, similar to the Wyred4Sound and the Rotel integrated amplifiers. My Alons were not harsh with the Parasound and this is without softening the highs. The bass was a little light, probably because I was using 25-watt tube power amplifiers; however, it still had a fairly complete fullness. This combination really displayed the excellence of this preamplifier. I would go as far to say the 200 Pre sounded as good as my Line One with the added benefits of the aforementioned features. Also, you never need to replace any tubes.

The 200 Pre’s volume knob had to be turned several rotations to go from zero to my normal listening levels, indicating very fine incremental increases. The default volume is set to zero upon turn-on, which is nice to avoid the power on thump or excessive volume.

In the past fifty years I bought three tube preamplifiers, beginning with the Audio Innovations L-1 linestage and the AMC CVT-1030, which had a good phono stage. The Audio Innovation was rather noisy, and while the AMC sounded wonderful and I enjoyed it for ten years, the tubes were not user replaceable. Then I replaced the AMC with the Antique Sound Lab Line One linestage. The NewClassic 200 Pre was vastly superior to the sound of the Audio Innovation L-1 and comparable to the other tube preamplifiers. The Parasound HP-850 preamplifier that I bought at the same time as the Audio Innovation and the AMC is still in operation.

I really enjoyed the time I spent with the Parasound NewClassic 200 Pre. I consider its $999 price a bargain for what proved to be a wonderful preamplifier that includes a quality phono stage for moving magnet and moving coil phono cartridges; a quality DAC; and a host of other features, many of which, such as the subwoofer outputs, I did not have time to explore. And, again, I go back to my experience of great reliability from this brand. Every Parasound product I have bought still works without ever giving me a single problem.

I plan on reviewing the 275 v.2 power amplifier in an upcoming review, so stay tuned. Meanwhile the Parasound NewClassic 200 Pre preamplifier is highly recommended and would be a nice centerpiece for anyone putting together a system where a feature-rich preamp in the $1,000 price range, or even well above that, is desired.


Copy editor: Dan Rubin

One Response to Parasound NewClassic 200 Pre Review

  1. Rob says:

    I might ad, the remote is very intuitive and easy to use. Everything you would want is easily noticable and logically layer out. I generally don’t even need to look at it now that I’m use to it. My fingers just know the buttons. And no multi-button press combo crap to get where I want.

    Happy classic 200 pre owner for the past 18 months.

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