Parasound A31 Amplifier

Although Parasound's Halo amplifiers have stayed basically unchanged for more than a decade, they're considered to provide outstanding value, even by the standards of today: benchmark-quality audio for budget costs. Boasting classic circuit designs costs which range from just under $1000 to a couple thousand dollars and by famous engineer John Curl, Parasound's Halo versions have got a fervent following among value-minded audiophiles.

Several years back, Parasound introduced the Halo A31 ($3295 USD), a three-channel variation of the top of the line stereo and multichannel amplifiers, as well as the topic of the review. It joins the two channel Halo A21 as well as the five-channel Halo A51 - just the Halo JC 1 monoblock prices more.

Parasound says the Halo A31 was created in response to the growing demand to get a high performance, high power, three-channel amplifier.


The circuit layout for the Halo A31 of John Curl features complemental coordinated pairs for the input signal pre- driver stages, coordinated pairs for the driver points of MOSFETs, and an impressive eight fit 15A, 60MHz bipolar output transistors for every channel. The huge, encapsulated toroidal transformer generates 1.5kVA, and has separate secondary windings for each channel and 98,400microF of power supply filter capacitance.

The A31 comes correctly packaged in a big box that is double. The various screws fastening the top plate somewhat protrude and can be observable, but aren't especially distracting. The Parasound symbol stamped to the top plate, as well as the various fins of the big heatsinks that consist of the side panels, are covered in a high quality, black-anodized finish that provides a professional, refined look to the A31. All Halo products can be purchased in silver or black finish.

The round and somewhat curved front panel is a matter of beauty. The golden lettering is understated, as well as the reddish Parasound symbol glows to indicate the mains power is connected. Just one button throws the amp from standby to on, and four miniature lights - one per station, plus one for electricity - glow gently blue to signal action. The ends of the front panel look made of plastic, but are well matched, and do not detract from the handsomeness of the A31, or the total impression of excellent build quality.

About back, the Halo A31 is remarkable. The power-on choices include 12V Trigger, Manual, and Automobile, with the flexible Turn On Brink. I can also adjusts the gain -6dB using the Gain Standard/THX knob. My only gripe about the built A31 is out of place in terms of the impeccable appearance and build quality and that while its binding posts are asserted to be of high quality, they seem a bit cheap. You can find additionally an IEC receptacle for the power cord that is supplied, a mains power switch, and two big handles.

Three to get prepared...

I set the Parasound Halo A31 up to drive the three front channels of my benchmark multichannel system, mostly having an Anthem Statement D2 surround sound chip to hear multichannel films and audio recordings along with two channel records. The front loudspeakers were KEF's R900 and R600C (centre). My Definitive Technology BP-8080ST environment an Axiom ADA powered loudspeakers - a Bel Canto eVo6 or 1000. Additionally , I used a set of Definitive Technology Mythos ST-Ls.

Go go, cat

The Halo A31 was extraordinary with two channel records. It'd imaging and the exceptional foil, with a lot of grip, that you'd expect from a high powered solid state amp, but nonetheless, it also had a fullness through the midrange, as well as a smooth treble that has been not difficult to hear while being quite showing. At low volume levels, the A31 took control of my loudspeakers, supplying a just defined soundstage, together with a tasteful sound which was at once wealthy and asking. And it'd no trouble driving my loudspeakers to any volume level I wanted.

While the power and bass command of the Halo A31 were remarkable, its midrange clarity and skill to float voices involving the speakers at the right depth -- not too upfront or recessed -- matched that of considerably higher priced amps. (16/44.1 FLAC, Columbia/Legacy) is a little dry, but the A31 copied Nelson's world weary voice with a touch of smoothness. There was a natural presence and fullness to those of the numerous female guest vocalists, and to his voice. With every cut I played, there was musicality and great rate in these types of arrangements for acoustic instruments. By way of example, in "Always On My Mind," the piano was set somewhat in the rear right of the soundstage, accompanied with a single snare drum that did an outstanding job of maintaining time.

As soon as I played with station records, I heard the same precision and musicality, along with remarkable dynamics across all three front channels. Peter Gabriel's Back to Front: Live in London (BD, Eagle Rock Entertainment), likely the finest-sounding Peter Gabriel concert video accessible (I Have saw a great deal of them), is an excellent evaluation for station systems. Early in the movie, the largely acoustic guitar version of "Come Talk to Me" was remarkable for its nicely differentiated mixture of voice, piano, acoustic guitar, accordion, electric bass, and deep but tight kick drum. The continual hissing of hi-hat cymbals is notable here, as in many records, but with the A31, I had been struck by how distinct each tomtom sounded as it had been strike. As the drummer's sticks went over the toms, each stroke and the next differed somewhat; the strokes were spaced exactly between the loudspeakers and equally, closely fitting the onscreen positioning of the drums.

The Halo A31 was exceptionally musical, but nonetheless, it also had the huge levels of electricity necessary for playing with hi-rez sound from films on Blu ray. Edge of Tomorrow is a surprisingly intelligent, exciting movie with the electrifying soundtrack. Through the A31, the sound on the other side of the front channels was not blemished. Atmospheric scenes had dead silent backgrounds when needed, and dialogue was just intelligible -- it was not unrealistic, and totally incorporated inside the mixture, heightening the deadpan delivery of a number of the movie's most memorable lines of Emily Blunt. Through the many battle scenes, the metallic grinding and clanking of robotic exoskeletons, alien mimics, while Christophe Beck's low, pulsing music score efficiently filled every bit of the remaining part of the soundscape and strong blasts from automatic weapons were perfectly placed. Even at benchmark amounts at which I really could sense the jarring kick of weapons' recoil on the list of frenetic activity, there is no discernible distortion: dialogue and the music stayed coherent and constant, enabling me to listen at these levels for prolonged periods.

It was not the last word in transparency as accomplished as the A31 was. But while the M1 is a superb-sounding and incredibly strong and revealing amplifier, the Halo A31, for significantly less than a third as much per station, was not far behind. I am not certain I'd pick them if I did not already possess the Anthems.

Worked in bridged mono, Bel Canto's six-station eVo6 ($4900, discontinued), which I normally utilize to drive my centre and surround channels, is promised to create a strong 350Wpc into 8 ohms, three channels driven - and it's a clear and musical sound. Nevertheless, with Edge of Tomorrow it lacked some of the weight and depth of the A31. The soundscape of the movie was not quite as grand, and I could not sense the strong recoil of the automatic weapons as readily as I'd with the A31. While there was plenty of detail, the forceful, metallic sounds of conflict were a little forced and lacking to the easy, effortless delivery of the A31. Even though the Parasound has a reduced power rating, it seemed more dynamic and visceral with sound effects, yet refined using the musical score of the movie.

While the eVo6 did not seem narrow in any means, there was a fullness to the A31, as evinced by the large but melodic, mild notes of the piano in "Christmas Time Is Here." And when this record's deep, continual bass kicked in, the Parasound packed more force, using exceptionally low continual tones and a tight concussive quality.


It must not be overlooked. The Halo A31 has a clear, detailed sound that belies its cost, joined with merely a little heat. This combination of qualities made it a delight to listen to. Add to that its prodigious power output and rock solid build quality, and I will promise you: It Is the actual price.

But if your three-channel amp is actually not what you are seeking, Parasound has you covered, with their A21 two-channel and A51 five-channel variations of the exact same fundamental Halo layout. It is a fabulous- amp with power to save. I consider the Halo A31 to be one of today's finest values - if not the top value.

Parasound A31 Amplifier photo