Updated: Sep 6, 2020
Think High-Fidelity Audio Is Complicated? Meet Parasound’s Hint 6.
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Parasound’s Brand-New Integrated Amplifier Makes It Easy. If you're a music lover of a certain age, you may remember when every audio component was separate. We had preamplifiers and amplifiers. If you wanted to listen to FM radio, there were separate tuners. Of course, you had to have a music source too, like a turntable. When the CD started becoming mainstream, we accepted the new format and added yet another component to our setup. Naturally, you had many wires and cables connecting all these components. Of course, being a music lover has always meant putting up with just a bit more equipment than the average person in the quest for great sound quality, but that was fine for us because we are passionate about music and the tapestry of emotions it can invoke. But the reality is that it made everything a little more complicated. You have to turn on multiple components and have lots of cables routing signals between them. The hi-fi world started addressing this. Of course, we've had receivers for a long time, and many models over the years have had excellent internal parts and construction, offering high performance in a simpler solution. But music lovers have traditionally been left wanting higher-quality receivers as most of them were not built to the levels of the best audio components. Yet to save space and reduce complexity, not every music lover wanted to have a rack of separates. The integrated amp was the answer for those enthusiasts, combining the preamp and amp sections into a relatively simple package. Music lovers of any age can appreciate less complexity. Several hi-fi vendors offered quality examples that were geared for stereo listening, while the majority of receivers turned into home audio and video media hubs that focus on surround sound performance.
The advent of multiple digital music formats has changed the game in recent years. Today, we may have music that has been consolidated from a CD library on iTunes or another audio player on a computer. We have streaming music from services like Tidal, Pandora, Spotify, and Apple Music, and high-resolution music downloads available that surpass the audio depth of the CD. The integrated amp of yore was primarily an analog affair, which enabled them to last a long time, as that part of the technology hasn't changed much over the years. To deal with today’s choices of digital music, the venerable integrated amplifier has had to add digital chops to keep up with technology. That’s what Parasound’s latest integrated amp, the Hint 6, is all about with its digital inputs powered by ESS. The Hint 6 is an easy way to step into digital high fidelity audio and can be the heart of your next stereo rig, offering the best of the analog and digital worlds in a single chassis component. Read on to see how it can amp up your audio in your home in the Morristown, New Jersey area.
Why Buy An Integrated Amp? Put simply; an integrated amp is focused on delivering excellent two-channel sound with needed connectivity in single chassis. Unburdened as A/V receivers are from decoding multi-channel formats or handling the vagaries of video switching and HDMI connections, audio engineers can focus on designing internal circuits that are optimized for delivering excellent stereo performance. Without the complexity of all those other features, they are also simple to operate and enjoy. However, we did mention that integrated amplifiers have had to add digital technology to handle digital music formats. For those reasons, Parasound’s Hint 6 has added one of the best reference-level digital-to-analog converters (DAC), the ESS Sabre32 Reference 32-bit DAC. This DAC enables the Hint 6 to handle all the latest high-resolution music formats including DSD. In the past, analog integrated amps needed to have outboard DACs to be compatible with digital music formats. Indeed, many music lovers still prefer to use outboard ones to be able to upgrade when new technology comes out. In this case, Parasound has incorporated a DAC that is about as future-proof as you can get these days.
All the Right Connections In order to be a system hub, you have to have all the right connections for ultimate flexibility, and the Hint6 does not disappoint. Five pairs of analog RCA inputs including a high quality phono input, and one XLR balanced input handle analog duties. One coaxial input, two optical and a USB input round out the digital inputs. The USB input can handle digital music via the USB output of a laptop or other device, using the reference-level DAC in the Hint 6. Infrared input and 12V triggers allow it to be integrated with other components and with home automation systems. Vinyl enthusiasts are not left out as the Hint 6 features a high-quality phono preamp compatible with both moving magnet and moving coil cartridges. Finally, the Hint 6 also has a headphone jack for private listening. We at Bravo AV consider Parasound’s Hint 6 to be the Swiss Army knife of integrated amplifiers. With a built-in DAC, a variety of inputs and boasting plenty of power, there isn’t anything the Hint 6 can’t do.
Unique Bass Management A unique feature that Parasound has long included with its integrated amps is analog bass management. They built high-quality high and low pass crossovers into the unit, enabling enthusiasts to integrate a subwoofer into their system smoothly. Most A/V receivers do bass management in the digital realm, and many preamps and integrateds don't offer it at all. The Hint 6 even includes the convenience of a front-panel subwoofer level control, a nice feature not seen in two-channel systems.
Traditional Parasound Power Parasound has long been known for superb power amplifiers, and their longtime designer John Curl is well-regarded in industry circles – having just been awarded The Absolute Sound Lifetime Achievement Award. The Hint 6 pumps out 160 watts into 8 Ohms and 240 watts into 4 Ohms, which is enough power to generate concert-level volume – even with demanding speakers. The construction features oversize toroidal power supplies and ample output devices, the types of build that are common in Parasound’s separate amplifiers.
Build Quality Parsound’s build quality over 37 years is legendary. Many products are still in full functioning operation after 20+ years. Parasound has many products appearing in the biannual Stereophile Guide to Recommended Components. It is a testament to the value engineering found in the products. The Halo Integrated, the predecessor to the Hint 6, won accolades from the domestic and international audio press. The Hint 6 is even better, available in both black and silver. The Hint 6 comes with a full 60-month parts and labor warranty when purchased from Bravo AV, an authorized Parasound Halo Dealer.
For additional resources, please visit our page on Home Audio with articles like this on everything you need to know about speakers and surround sound. Additionally, you can check out our photo gallery on the same page to explore our previous work.
Bravo AV is proud to be an HTA (Home Technology Association) Certified Installation Firm and professional A/V experts. Tom Curnin, the owner of Bravo AV, is a CEDIA Professional Designer, a certified THX Level 1 home theater professional and a member of the Home Acoustic Alliance trained to Level II. You can contact Tom directly at (908) 953-0555 or through email at Tom@BravoAV.com.