Pass Labs Amplifier Fantasy

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

  1. Boltman92124

    Boltman92124 Fish tacos.

    Location:
    San Diego
    What he has on his racks (not pictured) is also jaw dropping. There's another thread today about $100k systems. Just the PASS XS Pre- Power combo is about $100k. His system is well north of $500k. He said the same thing, once you go Pass Labs, you never go anywhere else.
     
  2. mp29k

    mp29k Well-Known Member

    Might I suggest you pick up a pair of Schiit Aegir monoblocks? They are $799 a piece, and have had many people compare them favorably to the Pass Labs power amps. I have a single one, and love the smooth, detailed, wide soundstage (tube like) sound. 2 would push plenty of power, and since your pre already outputs balanced, you wouldn't need a new pre.
     
  3. mds

    mds Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    PA
    Just to reiterate, the bass issue has been resolved by integrating two subwoofers into my system. I always loved my tube amplifiers sound just wanted some deeper fuller bass. When I had tried with the Electrocompaniet amplifiers it did create a deeper, richer bass but not like the subwoofers are producing. The solid state amplifiers weren't as smooth in the mid and upper ranges so it was a trade off. By keeping my tubes and integrating the subs I am getting what I had hoped to with a pair of Pass Labs but at a fraction of the cost even if I had bought used. I still dream about them, they are worthy of dreams but I am very happy for now. The bass is far superior to what the Electrocompaniet amplifiers had produced. By bottom end goes much lower than the KEF's are rated to go even with a powerhouse amplifier and that has been a real benefit to the sound. I am lucky that the transition from the KEFs speakers to the subs are not noticeable they integrate very smoothly. I crossover at about 40-hz and keep the volume down low.
     
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  4. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    I have a full commitment to tubes only with regard to driving my legacy Altec Lansing A7 speakers.

    But some of my tube amplifiers are expensive to operate tube wise.

    I wanted to have an alternative to tubes for during the daytime, when I am busy doing other things.

    I found a small 50-Watt Electrocompaniet SS amplifier, that I have to say, is very tube like to the point that I am impressed!

    I hooked up a amp/speaker A/B switch and was using the Electrocompaniet amp to power the A7's during the day.
     
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  5. Pythonman

    Pythonman Forum Resident

    Location:
    Indiana
    Another vote for the awesome Parasound A21 here. But I would NOT want to dissuade you or anyone else from a new Pass amp if that's what you're really after. I've never heard Pass but I surely love the look of them inside and out. Reviews have been extremely positive for Pass amps of all sizes over the years.
    When I bought a Parasound Halo based system I knew I was trying to get the most for my bucks even though I might have been able to scare up enough cash for a lower powered Pass amp (and I was and still am tempted believe me!). But I rolled the dice and was mighty impressed with what arrived a few days after I put the order in. There was a very lengthy break in period in which the sound improved to it's current levels and I gotta say, I cant imagine getting any more enjoyment than I am right now out of the A21 and the P5 preamp and JC3+ phono preamp. Listenig to my music has never been near as engaging, nor as rewarding as it is now. It's a virtual rediscovery of every piece of music in my library. I feel strongly that I'm getting the vital basic information as far as space, depth, separation, scale and impact correctly now and that was my overall goal. The more expensive Pass and Parasound amps for that matter, I would expect to have further improvements in those areas as well as with speed and transients etc.
     
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  6. Celticray

    Celticray Forum Resident

    Location:
    Richardson, TX
    Check out Reno Hifi for new and used Pass Labs you cant go wrong
     
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  7. Bathory

    Bathory 30 yr Single Malt, not just for breakfast anymore

    Location:
    usa
    Not sure if I mentioned it

    I bought used monos a few years ago, my first choice was pass labs, then I looked at the McCormack,monos!and,popped for the McCormack’s.

    Either way I would have been happy,but I have a better upgrade option, and service with the McCormack amps in the future.
    I’m always looking ahead.
     
  8. Ontheone

    Ontheone Drifting Towards the Dead Wax

    Location:
    Indianapolis
    It looks like I'm pursuing the same sonics the OP was looking for here and will likely transition from an all tube set up to a SS amp paired with a tube pre. I have a home trial scheduled to start next week on a Pass XA30.8. On paper the synergy looks perfect for my setup as I'd pair the XA30.8 with my VAC Renaissance MKV line stage and Spendor D7 speakers. The amp/line stage impedance and gain matches well and the Spendors should pair perfectly as they are rated at 90dB and 8 ohm. What I'm hoping for is that everything I love about tubes will be retained while picking up a touch of detail and imaging. The lower maintenance on the amp will be a plus as well although I still retain the ability to roll tubes in the VAC - I'm currently using a pair of 60s NOS Amperex 7308 gold pins which perform fantastically.
     
    mds likes this.
  9. KT88

    KT88 Forum Resident

    I've got an older Pass amp with the same wattage output specs, the Aleph 3. It's a nice sounding amp, and I drive it with a Rogue Audio tube preamp when it's in the system.
    -Bill
     
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  10. Ontheone

    Ontheone Drifting Towards the Dead Wax

    Location:
    Indianapolis
    Thanks for the feedback Bill. What speakers are you using?
     
  11. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hong Kong
    I am not a fan of SS amplifiers or a lot of tube amplifiers for that matter.

    One of the best SS amps I have heard in the last say 20 years has been the Pureaudio One Integrated (can be used as a power amp as well). I am hoping to get one in here for review as I have long searched for a SS amp that didn't sound like a bag of nails on a chalkboard. This one sounds like music.

    The problem with the low power SS amplifiers like the First Watt and Sugden is that neither has any power and there are tube amplifiers that sound better for less money.

    The Pureaudio One has 100 Watts per channel and class A. So it promises more - actual power that can drive most any speaker (First watt and Sugden can't) and it offers sound that doesn't resemble most SS amps. Now it is considerably more expensive than Sugden (nearly three times more expensive) so it may be out of reach - but..... have a listen if you can.

    Don't get me wrong I always like the sound of Sugdens and First Watt but I prefered them back 20 years when tube amps that were got cost a lot more money than either. But the Sugden A21a is around $3,500 I believe and I think a lot better sound can be had from tube amps like the Audio Note OTO SE or SORO SE or I-Zero and offer close to similar power. And they actually get less hot than the Sugden. Or from other makers like my KingKo which is under $1k. So if you can take less power get tubes. If you need 100 watts - it is far more difficult as most of it just sounds mediocre. The Pure Audio below is one of the highest power amps I have heard that sounds quite good indeed.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2019
  12. Pythonman

    Pythonman Forum Resident

    Location:
    Indiana
    Unbelievable! Here I though "I" would probably never have the opportunity to own a Pass amp when I responded to this thread. After only a short weeks wait from a call to Mark at Reno HiFi I now own a refurbed X250. Like I said, I'd never try to talk someone out of a new (or used!) Pass amp if that's what they wanted.

    And to that I'll add this:

    Get the Pass!!
     
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  13. Ontheone

    Ontheone Drifting Towards the Dead Wax

    Location:
    Indianapolis
    +1 . I've been working with Mark at Reno HiFi as well and he really gave me an offer that was superb on a XA30.8. Can't wait for it to arrive next week. Can't imagine I will be returning it after the 10 day trial but I will let my ears be the judge. Yes, Mark makes it pretty easy to own a Pass. What pre and speakers are you using with your X250.8?
     
  14. hvbias

    hvbias Midrange magic

    Location:
    Northeast
    The First Watt SIT-1 amps are better than any SET I've ever heard including custom built ones which utilize a DHT driver and DHT output.

    They simply have a lower noise floor and as such allow much more low level detail to come through while still having exceptional tone. I was looking into getting something like 4P1L driving 300B using Intact Audio's 80% nickel transformers for my midrange/treble constant directivity waveguides, but I've all by nixed that idea from my mind after hearing those SIT-1 amps.

    I realize this is an old thread from 2018 that someone bumped, figured I'd write it in case anyone else was thinking about these FW amps :)
     
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  15. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    I have a high end DIY Aleph J and a First Watt M2, both are 30-Watts.

    Because of the Altec's efficiency (I'm have been running them with a Decware Mini Torii 3.9-Watt single ended pentode power amp), the have more than enough power and have a crystal clear sound, but they also sound very thin and without much heft.

    More so than any of the other SS or tube amplifiers.

    Don't quite understand this?
     
    Richard Austen likes this.
  16. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hong Kong
    Never heard the Decware so I can't say - tube rolling might help - different caps / transformers.

    I looked it up and it says something odd "Requires NO preamp" which to me implies that it uses a passive preamp. I am not a fan of passive preamps as they usually sound thin without much heft. A good tube Active preamp from Audio Note or Shindo would probably improve things greatly - but they sure as hell won't improve one's bank account LOL.

    But the Decware does seem to offer a huge array of tube choices and several cap choices - changing sifferent option I would think would/could fatten up the sound
     
  17. mds

    mds Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    PA
    Agreed, the First Watt is a wonderful sounding amplifier, however you need fairly efficient speakers and I do not believe the KEF Reference 3 would qualify. I am living happily with my current mono-blocks since I bolstered the bass with a pair of subwoofers. Still a Pass Labs always would be fun to switch in to see what the difference in sound would be, but far from critical at this point.

    I am trying to fine tune the system to reach the point which will satisfy me for the long haul. All areas are covered at this point but the preamplifier so that is my current focus. I think I am very close to this final upgrade and then everything should be dialed in.
     
  18. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    Sorry, I did not phrase my post as correctly as I might have.

    Both Pass designs sound "thin", not the Decware, which I am currently running with $45/pr. Tung Sol tubes of modern manufacture.

    The Mini Torii is the best sounding amplifier that I have ever run with the Altec's.

    That includes a Line Magnetic 211iA and the 845 based SET 511iA, which is a more powerful and incredible sounding amp with the Altec's.
     
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  19. KT88

    KT88 Forum Resident

    It's the speakers. High current amps need a load to deliver the goods. They also like to take advantage of a pure and direct signal at the source.
    -Bill
     
  20. KT88

    KT88 Forum Resident

    My wife bought a pair of JM Lab Megane Carat speakers at my shop when I first opened up about 20 years ago. She loves them and that makes them hard to replace although I have nicer pairs around as well of course. They still sound quite good and are not too difficult to drive. That was a model made before the home theater craze and focused on good sound from a stereo source.

    You don't need uberefficient speakers if the room is smaller or your listening levels are reasonable. My room is about 12 x 13 and has a 9 foot ceiling. 30w is a decent amount of power for those requirements. It also doubles down into 4 ohms, so bass can be deep and solid when demanded. I augment these monitors with a sub anyway, because I can. ;)
    -Bill
     
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  21. Pythonman

    Pythonman Forum Resident

    Location:
    Indiana
    Firstly let me congratulate you on a wise purchase. If Mark says the condition is great then it’s even better in real life. Secondly, my amp is from the first X run, no .5 nor .8. However the X250 did go through 3 revisions and that 3rd revision is the one I have. On the inside it looks a lot closer to a .5 with the black clad transformer and the rectangular output transistors.
    For a preamp I’m using a Parasound P5 and a JC3 + phono stage. Speakers are vintage Athena AS-F2s. Running the balanced amp outputs to the balanced inputs on the P5.
    The amp gets warm and gives off some heat but it’s nowhere near excessive. It’s an eyeful also! Mine is currently running in and slowly the sounds are starting to improve here and there and maybe not so much in other areas but I’m only like on day 2 with this.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2019
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  22. hvbias

    hvbias Midrange magic

    Location:
    Northeast
    Yeah I hear you on the efficiency thing, I am actively amping this system which is why I can get away with them with a greater than 105 db/w sensitivity for just the midrange/treble waveguide.
     
  23. Ontheone

    Ontheone Drifting Towards the Dead Wax

    Location:
    Indianapolis
    And congratulations to you as well! I see you're a fellow Hoosier to boot. Enjoy :thumbsup:
     
  24. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    The speakers present a steady 8-ohm load on the amp, due to the ALK crossovers. The amp is designed to drive 8-ohm loads.

    I have high current amps, like the Crown's and the Emotiva XPA-2 (Generation One). The sound find with the A7's, but not as fine as a quality A/B or single ended amp.

    What pray tell, is a "pure and direct signal"?
     
  25. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    The Decware power amps have line level inputs and the Mini Torii is a true dual mono design. It, like most other Decware power amps have separate volume level controls, so with a line level signal, a preamp is not required for volume control. This 3.9-Watt SEP also has dual inputs, so you can connect up to two different line level devices to it.

    Decware also makes an RCA switch box, for those who might require additional line level inputs.

    [​IMG]
     
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