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Thread: Pass X1 preamp

  1. #1
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    Pass X1 preamp

    I received my X1 today and have been listening to it for about 1 hour or so. Here's the short story-

    Do I like it-yes, Am I a little disappointed-yes. Does it sound better than my Van Alstine Ultra Plus hybrid tube preamp- In some ways yes and other ways no!

    Here is the long story- I recently upgraded from an Parasound A21 amp to a Pass X250. I found the Pass to sound better but at the expense of some resolution on strings, horns and piano. So I decided to pick up a used X1 preamp thinking that I would gain some of this back and that there would be some synergy with the X250. Well I did get back some of the inner detail and the sound is more liquid, transparent with a slightly wider sound stage. However, the X1 is not as musical. It smooths things over like the X250 and the music has lost some of its texture. And even though there is a slightly wider sound stage, the spacing between instruments is not as great as with the Van Alstine if that makes sense. Bass is similar with the VA being a little tighter. Vocals are smoother with the X1 but more real with the VA. On one song that I was listening too, finger snaps were more real and more forward with the VA. The X1 has a tube like sound and a warmer sound but it is laid back. Treble sounds more realistic with the X1 however.

    I have heard that the X1 needs to be powered on for 24hrs to reach its peak sound. I will reassess the sound in 24hrs and do some tube rolling in my Van Alstine Ultra Plus hybrid DAC. I have a feeling that I will have a dilemma. Do I keep the X1 with its smooth, liquid airy sound or the Van Alstine with its more visceral not as refined, but more musical sound? Hearing the X1 makes me appreciate the VA preamp a liitle more as it cost $1799 about 4 years ago and then I added another $450 in upgrades through Van Alstine. It certainly can compete with the $6000 X1 which is an older model and getting a little long in the tooth.

    Other issue's with the Pass. The remote can be used as a weapon. It is wide as a brick and feels like it weighs about 2 pounds. The user interface is odd and you have to scroll through a menu to get the mute to work and the remote is just too big. Lastly, the volume control knob is odd looking, although the VA preamp won't win a beauty contest either as it has that 1970's heath kit look as all the VA gear still has.
    Last edited by blackraven; 11-22-2013 at 04:43 PM.
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp,
    Thorens TD-145 TT, Bellari phono preamp, Nagaoka MP-200 Cartridge
    Magnepan QR1.6 speakers
    Van Alstine Ultra Plus Hybrid Tube DAC
    Martin Logan Original Dynamo Sub
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    Vintage Luxman T-110 tuner
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  2. #2
    Forum Regular Jack in Wilmington's Avatar
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    Good information BR. I'll look forward to more insight as you listen further. Is there a particular type of music that sounds really good (Rock, Classical, Jazz, etc.) or not so good?
    2 Channel System
    Dynaudio Contour 1.8 Mk II
    Pass Labs X150.5 (Amp)
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  3. #3
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack in Wilmington View Post
    Good information BR. I'll look forward to more insight as you listen further. Is there a particular type of music that sounds really good (Rock, Classical, Jazz, etc.) or not so good?
    Jack, the X1 does not sound bad. It's just that I am probably missing the lush midrange that tubes can give you. And the music sounds too perfect and I probably perceive this as missing some texture. Even my son is on the fence with the X1. It would be interesting to try it with my A21 amp.

    I am going to roll some tubes with a more lush midrange in my DAC.
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp,
    Thorens TD-145 TT, Bellari phono preamp, Nagaoka MP-200 Cartridge
    Magnepan QR1.6 speakers
    Van Alstine Ultra Plus Hybrid Tube DAC
    Martin Logan Original Dynamo Sub
    Parasound A21 amp
    Vintage Luxman T-110 tuner
    Magnepan MMG's, Grant Fidelity DAC-11, Class D CDA254 amp
    Monitor Audio S1 speakers, PSB B6 speakers
    Vintage Technic's Integrated amp
    Music Hall 25.2 CDP
    Adcom GFR 700 AVR
    Cables- Cardas, Silnote, BJC
    Velodyne CHT 8 sub

  4. #4
    Forum Regular Jack in Wilmington's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackraven View Post
    Jack, the X1 does not sound bad. It's just that I am probably missing the lush midrange that tubes can give you. And the music sounds too perfect and I probably perceive this as missing some texture. Even my son is on the fence with the X1. It would be interesting to try it with my A21 amp.

    I am going to roll some tubes with a more lush midrange in my DAC.
    Sorry, Bad was a poor choice of words on my part. I'm in the middle of the Absolute Sounds review of the X350.5 in this months edition. I'm waiting to see what preamps he uses in the review. I know Peabody likes his X-10, I wonder if you would, or would you still miss the tube midrange. That's one of the things I like about this hobby, you can't always count on things happening the way you want them to.
    2 Channel System
    Dynaudio Contour 1.8 Mk II
    Pass Labs X150.5 (Amp)
    Cary SLP-03 (Preamp)
    Music Hall MMF 5.1 (TT)
    Goldring 1012GX (Cart.)
    Pro-ject SE II (Phono Box)
    Rotel RCD-1072 (CD Player)
    Bryston BDA-1 ( DAC )
    Sennheiser HD-600 (Headphones)
    Musical Fidelity Xcan V3 (Headphone Amp) _

    HT System
    Usher X-719 (Mains)
    Usher X-616 (Center)
    Usher S-520 (Surrounds)
    Rel T2 (Subwoofer)
    Anthem MCA20 (Amp)
    Onkyo TX SR-705 (Receiver)
    Panasonic TH-46PZ85U (Plasma TV)
    Denon DBT-1713UD (BluRay/SACD)

  5. #5
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    If the X1 is same topology as the XP10 give the X1 a good 24 hours of being plugged in and warming up. I haven't heard the X1 but it should be noticeably better than the AVA. I remember reading a review about the older menu, thankfully, that has been eliminated in the XP10 and I'd assume the other newer models. Some one posted a link to a X1 review, did you read it, if so, any mention of warm up time?

    You won't get that fleshy, or euphonic, sense on vocals like tubes but you should hear more things like tightness in drum strikes, bass should be better controlled, I am puzzled on your A21 statement, I can see the A21 maybe being more brash on strings and piano but those tones come through beautifully for me, very clean with no harshness at all, you should also be getting better textural info, like woodiness from the stand up bass, brass should have that growl you get from real brass instruments, although that effect varies from recordings, that Chesky disc really shows it. The space and air around instruments should definitely be better with the X1. I will say instruments should also have more body and be articulate. The X1 should have a more overall sturdiness to the sound over the AVA.

    Just relax and give it some time, and definitely do not unplug it, any swapping of gear should wait a couple days.
    Mark Levinson #512
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  6. #6
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    Jack, when are you getting your 150.5?
    Mark Levinson #512
    Pass Labs XP-10 & X250
    Clearaudio Performance DC, Dynavector 10x5, AcousTech Ph-1p
    Clarus Crimson loom - AC outlet to speaker terminal
    Revel Performa F52 main/center & S30's
    SVS PC13 Ultra (sub)
    Marantz BD-7003 > AV-8003 > LINN 5125
    Transparent cables / Tributaries HDMI
    PS Audio Quintet

  7. #7
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    My son finds the X1 a little fatiguing. I may end up selling the X1 and buy a CJ, BAT or ARC tube pre. I may even take a look at Frank Van Alstines new fully tube FET preamp. I am going to see if he has one that I can take home next week or the week after. He would have a smile a mile wide if I told him that my Ultra Plus preamp beats out the X1 in some aspects.
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp,
    Thorens TD-145 TT, Bellari phono preamp, Nagaoka MP-200 Cartridge
    Magnepan QR1.6 speakers
    Van Alstine Ultra Plus Hybrid Tube DAC
    Martin Logan Original Dynamo Sub
    Parasound A21 amp
    Vintage Luxman T-110 tuner
    Magnepan MMG's, Grant Fidelity DAC-11, Class D CDA254 amp
    Monitor Audio S1 speakers, PSB B6 speakers
    Vintage Technic's Integrated amp
    Music Hall 25.2 CDP
    Adcom GFR 700 AVR
    Cables- Cardas, Silnote, BJC
    Velodyne CHT 8 sub

  8. #8
    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    Just to play devil's advocate it sounds like you received it today and you are ready to move on already. Has it warmed up in your system yet and have you had time to try different cables? My advice is to give it more time.
    JohnMichael
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  9. #9
    Forum Regular Jack in Wilmington's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Peabody View Post
    Jack, when are you getting your 150.5?
    Looks like Monday is the delivery date when I check the tracking. It's made its way across the country from Reno and it's in Newark, De. now. Going to start moving things around on my rack today to get her shelf ready.
    2 Channel System
    Dynaudio Contour 1.8 Mk II
    Pass Labs X150.5 (Amp)
    Cary SLP-03 (Preamp)
    Music Hall MMF 5.1 (TT)
    Goldring 1012GX (Cart.)
    Pro-ject SE II (Phono Box)
    Rotel RCD-1072 (CD Player)
    Bryston BDA-1 ( DAC )
    Sennheiser HD-600 (Headphones)
    Musical Fidelity Xcan V3 (Headphone Amp) _

    HT System
    Usher X-719 (Mains)
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    Usher S-520 (Surrounds)
    Rel T2 (Subwoofer)
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  10. #10
    Forum Regular Jack in Wilmington's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackraven View Post
    My son finds the X1 a little fatiguing. I may end up selling the X1 and buy a CJ, BAT or ARC tube pre. I may even take a look at Frank Van Alstines new fully tube FET preamp. I am going to see if he has one that I can take home next week or the week after. He would have a smile a mile wide if I told him that my Ultra Plus preamp beats out the X1 in some aspects.
    Are you using the BJC XLR's between the X1 and the X250?
    2 Channel System
    Dynaudio Contour 1.8 Mk II
    Pass Labs X150.5 (Amp)
    Cary SLP-03 (Preamp)
    Music Hall MMF 5.1 (TT)
    Goldring 1012GX (Cart.)
    Pro-ject SE II (Phono Box)
    Rotel RCD-1072 (CD Player)
    Bryston BDA-1 ( DAC )
    Sennheiser HD-600 (Headphones)
    Musical Fidelity Xcan V3 (Headphone Amp) _

    HT System
    Usher X-719 (Mains)
    Usher X-616 (Center)
    Usher S-520 (Surrounds)
    Rel T2 (Subwoofer)
    Anthem MCA20 (Amp)
    Onkyo TX SR-705 (Receiver)
    Panasonic TH-46PZ85U (Plasma TV)
    Denon DBT-1713UD (BluRay/SACD)

  11. #11
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    I am going to give the X1 a week and live with it. The issue is that I was expecting a big improvement in sound as this sold for $6K new. Unfortunately the improvement is in some areas and other area's are worse. So it appears to be mostly a lateral move at best. I am probably missing the harmonic richness of tubes (although my DAC still gives me some of that). I will see how it sounds tonight when I get home from work although I will probably be watching the Oklahoma State (Go Pokes! I went to school there)-Baylor football game most of the night.

    Jack, I am using the BJC XLR's as that is all I have. They were given to me. I may try RCA's.
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp,
    Thorens TD-145 TT, Bellari phono preamp, Nagaoka MP-200 Cartridge
    Magnepan QR1.6 speakers
    Van Alstine Ultra Plus Hybrid Tube DAC
    Martin Logan Original Dynamo Sub
    Parasound A21 amp
    Vintage Luxman T-110 tuner
    Magnepan MMG's, Grant Fidelity DAC-11, Class D CDA254 amp
    Monitor Audio S1 speakers, PSB B6 speakers
    Vintage Technic's Integrated amp
    Music Hall 25.2 CDP
    Adcom GFR 700 AVR
    Cables- Cardas, Silnote, BJC
    Velodyne CHT 8 sub

  12. #12
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnMichael View Post
    Just to play devil's advocate it sounds like you received it today and you are ready to move on already. Has it warmed up in your system yet and have you had time to try different cables? My advice is to give it more time.
    I agree with JM and others that it needs a little time before you can draw conclusions.

    Warm up does seem to make a difference. E.g. my X150.5 amp needs at least 30-40 minutes, (Pass says 1 hour), to sound its best; consequently I tend to switch it on well before I intend to actually listen and leave it on if there's much chance I'll be back later in the day -- this ain't so great on account of it sucks 200 watts at idle. My ARC preamp and Schiit DAC remain on all the time; ARC draws 20 watts at idle and the Schiit close to that I suspect.

    Speaking of cables:
    • I got an new, 15 foot USB cable to connect the computer to the Schiit DAC. It's a Pangea with silver plated "PCOCC" copper signal wires, (HERE). There might be a minute improvement in resolution but its hard to say; I haven't done any A-B'ing.
    • I swapped 3 foot Kimber PBJ's for 0.5 meter QED II's between the DAC and preamp. The QED's might reveal an tiny bit more detail but are a tiny bit brighter on the top end too. Here again the QED's sound maybe a bit less bright after a day of used -- this despite that they are used, though unused for many months.
    • I have ordered a pair of 4 foot Take Five Audio's Neotech NEI-3004 cryo treated, PCOCC copper XLR's, (HERE), to swap for the 7 foot BJC Belden 1800F's that I'm currently using between the ARC preamp and X150.5 amp. The Neotech's aren't high-end cables really, but I'm thinking the different, cryo'd design plus shorter length will make some difference.

  13. #13
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    After another night of listening the X1's sound has improved slightly. I have been tube rolling in my DAC all night and found that a pair of RCA Clear tops without a center shield sound the best overall except for it being a little bass heavy but I guess I will have to live with it. It now has a slightly darker sound which I prefer and it is more tube like. The midrange had more weight with the RCA's (it is interesting because the Clear tops did not sound well with the VA preamp). I have a couple more tubes to try. The X1 is definitely smooth with a little more fidelity but it is still missing some of the tube tube harmonics that make my VA preamp a pleasure to listen to.

    The X1 has a more airy, transparent but softer sound and the VA has a better midrange with almost as much air and sound stage. The vocals are to die for with the VA as they have more weight and texture. I will probably keep the X1 until I can find a nice tube preamp in the future. I am still going to give Frank Van Alstine a call and see if I can take his new FET Valve preamp home for a spin to compare to the X1. I just wish it had XLR's as the out going FET did.
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp,
    Thorens TD-145 TT, Bellari phono preamp, Nagaoka MP-200 Cartridge
    Magnepan QR1.6 speakers
    Van Alstine Ultra Plus Hybrid Tube DAC
    Martin Logan Original Dynamo Sub
    Parasound A21 amp
    Vintage Luxman T-110 tuner
    Magnepan MMG's, Grant Fidelity DAC-11, Class D CDA254 amp
    Monitor Audio S1 speakers, PSB B6 speakers
    Vintage Technic's Integrated amp
    Music Hall 25.2 CDP
    Adcom GFR 700 AVR
    Cables- Cardas, Silnote, BJC
    Velodyne CHT 8 sub

  14. #14
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackraven View Post
    After another night of listening the X1's sound has improved slightly. I have been tube rolling in my DAC all night and found that a pair of RCA Clear tops without a center shield sound the best overall except for it being a little bass heavy but I guess I will have to live with it. It now has a slightly darker sound which I prefer and it is more tube like. The midrange had more weight with the RCA's (it is interesting because the Clear tops did not sound well with the VA preamp). I have a couple more tubes to try. The X1 is definitely smooth with a little more fidelity but it is still missing some of the tube tube harmonics that make my VA preamp a pleasure to listen to.

    The X1 has a more airy, transparent but softer sound and the VA has a better midrange with almost as much air and sound stage. The vocals are to die for with the VA as they have more weight and texture. I will probably keep the X1 until I can find a nice tube preamp in the future. I am still going to give Frank Van Alstine a call and see if I can take his new FET Valve preamp home for a spin to compare to the X1. I just wish it had XLR's as the out going FET did.
    The X1 sounds pretty good to me based on your reports, but I'm probably not as big a "warmth" fan. I lean to maximize transparency & air, (where the Pass X150.5 is on the money for a power amp).

    The new AVA FET Valve is now more valve than FET. The signal path is now all tube and has a cathode follower (used reduces output impedance). My former Sonic Frontiers Line 1 had an all-tube, cathode follower design; it was anything but tube-like except with a lot of tube rolling I managed to get some tube ambience (but no tube warmth or fullness) -- I'm not sorry I sold the preamp.

    I believe several of the ARC tube preamps are actually hybrid in that the have s/s stages in the signal path, e.g. the LS16 MkII, LS17, LS25 MkII, I think the LS26, and maybe others. I love to try one of these.

  15. #15
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    Bill, you are correct, the new FET is an all tube preamp. The old one was a hybrid like mine. The new FET does not use 6CG7 tubes like mine or the old FET. I am not a big fan of the 6CG7's as there is only one company making them and the good NOS tubes are becoming difficult to come by.

    I considered buying an ARC LS26 MKii as there were a couple on Agon for not much more than the X1. The guy that I bought the X1 from bought an LS26 and he said that the 2 preamps sound very similar and that it was difficult to tell them apart.
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp,
    Thorens TD-145 TT, Bellari phono preamp, Nagaoka MP-200 Cartridge
    Magnepan QR1.6 speakers
    Van Alstine Ultra Plus Hybrid Tube DAC
    Martin Logan Original Dynamo Sub
    Parasound A21 amp
    Vintage Luxman T-110 tuner
    Magnepan MMG's, Grant Fidelity DAC-11, Class D CDA254 amp
    Monitor Audio S1 speakers, PSB B6 speakers
    Vintage Technic's Integrated amp
    Music Hall 25.2 CDP
    Adcom GFR 700 AVR
    Cables- Cardas, Silnote, BJC
    Velodyne CHT 8 sub

  16. #16
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    Today I was able to take home the new all tube version of the Van Alstine FET preamp to compare the the X1. With the brief listening that I have done, it has convinced me that a tube preamp is the way to go. The FET has brought out that nice lush midrange while maintaining its air and transparency. The sound stage is wider with the FET and vocals are to die for. There is more texture to the music. Bass is a little tighter with the X1 but overall punch is about the same. The X1 is a little smoother with a little more detail but not much more. Cymbals sound more natural and have more air with the FET. I could certainly live with the FET. The X1 is a great preamp but I miss the tube midrange and warmth that tubes bring. It may not be the most accurate but it just sounds right. And after much contemplation and reading a thread on the AudioShark forum I have come the conclusion that detail and accuracy are not nearly as important as what sounds good to me.
    Last edited by blackraven; 11-29-2013 at 04:19 PM.
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp,
    Thorens TD-145 TT, Bellari phono preamp, Nagaoka MP-200 Cartridge
    Magnepan QR1.6 speakers
    Van Alstine Ultra Plus Hybrid Tube DAC
    Martin Logan Original Dynamo Sub
    Parasound A21 amp
    Vintage Luxman T-110 tuner
    Magnepan MMG's, Grant Fidelity DAC-11, Class D CDA254 amp
    Monitor Audio S1 speakers, PSB B6 speakers
    Vintage Technic's Integrated amp
    Music Hall 25.2 CDP
    Adcom GFR 700 AVR
    Cables- Cardas, Silnote, BJC
    Velodyne CHT 8 sub

  17. #17
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    Looks like Frenchmon was right on you missing tubes. Although they were in the DAC apparently in the amp chain makes more difference.

    Jack you are currently all solid state, if your heart wasn't set on going tubes maybe you and Blackraven should get together on the X1.
    Mark Levinson #512
    Pass Labs XP-10 & X250
    Clearaudio Performance DC, Dynavector 10x5, AcousTech Ph-1p
    Clarus Crimson loom - AC outlet to speaker terminal
    Revel Performa F52 main/center & S30's
    SVS PC13 Ultra (sub)
    Marantz BD-7003 > AV-8003 > LINN 5125
    Transparent cables / Tributaries HDMI
    PS Audio Quintet

  18. #18
    Forum Regular Jack in Wilmington's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Peabody View Post
    Looks like Frenchmon was right on you missing tubes. Although they were in the DAC apparently in the amp chain makes more difference.

    Jack you are currently all solid state, if your heart wasn't set on going tubes maybe you and Blackraven should get together on the X1.
    I was leaning towards tubes and BR's recent experience only confirms that. I'm leaning toward a Cary SLP-03 or a Parasound P5 at the moment as the funds aren't available for a major purchase.
    2 Channel System
    Dynaudio Contour 1.8 Mk II
    Pass Labs X150.5 (Amp)
    Cary SLP-03 (Preamp)
    Music Hall MMF 5.1 (TT)
    Goldring 1012GX (Cart.)
    Pro-ject SE II (Phono Box)
    Rotel RCD-1072 (CD Player)
    Bryston BDA-1 ( DAC )
    Sennheiser HD-600 (Headphones)
    Musical Fidelity Xcan V3 (Headphone Amp) _

    HT System
    Usher X-719 (Mains)
    Usher X-616 (Center)
    Usher S-520 (Surrounds)
    Rel T2 (Subwoofer)
    Anthem MCA20 (Amp)
    Onkyo TX SR-705 (Receiver)
    Panasonic TH-46PZ85U (Plasma TV)
    Denon DBT-1713UD (BluRay/SACD)

  19. #19
    frenchmon frenchmon's Avatar
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    Raven....I find that a lot of guys...especially over at audiokarma, like listening to gear rather than music. It's not all about the finest detail as long you got detail that allows the musicality to come. If the emotion flows from your heart, then that's What's up! As much as I have listened to some nice Solid State...and believe me there is some nice solid state out there...but something is still missing as far as that last little drop in the texture of that sound. That vividness ..the intensity of the notes...I just miss it with SS.

    Jack...you are on the right tract in my opinion by adding tubes...Now we all know Peabody loves tube.... if we can get Peobody to get a tubed preamp.....
    Music...let it into your soul and be moved....with Canton...Pure Music


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  20. #20
    Forum Regular Jack in Wilmington's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by frenchmon View Post
    Raven....I find that a lot of guys...especially over at audiokarma, like listening to gear rather than music. It's not all about the finest detail as long you got detail that allows the musicality to come. If the emotion flows from your heart, then that's What's up! As much as I have listened to some nice Solid State...and believe me there is some nice solid state out there...but something is still missing as far as that last little drop in the texture of that sound. That vividness ..the intensity of the notes...I just miss it with SS.

    Jack...you are on the right tract in my opinion by adding tubes...Now we all know Peabody loves tube.... if we can get Peobody to get a tubed preamp.....
    Peabody really likes his XP-10 and the synergy that it has with his X250. It might take some serious coin to get him into a acceptable preamp.
    2 Channel System
    Dynaudio Contour 1.8 Mk II
    Pass Labs X150.5 (Amp)
    Cary SLP-03 (Preamp)
    Music Hall MMF 5.1 (TT)
    Goldring 1012GX (Cart.)
    Pro-ject SE II (Phono Box)
    Rotel RCD-1072 (CD Player)
    Bryston BDA-1 ( DAC )
    Sennheiser HD-600 (Headphones)
    Musical Fidelity Xcan V3 (Headphone Amp) _

    HT System
    Usher X-719 (Mains)
    Usher X-616 (Center)
    Usher S-520 (Surrounds)
    Rel T2 (Subwoofer)
    Anthem MCA20 (Amp)
    Onkyo TX SR-705 (Receiver)
    Panasonic TH-46PZ85U (Plasma TV)
    Denon DBT-1713UD (BluRay/SACD)

  21. #21
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack in Wilmington View Post
    I was leaning towards tubes and BR's recent experience only confirms that. I'm leaning toward a Cary SLP-03 or a Parasound P5 at the moment as the funds aren't available for a major purchase.
    Well it's coin the keeps me from trying out a tube preamp. There are old CJ's and Cary's that are cheap enough but (a) those brands -- at least the older models -- are warm and soft and that's not what I'm looking for, also (2) they don't have remote control which I consider essential. I'm not convinced that cheap Chinese goods are up to the task; I'm not about to match cheap junk with my Pass amp.

  22. #22
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    For me the Pass is a good middle ground, it depends on your listening taste in music and what part of the hi fi presentation does it for you. I loved the CJ but for Rock and more energetic music the romance and rounding of some edges took something away as well. While the Krell with it's authority didn't draw me in as much on other types of music. The Pass sort of gives the best of both worlds without going to the extremes of either. I wish I had been patient and used the CJ preamp with the Threshold amp a bit longer, the two pieces had synergy like they were made for each other. I wanted a more modern amp though and the Threshold really got me wondering what the Pass was like. True, on my current set up vocals don't have that euphoric type sound but the improvements every where else are worth the trade off. It's hard to describe the difference, and it would be general any way since tube gear varies as solid state does in sound, but tubes give you a more in the room type of presence where my system is more, at the performance feel. In some cases tubes put more "flesh on the bone feel". I listen to a very wide variety of music and I find the Pass a nice place to be for that. IMO the Pass rocks as well as providing outstanding fun for Classical, the way it controls the performance, no over hang, dynamic, and provides great texture. They say, never say never, but I don't see myself going any more warmer or tubes, and, one of the criteria when I was looking for an amp was to maintain musicality.

    If you are going to use a tube preamp with a solid state amp the output impedance of the tube preamp should be 500 ohms or less to be optimum. If not it will not match the amp to it's potential. I will also say, although it may be fun hearing different gear, it could also be expensive and put you on the merry-go-round until finding the right synergy. Just a thought FWIW before just pairing any preamp that fits a budget to the Pass amp. Whether they admit it, and others may argue, but I find most brands do have a "house" sound, sometimes they mix, and other times they don't. The exception being Alstine, I don't know if he has a plan at all when building gear, The FET gear was the first I have ever used that seemed to have synergy with other brands more so than with each other.
    Mark Levinson #512
    Pass Labs XP-10 & X250
    Clearaudio Performance DC, Dynavector 10x5, AcousTech Ph-1p
    Clarus Crimson loom - AC outlet to speaker terminal
    Revel Performa F52 main/center & S30's
    SVS PC13 Ultra (sub)
    Marantz BD-7003 > AV-8003 > LINN 5125
    Transparent cables / Tributaries HDMI
    PS Audio Quintet

  23. #23
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    The thing I like about the FET is that it is not overly tubey or warm. It has just the right amount of warmth. It is also very dynamic and musical, at least on par with the Pass. As I said before, the X1 is a little more resolving and it should be, costing $4000 more than the FET. The FET is a bargain at its price point. With that being said, I will probably try and find used preamp. Another reason I want to go with tubes in a preamp is that my DAC is getting long in the tooth and it can't take advantage of Hi-Rez music. So my next DAC will probably be SS, unless I get one of the Marantz ref SACDP's.

    For now I will live with the X1. It sounds very good but its not the sound that I am looking for.

    I wish I had a TT as the FET that Frank loaned me has a phono preamp.
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp,
    Thorens TD-145 TT, Bellari phono preamp, Nagaoka MP-200 Cartridge
    Magnepan QR1.6 speakers
    Van Alstine Ultra Plus Hybrid Tube DAC
    Martin Logan Original Dynamo Sub
    Parasound A21 amp
    Vintage Luxman T-110 tuner
    Magnepan MMG's, Grant Fidelity DAC-11, Class D CDA254 amp
    Monitor Audio S1 speakers, PSB B6 speakers
    Vintage Technic's Integrated amp
    Music Hall 25.2 CDP
    Adcom GFR 700 AVR
    Cables- Cardas, Silnote, BJC
    Velodyne CHT 8 sub

  24. #24
    frenchmon frenchmon's Avatar
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    Well I hope it all works out for you...I know in the long run it will.
    Music...let it into your soul and be moved....with Canton...Pure Music


    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Vincent SA - T1/Vincent SP-331 MK /MF XRAY v8 /MMF-7.1/2M BLACK/ Creek OBH MK 2/Canton Vento 830.2

  25. #25
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    Frenchmon, I finally rolled all 12 pairs of my 6CG7 tubes and the last pair sounds the best (go figure). It gives me more of what I am looking for, a little warmth, fuller midrange with more texture and a little bit of tube sound without sacrificing detail and transparency. Its not perfect but I like it a lot better now. I can live with it till I decide to get a CJ ET-3se preamp or BAT.

    I am considering upgrading my DAC to a DSD DAC or just going with a Marantz 11S3 SACD player. If I had the cash now I would buy a used Marantz 7s1 or S2 SACDP. There are 3 of them on audiogon right now for reasonable prices. I have also considered getting a Modright modified Oppo 105 with the tube and power supply mod but I think I would be better off with Marantz. This may be the preferable way to go as the X1 could use a better source than my current DAC which does not do hi rez music. And lately after hearing a friends system I have been considering getting a dedicated computer for audio and using J River Software along with a DSD DAC.
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp,
    Thorens TD-145 TT, Bellari phono preamp, Nagaoka MP-200 Cartridge
    Magnepan QR1.6 speakers
    Van Alstine Ultra Plus Hybrid Tube DAC
    Martin Logan Original Dynamo Sub
    Parasound A21 amp
    Vintage Luxman T-110 tuner
    Magnepan MMG's, Grant Fidelity DAC-11, Class D CDA254 amp
    Monitor Audio S1 speakers, PSB B6 speakers
    Vintage Technic's Integrated amp
    Music Hall 25.2 CDP
    Adcom GFR 700 AVR
    Cables- Cardas, Silnote, BJC
    Velodyne CHT 8 sub

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