Denon 4311ci -> Parasound A21, odd noises, looking for some help - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 07-14-2012, 10:35 PM - Thread Starter
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So, first some history. Quite a while back I was having some issues with an older Denon 2106 and the Parasound A21. A crackling noise kept coming through the speakers. At that time, I recall trying a bunch of stuff to get it to go away, it and just didn't seem to want to. I was about to send the Parasound in for service and then had a party. I hooked some outdoor speakers directly to the Denon and it seemed they too had the crackling noise. I figured maybe the issue was with the Denon. I replaced it, wanted to anyway, with the 4311ci. Much to my chagrin, the noises didn't go away. Guess the issue wasn't in the receiver. So, I started thinking maybe it was in my power lines.... Oddly, the noises would come and go. I could go weeks without them and then all of a sudden one day I'd turn on the system and, there in the background ruining my noise floor, would be the crackling sounds.

Well, today, I came downstairs and the subwoofer (Seaton Submerssive) was making some low pops. The receiver wasn't even turned on. I disconnected the XLR cable and they went away. Reconnected it, they returned. So, I pulled the power plug out of the Denon. They went away, plugged it back in...back again. ARGH! So, I disconnected the receiver from the power strip and plugged it directly into the wall, to my surprise, the noises went away. All the media equipment, the sub, the Denon receiver, the Parasound, and the power strip which the rest of the equipment plugs into, plug into different outlets all wired to the same breaker. Their outlets are the only things on that breaker.

So, since I "fixed" the subwoofer (which just started up today) by moving the receiver directly to the wall, I was hoping I'd have fixed the power amplifier "problem". No such luck.... So, I started to experiment some more. With the left channel plugged into the Denon's amplifiers and the right channel plugged into the Parasound, I went trying to fix my issue. No luck, but some really odd things happened. To note, however, throughout the entire time the left channel (the one plugged directly into the Denon) never crackled....

First, I decided to disconnect the Denon from the Parasound, just to see if the noise was somehow related to that interconnection. I disconnected the left channel RCA from the Denon and the Parasound started going nuts. The right channel was humming and buzzing loudly. So, I pulled the right channel RCA (completely disconnecting the Denon and Parasound) and the humming, buzzing, and the crackling, was gone. Awesome...no noise. Alas, doesn't much help to have a power amplifier connected to nothing, lol.

So, I plugged both RCA's back into the Denon and left the Parasound powering the right channel trying different things to make the crackling in that channel go away. Nothing worked. At the end, with every source disconnected from the Denon and the only things plugged into it being the L/R RCAs to the Parasound and the subwoofer RCA, the crackling persisted.... Argh!

Now, keep in mind, this crackling noise seems to come and go.... But, I just can't tolerate it any more. We lost power a few weeks ago, large storm, power was out for a few days, and ever since the power has been back this noise hasn't went away. I can't tolerate it any more, so I've disconnected the Parasound entirely out of my system. I really want to put it back, but I can't tolerate the noise. So, I'm looking for ideas here. If someone thinks it's the Parasound having issues (given everything I've described above), then I'll certainly send it in for inspection. Otherwise, I have the original boxes in the garage, I think I'm going to have to sell it. Maybe I'll buy another power amp, or see if someone local will let me borrow one to test. Maybe it's just a sensitivity in the Parasound to our power, which is obviously not all that clean. I just don't know what the heck to do....

:-( ideas....

Thanks!
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post #2 of 14 Old 07-15-2012, 06:54 AM
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Hello-I am also a Parasound owner (A23) connected to a 4311 CI; your problem could be electrolytic capacitor breakdown, possibly in the power supply. I would call Parasound tech service (number in the back of your amplifier manual), and get their opinion-and recommended course of action. Parasound products are high quality, and they stand behind the equipment they market
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post #3 of 14 Old 07-15-2012, 08:20 AM - Thread Starter
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Funny you mention that, because when I first heart the noise, that's the first thing I thought of...some sort of capacitor damage in the amplifier. It's nice to hear someone else have the same thought. Worse thing, I did call them when the problem started, bought the shipping boxes, was all ready to send it out, and then I heard that same crackling/ticking noise from the outdoor speakers that were connected directly to the old Denon. But, I suppose it's also possible that some weirdness in the Parasound was making its way back through the RCA's to the Denon.... I really don't know. I do know, though, that regardless of how I have things connected with the 4311ci, if the speakers are connected to it then there's absolute blackness. Which hurts because even though the Denon is less powerful, it sounds better when the dynamics emerge from black than this crackling background junk.
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post #4 of 14 Old 07-15-2012, 12:13 PM
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Well - logic says that the amps in the 4311 are solid-problem resides in the A21: capacitor, or cold solder, or cracked foil trace, or cracked resistor-you have a costly investment in the A21-if it was mine, would get an RMA number, from Parasound, and get it repaired.
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post #5 of 14 Old 07-16-2012, 05:42 PM - Thread Starter
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Supposing I contend your thought and my initial thoughts were correct...can anyone explain why the sub briefly seemed to suffer from it until I moved the receiver directly to the wall connection and why the A21 amplifier stops making the noises when disconnected from the receiver entirely (and why it'd hum loudly as all heck when only connected to one channel?).
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post #6 of 14 Old 07-16-2012, 08:15 PM
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Well, I re-read your initial thread, and let's think "outside the box"-couple of rudimentary questions.
1-How old is your house?
2-Are you sure that all the outlets are on the same breaker?

What are the chances that you have some "oxidation" in your wall outlets (where the wires from your breaker box connect to the individual AC wall receptacles-ie, screw connections my have loosened, etc? Could there be some intermittent arcing causing noise?
I am not suggesting that you check this yourself-you would have to make sure the circuit was"dead"

Were your AVR's always plugged into the same outlet? Is the4311 now plugged into a different outlet, now that it seems "quiet" without the A21 in the audio circuit.

How about the possibility that the breaker itself is causing the noise, bad contacts? Could there be some arcing occuring when a critical current flow was reached, in the combined outlet system, that you said was all connected to the same breaker?

These are just some thoughts-you've had weird things happen with: your original AVR, replacement AVR, A21, subwoofer-all affected-the only thing in common seems to relate to AC input corruption of some sort-I guess??????
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post #7 of 14 Old 07-16-2012, 08:39 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fordf250 View Post

Well, I re-read your initial thread, and let's think "outside the box"-couple of rudimentary questions.
1-How old is your house?
2-Are you sure that all the outlets are on the same breaker?
What are the chances that you have some "oxidation" in your wall outlets (where the wires from your breaker box connect to the individual AC wall receptacles-ie, screw connections my have loosened, etc? Could there be some intermittent arcing causing noise?
I am not suggesting that you check this yourself-you would have to make sure the circuit was"dead"
Were your AVR's always plugged into the same outlet? Is the4311 now plugged into a different outlet, now that it seems "quiet" without the A21 in the audio circuit.
How about the possibility that the breaker itself is causing the noise, bad contacts? Could there be some arcing occuring when a critical current flow was reached, in the combined outlet system, that you said was all connected to the same breaker?
These are just some thoughts-you've had weird things happen with: your original AVR, replacement AVR, A21, subwoofer-all affected-the only thing in common seems to relate to AC input corruption of some sort-I guess??????
Most frustrating indeed, the house is brand new, just built within the last year and a half. I am positive all three outlets are on the same breaker and further positive there's nothing else wired to them. I told the G.C. specifically to relay to his electrician to wire it that way, and traced the wires myself to verify. Well, actually, I *told* them I wanted three outlets with independent breakers on the front wall of my living room, all wired on the same phase. They didn't listen, rather they wired all three outlets to the same breaker. I suppose that's next best, and they saved themselves a few bucks in wire and breakers (jerks...I was a little pissed...but...whatever, I let it go not wanting to make them re-do it -- probably should have, but it's on the ground floor, so with basement access, I figured it'd have been easy enough to do myself if I needed to).

As for the outlets, the A21 was always plugged into the same outlet, the sub was as well (maybe a different plug in the same outlet, as I may have switched to a different plug by chance after plugging it back in post-storm). The only difference in the receiver was moving it from the power strip to the wall directly.

Oh, and another weird thing that used to happen before I switched receivers, at some point every time I powered down the receiver the sub would start popping, like a capacitor somewhere in the system was slowly discharging and leaking power back through the receiver and it was getting mixed into the sub line. It would pop, pop, pop, getting less and less loud and then settle down and stop. After I switched to this new receiver it has stopped. It didn't always happen, either, and I can't recall any more if it happened around the same time as the crackling started, or before.... I did pull the XLR from the back of the sub mid fit, and that killed it.... So, I had to believe it was coming from the receiver, and possibly leaking through it from somewhere else.... Again, maybe back to our capacitor theory...but....who the heck knows. Looking back on it, I probably should have tested pulling the RCA's between the receiver and A21 to see if that stopped it, then I'd know the source was somewhere in the A21 and possibly been able to know for sure there was something in that amplifier feeding back into the system. I never did, though...just didn't think of it back then....

That said, I still can't discount electrical gremlins, but I don't really know how the heck to rule them out.... It's most annoying. Also hard for me to call an electrician and say, "hear this noise, fix it" lol. Well...unless someone on the forum knows a great electrician who is also an AV nut in the NJ/PA area who'd be willing to pay me a visit....

I wish I could get a recording of the noises, but I tried, and my camera mic just can't seem to pick them up. It just doesn't have a good enough noise floor itself. Best I can describe, it sounds like water dripping, but a different (higher) pitch at random levels. A couple quiet drips mixed among some louder ones, all of varying pitch, all mostly higher frequency (or at least that's the frequency I hear most since the tweeter is the most sensitive). I wish I had a scope I could connect to the speaker terminals....

Edit:

So, I think about all this together, and wonder if it all can't make a case for the A21 being messed up. Figure my issues:

- Noise through speakers when connected to A21

- Noise through sub-woofer on power down when connected to old receiver, which was connected to A21, only upon shutdown of receiver, which would also cause (through trigger) shut-down of A21, which would start the caps discharging, which if something in that circuit allowed it to discharge back through the Denon and the Denon had (or slowly received over time due to stress on its circuits possibly also due to extra load from A21 due to its issue, lol) poor isolation between the channels, may cause leakage back into the sub woofer channel, causing similar sounding pops until the caps were discharged, which would make the noise stop.

- Similarly, assuming the noise is originating in the A21, when I had my outdoor speakers connected to the old receiver, the same channel separation issue that may have been the cause of the sub power-down popping could have leaked into that receiver's amplifiers and, thusly, into the outdoor speakers connected to its amplifier outputs.

- Change the receiver, the channel separation "issue" goes away, and so my sub no longer pops on shut-down (though it was popping erratically that one day, it hasn't since that I can tell), and the front channels on that receiver's amplifier are clean as a whistle with and without the A21 in the mix.

So...if all that is plausible, it still could point to an issue that originates in that A21.... Now, the question is, how plausible is all that?
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post #8 of 14 Old 07-17-2012, 10:33 AM
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Hello again-a little personal history-as I am leading up to a common problem I used to face. I am retired, but I worked for Xerox Corp.. (the dry copier). in service, for 40 years: I was a technical representative, technical specialist (22yrs.) and a Field Service Mgr. We used to have a particular customer wiring problem cause havoc with our machines-physically connecting AC neutral and ground together to save wiring-or to avoid a real earthen ground-there should be a voltage difference (maybe a volt, or two) when measuring from hot to ground, and hot to neutral.
How about checking the voltage, on each receptacle, to make sure that hot and neutral are not reversed on any of your outlets?
How about plugging the the 4311, and A21 into the same outlet, and use the4311 as the preamp for the for the A21 (rca signal inteconnects)-or have you tried both in a common AC outlet before?
I have kinda of talked myelf our of your A21 being the problem-whateever isolation steps that are persued-they have to be eliminated one at a time,ie-no outlet grounding irregularities, etc.-In all honesty, I do not know what would happen, how the problem would be manifested, if some outlets, on the same line, were correctly wired, and some with hot and neutral reversed-never thought about it!!!!
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post #9 of 14 Old 07-17-2012, 04:49 PM - Thread Starter
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I have not tried running them in the same outlet, because I assumed since all the outlets were on the same breaker, there shouldn't have been a difference. However, I suppose it's possible both the electrician and inspector were both high on more than life when the wired/inspected the house and...well...they could have messed something easy up like that.

I suppose if I'm going to try anything, I'll try disconnecting everything from this circuit all-together except the Denon and the A21 and disconnect everything from the Denon but the pre-outs to the Parasound. Then, I'll take your suggestion and split one outlet, one physical plug, and hook both the Denon and Parasound to it. If the noise persists then, I have to assume it's either something in the Parasound or something in the electrical system somewhere else in the house which the Parasound is sensitive to, and only when connected to the Denon...since it seems the noise goes away if the Parasound isn't connected to the Denon....

That said, I know everyone is probably thinking some kind of group loop or something like that. But it's not a hum, I am pretty familiar with the typical group loop noise (had it in my old apartment, had to lift the ground on the Parasound for it to go away), this is something entirely different. It's either coming through/caused by my electrical system and the Parasound hears it, or it's something in the Parasound causing it and only when it's connected to the Denon's pre's....

Soooooooo frustrating. But, when my DirecTv is done recording today's programs, I'll give the above experiment a shot and let you know the results. My guess, the noise will persist...but, I may be surprised.

P.S. I need to borrow my dad's multi-meter and see if that shows anything about the outlets.
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post #10 of 14 Old 07-17-2012, 06:30 PM
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Ford is back-I think that a good start would be to try both in the same receptacle-run it as you normally would, and see if the noise is gone. Now, if it is okay, you might try switching receptacles, and see if the satisfactory results are achieved with each receptacle?

When you get the multimeter, you can check the polarity of each receptacle-the next statement is not made to insult your intelligence-remember that the short spade slot is supposed to be "hot", the long spade slot is supposed to be "neutral". Check your slots, in relation to the "ground" orifice. The short slot, to ground, should read AC line voltage-if you read line voltage, when measuring the long slot to ground, than the recepacle is wired backwards. These simple tests should help gain some useful information, and take some of the "what if's" out of the situation. Good luck
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post #11 of 14 Old 07-17-2012, 10:02 PM - Thread Starter
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Well...I think it's the A21. I broke out a long extension cord and went to work. A few interim tests with no change in results led me to the final test. With everything unplugged from the "media breaker" (receiver/sub/power strip w/ remaining AV gear) except the A21 and the A21 disconnected from the receiver (so the only thing plugged in were the two speakers to the A21 and the A21 to the wall, that includes the trigger switch, I put the amplifier in manual on/off mode) the A21 still made noises through the channels. Then, I disconnected the RCA cables (which were connected to nothing on the other end) and the noise went away (mostly) in ONE channel, and stuck around in the other (odd...?). The "quiet" channel still had the noise, but seriously reduced, to the point that if the other channel were that quiet I probably wouldn't be bothered by it. At that time, I tried moving the A21 to a few different plugs in the house with the long extension cord -- no change. So, unless the noise is coming from every outlet in my house, it really seems like the A21 is having issues. Also, for grins, I turned the gain down on the amplifier, and that modified the level of the noise. I don't think I can isolate any more than that unless I plug the A21 in to my neighbors' outlets, lol.

That said, a few other scary things. Firstly, I hope I didn't start the whole trouble by using a, unbeknownst to me, bad RCA wire. I have been using Audioquest Sidewinder cables that they gave me with the amplifier forever ago when I bought it. Since I found it odd that disconnecting the RCA seemed to eliminate the noise from one channel, I started tinkering. When I plugged one end of the one cable into the amplifier it went all sorts of nuts again (remember my previous post, when I disconnected the one end from the receiver the A21 went nuts), well...that issue persisted. It followed just that end of the cable through both channels of the A21. ARGH! The other cable (and the other end of that same cable) didn't exhibit that really loud humming/buzzing craziness. So...I don't know if one end of the RCA was going bad or shorting or badly soldered or some crap that was leading to an increase in resistance that started breaking down the amplifier and, eventually, my poor old Denon receiver to the point where now my A21 crackles and my poor old receiver started to as well and started to leak noise back through the subwoofer after power down, or what! But if that one stupid bloody $70 set of cables cost me this amplifier, I will be LIVID! I am not a cable snob, so to have been given expensive cables and have them be the cause is just maddening! I don't know for sure they are, but it's certainly not right that one end of one cable would cause the A21 so much trouble.

To that end, I believe I'm going to have to get in touch with Parasound (again) and re-open my old ticket and hope they'll work with me on the warranty. It was under warranty, just expiring, last year...I bloody should have sent it in then, but I didn't want to send them an amplifier that was fine and take up their time/resources. Since at that time the noise followed my receiver when I hooked up the outside speakers, I just blamed it on my receiver. I didn't have the cash to buy another...and now...well...argh! I probably should have trouble shot better back then (though to be honest, I must be going crazy, because I was almost positive last year this time when I disconnected the Parasound 100% from the receiver all the noises went away, which was also why I attributed it to the receiver) but...maybe if that cable was the ultimate cause, it finally broke down everything in the chain.... Who knows...I'm pissed, that's all I know frown.gif.

Make a long story short: A21 -> speakers, nothing else plugged into the A21 (not even the trigger wire), moved to several outlets in the house, all exhibited a crackling noise on the left channel, a little bit of tick on the right. If it's in my house wiring, it is certainly systemic throughout the house and mostly, from what I can tell, only bothering the A21.

Anything else I should do? Still think it's not the amplifier?

P.S. As a side note, when I disconnected my receiver from the power source completely, again, the sub-woofer started to hum. So, I went toying with that set up too. Findings:

With only the XLR->RCA adapter plugged into the sub-woofer, the minute I turned the sub-woofer on it hummed like crazy. I was holding the other end of the XLR, and as I rubbed my hand over the fins of the amplifier, the humming would change in intensity...WTF?! I put the XLR adapter down on the subwoofer, the humming got lower, picked it up, it got louder, touched the fins on the amplifier, it got lower. Is this normal? Obviously the only thing I'm changing is the grounding...it's as if the XLR->RCA adapter is acting like an antenna, though.... The minute I disconnect the adapter, the sub shuts up. If I connect the adapter to the receiver and then plug the receiver in, it shuts up.... Again, moved the sub-woofer to other outlets in the house, same response.... If this isn't normal either, I start to worry my whole house has some sort of grounding issue and I may need to get an electrician out here and then a lawyer to go after the original electricians....

edit: also, I just got done hooking everything back up and taking the A21 out of the picture. While doing so, I was verifying all my connections, cycling through sources. The sub, which uses signal sensing mode to power on, therefore was on. But, I noticed I swapped two of my HDMI cables, so I shut down the receiver and went back there to move the cables around. Keep in mind, the sub was still powered on and, since it didn't time-out from signal sensing mode, was still amplifying. So, as I reconnected the HDMI cables, when I touched the metal connector to the jack on the Denon (even though it was powered off) the sub popped. Again, WTF?! The Denon doesn't use three-prong, the sub does (so does the A21) could this be part of it? Since I bumped the chassis, that "signal" made it through to the sub due to the XLR->RCA and made it pop? I suppose normally I'd never notice it because the sub wouldn't consider that quick pop a signal and therefore, would normally be turned off, no amplifying, and I wouldn't have heard it.... Again, normal, or no? Maybe I'm just being paranoid at this point, lol....
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post #12 of 14 Old 07-18-2012, 07:48 AM
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I think you now have enough, basic, definitive proof that the problem exists in the A21; I would ignore the subwoofer symptons, and not "muddy the water", any further-trying to tie together many possibilities. If the amp were mine, in light of the multi-AC outlet test, I would do the following:
1-Call Parasound tech service, and explain things, expecially the outlet test
2-Let them know that you already purchased the boxes, for shipping, and intended to send it to them during the warranty period-but kept getting confused by the myraid of symptoms that were "confusing the picture" for you.
3-See what they say, in respone, and go from there-hopefully that will be generous in their actions?

Side question: why are you using rca to XLR connectors? If your interconnect runs are less than 25 or30 feet, you shouldn't ge introducing any extraneous noise?:cool
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post #13 of 14 Old 07-18-2012, 05:41 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fordf250 View Post

I think you now have enough, basic, definitive proof that the problem exists in the A21; I would ignore the subwoofer symptons, and not "muddy the water", any further-trying to tie together many possibilities. If the amp were mine, in light of the multi-AC outlet test, I would do the following:
1-Call Parasound tech service, and explain things, expecially the outlet test
2-Let them know that you already purchased the boxes, for shipping, and intended to send it to them during the warranty period-but kept getting confused by the myraid of symptoms that were "confusing the picture" for you.
3-See what they say, in respone, and go from there-hopefully that will be generous in their actions?
Side question: why are you using rca to XLR connectors? If your interconnect runs are less than 25 or30 feet, you shouldn't ge introducing any extraneous noise?:cool
That's pretty much what I did, I emailed them last night and they responded this morning. Whether or not they'll take care of me within the warranty is yet to be determined, but I'm sure they'll work with me, they certainly seem to stand behind their product.

As for the XLR->RCA, I'm using it because I have no choice, the subwoofer (Seaton Submerssive) only has an XLR input, it comes with the adapter.
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post #14 of 14 Old 07-18-2012, 07:18 PM
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Ford again-as I said before-I think what you are doing is the way to go-Parasound will stand behind their products. About the XLR comment-I miss understood-I thought you were substituting the rca/XLR between the 4311preamp out and the A21 in-sorry for the mistake.
Again, best of luck, and post how everything comes out-when you have as many problem symptons, at one time, from more than one component-you wonder if it is worth all the effort and "brain cramps".
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