By Ron Goldberg
While Parasound's successful Halo series has been the statement lineup from this longtime A/V specialist, the rest of its line has been undergoing a major update. The Model 7100 is the pre-pro in the company's "New Classic" series.
The 7100 is a 7.1-channel preamp-processor that incorporates much of the thinking behind the Halo lineup, only scaled down for setups where the extensive feature set of those products isn't really necessary. Given its intended market position, it's hard to call the 7100 a budget model, but in essence, that's what this new series represents for Parasound.
The 7100 sports a deceptively simple appearance, featuring a charcoal faceplate with a handsome center design band that surrounds a dimmable backlit display. Around back, there's enough connectivity for a typical mid-sized home theater setup, including three component video inputs, four S-video and six composite. The unit features video upconversion to component, and the menu system will display over component connections. HDMI switching capability will eventually be offered through an expansion slot.
On the audio side, there are four coaxial digital connections and four optical; these can all be independently assigned and named. A set of 7.1 analog inputs is provided for DVD-A and SACD, and analog bass management is provided for these sources.
One neat feature that Parasound provides is a bass enhancement setting where the 7100 feeds low-frequency signals to both "large" speakers and the subwoofer, rather than simply routing everything below the crossover point to the sub. I found this added an extra bit of whomp to my system, where the mains have plenty of good, usable response below my usual 80Hz cutoff point, but don't go as low as the subwoofer. This feature is worth mentioning to the customer that has invested (or is about to invest) in a set of premium full-range speakers. The 7100 will help such customers get their money's worth there.