Report Card: Parasound Halo D3.
Got this sucker hooked up today and thought I would share some first impressions. I'll be sure to report more later, but here are some initial reactions and thoughts.
My first thing to obviously listen for was the difference between this player and my previous one, the Denon 2910. Did the D3 smoke the 2910? Actually, no. This is not a bad thing either. What this truly showed me was just how great of a player the Denon 2910 is/was. As a stand-alone CD player it did well considering it also did DVD and it costs 1/4 what the D3 costs. However, while the D3 didn't 'smoke' the pants of the 2910 it did leave it in the dust in certain areas.
Upon the first few minutes in a few recordings that I have become very familiar with I first noticed a huge improvement in bass. The bass was super tight, controlled, refined, and at the same time it was punchy, but in a good way. It was agressive, yet smooth and I quickly got excited! While the bottom end had tightened up the upper register also opened up a huge amount too making the entire soundstage about 2x the size. It was incredible!!! The highs were so sweet and detailed to the point where I didn't even have the volume turned up too much and I could really distinguish some amazing clarity that the 2910 never seemed to be able to get out.
The player itself is a beast! It's nearly 6 inches high and weighs about 16lbs. I found it very easy to setup and the menus are very easy to go through for video calibration and such. I have not really messed around much with the video aspects, but it does have menus for SACD and also choosing DVD-Video or DVD-Audio, which some players seem to lack for some reason.
It's obvious from the very few moments that this Universal player is designed by people who really truly love audio and video and are catering to the high-end customers, but also making the unit feasible enough for people that just want a all-in-one player. The player has a button on the remote that allows you to choose between PURE ANALOG, PURE DIGITAL, or PURE VIDEO. This enables the player to isolate it's internal components allowing this player to be dedicated to audio-only if you wish to use it for SACD/CD playback. This is currently how I am using this player. Again, I wll do a more detailed video review later.
I did some minor SACD playback and was also impressed with the bass-area, which always seemed to be lacking before with the 2910. The remote is very simple to use with glow-in-the-dark on select keys and you can push things just about anywhere in the room and the player responds. The disc tray is quite sturdy as well, although probably not as stiff as the 2910, but that thing took forever to eject and load discs. The D3 on the other hand fires up fairly quick and also seems to respond with better accuracy to the beginning of tracks, some players and even with the 2910 at times it never seemed to capture the first nanosecond of the recording. This is important when playing tracks without buffers like Alan Parsons Project TALES OF MYSTERY AND IMAGINATION.
The player is a bit noisier than I had expected, not that it transmits noise into the signal, but if you get up close to the player you can hear it making some sort of electronic noise, not really sure what it's doing, but this is hardly a problem for me, like I said you really have to get up close. The feet on this thing are also, like the rest of the HALO line very stable and maybe down the line I'll invest in some custom feet, but these are very suitable for now. The display on the front glows in blue and can be dimmed down about 50%, but cannot be shut offf, which might turn some people off if you are looking for a player that can be totally dark, the Denon 2910 was able to do so with the exception of a green light. I personally like it glowing!
The entire constuction of this machine is quite superb and the connections in the back are laid out very well and detailed with good quality construction and space for everything so that it's not all crammed together, I still would prefer more space on the 5.1 analog jacks, but oh well. I don't see why they all need to be grouped together so tight, especially when you have interconnects with larger locking RCA ends.
Thus far this player gets an A- in my book and I'll be sure to write more later on the other aspects of this unit. It certainly beats the Denon 2910 when it all comes down to it, it's also superior to some of the other players that I have tried from Marantz and I would say that this is better than the Music Hall Maverick player as well. I'd love to compare this player to some of the Cambridge Audio products as well as Esoteric, GamuT, and other higher-end gear.
Two final thoughts: 1. this thing looks like a receiver or amp sitting on my shelf it's that dang big. 2. today it sounded like Jack Johnson was IN MY LISTENING ROOM and the Album ON AND ON never sounded so smooth and groovy!
Last edited by PeruvianSkies; 03-23-2007 at 05:19 PM.
Damn, now I have to spend more money to go with my Strats..LOL
Back in my day, we had nine planets.
Go the distance...
Well, now that you have a great speaker like those, ever little upgrade will make a vital difference and make you love & appreciate your Strat's even more and more. Just when you think your speakers sound about as good as they can, you upgrade something and then WHAM....they can even go a greater distance.
Originally Posted by Luvin Da Blues
A quick update...
Ok, I just spent another 9 hours with this unit and I have a few issues with it, so I'll just get them out of the way. Nothing major, but figured I would get the bad out of the way, since there is so much good. Here's the bad...
First, you can switch the player into PURE ANALOG or PURE DIGITAL mode with a switch of the button and get isolated sound without using the machines video components giving the machine qualities of a stand-alone SACD/CD player. However, unlike my Denon 2910 that did this same thing, this setting does not stay when you turn the machine off, it goes back to the default and you have to switch over if you want to get the best out of your audio-only playback. Boohoo. Again, nothing major, but still.
Second, if you lose the remote to this unit you are totally screwed!!! There are hardly any front panel buttons and especially none that get you into system settings, which could be a bad thing if the remote gets lost, damaged, or whatever. However, I programmed everything into my universal remote, so I should be good to go. Hardly a big problem.
Third, HDMI works incredibly well on this machine and looks stunning, however, if you are playing around with having the machine playing through component or s-video, whatever and then you disconnect them without telling the machine to use the HDMI output you are unable to get into the system menu because you have no picture on screen to tell it to do HDMI again, so you have to reconnect your video cables so you can see the menu option for chosing HDMI and then disconnect the non-HDMI cables from the rear of the unit. Just one of those annoying things that can easily happen and the machine doesn't do any type of auto detection of what you have connected. A minor problem indeed.
Fourth, there are audio options that enable you to set the level output when playing 5.1 for each channel. YES! Well, that's good, but you are unable to set them higher than 10, which means you might have some difficulty getting all channels to match up if they are not already fairly well balanced at 0. My rear channels needed to go much higher than 10 to match the fronts, so I had to take the L/C/R way down to get it corrected, which wasn't a big deal, but could have been easier if you could modify the channels a bit more, which leads me to the fifth part.
Fifth, you can set the speaker distances in analog output as well, which is great, but you are unable to go less than 5ft in the settings, which is good for the fronts, but some people sit closer to the rears, I am about 4 feet from mine and that 1 foot of difference could have been avoided.
Sixth, the machine will close the disc tray if you leave it open for more than a few minutes. I just don't like any machine doing something that I did NOT tell it to do. Maybe this is a safety measure, at least the machine doesn't go into standby or shut off like others do, which is REALLY annoying for A/V geeks because we are hardly concerned about saving energy with our huge amps drawing cities into the darkness.
Seventh, the 5.1 analog jacks are (like many other players) so close together that it makes connecting a bit tough if you are using locking RCA connectors like I am. I really have to be careful when doing this as to not damage either the unit or the cable, but I need that secure connection!
That's about it for now. These are quite minor and nature and the PROS of this player are just above and beyond my imagination. I plan on writing up a thorough review once I have had some more serious time with it.
Thanks for taking the time P-Sky. The machines in my house are starting to rebel and an upgrade may be necessitated sooner than expected. The Parasound may have to be on the shortlist.
What else are you considering?
Are you looking at Universal players or getting separates? I really love the Esoteric products, McCormack Universal Player or BAT CD players, but can't quite afford THAT much. EMM labs has some nice stuff too. The D3 seemed to be the most bang for the buck at this time and the deal I made was impossible to refuse.
Originally Posted by bobsticks
Well, at the moment it's a matter of timing. My goal is to sell the condo and move into a house post haste. We all know that in this hobby neighbors aint a good thing and while mine are tolerant enough (sometimes even willing co-conspirators) I'm tired of living like a gypsy. I'll probably snap up a new car sometime in the next months as well.
For now I was thinking of a 2930 and a Rega Jupiter as a stopgap, but that's subject to change given any spectacular audition. Where there's a will there's a way.
Are you able to demo the D3???
Originally Posted by bobsticks
Not at my local, but I've never been adverse to a bit of a drive for a good cause...as good a reason as necessary to trek north to the Windy City, eh?
Hopefully you can at least demo the D3 and check for yourself...I am thinking that I probably would not recommend the D3 for it's retail price per se, but if you can get it for under 2K than it's a great deal. Above 2K and you are almost getting to the point where with a few more $ you can step into a whole new world ....perhaps something from EMM or the Esoteric stuff. Although for a Universal player the D3 is hard to beat.
Originally Posted by bobsticks
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