Pass Labs Amplifier Fantasy

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by mds, Nov 21, 2018.

  1. mds

    mds Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    PA
    I had a CJ preamplifier prior to switching to the Backert. I really loved it's sound but felt it ran through tubes a little too fast and it did give me some tube hiss at the tweeters. CJ solid state certainly is something to consider.
     
  2. mds

    mds Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    PA
    I have a Threshold solid state preamplifier, it is a fantastic piece. I don't seem to find many Threshold amplifiers for sale though.
     
  3. mds

    mds Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    PA
    Don't think First Watt will do justice to the bass in the Reference 3 speakers but I have no experience with the amplifiers so I will rely on your expertise if you think differently.
     
  4. mds

    mds Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    PA
    There is a person who rebuilds them and I had sent my pre to him to recap it. The recap price seemed fare and the unit came back quickly and sounded great! For this reason if I were to find a Threshold amplifier I might give it a try if the price was right, but had to be a great savings otherwise I would purchase a Pass Labs used.
     
    Mad shadows likes this.
  5. mds

    mds Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    PA
    Not sure I would do a DIY considering my soldering is not too neat. It would be fun to try but maybe too expensive for a first shot.
     
  6. mds

    mds Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    PA
    Not sure this is in the Pass Labs category, not trying to be a snob but I do want to make this my last purchase and my fantasy budget is around $6K. Hopefully in the next 6 months I can pull this off but am now trying to figure out my power requirements and to determine if it needs to be class A or AB in design. Thanks for the suggestion and I am sure they are fine amplifiers.
     
  7. mds

    mds Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    PA
    I almost never sell my old equipment and therefore plan on keeping my tube mono-blocks which I do love the sound of and feel they work very nicely with the KEF speakers. This is why I thought maybe the Pass Labs XA30.8 class A amplifier might be a perfect match, but was not sure of how it will handle the bass and if it is really going to make that noticeable difference there. My reason for switching is stronger and greater detail in the bass region and less maintenance due to listening to my system every day for at least three to four hours. I am burning through tubes yearly and this expense is adding up.
     
  8. mds

    mds Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    PA
    Yes for that price you probably are correct I could find someone to build the hard parts for me however I am not sure if the power is there for that bass improvement I am looking for.
     
  9. mds

    mds Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    PA
    I never heard of them and appreciate you bringing them to my attention. I will check them out. My room is small, 13 foot wide by 15 foot deep, speakers set up in front of the short wall. Lower powered class A should be plenty as long as it has the AB to fall back on when required.
     
    Doctor Fine likes this.
  10. mds

    mds Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    PA
    The sound stage with the tube amplifiers I currently own even at the lower power setting is fantastic particularly front to back. The Backert just enhanced this greatly and I have rolled the tubes to NOS Mullards and wow nice improvement, so yes your recommendation is spot on. The KEFs also create a wonderful soundstage front to back as well as side to side so I do not want to lose this when switching amplifiers. The Pass Lab reviews I have read rave about the sound stage and detail they bring to the picture. For these reasons along with their tube sound I was drawn to wanting to own one. I am sure there are other amplifiers out there worthy of competing with the Pass Labs sound but for now this is where I am headed but keeping an open mind. My biggest concern is getting rid of tube maintenance and creating more detail and control on the lowest frequencies and unsure if the XA30.8 or X150.8 would be the correct power rating to give me the bass reinforcement I am looking for. My current amplifiers running at Triode 38 watts does give me deep bass but obviously not being solid state the bass is a bit softer and not as detailed as solid state would give.
     
  11. Manimal

    Manimal Forum Resident

    Location:
    Southern US
    My Sonographe SA 250 is known for laid back highs and is ideal when mated with brighter speakers. Can be a magical combo in my experience and I won’t ever part with the amp.
     
    mds likes this.
  12. Doctor Fine

    Doctor Fine Audio Expurdt

    Location:
    Free Speech Land
    If the OP is interested I have heard lots of Pass amps and consider them very fine indeed.
    Did you know Nelson Pass also designed the cheap as dirt GFA 555 for Adcom back in 1995?
    The Adcom GFA 555 was pretty powerful and for a transistor amp at a cheap price point it was (and IS) very impressive.
    Nelson Pass even decided after the success Adcom reaped that he really SHOULD charge considerable MORE for his designs and thus he got funding to open his own boutique amp company building his own Pass amps.
    The same thing sort of occurred with John Curl.
    His circuits designed for Mark Levinson were so clean and musical and tube like that it really shocked the industry.
    But instead of buying his own company he decided to partner with Parasound to build some outrageously bargain oriented high end amps for cheap.
    It was his "dream" sort of like the late David Hafler had with his old Dynaco stuff---build a tremendous great terrific sounding amp for cheap so the masses could own hifi!
    I am not surprised the OP has never heard of the A21 by Curl.
    It is way too inexpensive ($3000) for any hifi salesman worth his salt to ever mention it to you.
    If you have deep pockets most salesmen like myself believe you really SHOULD be funding the adventurous price no object end of our silly hobby with all your dough.
    And the commission on a cheap Asian built mass market piece just ain't so hot, boo hoo.
    The sound of the Parasound A21 is superior to what I hear from say, a Bryston, which are in the main big brutes but not very tube like.
    The A21 sounds like real good tubes to my ear.
    Like a big McIntosh tuber.
    Now that I think of it the A21 sounds a lot like a really good McIntosh BIG transistor product.
    Effortless.
    Clear as a bell.
    Great harmonic "bloom" if the instrument has bloom like say, a cello.
    Tremendous drive on the lower end too by the way.
    Highs go on forever but never a hint of harshness or brittle.
    My only fear is that your "friends" will be ashamed to know you after you purchase such a mass market produced product.
    It also has NO METERS THAT GLOW IN THE DARK.
    OR a funny looking round dial like a Pass.
    OR a "tachometer dial" on the front like a zillion dollar D'Agostino.
    Aw shucks.
    It's just a big hunk of steaming burning love.
    I should own stock or something, no?
    My two cents.
     
  13. KT88

    KT88 Forum Resident

    Based on your posts detailing your system, what you want and can afford, I think the First Watt F7 should be the one to go with. It runs around $3000. It is a 25w/50w into 8/4 ohm amplifier and operates in pure class A. It is similar in specs and power to an amp that I own, the Pass Aleph 3. These sound a lot like a tube amp without noise, and with better bass control into tough loads. For your room size, if you are not trying to raise the dead with sound levels, it will work nicely. It will provide a warm and full sound and decent bass control. I use mine on occasion in conjunction with my usual tube preamp from Rogue Audio to great effect. If you want even more power, slam, iron fisted bass control, then you'll want a bigger amp and class A isn't going to do it for you. I also have a SS AB amp that is a 50w amp and have used the Rogue Audio Stereo 100, which is a wonderful sounding and very capable full tube amp.

    Two things can might work for you then, would be to use the First Watt F7 on top and a Rogue Audio Hydra on the bass. You can of course try both full range and they are both excellent; you may prefer one over the other. I think the relative strengths and shortcomings of each can be sorted by using them in a bi-amp situation, where you'll have tons of power and tonal color. They are each about $3000, so you're still under the $6000 mark. Alternatively, you could use either amp that you prefer full range and add a subwoofer for the lowest registers. That will give you whatever power you need in room for bass and is easily adjustable. of course, you could even add that to the bi-amp system for an amazing, and truly full range system.
    -Bill
     
    Mad shadows, mds and jphabc54 like this.
  14. mds

    mds Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    PA
    Interesting ideas. These give me a lot to chew on. I have only heard wonderful things about the First Watt amplifiers, and saving money is always a nice thing.
     
  15. MC Rag

    MC Rag Forum Resident

  16. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    I agree. I would not have any issues with either.

    I have a Line Magnetic 518iA, which is driven by 845 power tubes and puts out 22-Watts as a class "A" SET amplifier, and I don't get the feeling that it is doing anything to significantly heat up my room. Not that the 845's don't run really hot, they do!

    [​IMG]
     
    jonwoody likes this.
  17. Helom

    Helom I'll take the monkey coffins

    Location:
    U.S.
    The A-S3000 sells for about $7K. Their A-S1100 outperforms some amps twice the price, so I imagine the 3000 may also offer excellent value. I don't have much experience with Pass other than hearing a couple unremarkable setups powered by them at shows. IMO, the MOSFET Yamaha amps manage sound very close to a push-pull tube amp, more so than any other SS amp I've encountered. However, class A stuff is a little smoother.
     
  18. mds

    mds Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    PA
    My biggest concern is the Yamaha that you have recommended, both, are receivers and not a straight amplifier which is what I am after. I am sure as a receiver the Yamaha is a great unit.
     
  19. jonwoody

    jonwoody Forum Resident

    Location:
    Washington DC
    Sugden gear really does look fantastic I've never heard it but always have wanted to. Love that amp in blue!
     
    mds likes this.
  20. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago metro, USA
    I hear you on the appeal of the XA30.8 being a class A amplifier but you would probably have a better outcome with more efficient speakers than the REF 3s factory spec'd 87db.
     
  21. Helom

    Helom I'll take the monkey coffins

    Location:
    U.S.
    Gotcha. Best of luck with your search.
     
  22. mds

    mds Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    PA
    The speakers I am very satisfied with and have no plans on changing them out. It is the amplifier I am interested in upgrading and am not sure if the Class A and the very conservative rating of 30 watts will or will not be enough. I do realize they do move to class AB and output more than the 30 watts when required so this might work well. If not my other option was the 150 watt X150.8, which operates in class AB. I believe this amp does class A up to 15 watts. Both cost the same, so the question is can the class A amplifier work magic with the Reference 3s or do I need to go to the X150.8 for the additional power output.
     
  23. mds

    mds Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    PA
    I also like that blue face. My Backert is the blue upgrade version.
     
  24. Gibsonian

    Gibsonian Forum Resident

    Location:
    Iowa, USA
    I would get some wattage. The 150 watt Pass Labs sounds like the way to go. 30 watts will satisfy some with 87 dB speakers, but not me.
     
    mds likes this.
  25. Mike-48

    Mike-48 A shadow of my former self

    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    @mds : I don't know whether the Pass amps you're considering would emit more heat than your tube amps. My issue was with the X250.8, which emits 400W at idle -- but my basement room has limited ventilation. In your situation, it might not be an issue. HTH
     
    mds likes this.

Share This Page