To Hans Wetzel,
I just read your excellent review of the Benchmark Media Systems AHB2 amplifier, and l am impressed enough with your conclusions (and those killer specs you listed) to seriously consider buying this little “giant killer” of an amp. But I am also interested in the Parasound Halo Integrated amp as a purchase. However, I have seen no reviews of this new amp yet. Maybe you should take a shot at reviewing this amp; I would love to hear your thoughts on it. Keep up the good work. You’re one of the best young audio reviewers out there doing thoughtful, honest reviews on audio equipment affordably priced for working stiffs like me.
Many thanks for the kind words, Eric, though I still have quite a bit to improve on! The Benchmark, frankly, is ridiculous. The $3000 it costs is hardly chump change, but I maintain that it is a true giant killer. Provided your loudspeakers are not too demanding, I cannot imagine that anyone would dislike the sound it produces, unless they favor the bloom or warmth of a tubed or class-A amplifier. That leads me to the Parasound Halo Integrated. I’ve been eyeing that thing since it was announced, but have not had the opportunity to follow up with Parasound about a review sample -- I'll see what I can do for you about that.
While I have not heard the Halo Integrated, my brother Erich reviewed their Halo A 23 amplifier and Halo P 5 preamplifier last year and loved both of them. For $2495, I am betting that the Halo Integrated is just killer, what with its 160Wpc into 8 ohms, Sabre Reference DAC, DSD compatibility, and raft of rear-panel connectivity. As a one-box solution for under $2500, I struggle to come up with anything that can compete with it. That said, I am equally confident that the Benchmark amplifier blows it, and every other class-AB integrated I have heard over the past few years, away. Yes, it is $500 more, and you are only getting a power amplifier for your money, but you are also getting one of the best-sounding amps I have ever heard. It’s that good. . . . Hans Wetzel