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Pass Labs 20 Years and Counting

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Old 10-24-2017, 05:38 PM
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Default Pass Labs XP-15 vs XP-17 – anyone have first-hand experience?

Hi All - I'm new to AudioAficionado.

Having purchased my first line-stage (& solid-state) preamp (XP-30), I now need a (s-s) phono stage. (My life is now such that I need the convenience of solid state.) Without naming names, a Pass Labs employee expressed the opinion that the XP-17 was an entirely different level better than the XP-15, and that the 17 was the clear choice. On the other hand, the one very knowledgeable dealer I have spoken with felt that they were equally good but different, and that it was a matter of taste. Given my 40-year love affair with tubes, he thought I would prefer the XP-15. He characterized it as warmer, smoother, & more tonally balanced than the 17, which he said was a bit brighter, more 3D, and more revealing & detailed.

Since I have no local dealer at which to hear (& compare) for myself, I would value any experience anyone has to offer. (The XP-17 represents the maximum my budget allows.)

Thanks!

My system: SOTA Star-Cosmos hybrid (vacuum, Electronic Flywheel)/SME V/Koetsu Rosewood Signature, Esoteric X-05 SACD player, Alesis ML-9600 mastering CD burner, Nakamichi 700 ZXE Cassette Deck, Pass Labs XP-30 & Hovland HP-100 preamps, Edge G8+ monoblocks & Classé M-700 monoblocks, Infinity IRS Beta & Rockport Atria Speakers, MIT Shotgun ICs & SCs, Shunyata Denali 6000T, Shunyata Alpha NR, Viper Ztron, Venom HC & Harmonic Technology PCs
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Old 10-24-2017, 05:56 PM
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John... Welcome to AA!
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  #3  
Old 10-24-2017, 06:18 PM
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Welcome to AA John!

I am sure others will chime in to share their opinion but in the mean time this may help if you have not seen these reviews?

http://www.audiophilia.com/reviews/2...ne-level-phono
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Headphones:

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Old 10-24-2017, 10:03 PM
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Thanks, PHC1!

I have read that review, and although he compares the physical and technical differences between the -15 & -17, he doesn't compare them sonically.

Just as some Pass Labs fans prefer the older ".5" version amps over the newer ".8" versions, I'm trying to get a feel for which phonostage I would prefer. While my goal is "true-to-live", since that is never fully achieved, I much prefer to err on the side of warm, full and tonally rich & colorful rather than cool, thin & tonally bleached & "gray", even if other attributes are better on the cool side. I love medieval instruments, which have very distinctive tonal colors & textures and overtones. I've heard more than a few highly-regarded electronics which failed miserably at conveying their gestalt, draining them of "life.". That is what I am trying to avoid...


SOTA Star-Cosmos hybrid (vacuum, Electronic Flywheel)/SME V/Koetsu Rosewood Signature, Esoteric X-05 SACD player, Alesis ML-9600 mastering CD burner, Nakamichi 700 ZXE Cassette Deck, Pass Labs XP-30 & Hovland HP-100 preamps, Edge G8+ monoblocks & Classé M-700 monoblocks, Infinity IRS Beta & Rockport Atria Speakers, MIT Shotgun ICs & SCs, Shunyata Denali 6000T, Shunyata Alpha NR, Viper Ztron, Venom HC & Harmonic Technology PCs
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Old 10-24-2017, 10:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crumhorn View Post
Thanks, PHC1!

I have read that review, and although he compares the physical and technical differences between the -15 & -17, he doesn't compare them sonically.

Just as some Pass Labs fans prefer the older ".5" version amps over the newer ".8" versions, I'm trying to get a feel for which phonostage I would prefer. While my goal is "true-to-live", since that is never fully achieved, I much prefer to err on the side of warm, full and tonally rich & colorful rather than cool, thin & tonally bleached & "gray", even if other attributes are better on the cool side. I love medieval instruments, which have very distinctive tonal colors & textures and overtones. I've heard more than a few highly-regarded electronics which failed miserably at conveying their gestalt, draining them of "life.". That is what I am trying to avoid...


SOTA Star-Cosmos hybrid (vacuum, Electronic Flywheel)/SME V/Koetsu Rosewood Signature, Esoteric X-05 SACD player, Alesis ML-9600 mastering CD burner, Nakamichi 700 ZXE Cassette Deck, Pass Labs XP-30 & Hovland HP-100 preamps, Edge G8+ monoblocks & Classé M-700 monoblocks, Infinity IRS Beta & Rockport Atria Speakers, MIT Shotgun ICs & SCs, Shunyata Denali 6000T, Shunyata Alpha NR, Viper Ztron, Venom HC & Harmonic Technology PCs
I understand and given that you are using Koetsu Rosewood Signature, I kind of knew what your sound preference is.

Any reason not to trust your knowledgeable dealer's advice???
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Main System:


Amplification: Luxman L-590AX Mark II.
Luxman D-06u SACD.
Roon/Tidal.
Bryston BDP-Pi

PrimaLuna Dialogue HP EL34

Speakers: Harbeth 30.2 40th Anniversary




Headphones:

ZMF Auteur Blackwood, Audeze LCD-3, Audeze LCD-2C, Sennheiser HD600, HD650, Fostex TH-X00EB, E-MU Teak

Headphone Amplification: SPL Phonitor 2730, Audeze Deckard, PrimaLuna Dialogue HP, Luxman L-590AX Mark II, Woo Audio WA6

Source/DAC. Roon/Tidal.
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  #6  
Old 10-25-2017, 08:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crumhorn View Post
I much prefer to err on the side of warm, full and tonally rich & colorful rather than cool, thin & tonally bleached & "gray", even if other attributes are better on the cool side.
Completely agree +++
What are your impressions of the XP30 Warm vs cool?
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  #7  
Old 10-27-2017, 01:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robd2 View Post
Completely agree +++
What are your impressions of the XP30 Warm vs cool?
Well, coming from the tubed Hovland HP-100, it sounds a lot brighter, & cooler in the highs. The midrange is appropriately warm, and probably closer to reality, but is certainly cooler & less full than what I'm used to from the Hovland.

However, several factors make these perceptions questionable, even as a first impression:

1) The Hovland is definitely warm, and also rolls off the high frequencies (but in a very "musical" way.) So it is an adjustment to listen to a more extended, less "rich" sound.

2) I haven't been able to set up the Rockports yet, so I've only heard the XP-30 with the IRS Betas, which were overtly designed to be used with tubes, and almost always sound bright with solid-state. And I feel as if I've yet to get the crossover settings optimally dialed-in for the XP-30.

3) I'm temporarily using an old Adcom GFA-555 to power the bass towers while I get the power supply caps replaced on the Classe M-700s, so the bass is temporarily under-powered & unbalanced (since I didn't want to fiddle with active bass x-over settings, given the temporary nature of the Adcom.)

So it's really premature for me to give a well-founded opinion. Although thus far I miss the warm, full and tonally rich sound of the Hovland, I also know that, in that regard, the Hovland was editorializing, albeit in a very satisfying way. I think most would find the XP-30 plenty warm in the mids. I should also add that, even in the system as it is, the XP-30 often seems able to "open a window", & provide an intangible sense of hearing the original performance in a more direct way.

Last edited by Crumhorn; 10-27-2017 at 02:08 AM.
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Old 10-24-2017, 10:25 PM
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Well, the person I spoke with at Pass had such a vehemently-held opposite viewpoint!
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Old 10-24-2017, 10:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crumhorn View Post
Well, the person I spoke with at Pass had such a vehemently-held opposite viewpoint!
Did your cartridge come up in the conversation with both or either?

Technically speaking he is correct, the 17 is the newer and improved product and that is exactly what he should be saying. His analysis was more from the technical point of view. Your dealer mentioned the 15 as the one he thinks you would prefer so it sounds like he is steering you towards the 15 based on not so much the technical analysis but in terms of synergy and your preference and I would assume he knows both of them well?
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Main System:


Amplification: Luxman L-590AX Mark II.
Luxman D-06u SACD.
Roon/Tidal.
Bryston BDP-Pi

PrimaLuna Dialogue HP EL34

Speakers: Harbeth 30.2 40th Anniversary




Headphones:

ZMF Auteur Blackwood, Audeze LCD-3, Audeze LCD-2C, Sennheiser HD600, HD650, Fostex TH-X00EB, E-MU Teak

Headphone Amplification: SPL Phonitor 2730, Audeze Deckard, PrimaLuna Dialogue HP, Luxman L-590AX Mark II, Woo Audio WA6

Source/DAC. Roon/Tidal.
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  #10  
Old 10-24-2017, 11:06 PM
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I know I mentioned the Koetsu to the dealer, not sure about Pass guy. The Pass guy implied, without explicitly saying so, that on his home system he preferred the 17 over the XP-25. He sounded sincere, as opposed to just pushing the 17, but who knows?

Ivan, from this site, thought that the now-discontinued Esoteric E-03 would be the way to go, but that is for a different thread...
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