Need help. Creek OBH-12 vs. Parasound P/HP-850 on a ML based system?

Discussion in 'AV Receivers' started by Javier_Huerta, May 20, 2003.

  1. Javier_Huerta

    Javier_Huerta Supporting Actor

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    Hi all!

    I am looking to add a pre-amp to my system. Currently, a Luxman CD player with integrated pre-amp is part of it, and since I'll be adding a Behringer Ultra-Curve, I'll be needing a preamp soon.

    I have been looking at the Parasound P/HP-850 and the Creek OBH-12 passive preamp. I really don't know which one will suit me better. I think the Creek is a bit overpriced for what is basically a resistor, but I'd like to know whether you think it might be a better match for my system than the Parasound.

    Currently, my system is composed of:

    Amp: Adcom GFA-5400
    Speakers: MartinLogan Scenarios
    CD Player: Luxman (can't remember the model).
    Subwoofer: Velodyne CHT-120.

    I'll be soon upgrading the subwoofer with a Tempest-based one, too.

    Any opinions will be greatly appreciated.

    TIA!
     
  2. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    If you decide to go passive, you'll want to keep your connections to the amp on the short side and choose low capacitance cables. Hence, were the day to come that you wanted to run 2 amps, 1 to each speaker, and keep the speakers close to the amps, then the Parasound would be less problematical. Good price on the Parasound don't you think? Of course used, the Creek comes in at around that price too.
     
  3. Javier_Huerta

    Javier_Huerta Supporting Actor

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    Chu, thanks for your answer!

    Both preamps are in the same price range.

    Yes, I'd definitely want to go with monoblocks someday. For now, I'd like the best performing preamp.

    I'd suppose the OBH does the least damage to the signal, while the Parasound would help with a weak source driving the amp... but what do I know.[​IMG] Really. I need help!

    Thanks for your post.
     
  4. Lynn Little

    Lynn Little Stunt Coordinator

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    I'd definitely recommend trying the Creek OBH-12. I did a few years back and loved it. I was using it with my Bryston 4B ST & Nautilus 804s.
     
  5. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    Well you know that you want to explore things and spend your monies wisely!

    Damage to the signal...I think it's a highly debateable thing to argue about with vehement proponents taking up staunch positions on either side. So without getting into that silly debate that may degenerate down to 'well my preamp was made by virgins', let's look at what you have.


    Adcom: 1.125 volts to give you rated power.
    Input impedance 50 kOhms.

    Creek:

    Input Impedance < 20 k
    Output Impedance 0 - 20 k
    Separation > 80 dB @ 1kHz
    Attenuation 0 - 90 dB
    Inputs 3 Stereo pairs, inc Tape
    Outputs 2 Stereo pairs, 1 fixed, 1 variable
    Power requirements 24 V DC @ 60 mA 24v @ 60 mA

    Parasound:
    Frequency Response: 10 Hz - 100 kHz, +0/-2 dB, full output
    Distortion: < 0.009% THD, 1 kHz; < 0.01% THD, 20 kHz; < 0.01% IM
    Maximum Output: > 10 V before clipping
    Input Impedance: High Level 30 k ohms, ± 5%; Phono 47 k ohms, ± 5%
    Input Sensitivity: High Level 150 mV; Phono 2.5 mV
    Max Input Level: High Level 9.5 V; Phono 160 mV
    S/N Ratio: High Level > 93 dB, A-weighted, full output; High Level > 90 dB, A-weighted, full output -6 dB; Phono > 65 dB, A-weighted, full output
    Maximum Hum: < 0.04 mV, full output
    Crosstalk: > 60 dB, ô 10 kHz, full output
    Separation: > 80 dB, ¯ 10 kHz, full output, tone controls off; > 60 dB, ¯ 10 kHz, full output, tone controls on
    Channel Balance: ¯ 0.8 dB; ¯ 1.5 dB, -60 dB
    Tone Control Range: ±10 dB, 100 Hz; ±10 dB, 10 kHz
    Output Impedance: >60 (I had to hunt this down)

    Well it seem the Parasound is more feature rich. A cursory examination indicates you've got a phono input (useful if you want to hook a turntable in), headphone out, an extra set of inputs. OTOH, I don't see a remote for the Parasound. I see no values for distortion for the Creek unit. There's no reason why a passive preamp can't be made with distortion that approaches the limits of the measuring instruments. Maybe under 0.001%. Keep in mind though that volume knobs can become noisy over time. Easy solution is to either replace or clean it.

    When mixing preamp and amp you want the preamp to have a low output impdedance and the amp to have a correspondingly high input impedance. This maximizes signal transfer among other things. I'm a little confused by Creek's spec here and don't know what to make of 0-20k. That really needs more clarfication from Creek to better understand this.

    There are some that say passive units actually reduce the dyamics of music. That's certainly a debateable point. Often when that's said it means something else. For example the amp might not be able to be driven to full output by whatever you've got hooked up to it. Well I don't know about your Luxman, but most CD players have something like a 2 volt output so this won't be a problem with what you've selected. On the other hand a high ouput impdance of the preamp can lead to things like noise or distortion and possible frequency response losses overall. Like I said, you need to get clarification on the Creek numbers.

    As far as which unit will contaminate the signal less largely amounts to theoretical considerations not necessarily based upon audible issues. Making preamps or for that matter any component with distortions so small that they're inaudible has been going on since the 70's. Make of this what you will.

    Of course one assigns their own importance to things like service, appearance, warranty, resale value, and all that.

    Not gonna make your mind up for you Javier but someday when I'm in Mexico City, I'll look you up and we'll go out for a few beers.
     
  6. Brett DiMichele

    Brett DiMichele Producer

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    Also look at the Parasound Halo P3. It basicaly has all of
    the features of the 850 plus remote control. This preamp is
    top notch inside. All capacitors are Nichicon, all pot's are
    alps. The power supply is the nicest steel encased toroid I
    have seen. It's whisper quiet and it has balanced in's and
    outs.

    I am not big on "passive" Preamps they are way too archaic
    for my needs (Like you said.. It's just an attenuator..) at
    least with a unit like the Parasound you have real useable
    features.

    But I guess if the most simplistic design is what you are
    after then go with the Creek.
     
  7. Brett DiMichele

    Brett DiMichele Producer

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    I just checked out both the Creek and the 850 I see what
    price range you are looking at (the Creek and 850 are
    similarly priced) The Halo P3 is a good bit more than either
    of those new. But if you decide to go to the used market you
    may be able to pick up a P3 for $550 ish... (Of course there
    will be no warranty from Parasound, thier decade warranty is
    not transferable.)
     
  8. Charles Gurganus

    Charles Gurganus Supporting Actor

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    If you deal with audioadvisor.com they have a great 30 day trial period. Maybe they would allow you to get both and send back the loser. I would lean toward the Parasound. The tone controls are defeatable (may make it very close to passive) and it originally was priced close to $500. It seems to be the better bargain by far.
     
  9. Brett DiMichele

    Brett DiMichele Producer

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    yeah the 850 is a bargain right now!

    I didn't check the in's and outs on the 850 but my Halo P3
    has direct in's and out's and regular in's and outs.. When
    you use the direct in's it completely bypasses the tone
    shaping stage of the preamp it is just straight gain control.

    I am not sure if the 850 has that but if it does I would
    say it would be everybit as clear as the Creek.
     
  10. Javier_Huerta

    Javier_Huerta Supporting Actor

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    Chu: [​IMG] Definitely, come around here and the beers will be on me. You just taught me more than I could have ever expected to know about preams and amps! Seriously, thank you so much for your help.

    Brett, thank you so much for your opinion! I didn't know the Parasound had a defeatable tone switch. I really wanted that feature, since I'll be adding the Behringer anyway (and since it'll be working exclusively in the digital domain, I won't have to worry about analogue noise added in that stage).

    The way I see it I can't go wrong with either one of them. I can't take advantage of the 30-day return policy because of S/H and taxes. Still, those two look like very good buys. I might side with the OBH because of its size (I'll be travelling to the States soon, and I'll bring either one of those home), unless I find out the Parasound isn't very heavy.

    Thanks a lot for your opinions!
     
  11. Brett DiMichele

    Brett DiMichele Producer

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    Javier,

    I said my Halo P3 has bypassable tone controls. I do not
    know if the 850 has this feature. Better double check over
    at audioadvisor just to make sure.

    The one thing I REALLY love about my Halo (the 850 doesn't
    have this) is it's true balanced construction. If you have
    a CD with true balanced out and amps with true balanced in's
    you can run everything balanced. Does this mean better?
    Well yes if you have long cable runs.. But it's just peace
    of mind even with short cables (eliminates ground loops).

    The 850 looks like a solidly built active pre. If it's near
    the size of my Halo then it's not going to be that light.
    My Halo is 24 pounds if memory serves me..
     
  12. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    Although I didn't email Creek, thinking about their 0-20K output spec I'm sure that what they're talking about is the potentiometer and it's resistance. After all, that's basically what a passive unit is, a volume controller. If I recall correctly, when the potentiometer is 1/2 way that's where the output impedance is maximized. Assuming the Creek's is linear, then that means the resistance of the potentiometer will be 10K ohms. Further, at that point, 1/2 or 50%, the output impedance should be 1/4 or the potentiometer's resistance. Hence we've got a worst case scenario of an output impedance of 2.5K ohms.

    Given your Adcom unit, that's a 20:1 worst case scenario. People usually use the 10:1 rule as the minimum ratio that should be met to avoid things like high frequency roll-off. So I wouldn't worry much Javier and would simply state that were you to go with the Creek and the scenario of long interconnect cables, that you choose low capacitance ones. It would also be prudent upon your part to contact Creek and specifically ask them if their unit can drive "X meters" of interconnect.
     

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