Parasound P5 and A23
PREAMPLIFIER AND POWER AMPLIFIER
Clever! That’s what I cried out once I’d finally got my head around the Swiss Army knife of a component that Parasound has created with its P5 pre-amplifier. Then I thought to myself: ‘ Really clever!’ Because although the Parasound P5 is a fully-featured preamplifier, and a digital-to-analogue converter, and a headphone amplifier… and a lot more besides… it’s also an electronic crossover, and so far as I know, no-one has previously thought to integrate an electronic crossover into a preamplifier. And I, personally, think that doing so is an absolutely wonderful idea.
Why do I think incorporating an electronic crossover into a pre-amp is so wonderful? Because it means you can use it to prevent Doppler distortion in your main loudspeakers and effectively increase the power-handling ability of those speakers. And insofar as your power amplifier is concerned, it can reduce distortion in that amplifier, plus effectively give it a far higher dynamic power rating. You gain all these advantages by using the electronic crossover to send all the low frequencies to a subwoofer (or in the case of the Parasound P5, up to two subwoofers) for amplification and reproduction, and only the higher frequencies to your power amplifier and (therefore) main speakers. And yes, I know there are some subwoofers on sale that allow you to do this, but most don’t, and of the few subwoofers that do, not many do it well. Far better to perform the crossover function in the preamplifier section, as is done here.
So on the back of the P5 you’ll find two crossover outputs: a low-pass output with a rotary control and settings at 20Hz, 40Hz, 60Hz, 80Hz, 100Hz, 120Hz and 140Hz, and a high-pass output also with settings from 20Hz to 140Hz and calibrations at 20Hz intervals. Associated with both crossovers are slider switches that allow the crossovers to be bypassed, should you so desire.
Despite my enthusiasm for the idea of incorporating an electronic crossover in the P5, it appears this wasn’t really Parasound’s purpose in so doing. According to Parasound’s long-serving CEO, Richard Schram, the actual reason was: ‘ to offer a true audiophile two-chan-