• SoundStage! Shorts - McIntosh Laboratory MA252 Integrated Amplifier (November 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Hegel H90 and H190 Integrated Amplifiers (October 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - How Hegel's SoundEngine Works (October 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight  - Estelon History and YB and Extreme Loudspeakers (September 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - What Makes Hegel Different? (August 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Estelon Extreme Legacy Edition Loudspeaker (July 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Amphion Overview and Technologies (July 2017)
  • SoundStage! Insight - Totem Acoustic Signature One Loudspeaker (June 2017)
  • SoundStage! Encore - The Cowboy Junkies'
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- Anthem's STR Integrated Amplifier (May 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- Paradigm's Perforated Phase Alignment (PPA) Lenses (March 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Paradigm's Persona 9H Loudspeaker (March 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Contrasts: Dynaudio's Contour and Focus XD Speaker Lines (February 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - New Technologies in MartinLogan's Masterpiece Series
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Dynaudio/Volkswagen Car Audio (December 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Gryphon Philosophy and the Kodo and Mojo S Speakers (January 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- What's a Tonmeister? (November 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - AxiomAir N3 Wireless Speaker System (December 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Bang & Olufsen BeoLab 90 (November 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Gryphon Diablo 120 Integrated Amplifier (October 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Dynaudio History and Driver Technology (October 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - The Story How Gryphon Began (September 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Devialet History, ADH Technology, and Expert 1000 Pro (September 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Devialet's Phantom Loudspeakers (August 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh Home Theater and Streaming Audio (July 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - McIntosh MC275 Stereo Amplifier (June 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh History and Autoformer Technology (June 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - NAD Viso HP50 Headphones (May 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - GoldenEar Technology's Anechoic Chamber (May 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - PSB's M4U 4 Earphones (April 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - GoldenEar Technology's Triton Two+ and Three+ Loudspeakers (March 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- KEF's LS50 (February 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Monitor Audio's Platinum II Series (January 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- Pryma 0|1 Headphones (December 2015)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- KEF's Blade Two Loudspeaker (November 2015)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- KEF and the Uni-Q (October 2015)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Monitor Audio Acoustics & Aesthetics (August 2015)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- PSB's Imagine T3 Loudspeaker (June 2015)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Hegel's H160 Integrated Amplifier-DAC (April 2015)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- MartinLogan's Neolith Loudspeaker (February 2015)

To Hans Wetzel,

I just read your excellent review of the Benchmark Media Systems AHB2 amplifier, and l am impressed enough with your conclusions (and those killer specs you listed) to seriously consider buying this little “giant killer” of an amp. But I am also interested in the Parasound Halo Integrated amp as a purchase. However, I have seen no reviews of this new amp yet. Maybe you should take a shot at reviewing this amp; I would love to hear your thoughts on it. Keep up the good work. You’re one of the best young audio reviewers out there doing thoughtful, honest reviews on audio equipment affordably priced for working stiffs like me.

Eric
United States

Many thanks for the kind words, Eric, though I still have quite a bit to improve on! The Benchmark, frankly, is ridiculous. The $3000 it costs is hardly chump change, but I maintain that it is a true giant killer. Provided your loudspeakers are not too demanding, I cannot imagine that anyone would dislike the sound it produces, unless they favor the bloom or warmth of a tubed or class-A amplifier. That leads me to the Parasound Halo Integrated. I’ve been eyeing that thing since it was announced, but have not had the opportunity to follow up with Parasound about a review sample -- I'll see what I can do for you about that.

While I have not heard the Halo Integrated, my brother Erich reviewed their Halo A 23 amplifier and Halo P 5 preamplifier last year and loved both of them. For $2495, I am betting that the Halo Integrated is just killer, what with its 160Wpc into 8 ohms, Sabre Reference DAC, DSD compatibility, and raft of rear-panel connectivity. As a one-box solution for under $2500, I struggle to come up with anything that can compete with it. That said, I am equally confident that the Benchmark amplifier blows it, and every other class-AB integrated I have heard over the past few years, away. Yes, it is $500 more, and you are only getting a power amplifier for your money, but you are also getting one of the best-sounding amps I have ever heard. It’s that good. . . . Hans Wetzel