Only recently on the market, the Parasound Halo JC3 is already a hot topic! In a permanent quest for perfection, the manufacturer has upgraded its benchmark product. It has been renamed as JC3 + (Plus!) ...
But what more does it have to offer?
The design has always been entrusted to the famous consultant and engineer Mr John Curl! If the name does not ring any bells, then you should know that this genius has worked for several prestigious professional companies (Mobil Fidelity, David Wilson…) and high fidelity (Mark Levinson, Wilson audio, Parasound, Vendetta Research) and he is the creator of legendary products like the Levinson JC1 and JC2. We can humbly say that he knows the job!
This Parasound JC3 + is actually based on a Vendetta Research SPC2, a legendary phono preamplifier that is sought after but rare on the used market. The two products are very similar as far as passive equalisation is concerned, but not only.
The internal architecture is very airy and leaves no doubt regarding the quality and resources used to design this preamp. The power supply is beautifully crafted and very generous. An independent card includes many filters (chemical and polypropylene capacitor … ) and dual mono regulations, stabilisation with ultra quick diodes… It is powered by a new more powerful R-core transformer (+ 82%!), which is more efficient in terms of magnetic and electrical losses and better filters interferences than a conventional toroid transformer. Another feature is that upstream of this stage, a great filter capacitor and polarity inversion circuit ward off any buzzing. The power supply filter value and there current reserve has been increased by 47% with respect to the old version. The cards with the RIAA equalization are housed in aluminium housings (one for each channel!). They separately receive the modulation and power supply. Naturally they are also designed with the best components: Vishay resistor, low noise Burr Brown op amp, no capacitor on the signal path… and so on and so forth! The circuits are isolated from one another with extruded aluminium partitions to minimise electromagnetic interference and crosstalk.
The Moving Magnet (MM) is loaded at 47 Kohms. When on MC position a precision potentiometer per channel (Vishay) adjusts the load between 50 and 550 Ohms. A fixed MC position at 47 kOhms is also available. The rear panel features a light switch for the front panel. It has RCA inputs and RCA and XLR outputs.
We tested this 'monster' with an American MM cartridge (Grado Sonata) and three MC cartridges, a Danish model (Ortofon Cadenza Black), a Japanese model (Dynavector DV XX-2) and a Swiss model (Benz Micro LP), allowing us to properly understand its personality and also for the experience!
After leaving it on for a few hours, the first notes meet our expectations! This product is clearly up there with the very best! The mids are impressive in terms of presence and transparency. The vocals are beautifully textured and show rare harmonic richness. The silences are amazingly quiet! Normal? Maybe, but not always necessarily! The silence of this JC3+ and signal-to-noise ratio make it a benchmark for this application. The extreme treble is perfectly integrated into the rest of the registers and does not prevail and shows no harshness. Some might find it less demonstrative compared with the competition. I think that it shows more neutrality than its counterparts. The bass and sub bass are amazing! Very expressive and well articulated without any 'boomy' effect. The bass drums are tremendously punchy and stand out perfectly without standing in the way of the bass and double bass. The legibility in this register is one of the greatest we have ever heard. And let's not forget the dynamics that leaves you stuck to your seat and will get your glass of Bourbon to shake!
So! As you have guessed, we totally love the PARASOUND JC3+. It's definitely one of the best phono preamplifiers on the market. And for the price, its has very little competition, as the most efficient products are double the price. Behind every great product is a great mind (is the opposite also true? Food for thought!). Thanks Mister Curl! A benchmark! Franck
Frequency response: 20 Hz - 20 kHz, +/- 0.2 dB
Distortion: < 0.005% at 20 kHz
Signal-to-noise ratio (MM): > 87 dB
Signal-to-noise ratio (MC): 75 dB
MM input impedance: 47 kOhms.
MC input impedance: Variable from 50 to 550 ohms or 47 Kohms.
Output impedance: RCA < 100 ohms, XLR < 100 ohms
MM input sensitivity at 1 kHz: 4 mV
MC input sensitivity at 1 kHz: 0.4 mV
MM gain: 48 dB
MC gain: 64 dB
Consumption: 12 watts
Panel lighting: On/Off
Dimensions: 437x350x105 mm
Weight: 8.6 Kg