2, 4 or 12-Channels
For 2020, Parasound has introduced three new amplifiers designed to meet the needs of professional audio systems installers. The Parasound ZoneMaster 2 (ZM 2) two-channel amp, the ZoneMaster 4 (ZM 4) four-channel amp, and the ZoneMaster 12 (ZM 12) twelve-channel amp. Each amplifier channel is rated at 150 watts into the typical 4-ohm and 2-ohm loads of architectural speakers, and 120 watts for 8-ohm hi-fi speakers. However, the ZM 12 only meets those power specs for channels 1 and 2, while halving amplification for the remaining ten channels.
The Parasound ZoneMaster 12, which replaces the ZoneMaster 1250, beefs up power per channel. The most significant ZM 12 improvement is the higher-power Zone 1 (channels 1 & 2) with a massive upgrade to 120 watts per channel into 8 ohms and 150 watts per channel into 4 ohms or 2 ohms. Each zone incudes a Parasound-designed premium Class AB stereo input stage driving six new, highly-regarded Danish ICEpower stereo amplifier modules that are 2-ohm stable.
Each channel has an individual line-level input jack, level control, and two detachable Phoenix-connector speaker outputs. Each zone can connect to one of two line-level buses or to a speaker-level input bus. Buffered loop outputs facilitate daisy-chaining amplifiers. The ZM 12 also includes an exclusive suite of turn on options. Global (all zones) auto turn on with a switch to select either a single 12VDC trigger input jack or Audio sensing. For individual zones auto turn on the ZM 12 has six switches and six 12VDC input jacks so each zone can be turned on by 12V DC or audio sensing. That means some zones can be controlled by audio sensing and other channels by 12VDC. In addition to convenience this totally eliminates bleed-through between zones.
“Providing higher power for two of the 12 channels seems obvious now that we’ve done it. Nearly all installations have a zone which can sing nicely with higher power — either a large rec room, outdoor speakers, or a room for serious stereo listening.”Richard Schram, Parasound president
The Parasound ZoneMaster 4, which replaces the ZoneMaster 450, also includes upgraded amplification. The ZM 4’s two output zones can both operate from a common source bus or independently from two separate zone sources. This makes it possible, for example, to have one music program in the kitchen, and a separate program in a bedroom. Each channel has individually adjustable line-level gain controls. Loop outputs are provided to enable daisy chaining additional amplifiers. A rear panel switch determines whether the output for each zone is mono or stereo. It uses detachable Phoenix-style speaker output connectors favored by custom installers, and can power up to eight speakers using the A+B speaker outputs. The ZM 4 offers turn-on for all zones or for each zone individually. This offers exceptional flexibility, especially with popular, branded streaming sources that have 12V triggers.
The Parasound ZoneMaster ZM 2, which replaces the ZoneMaster 250, upgrades amplification power as well. It’s designed for a single zone, but includes an 80 Hz low-pass filter for subwoofers. The filter can be applied to the line-level output for use with a powered subwoofer. It can also be applied to the main amplifier outputs for use with passive subwoofers in mono or stereo mode. Using the A&B speaker outputs, up to four speakers can be powered from the small footprint ZM 2. It’s also got 12-volt triggers, audio detection, or front panel power button.
The differences between the the ZM 250 and ZM 2 are mainly internal. Under the hood there’s a whole new amplifier with more robust heat sinks.
The Parasound ZoneMaster 2, 4 and 12 all have a black finish. The ZM 4 and 12 are designed for rack mounting and sturdy die-cast mounting brackets are included at no extra charge. The half-width ZM 2 can be rack mounted with the addition of an optional ZRK adapter kit.
“These new amplifiers mate the best of Parasound design with the cool, efficient reliability and space savings of Class D. The Danish-made ICEpower modules are the best available, offering amazing sonic performance and reliability. When paired with our premium Class AB stereo input stage and Parasound’s custom designed heat sinking, a powerful, cool-running, and rack-space friendly amplifier results. The performance rivals more costly audiophile amplifiers. Using independent power modules for each zone ensures that we can achieve this with all channels driven.”Richard Schram, Parasound president
Price & Availability
- Parasound ZoneMaster 2 – $495
- Available now (Sept. 2020)
- Parasound ZoneMaster 4 – $995
- Available early Oct. 2020
- Parasound ZoneMaster 12 – $2,495
- Available now (June 2020)
About Parasound: Founded in 1981, Parasound Products, Inc., is a privately-owned U.S. company that specializes in providing affordable audio components to the critical listener. The company’s ever-improving line of audio products has garnered a reputation for performance, value, and reliability. The highest quality standards are assured by Parasound’s relationships with their Taiwan audio manufacturers that date back to 1982.