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Pass Labs 20 Years and Counting

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Old 09-22-2011, 08:34 PM
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Default Pass Labs XP-15 Phono Preamp

Pass Labs has several very attractive solid state phono preamps. I am curious about the XP-15 phono preamplifier. It offers a wide range of capacitive loading, resistance loading, and gain settings that I find appealing, particularly the XP-15’s adjustable gain from 46dB to 76dB. I would like to hear any impressions from those using or having experience with the Pass Labs XP-15.





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STUDIO - McIntosh C1000C/P, MC2301 (2), MR88, Aurender N10, Esoteric K-01X, Shunyata Sigma spdif digital cable, Sonos Connect, PurePower 2000, Stillpoints, Furutech Flux 50, Michell Gyro SE, Michell HR Power Supply, SME 309, Ortofon Cadenza Black, Wireworld, Sonus faber Amati Anniversario
LIVING ROOM - McIntosh C2300, MC75 (2), MR85, Magnum Dynalab 205, Simaudio MOON Neo 260D-T, Schiit Audio Yggdrasil, Aurender N100H, Shunyata Sigma USB cable, Micro Seiki DD40, Ortofon Cadenza Blue, Nakamichi BX-300, Sony 60ES DAT, PS Audio P10, Furutech Flux 50, Sonos Connect, Stillpoints, Wireworld, Kimber, PMC EB1i, JL Audio f113
VINTAGE - McIntosh MA230, Tandberg 3011A tuner, Olive 04HD, Sony DTC-59ES DAT, McIntosh 4300V, JBL 4312A
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Old 09-22-2011, 09:22 PM
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Dan, go tubes. Even the best SS phono may give you sharper transients, crisper dynamic contrast but will have a hard time matching the harmonic bloom and three dimensionality of a tubed phono. Tubes and vinyl just sound so right!

Just get the Manley Steelhead phono stage/preamp and be done with it. Mikey Fremer has been using it for years.

Manley_Steelhead_phono_stage
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Old 09-22-2011, 09:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PHC1 View Post
Dan, go tubes. Even the best SS phono may give you sharper transients, crisper dynamic contrast but will have a hard time matching the harmonic bloom and three dimensionality of a tubed phono. Tubes and vinyl just sound so right!

Just get the Manley Steelhead phono stage/preamp and be done with it. Mikey Fremer has been using it for years.

Manley_Steelhead_phono_stage
Serge.......Harmonic bloom is tube territory for sure, but three dimensionality is not sovereign territory to just tubes, not by a long shot.

The Manley Steelhead doesn't appeal to me, not to mention it is hard to look at.
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STUDIO - McIntosh C1000C/P, MC2301 (2), MR88, Aurender N10, Esoteric K-01X, Shunyata Sigma spdif digital cable, Sonos Connect, PurePower 2000, Stillpoints, Furutech Flux 50, Michell Gyro SE, Michell HR Power Supply, SME 309, Ortofon Cadenza Black, Wireworld, Sonus faber Amati Anniversario
LIVING ROOM - McIntosh C2300, MC75 (2), MR85, Magnum Dynalab 205, Simaudio MOON Neo 260D-T, Schiit Audio Yggdrasil, Aurender N100H, Shunyata Sigma USB cable, Micro Seiki DD40, Ortofon Cadenza Blue, Nakamichi BX-300, Sony 60ES DAT, PS Audio P10, Furutech Flux 50, Sonos Connect, Stillpoints, Wireworld, Kimber, PMC EB1i, JL Audio f113
VINTAGE - McIntosh MA230, Tandberg 3011A tuner, Olive 04HD, Sony DTC-59ES DAT, McIntosh 4300V, JBL 4312A

Last edited by jdandy; 09-22-2011 at 09:32 PM.
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Old 09-22-2011, 09:31 PM
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A few nice photos of the Pass XP-15.




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STUDIO - McIntosh C1000C/P, MC2301 (2), MR88, Aurender N10, Esoteric K-01X, Shunyata Sigma spdif digital cable, Sonos Connect, PurePower 2000, Stillpoints, Furutech Flux 50, Michell Gyro SE, Michell HR Power Supply, SME 309, Ortofon Cadenza Black, Wireworld, Sonus faber Amati Anniversario
LIVING ROOM - McIntosh C2300, MC75 (2), MR85, Magnum Dynalab 205, Simaudio MOON Neo 260D-T, Schiit Audio Yggdrasil, Aurender N100H, Shunyata Sigma USB cable, Micro Seiki DD40, Ortofon Cadenza Blue, Nakamichi BX-300, Sony 60ES DAT, PS Audio P10, Furutech Flux 50, Sonos Connect, Stillpoints, Wireworld, Kimber, PMC EB1i, JL Audio f113
VINTAGE - McIntosh MA230, Tandberg 3011A tuner, Olive 04HD, Sony DTC-59ES DAT, McIntosh 4300V, JBL 4312A

Last edited by jdandy; 09-24-2011 at 07:28 PM.
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Old 09-22-2011, 09:39 PM
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Serge.......Harmonic bloom is tube territory for sure, but three dimensionality is not sovereign territory to just tubes, not by a long shot.
Just to be clear, I am not talking about depth of soundstage, it's the illusion of the musical instruments/vocalists being "fleshed out" on the stage and the feeling that they occupy the space on your soundstage in three dimensional way. You can reach out and touch them but also feel their presence and can almost appreciate the "physical space" and dimension they occupy in the room, recording dependent of course. SS is great at depth of instrument separation but it is almost always much more two dimensional and cardboard like. Shindo my friend, rams this home like no other gear I've heard before. Even the ARC reference stack I have now doesn't quite match it. No SS I've owned before came even close. Perhaps I've never experienced the SS you are talking about?
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Old 09-22-2011, 09:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PHC1 View Post
Just to be clear, I am not talking about depth of soundstage, it's the illusion of the musical instruments/vocalists being "fleshed out" on the stage and the feeling that they occupy the space on your soundstage in three dimensional way. You can reach out and touch them but also feel their presence and can almost appreciate the "physical space" and dimension they occupy in the room, recording dependent of course. SS is great at depth of instrument separation but it is almost always much more two dimensional and cardboard like. Shindo my friend, rams this home like no other gear I've heard before. Even the ARC reference stack I have now doesn't quite match it. No SS I've owned before came even close. Perhaps I've never experienced the SS you are talking about?
Serge.......This is one of the reasons why I love this hobby so much. The variables are infinite, the possibilities limited only by ones imagination, and opinions run the entire color spectrum of sunlight.
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STUDIO - McIntosh C1000C/P, MC2301 (2), MR88, Aurender N10, Esoteric K-01X, Shunyata Sigma spdif digital cable, Sonos Connect, PurePower 2000, Stillpoints, Furutech Flux 50, Michell Gyro SE, Michell HR Power Supply, SME 309, Ortofon Cadenza Black, Wireworld, Sonus faber Amati Anniversario
LIVING ROOM - McIntosh C2300, MC75 (2), MR85, Magnum Dynalab 205, Simaudio MOON Neo 260D-T, Schiit Audio Yggdrasil, Aurender N100H, Shunyata Sigma USB cable, Micro Seiki DD40, Ortofon Cadenza Blue, Nakamichi BX-300, Sony 60ES DAT, PS Audio P10, Furutech Flux 50, Sonos Connect, Stillpoints, Wireworld, Kimber, PMC EB1i, JL Audio f113
VINTAGE - McIntosh MA230, Tandberg 3011A tuner, Olive 04HD, Sony DTC-59ES DAT, McIntosh 4300V, JBL 4312A
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Old 09-22-2011, 10:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdandy View Post
Serge.......This is one of the reasons why I love this hobby so much. The variables are infinite, the possibilities limited only by ones imagination, and opinions run the entire color spectrum of sunlight.
Very true. Good luck with your phono stage hunt.
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Old 09-22-2011, 11:26 PM
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Serge.......Don't take my comments the wrong way. If the ARC PH7 had a bit higher gain than 57.5 dB I would probably jump on it. There is a nice one on the Gon right now. Actually, I would love to put an Audio Research Anniversary REF 2 phono preamp in my system, but with a vinyl collection that has been reduced to about 100 LP's it is difficult to justify the expense versus the reward. Maybe I'll be patient and wait. Perhaps you'll put your REF 2 up for sale soon at a price I can't refuse.
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STUDIO - McIntosh C1000C/P, MC2301 (2), MR88, Aurender N10, Esoteric K-01X, Shunyata Sigma spdif digital cable, Sonos Connect, PurePower 2000, Stillpoints, Furutech Flux 50, Michell Gyro SE, Michell HR Power Supply, SME 309, Ortofon Cadenza Black, Wireworld, Sonus faber Amati Anniversario
LIVING ROOM - McIntosh C2300, MC75 (2), MR85, Magnum Dynalab 205, Simaudio MOON Neo 260D-T, Schiit Audio Yggdrasil, Aurender N100H, Shunyata Sigma USB cable, Micro Seiki DD40, Ortofon Cadenza Blue, Nakamichi BX-300, Sony 60ES DAT, PS Audio P10, Furutech Flux 50, Sonos Connect, Stillpoints, Wireworld, Kimber, PMC EB1i, JL Audio f113
VINTAGE - McIntosh MA230, Tandberg 3011A tuner, Olive 04HD, Sony DTC-59ES DAT, McIntosh 4300V, JBL 4312A

Last edited by jdandy; 09-22-2011 at 11:53 PM.
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Old 09-23-2011, 12:25 AM
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Quote:
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Serge.......Don't take my comments the wrong way. If the ARC PH7 had a bit higher gain than 57.5 dB I would probably jump on it. There is a nice one on the Gon right now. Actually, I would love to put an Audio Research Anniversary REF 2 phono preamp in my system, but with a vinyl collection that has been reduced to about 100 LP's it is difficult to justify the expense versus the reward. Maybe I'll be patient and wait. Perhaps you'll put your REF 2 up for sale soon at a price I can't refuse.
Dan, I doubt I would be parting with my REF2 phono anytime soon. It's breaking in around the clock with granite audio phono burn in cd and I'm also tracking the break in by listening to vinyl at least a few hours a day. It is very, very impressive already. It breathes, it has stunning attack and decay, bass is now starting to gain texture and analog roundness and getting less dry by the hour. Harmonic envelope is starting to open up and it's starting to show me it's musical beauty. I have a long way to go yet for all those caps to break in fully but it is transparent, detailed, resolving and quite dynamic already. I can only imagine what it will sound like if the 600 hr min break in is true. This phono stage is Reference grade indeed.

And this is where I feel I should advise you not to skimp on a phono stage. My $2k EMT cart and 50 year old rest-mod table with SME 309 sounds like the sum of it's parts are at least 3 times the price. The phono stage is certainly not a bottleneck and evidently my analog front end had even more performance potential than I initially thought. Shindo+SUT was very musical and impressive, the REF2 took that and expanded on it by adding quite a bit more sparkle, energy and dynamic slam.

Get the best phono stage you can or want to spend on and you'll be rewarded for many years with outstanding performance. Your vinyl collection will grow from the increased enjoyment you will derive from your analog rig.
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Old 09-23-2011, 12:34 AM
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Serge.......There was a time when my vinyl collection exceeded 1500 albums. When I was selling off all that vinyl I never thought there would come a day I wanted it all back. Hindsight always seems to be crystal clear.

I can already tell from what I am experiencing with the Michell Gyro SE/SME 309/Ortofon Cadenza Black through the C2300 moving coil phono stage, I will be buying lots more vinyl. The MC stage in the C2300 is fairly clean, but I feel certain I can improve on it.
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STUDIO - McIntosh C1000C/P, MC2301 (2), MR88, Aurender N10, Esoteric K-01X, Shunyata Sigma spdif digital cable, Sonos Connect, PurePower 2000, Stillpoints, Furutech Flux 50, Michell Gyro SE, Michell HR Power Supply, SME 309, Ortofon Cadenza Black, Wireworld, Sonus faber Amati Anniversario
LIVING ROOM - McIntosh C2300, MC75 (2), MR85, Magnum Dynalab 205, Simaudio MOON Neo 260D-T, Schiit Audio Yggdrasil, Aurender N100H, Shunyata Sigma USB cable, Micro Seiki DD40, Ortofon Cadenza Blue, Nakamichi BX-300, Sony 60ES DAT, PS Audio P10, Furutech Flux 50, Sonos Connect, Stillpoints, Wireworld, Kimber, PMC EB1i, JL Audio f113
VINTAGE - McIntosh MA230, Tandberg 3011A tuner, Olive 04HD, Sony DTC-59ES DAT, McIntosh 4300V, JBL 4312A
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