Parasound Halo JC3 Plus phono amplifier
- Regular price £3,999.99
"Six years ago we asked John Curl if he would create a reasonably priced Parasound Halo phono preamp with ultra low noise, in the spirit of his masterpiece, the Vendetta," said Richard Schram, the founder of Parasound. "Three years later we introduced the remarkable Parasound Halo JC 3 which has earned rave reviews from the audiophile press and a legion of vinyl enthusiasts."
During the design phase of the JC 3, Curl had rejected variable load adjustment because, compared with fixed resistors, potentiometers generally have higher intrinsic self-noise, which is an anathema to creation of an ultra-low noise phono stage. Curl prevailed (he always does), and the JC 3 was built with limited switched input load impedance choices. This decision disappointed some vinyl enthusiasts and reviewers who consider input load fine-tuning to be essential for certain cartridges.
Curl and circuit board designer Carl Thompson eventually consented to including variable load impedance adjustments, but with these caveats for the potentiometers: 1) They must comply with stringent performance requirements. 2) They must be manufactured by Vishay, a highly-regarded manufacturer of low-noise electronic parts. At that time Vishay did not offer a potentiometer that met these specific requirements. However they recognized an opportunity, and eventually agreed to develop the part and manufacture it in small quantities for Parasound. The outcome of this effort is the Parasound Halo JC 3+.
Naturally, the JC 3+ features independent variable MC load fine adjustment capability for each channel from 50-550 ohms using these special low-noise dual-gang potentiometers.
Parasound also took the opportunity to make additional performance improvements. Curl narrowed the spectrum of Johnson/Nyquist noise in the resistor that loads the input stage to maximize its low noise capabilities. Circuit-board designer Carl Thompson tweaked the phono module board layouts to further optimize every performance parameter. The copper circuit board traces in the phono modules are now 24 karat gold-plated where each part is soldered to provide unprecedented transparency and musical detail.
The MC signal to noise ratio is improved from 75dB to 87dB, A-weighted. MM gain has been increased slightly from 47dB to 48dB, while MC gain has been lowered from 68dB to 64dB so extra-high output MC cartridges won't cause the JC 3+ to overload the inputs of some line stage preamps.
"Where the JC 3 background was utterly 'black,' the JC 3+ black is, well, blacker." notes Schram. "While these may seem like small details, the JC 3 is already an incredible performer and Parasound is going for that little bit more in the JC 3+."
The JC 3+ power supply has also been significantly upgraded with 47 percent larger low-ESD power supply filter capacitors. This provides much greater current reserves for head-snapping dynamics. A new R-core power transformer is 82 percent larger to provide greater reserves for low-end impact that's beyond imagination.
Finally, at the suggestion of a few JC 3 customers, the company has added a simple on/off switch for the front panel P logo illumination
20 Hz - 20 kHz, +/- 0.2 dB
Total Harmonic Distortion
< 0.01% at 1 kHz
Signal to Noise Ratio, MM
> 87 dB, input shorted, IHF A-weighted
> 78 dB, input shorted, unweighted
Signal to Noise Ratio, MC
> 87 dB, input shorted, IHF A-weighted
> 67 dB, input shorted, unweighted
72 dB at 1 kHz
MM: 47k Ω
MC: 50 - 550 Ω variable, 47k Ω fixed
Unbalanced: < 100 Ω
Balanced: < 100 Ω per leg
Input Sensitivity at 1 kHz
MM: 4mV for 1 V output
MC: 600µV for 1 V output
MM: 48 dB
MC: 64 dB
XLR Pin Identification
1 = Ground (Shield)
2 = Positive
3 = Negative (Return)
AC Power Requirement
Standby: 1 watt
Power On: 12 watts
115 or 230 VAC 50 - 60 Hz
(Selected on Chassis Bottom)
Width: 17-1/4" (437mm)
Depth: 13-3/4" (350mm)
Height, with feet: 4-1/8" (105mm)
Height, without feet: 3-1/2" (89mm)
Net: 19 lbs. (8.6 Kg)
Shipping: 26 lbs. (11.8 Kg)
Rack Mount Accessory
HRA 2 (may be purchased separately)
AVTech Awards for 2015/16 (UK)
"Best Phono Stage."
Stereo Times, March 2016
"The Parasound seems to infuse instruments with air and musical life. Soundstage depth cues seemed almost tube-like in their dimensionality, and instrumental and vocal layering often left me wide- eyed and slack-jawed. High-end sound reproduction doesn't get much better than this. Thoroughly and very highly recommended!"
Hi-Fi World (UK) March 2016
"Outstanding-amongst the best. The soundstage was tight and honed, delivery was crisp, precise and accurate... forceful and exciting. Vocals were nothing less than haunting, while the low noise design offered a clean and open presentation." Five Globes.
Stereo Times Most Wanted Components 2015 Award
"This sturdy, well-built, and - at nearly 20 pounds - quite beefy unit, represents electronics wunderkind John Curl's latest thinking on affordable phono pre-amplification. The results are magical: impressively wide dynamics, superb neutrality, excellent detail retrieval, wide staging, holographic imaging, and more than a whiff of the air and ambiance one gets from great tube gear. In the real world, it doesn't get much better."
Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity Best of 2015
"Parasound's uncompromising approach has resulted in a truly stunning piece of gear. I'm confident that how the JC 3+ breathes life and energy into music is exceptional. After you've experienced it, it seems impossible to take even the smallest of steps backward. It invigorates everything it touches."
AV TECH media (UK) Awards 2015/2016
"Unerringly clean and crisp, modern-sounding design that remains fully able to communicate the alluring sound of vinyl replay, imparting the inherent flavor of a recording with consummate ease."
The Absolute Sound 2016 High-End Buyer's Guide
"The JC 3+ conveys a heady mix of profound silence and kick-butt energy."
HiFi News (UK) Finest Products 2015
"Essentially, the JC 3+ is an unerringly clean and crisp, modern-sounding design, yet one that remains fully able to communicate the alluring sound of vinyl replay."
HiFi News (UK) October 2015
"There is no shortage of phono stages on sale at the Parasound's price point, but the Halo JC 3+ stands out. A beautifully designed and built package, it boasts a good - if not totally comprehensive - range of facilities. Best of all is its superb sound quality; I have heard few better designs at any price, and the fact that it's able to achieve this for a sensible sum of money makes it an exceptional product."
Home Theater HiFi (March 2015)
"I'm confident that how the JC 3+ breathes life and energy into music is exceptional. After you've experienced it, it seems impossible to take even the smallest of steps backward. It invigorates everything it touches. The extraordinary thing is that every time you listen, it feels special and reminds you that this strange alchemy called audio sometimes fulfills its promise."
Stereophile Review Highlights
"As with the JC 1 and 2, the construction quality of the Halo JC 3 is first-rate."
"Like the Vendetta, the JC 3 wasn't merely quiet, or even really, really quiet-it was silent."
"In every case the portrayal of the recorded acoustic was exquisitely detailed."
"It's superb at both frequency extremes, and tonally it's as close to neutral as any component I've heard."
- Brian Damkroger
"As with John Curlís legendary Vendetta phono preamplifier, the Halo JC 3 was superbly quiet."
"Looking back through this report, I seem to have used the word superb several times, and justifiably so: The Parasound Halo JC 3 measured performance is indeed superb."
- John Atkinson
The Absolute Sound Review Highlights
"The internal layout was gorgeous, if like me, you're into such things. It abounds with top-quality parts including Vishay-Dale resistors and REL capacitors in critical circuits."
"it's as quiet as a mouse in hospital slippers."
"And this is key to its bat-sensitive low level resolving power, its ability to peer deeply into the small recess of a musical moment"
"Dynamically thereís a riveting balance of extremes at play, from profound ambient silence to rollicking kick-butt energy."
"this is the kind of resolving power and specificity that make the JC 3 so addictive."
"In terms of real-world performance, the place where most of us actually live, the Parasound Halo JC 3 is the best phono preamp Iíve heard in my system."
"My highest recommendation."
- Neil Gader
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