Surround Sound Simplified

    Home-theater enthusiasts sometimes struggle to keep up with the technological tide—especially in audio, where a new latest-and-greatest format seems to emerge almost yearly. The Parasound Halo P7 7.1-channel analog preamplifier forms the basis of a simple, elegant, all-analog sound system to which you can connect the latest high-tech disc player. The $2,000 P7 provides extraordinarily clean volume control and input switching for multichannel surround-sound sources such as Blu-ray Disc and Super Audio CD players, and also serves as an audiophile-quality preamp for two-channel sources such as a high-end CD player and an FM tuner. A phono preamp is built in to accommodate a record player, and a front-panel input jack can be used for iPods and other portable music players. The P7’s minimalist design makes it far simpler to operate than any other surround-sound processor. An RS-232 port allows control of the P7 through a touch-screen home-automation system. (415.397.7100, www.parasound.com)

    —Brent Butterworth

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