Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

To Roger Kanno,

I just read your review of the Parasound A 31 amplifier and it sounds as if it’s quite the amplifier.

I purchased a used Anthem Statement A5 on eBay recently only to have what appeared to be a mint unit to arrive; I was very suspect of some strong odor coming from the inside upon unpackaging it. I removed the top cover to find a burnt circuit board and as such returned it.

This episode prompted me to look at other potential offerings (new not used) and I was narrowing my search to the ATI Signature AT4005 at $4000 and the Parasound A 51 on a suggestion by my audio dealer, who I really trust. He said the smooth, warm sound of the A 51 is quite nicer than the Anthem A5 and he said that from what he knows of the ATI amps, they tend to be bright and somewhat sterile sounding. My room is a very large room with wood floors, stone wall on one side, and lots of glass on the other wall. He said I need warmth, not bright.

The speakers are new SVS Ultra Towers, which can be biamped. My dealer said that if I were to get the five-channel Parasound vs. the three-channel model, I could biamp the speakers, sending 250W to each section. He said that would make a huge difference vs. just sending 250W to jumpered speaker terminals.

My question to you is: Since you have used the A 31 and, of course, your Anthem monoblocks, do you feel it is worth spending another $1000 to buy the five-channel version to do the biamping? Will it round out the system better vs. just running a three-channel system?

My plan is to use this for two-channel stereo with dual subwoofers and have a center speaker for when I wish to watch a film. I am 80/20 music to HT. I really want a very full two-channel music system. The preamp is going to be the new Anthem AVM 60 with the latest ARC-2, which I tested and it’s amazing!

One of the subs will be a new SVS SB16-Ultra (not the ported one), which has a 1500W class-D amp built in. Any thoughts on your part would be welcomed.

Thank you,
Bruce Marton
United States

I am assuming that when you say biamping, you mean that one amplifier will drive the upper frequencies of a speaker, another the lower frequencies. Some refer to this as “vertical biamping.”

This is an interesting question since a speaker that is biamplified can sound better than if it is singly amplified (one amplifier to drive the highs through the lows), but the level of improvement will depend on both the speaker and the amplifier(s) used. In the case of the SVS Ultra Tower, I have not heard it, but understand it is a very high-value floorstander, so I suspect that the Parasound Halo A 31 should have little trouble in driving a pair. Of course, more power is never a bad thing, but the question then becomes: Should you biamp, get a better two-channel amplifier, or possibly even just get better speakers? It’s hard to know without actually trying the various options.

That said, the SB16-Ultra is a beast of a subwoofer (I just received one for review, but have not set it up yet). Furthermore, it sounds like you have more than one sub, which will give you plenty of bass. Combined with the AVM 60 and its excellent ARC-2 room correction, the Ultra Towers (and the amplifier) will be doing less work since the low bass will be reproduced by the sub(s), meaining even less of a need to biamp. In short, the system should sound excellent the way it is with just one amplifier channel per speaker. However, an A 51 doesn’t cost all that much more than an A 31, so you could get one and try biamping and if it doesn’t make much of a difference, use the extra channels of amplification for additional surrounds or height channels later on. Either way, you have some excellent components, so I think your system will sound fantastic whichever way you go. . . . Roger Kanno