Don Lindich’s Sound Advice: GoldenEar, Parasound give bang for your buck

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Question: In a recent column, you said that very high-priced audio gear is often outperformed by less expensive gear produced by larger, better-known manufacturers. What are some examples of this?



Answer: I can think of two spe­cific ex­am­ples right off the top of my head. Be­fore I go on, I would like to point out that there are ex­am­ples where the op­po­site is true, and that will be the topic for next week. My main point is that a lot of high-end equip­ment is over­priced and does not out­per­form less ex­pensive equip­ment.

The first ex­am­ple that comes to mind is an ex­pe­ri­ence I had at the 2012 Con­sumer Elec­tron­ics Show. I had just heard a $20,000 pair of speak­ers and was not im­pressed. Across the hall was Gold­enEar Tech­nol­ogy, demon­strat­ing their new Aon 3 book­shelf speak­ers at $1,000 per pair.

The Gold­enEar speak­ers were sim­ply fan­tas­tic, and clearly bet­ter than the $20,000-per-pair speak­ers. It wasn’t even close, and I was grin­ning ear to ear as I lis­tened. I spoke with Sandy Gross, Gold­enEar’s pres­i­dent, and or­dered a pair on the spot. It’s not like I needed them, as I have plenty of speak­ers. I just had to have them, and knew they would be a per­fect match to the tube amp in my home of­fice.

Gold­enEar cer­tainly rates as high-end qual­ity though the prices, while not in­ex­pen­sive, are rea­son­able and make these speak­ers a great value. The equip­ment is de­signed by very tal­ented en­gi­neers in the U.S., man­u­fac­tured over­seas to keep prices down, and sold through an ex­cel­lent dealer net­work. You can see them at­

A few years ago, Lex­i­con, a pre­mium brand, had a very em­bar­rass­ing mo­ment when it tried to sell a Blu-ray player for $3,500. The web­site au­dio­hol­ opened it up and found it was a re­ba­dged Oppo with some firm­ware changes. It ac­tu­ally per­formed worse than the un­al­tered Oppo unit! You can read about it at http://​​lex­i­conoppo.

There is also a point of di­min­ish­ing re­turns with high-end equip­ment. Ar­gu­ments can be made for very ex­pen­sive speaker sys­tems and phono play­back gear, but some of the elec­tron­ics are ab­surdly priced. There are am­pli­fi­ers that sell for $50,000 or more.

Even if I had bil­lions of dol­lars in the bank, I would not buy any­thing like this. While I don't be­lieve all am­pli­fi­ers sound the same, I also don't be­lieve there is any­thing worth that kind of money, and you max out the sound qual­ity long be­fore you come close to huge five-fig­ure prices.

If some­one handed me a blank check to buy am­pli­fi­ers for my power-hun­gry Ohm Walsh 5000 speak­ers, I would buy a pair of Para­sound Halo JC1 mono­block am­pli­fi­ers for $9,000 per pair, a rel­a­tive pit­tance com­pared to some of the es­o­teric stuff out there.

The Para­sounds are de­signed by a re­nowned en­gi­neer, beau­ti­fully made, have al­most end­less power and are re­li­able.

They are also made by a solid com­pany that has been around for a long time and will be there to sup­port you in the fu­ture.

Read prod­uct re­views by Don Lindich at soundad­vice­

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