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Parasound Ztuner, Part 1

Posted on April 28, 2020 at 17:55:47

Posts: 5153
Location: Bay Area
Joined: December 11, 2000
Let's go back to Spring Break 1995. I was home in San Francisco, working an awful, barely-above-minimum-wage job. My girlfriend ACS was a senior across the Bay at UC Berkeley. She also worked part-time at Victoria's Secret.

At ACS' off-campus apartment, on the softball field, at the bowling alley, in record stores, in the car, at dances, and even while walking through the Presidio (above), we loved hearing Montell Jordan's "This Is How We Do It." A quarter century later, "This Is How We Do It" is still a favorite. But anyway, ACS came over to my house, pulled an Eddie Haskell on my parents, and got them to clear out of the living room, so that she and I could listen to the stereo. "This Is How We Do It" compelled us to shop for a new, remote-controlled tuner.

Back then, Parasound were headquartered right here in San Francisco, at 950 Battery Street, near Levi's Plaza. Yet, ACS and I had a difficult time, finding a local Parasound dealer. Over in Berkeley, Music Lovers Audio were pushing C.E.C.'s expensive CD transports. Parasound were C.E.C.'s US distributor. But when we asked the salesman about Parasound, he hesitated, and, without any confidence, replied, "If you are interested in a particular model, I think we can bring in a new unit. And if you like it, you can buy it."

San Francisco's Ultimate Sound catered to the entry-level high-end audio market. But they were not an authorized Parasound dealer. So owner David Tam told us that, via his friendships with other dealers, he "thought" he could get the T/DQ-1600, which we were interested in.

Also in San Francisco, Performance Audio carried Spica, which was under Parasound's control. But Performance Audio were an NAD dealer, and kind of balked at getting Parasound.

So ACS and I went back to Music Lovers, which were just a few blocks from her apartment. We ordered a T/DQ-1600. In late April 1995, I received the call from Music Lovers, informing me that they had received a T/DQ-1600. I could not make it to Berkeley that weekend (or maybe Music Lovers were closed on Sundays). But, fed up at work, I told them that I'd be taking the following Monday off.

ACS was so good. Over the weekend, she had gone home to her parents' place in San Francisco, and brought the little car back to Berkeley. So when I came over on Monday, May 1, after her classes were done, we drove to Music Lovers, picked up the Parasound T/DQ-1600, and then transported it to my place. There, the full-sized T/DQ-1600 was very good. And yep, some radio station did play Montell Jordan's "This Is How We Do It."

ACS lined up a job at Genentech, secured an apartment in San Bruno, and graduated from Cal by Memorial Day 1995. And she was so good at Victoria's Secret, she worked a transfer to stores in S.F. To her, working at VS was fun. Plus, she liked the employee discounts. "And besides," she remarked, now that she had the high-paying job at Genentech, she could actually afford VS wares.

Around this time, ACS and I became aware of Parasound's half-width models. See, from working at VS, ACS was perfectly fine with "less is more." So she wondered if Parasound's half-width components worked and sounded as good as the full-sized T/DQ-1600. "All else being equal, smaller is better."

I think Parasound's half-width tuner at that time was the T/DQ-150. My friends and I are not really sure when Parasound came out with the subject of this review, the Ztuner. The manual has a copyright of 2004. Nor do we know what the original list price was. $300? Including the connectors and feet, the Ztuner measures 9.5" wide x 10" deep x 2" tall. It's not even 4 pounds.

The Ztuner has four feet. If you are so inclined, the Ztuner's bottom has plenty of flat surfaces, for after-market footers. This unit comes set for North American 115V volt operation. But you can switch it to 230V.

The clean and minimalist front panel has buttons for on/off Power; Mono; and AM/FM Band. Use the Mode button in conjunction with the tuning knob to scroll through (a) Presets; (b) Auto search; or (c) Manual tuning.

The Ztuner's rear sports 75-ohm F-type antenna connector, and 300-ohm push-in-and-lock AM antenna hookup. The Ztuner has RCA jacks for analog output. If you wanted balanced XLR analog outputs, you needed to go up to Parasound's full-sized T3. The Ztuner has a 15-amp IEC jack, with adjacent fuse holder. This is specified as small (20mm), slow-blow, 0.5A (or 500mA).

In the present, when we hear Montell Jordan's "This Is How We Do It," we are reminded that it is now a quarter-century old. When it came out in 1995, we ourselves were not even 25 years-old!

Getting Old,
-Lummy The Loch Monster


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