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Pass Labs 20 Years and Counting

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Old 05-19-2019, 03:47 PM
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Default Stereophile review of XP-22

A good review by Jim Austin. His summary is consistent with my experience with the XP-22:

"...the XP-22 sounded great: full-bodied, rich-toned, robust, resolving, spacious, essentially neutral."

https://www.stereophile.com/content/...e-preamplifier
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Old 11-16-2019, 11:46 AM
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Default XP 22 - Stereophile Amplification Component of 2019

Congratulations to the Pass Labs team on winning the Stereophile 2019 Amplification Component of the Year for the XP22 preamp. I think it is a well deserved honor...although admittedly I'm biased!

https://www.stereophile.com/content/...component-2019
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  #3  
Old 11-16-2019, 12:21 PM
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Wait till they hear the XP-32
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Old 11-16-2019, 01:55 PM
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Another Great Pass product!!! Congrats Pass Labs.
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Old 11-16-2019, 01:58 PM
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Hmm. I wondered why Stereophile hardly ever reviews preamps anymore...I have to admit I don't understand their "thinking process" much of the time.
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Old 11-16-2019, 04:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Puma Cat View Post
Hmm. I wondered why Stereophile hardly ever reviews preamps anymore...I have to admit I don't understand their "thinking process" much of the time.


You prompted me to check. There are 8 preamps in their recommended components list that were reviewed in the last two years, including two Pass models. Given that the trend these days seems to be to eschew preamps in favor of integrated amps, all-in-ones, or digital sources direct to amps, this doesn’t seem unreasonable to me.
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2nd system: Luxman SQ-N100, Sonus Faber Minima Amator II, REL T-5, refurbished AR XA w/Nagaoka MP-200 & VPI cabling, Linn Klimax DSM Renew, Shunyata PS8 w/Defender & Viper, Nordost Blue Heaven PC & IC, Shunyata Venom sc, Symposium Svelte Shelves

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Old 11-16-2019, 04:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Antonmb View Post
You prompted me to check. There are 8 preamps in their recommended components list that were reviewed in the last two years, including two Pass models. Given that the trend these days seems to be to eschew preamps in favor of integrated amps, all-in-ones, or digital sources direct to amps, this doesn’t seem unreasonable to me.
Okay, thanks for checking, Tony. So, on average, that's about a preamp review every quarter.

I'm still of classically-held view the preamp is the heart of a system; and also of the view that the majority of digital-only systems, even if they can be connected directly to an amp and speakers, invariably sounds better when going through a preamp.
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Old 11-16-2019, 09:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Puma Cat View Post



I'm still of classically-held view the preamp is the heart of a system; and also of the view that the majority of digital-only systems, even if they can be connected directly to an amp and speakers, invariably sounds better when going through a preamp.

Oh, I agree 100% - been there, done that, with my Linn streamer feeding an amp direct. Adding the D’ag preamp made a big difference. I was just pointing out what I think is a growing trend away from preamps and towards digital-direct, integrateds, etc. - more lifestyle products.
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2nd system: Luxman SQ-N100, Sonus Faber Minima Amator II, REL T-5, refurbished AR XA w/Nagaoka MP-200 & VPI cabling, Linn Klimax DSM Renew, Shunyata PS8 w/Defender & Viper, Nordost Blue Heaven PC & IC, Shunyata Venom sc, Symposium Svelte Shelves

Workshop: Vintage Yamaha CA-1010 & CT-1010, PSB Imagine Mini, Squeezebox Touch, Schiit BiFrost, AZ & WW cables

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Personal audio: Woo WA6, WA7 & WA8; Auralic Aries Mini, Sonore MicroRendu & UltraRendu; Shure SE535, Shure SH1540, Westone ES50 Custom, Sennheiser HD820, MrSpeakers Aeon Flow C; Various Moon Audio dragons

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Old 11-17-2019, 09:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daveneumann View Post
Congratulations to the Pass Labs team on winning the Stereophile 2019 Amplification Component of the Year for the XP22 preamp. I think it is a well deserved honor...although admittedly I'm biased!
I second the motion!

Disclosure, as if no one already knows. LOL Unabashed fan and owner of Pass Labs equipment, both commercial off the shelf and DIY.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Puma Cat View Post

I'm still of classically-held view the preamp is the heart of a system; and also of the view that the majority of digital-only systems, even if they can be connected directly to an amp and speakers, invariably sounds better when going through a preamp.
As am I. I view the change in the ratio of reviews of separates systems to integrateds similar to the unfortunate trend of abandoning stereo systems in favor of home theater. The publications and writers are simply following or perhaps leading, the trend.

Stereo systems and home theater systems are two different applications. You would not expect your Ferrari to perform as well as your 4 wheel truck well off road and the Ferrari would have an advantage at the Nureburgring.

At present we do not have the technology to completely control electromagnetic effects. You can have all the mumetal, shielding, doghouses, twisted shielded and balanced wiring you want. Isolation achieved by physical distance is always better. This is the reason for separate power supplies of Pass Labs preamps.

The trend toward integrateds and all-in-ones, if there is one, is the third great tragedy in Hi-Fi evolution, the first being the virtual abandonment of analog recording. If as much effort had been put into the development and advancement of analog recording as has been diverted to the development of digital recording we would be in a much better place although I do hold out hope that digital recording can someday be improved to the point that it no longer degrades the original performance.

Hi-Fi has mostly recovered from the Home Theater debacle which resulted in the abandonment of many fine opportunities to audition equipment in local dealers, and there are a delightful selection of alternatives to the integration misadventure but will sadly never recover from the digitization debacle.

One of the greatest things about this forum is the reverence for separates systems. An appreciation for analog being another.

Last edited by SteveJ; 11-17-2019 at 11:21 AM.
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Old 11-17-2019, 03:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveJ View Post
I second the motion!

Disclosure, as if no one already knows. LOL Unabashed fan and owner of Pass Labs equipment, both commercial off the shelf and DIY.



As am I. I view the change in the ratio of reviews of separates systems to integrateds similar to the unfortunate trend of abandoning stereo systems in favor of home theater. The publications and writers are simply following or perhaps leading, the trend.

Stereo systems and home theater systems are two different applications. You would not expect your Ferrari to perform as well as your 4 wheel truck well off road and the Ferrari would have an advantage at the Nureburgring.

At present we do not have the technology to completely control electromagnetic effects. You can have all the mumetal, shielding, doghouses, twisted shielded and balanced wiring you want. Isolation achieved by physical distance is always better. This is the reason for separate power supplies of Pass Labs preamps.

The trend toward integrateds and all-in-ones, if there is one, is the third great tragedy in Hi-Fi evolution, the first being the virtual abandonment of analog recording. If as much effort had been put into the development and advancement of analog recording as has been diverted to the development of digital recording we would be in a much better place although I do hold out hope that digital recording can someday be improved to the point that it no longer degrades the original performance.

Hi-Fi has mostly recovered from the Home Theater debacle which resulted in the abandonment of many fine opportunities to audition equipment in local dealers, and there are a delightful selection of alternatives to the integration misadventure but will sadly never recover from the digitization debacle.

One of the greatest things about this forum is the reverence for separates systems. An appreciation for analog being another.
Well stated - and great illustration!

The sales tide has changed since my last two-channel system purchase many years ago.

Hopefully my new system should be here by the end of the year. The journey has been rather interesting and I believe somewhat illustrates your point:

While I specifically stated I desired a two-channel audio system, the first dealer, who was very nice, tried to sell me on a high-end home theater system instead of a dedicated two-channel system, telling me it would be better and more satisfying overall. I listened, but

When that failed, he had me consider a rather high-end integrated system. While it did sound much, much better for two-channel audio, I wasn't satisfied - the sound stage, imaging, etc. were still lacking. With what the integrated was lacking, IMO, it was, but still wasn't two-channel audio "for me personally." But it was still exceptional and I did seriously consider it.

Only at the last did he try to sell me on a high-end separates. These were absolutely amazing in comparison to everything else I had heard in his shop! This is what I remembered from years ago. But why wait until the very last to show me the best two-channel system he offered (in my price range)? In my book, he should have reversed his recommendations and left home theater completely out of the mix.

Ultimately, I went with another dealer and IMO better equipment.

To my ears, the differences are substantial between separates and integrateds. When one can afford separates financially and space-wise, IMO opt for the separates. And I remain uninterested in home theater - we watch maybe 4-10 hours of TV per week, so a soundbar remains sufficient.
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Amps: Pass X260.8s *** Pre-Amp: Pass XP22 *** Headphone Amp: Pass HPA-1 *** Speakers: Magico A3’s *** Magico A3 Grills *** Headphones: Focal Utopia *** Digital: Luxman D-08u SACD *** Aurender ACS10 CD Ripper & N100 Streamer *** Power: Shunyata Hydra Alpha A12 Power Conditioner *** AQ NRG Edison 20 *** Cables: Shunyata *** Rack: Bamboo SVT Quadrasphire *** Accessories: Herbie's Audio Lab Giant Titanium Cone Decoupling Gliders *** Russ Andrews Cable Elevators
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