Back when I was an exhibitor at high-end audio shows, I’d always start off the first hour with a selection of quiet, contemplative tracks, usually classical music, because I like my mornings to be relatively silent until I’ve downed my second cup of coffee–at least. That was the spirit of the Parasound and Olson’s HiFi room at the 2022 Pacific Audio Fest, some gentle opera to start the day before I started asking everyone to play “Chocolate Chip Trip.”
The Parasound and Olson’s HiFi room had a powerful system that could have rocked if it wanted to, but what’s the saying about real power and the desire to use it? Here’s the system breakdown–Parasound Halo JC1+ monoblocks ($9,499 each), the same model that Dave McNair recently reviewed; Halo JC2BP preamplifier ($3999) and JC3Jr phono pre; a Feickert Woodpecker Deluxe turntable with Schick tonearm and MoFi UltraGold cartridge ($9,990); an Innuos Zenith 1TB music server ($4,699); and KEF Blade Meta loudspeakers ($35,000/pr) hooked up with Straight Wire cabling.
As you can see, the Parasound and Olson’s HiFi room had a serious system, but one that’s actually priced reasonably for what you get. I was more than content to sit there, basking in the soothing opera selections, trying hard not to think about the day ahead of me, when suddenly I was handed an iPad and told I could play anything I want. Since I was dealing with a server and not a streamer, I was confined by Parasound’s playlist and it took me a few minutes to get my bearings. Then I saw it, Beck’s Sea Change, and I quickly chose one of my reference tracks, “Paper Tiger.”
I was asked why I chose that particular track, and I replied that I love how the orchestra rises so dramatically at key points, enhancing the pure drama of the song. Plus, there’s so much going on, lots of tiny details here and there, and the Parasound and Olson’s HiFi system captured the ebb and flow perfectly. It was a great way to start my day.