Secrets Q & A

Rotel versus Parasound: Difference in Sound Quality

Question:
How big is the difference in the quality of sound between a Rotel RSP 1068 and a Parrasound P7 pre amp (the Rotel in the bypass mode). Is the difference worth the P7's price tag? Right now I am using an OPPO-83SE with the Rotel and I am planning on replacing the 83SE with an Oppo BDP 105.

- J. Vazquez
Pennsylvania

Answer:
That is a great question. Prior to making any kind of significant change, the hope is always to improve on sound quality. Both the Rotel RSP 1068 and Parasound P7 are quality units that should provide superior sound when setup correctly.


Rotel RSP 1068

You will be guaranteed to obtain a different sound, but to say it's going to offer you a "better" sound is relative to the hearer and environment. Both models are very dependent on the external equipment (for sound adjustments) and source material for the quality of sound with minimal available tweaking on surround decoding. However, based on my experience, the Rotel actually offers more user defined sound adjustments. I'm assuming that you are not completely satisfied with your Rotel and this is why you're looking to make a change.


Parasound P7

Without knowing exactly what formats you play makes this question more difficult, but I'm assuming (based on the models you are looking at) that you want to improve your home theater experience and multi-channel music. If so, then this is an interesting chase indeed. I've often found some units sound better in DTS mode while others sound better with Dolby, even though it's the same algorithm… some models handle these formats better than others. Since neither of these models offers room correction, it is highly dependent on you to set-up the room and spend ample time getting the sound you are looking for (like many purist do anyway). Since I suffer from "buy polar" disorder, I recently swapped out my Anthem head unit for a top of the line Denon, and like you, I hoped to hear an immediate sound improvement. However, it took days for me of adjusting before I could to the point of satisfaction with the Denon. With my ears acclimated to Anthem Logic sound process, it took time to adjust to Dolby multi-channel music. I hated the change at first, but eventually I found that the Dolby listening mode sounded better than the Dolby Mode on the Anthem, but oddly enough, the DTS mode on a previous Marantz sounded better than either of the DTS listening modes. In all three cases… with time, I found a happy place once I conformed to the strengths of the Pre-Pro/Receiver.
To say you're going to notice a $2,000 sound improvement with the Parasound P7 is a difficult recommendation for me to give. However, since you're not satisfied with the unit you have (assuming you have tweaked all that you can), then by all means… purchase the Parasound. You will hear some immediate results that you may find more natural and warmer sounding. Personally, I would be more inclined with look first towards something with room correction, or spend time improving the acoustics of the room as I have found both methods to be the most effective way of making a significant difference. Happy hunting!