Parasound had already made an impression with me on the first product I had reviewed, and they have been very willing and patient to allow me to review their amplifier this time. Based in California, Parasound is a company that has this professional aspect with all their sound products. They are used in many professional settings as well as consumer settings, so I generally find their products highly unique. This time, the case is no different looking at their ZoneMaster Model 2350 two Channel amplifier with a sub crossover. I have had experience with their other amplifiers, but the Model 2350 is a little more than just an amplifier, literally described by the actual words, “Universal Two Channel Amplifier with Sub Crossover” on the faceplate. So how does it perform?
For full-disclosure purposes, Parasound loaned me their product for this review. They have in no way influenced my thought process and have only seen it to fact-check my review. Everything that has been stated in this review is my own evaluation of the product. Once again, I thank them for the opportunity.
- RMS, Both Channels Driven (20 Hz – 20 kHz)
- 350 watts x 2 @ 8 Ω
- 600 watts x 2 @ 4 Ω or 2 Ω
Minimum Speaker Impedance (Output A+B)
- Stereo or Mono Mode: 2 Ω
- Subwoofer Mode: 4 Ω
- Note: Operation at these minimum impedances might require additional ventilation.
- 20 Hz – 20 kHz, +0/-0.8 dB
- 2 Volts = Full output (350 Watts @ 8 Ω)
- Total gain = 29 dB (Level controls set to Maximum)
- 100 dB, input shorted, unweighted
- 114 dB, input shorted, IHF A-weighted
High and Low Pass Crossovers
- Sub Mode and Sub out jack: 80 Hz, 24 dB per octave
- High Pass Filter: 30 Hz or 80 Hz, 12 dB per octave
Audio Trigger Requirements
- 2 mV audio signal (8-15 minutes turn off delay)
AC Power Requirement
- 1500 Watts maximum
- 100 Watts typical (music playing, typical listening level)
- 30 Watts idle (no music playing)
- 0.5 Watts in standby
- 110-240 VAC 50/60 Hz
- Width: 17.25″ (438 mm)
- Depth: 14.5″ (368 mm)
- Depth: 16.25″ (412 mm) with cables connected
- Height, with feet: 4.25″ (108 mm)
- Height, without feet: 3.5″ (89 mm), 2U
- Net: 15 lbs. (6.8 kg)
- Shipping: 22.25 lbs. (10.1 kg)
(taken and modified from product page on parasound.com)
Although a few changes in my setup occurred since the last review, none were crucial audio related changes. The only difference you might notice when looking at the setup picture is the addition of the second monitor towards the right of the desk. I understand the possible impairment of the speakers’ imaging performance because of this. Surprisingly, this did not hinder the imaging of the speakers at all when checked with my reference system. Hence, I would disregard this addition as a hindrance, and will keep it this way for an ease of workflow as I finish up my university coursework.
List of main related components for this review:
- Modified CyberPowerPC desktop (source)
- NHT C3 3-way Bookshelf Speakers
- Sony SS-K10ED 2-way bookshelf speakers
- Parasound NewClassic 200 Integrated Amplifier (as Preamplifier)
- Music Hall DAC15.2 DAC
- SVS SB-1000Pro 12” acoustic suspension active subwoofer
As per usual for the procedure, I allow for a grace period of a week (with 4-5 hours per day) of casual listening before any critical listening and evaluation to allow for a “burn-in” period.
Build Quality and Impressions
Like other Parasound products I have experienced, the ZoneMaster Model 2350 came in a very well-packaged double-box configuration. The outer box is the marked box that tells you exactly what is in it, and the inside box is the unmarked box. The internal box packing seems to have quality foam as well, well-protecting the product inside. In this new Model 2350 package, you get the rack adaptors that attach to the sides of the Model 2350 amplifier, the amplifier itself, a power cable, and the user manual.
The amplifier itself is pretty big, and in the stack configuration with the NewClassic Integrated 200, the Model 2350 is comparable and very tall for what it is. It has to be with the Class A/B input stage which will generate heat. The amplification is a Class D amplification, with a price tag of $1295. The Model 2350 isn’t budget, but it isn’t the highest end of the component spectrum either. What truly sets this amplifier apart are the features that Parasound has included. Particularly, this amplifier also includes an 80hz low pass crossover as well as a 30Hz or 80Hz high pass crossover; the fine-tuning between speakers can be done in one go, in one location. This amplifier has a 2-zone feature, enabling output to two sets of speakers. This allows you to control which speaker set you want to play, or give power to both sets if desired.
On the rear, an interesting unmentioned feature is the speaker-level input which seems redundant to me. However, if it is needed, this “universal” amplifier can handle it for you. Not to mention, in the same labeled section, there is a level control for the outputs. If you have compatible components, you can also hook up 12v triggers so turning on the amplifier can be in conjunction with your preamplification component. This amplifier contains a lot of features that are not commonly found in regular amplifiers, so I can see what they mean when they say “universal” amplifier. This definitely packs much more than you’d need for the average consumer. In professional applications, the simplicity of having all these conveniently packed into one product is going to be very helpful, especially since this product comes with rack mounts.
Going back a bit, the overall enclosure is big, and looking through the slot, you can tell that it is actually pretty airy. There is a lot of headroom, but I believe that it is needed because hovering my hand over the component felt a little warm when in use (During fact-check, Parasound has commented that a substantial metal plate is used to ensure adequate heat dissipation both above and below the amp module). This is especially useful when it might be stacked in a rack. It is also sturdy with good finishes on the overall enclosure and the quality feet, which looks to be very similar to the ones on the NewClassic 200 integrated that I reviewed recently.
With all these features, this amplifier isn’t just a simple one. With the two zone selection, the high pass and low pass crossover, sub out or pre out, triggers, this amplifier is set from a professional standpoint to be one that can handle everything thrown at it, as well as a hub if need be. From a consumer standpoint, these additions may not be much needed, but are nice features to have that can aid in diverse and unique applications. Pair it with a good preamplifier and other related items, and no situation can prevent you from playing sound.
Impressively, for the specs and the price, the ZoneMaster Model 2350 is a great performer. Based on prior experience, the Parasound signature is there and implemented nicely. Despite the abundance of features and abilities mentioned in the previous section, the Model 2350 handles well, delivering performance that is very well-suited with almost any associated products I’ve used.
The Parasound signature sound observed from prior experiences with their products would be this slightly warm, laid back sound with superb treble accuracy, especially heard with cymbals. There is nothing different to report for the Model 2350. The overall slightly warmer sound is much less fatiguing for long-term listening, while the accurate high-frequency reproduction of instruments such as the cymbals are a treat for songs that include them. This also lends itself to the vocal reproduction, with sibilance that I think is very natural sounding, and preferred for me.
I am also pleased to report that imaging and soundstage reproduction on the Model 2350 is an improvement from the NewClassic 200 Integrated amplifier, with a wider and deeper soundstage. It does not oust my reference, the Emerald Physics 100.2SE, but I’m surprised by how close the gap is. Although the price tag at MSRP for the Emerald Physics vs. the Model 2350 is rather different, the model 2350 with all the features in consideration and the sound it produces presents quite the value. Overall, pairing with the NewClassic 200 Integrated amplifier does not saturate the sound signature and they work very well together. Personally, I found that the pairing of the NewClassic 200 Integrated (as a preamplifier) and the Model 2350 is very easy for long term listening, presenting sound that is dynamic and emotional. It gives a clean reproduced impression from my NHT C3 bookshelf speakers.
If there are any nitpicks that I can find in the Model 2350 in terms of sound, it would be the imaging, soundstage, and vocals. The soundstage is could be a little sharper, wider, and the vocals could be a tad bit smoother. Only when it is compared to the Emerald Physics that I could tell how wide and deep this system can perform. I am very satisfied with the Model 2350 because the performance is on par with an amplifier that costs about twice as much, and in that sense, I find this amplifier to be a high value proposition for those who want to make the most out of their budget for the best sound.
For a powerful, versatile amplifier that has a lot of abilities, the sound produced by the Model 2350 is worth considering for the price in comparison to my reference amplifier the Emerald Physics 100.2SE. With a very good treble performance, good overall soundstage, imaging, a sound character that is non-fatiguing and makes you want to listen more, the Model 2350 is worth considering for the budget.
For a versatile amplifier, the value proposition is in the sky with the sound the ZoneMaster Model 2350 produces. With great company product pairing (even if it is from a different line), great treble accuracy, rather neutral and clean sound produced when paired with the Parasound NewClassic 200 Integrated, this “universal” amplifier truly is versatile with great sound and character. For the many professional and consumer use cases, unique or not, the ZoneMaster Model 2350 delivers on all levels, and is a value amp I can highly recommend for the price.
- Very versatile amplifier for a multitude of applications
- Very good sound for the price
- High value for price to performance
- Improved soundstage
- Could be a tad smoother
Overall Rating (4/5)
- Sound Character: 4.5/5
- Imaging: 3.5/5
- Accuracy: 4/5
- Conveniences: 5/5
- Value: 4.5/5
- Affordability: 4/5
- Suitability for small living space: 2/5