Product Review

Parasound New Classic 7100 SSP and 5250 Five-Channel Power Amplifier

Part I


September, 2005

Piero Gabucci



Model 7100 Controller (SSP):

● Codecs: DD, DD-EX,
    DTS Neo:6, DTS 96/24
MFR: 20 Hz - 20 kHz ±
 0.1 dB
● THD: 0.005%
● S/N: 100 dB, A
● Dimensions: 7-7/8" H x
    17-1/4" W x 16" D
● Weight: 18 Pounds
● MSRP: $3,000 USA


Model 5250 Amplifier:

● Power Output: 250 Watts
    RMS x 5 into 8 Ohms,
    All Channels Driven;
    385 Watts RMS x 5 into
    4 Ohms
● MFR: 20 Hz - 50 kHz
± 3
● THD: 0.02%
● Input Sensitivity: 1 Volt
    for 28.23 Volts Output
● Dimensions: 7-5/8" H x
    17-1/4" W x 18-1/2" D
● Weight: 69 Pounds
● MSRP: $2,500 USA




I’m sure I’m not alone when I say the first thing that comes to mind these days when I hear the name Parasound, is that great little 5” screen on their Halo C1 controller (SSP). Not only is the design of the C1 stylish and functional, it’s an excellent performing component.

Parasound has just introduced a line of components called New Classic. The goal in the design was to give the custom audio/video installer a performance-oriented easy-to-install package. For various reasons that I’ll discuss in detail, the Classic line is not only for the A/V installer, but is owner friendly as well.

Parasound sent us the 7100 Controller and the 5250 five-channel amplifier for review, but additionally available in the line is another lower powered five-channel amplifier the 5125, and two two-channel amplifiers, the 275, and the 2125 for completing your 7.1 amplification needs.

The Design

The new Classic line of components are all similarly styled. The black brushed metal front plates are flush in design, save a narrow slightly recessed racing stripe horizontally placed, which identifies the small display screen. Because the units are designed to be rack-mounted, the front plates extend beyond the body about 3/8", thereby covering up the mounting brackets.

There is a no nonsense upscale look to the units that I truly like. No fancy oversized knobs, flip down flaps, or flashing lights.


The Model 7100 Surround Controller is a THX Ultra2 certified, 7.1 channel surround sound processor (SSP) capable of decoding all the current surround sound formats.

The 7100 incorporates a number of THX processing modes; THX Cinema is designed to accommodate the differences between theater and home acoustics and THX Ulta2 Cinema converts 5.1 material into 7.1 output. THX Surround EX with additional rear surround speakers plays back 6.1 material. Similarly THX Music Mode takes 5.1 recordings and plays them back over a 7.1 system. And finally for the gamers, THX Games Mode is for surround effects for video games.


The rear of the controller is arranged simply, and without all those speaker posts found on receivers, making connections is straightforward. Two items that I immediately noticed include a rear Master Power on/off toggle switch, and also on the upper left hand side, a small plate identified as an “Expansion port for future technologies”. Since the 7100 currently has no HDMI connections, I assume that would be a natural upgrade.

What you do get for input and output connections is plentiful. All the video connections are along the top, while all the audio connections are along the bottom. Video is handled with six composite video inputs and four composite video outputs along with four S-Video inputs and four S-video outputs. There are three sets of component video inputs (assignable) and one component video output.

On the audio side, you get four digital coax and four optical inputs, all assignable. One optical output is provided. The 7100 allows up to six stereo analog audio inputs for the typical components, DVD, VCR, and Satellite/Cable. A 7.1 channel analog audio input set is included for DVD-A and SACD connections from DVD players. Audio outputs are there for a 7.1 setup, but of course, you don't have to use the additional channels unless you want to. For review, we had the 5250, which is a five-channel power amplifier. If you connect the remaining two channels, you will need either a seven-channel power amplifier, or just add two channels to the 5250.

And finally on the rear, you’ll see an RS-232 serial port, two IR inputs, and three 12V trigger outputs, as well as the AC jack for a removable power cord.

The 5250 amplifier is quite beefy at around 70 pounds. It is similar to the 7100 controller in design and is also THX Ultra2 certified. The front display indicates power on for all five channels.

The 5250 offers continuous RMS power with all five channels driven of 250 WPC for 8 ohm speakers and a substantial 385 WPC for 4 ohm speakers.

The rear includes RCA unbalanced inputs and five-way speaker binding posts. In addition you’ll find a 12v trigger input from your controller and a 12v trigger loop for other amplifiers (like those additional two channels). An Audio Sensitivity knob adjusts the amount of incoming audio level required to turn on the 5250. As background hum in speakers is sometimes encountered, Parasound provides a ground lift switch. Set to normal, if you experience (which I did) a slight humming, switching it to “Lift” disconnects the audio circuit ground from the chassis ground. Activating it, my hum all but disappeared.

The 5250 does protect itself in several ways, including overheating and external fault conditions, driving speakers at high levels, or short circuiting from speaker wires. This prevents internal damage.

Click here to go to Part II.


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