Putting aside for the moment inherent problem in asking people about their subjective favorite, which only serves as a reflection of their arbitrary preferences and priorities. The value(in a sense the statistical power) of any single answer rests almost entirely on that persons breadth of experience. In other words just how many amps have they heard. The "N" in the experiment.
But I will give it a shot by saying that, I like the amps I have now as much as any other I have heard. They are monoblocks from a non prestigious Chinese company which I am sure would automatically eliminate them from a "best of" list, Even in light of the Brutus Award they recieved a few years ago. I would say the Opera Audio Consonance Cyber 800 Mono Blocks are the best I have heard and have no plans to upgrade. Given the parameters that I have established for my own listening pleasure and lifestyle.
Nevertheless I still read listen and look to see what people are raving about in the flavor of the month rantings.
Thanks for the reply Mechans. It's all subjective in this hobby isn't it? I don't get the oportunity to hear a wide variety of gear so I'd just like to get some names to consider.
there are many amps---it's just the Pass XA series seems to be the amp du jour these days.
its going to be a warmer sounding amp compared to others as its mostly driven in Class A---more like the Aleph series of yesteryear
ultimately, you have to try several amps in your system to figure it all out---buy a Pass, Krell, and maybe Levinson for instance. there is not a best amp for every system.
i would like to hear what other XA.5 owners say about amp comparisons. have not read about many and all the official reviews really don't compare them to other amps either.
I'm not sure the origin of your question. Are you interested in other amps because you don't like Pass, or because they cost more than you wish to spend.
You can arrange for a home demo if you live in the US.
I would put my Pass amps against anything SS and most things tubed, up to 2-3x its price. If someone was to offer me the Pass XA200.5 or the Boulder 2050, I would take the former. So, yes, the reviews are true. And, no, I cannot think of another amp off-hand.
I have had six different Pass Class A amps in my system. My favorite is my current XA160.5. I have not heard amps from other companies in my own system, but I have heard a few amps in friends' systems and at various dealerships. I have been very impressed with the Spectral mono blocks and to a lesser extant with the AYRE monos. I'm sorry I don't have more experience with different amps in my own system to give you a better opinion.
I prefer my Edge 10.1nl to the X-600 monos I had.
Let me start by saying i too love PASS equipment. however, for example Rowland amplifiers run cooler, are more efficient, and IMHO bridge the gap between tube and solid state, similar to pass (Aleph) amps, and sound quite similar to one another. the classe audio amplifiers (omega) also are known to walk the line between tube and solid state "sound". BUT i do have to say that the NEW pass amps have an elaborate (and to my eyes) somewhat heavy and non-functional faceplate design, and also a useless bias meter, all of which the owner has to end up paying for. plus they produce a considerable amount of HEAT. design-wise i far prefer the grab-handles and elegantly simple design of the classic levinson amplifiers (23.5, 27.5), the lamm 1.2 monoblocks, or even the distinctive look of the older ALEPH amps (just relocate the power switch TO THE FRONT OF THE UNIT, OKAY?!). all i am saying that EVEN WITH the well-received Sound of the XA amplifiers, there are still some trade-offs that concern me.
AND one last thing- do they handle dynamics as well as the X-.5 series PASS Amps, and provide as much tight deep bass? could it come down to not only which sound you prefer, BUT on WHICH CD does one amp perform better than the other?
Compared to Pass XA200.5 - Plinius (Reference), BAT (VK600SE) and Spectron (monoblocks) - all have very similar seductive "musicality" and ability to convey power of full orchestra realsitically. Would love to audition new Mark Levinson class D amp - #53 (@ $50k/pr.)...
Thanks for the replies everyone. There is some diversity of opinion but as usual some strong opinions about Pass XA.5 amps. Class D amps are gaining some supporters too.
Is there something fundamentally different about class A amps or can a class A/B amp provide that warm, effortless musicality?
My Edge is A/B, so I'd have to say done right you can have your cake and not melt your ice cream too.
I would love to see comparisons of the XA.5 series versus the Gryphon Antileon Signature or the Colosseum. Maybe it'll have to be up to me to do that since I don't see many Gryphon owners here.
McIntosh MC402 is an excellent solid state preamp
Everyone is listing SS amps. I have owned a couple of Pass amps and really enjoyed them but I am now driving my speakers with a really good tube amp and would have a hard time going back to SS. If you are open to tube amps there are numerous choices that will qualify for best of category.
A couple of others you might want to compare with the Pass amps include the Lamm M1.2 Reference (110wpc) and M2.2 (220wpc), both of which are monoblock hybrids with a single 6922 tube per amp in the input stage; or the Clayton M200 or M300 (monoblock SS amps with 200 and 300 wpc, respectively). The Lamms and Claytons run fully in Class A and double their power into 4 ohms. The Lamms have a bias switch for system matching, and the Clayton M300's have a bias switch so the amps can run cooler when idling, or when critical listening is not necessary.
Good luck comparing the Clayton amps to Pass Labs amps. Unlike Pass Labs amps, which can be auditioned at home fairly easily, Clayton amps in my experience are virtually impossible to audition let alone actually compare in the same system.
The Clayton amps may sound phenomenal, but after three months of intensive effort to hear a pair I gave up.
Would the Roland models 6,8t,9t compete with the newer pass amps or not;just a question as I could not think of any others to throw into the mix, the only other I think of might be Boulder.
Tvad, do you still want to hear a pair of Clayton's or is that water under the bridge already? If you do still want to hear some, I can try and hook you up. Unfortunately, the mfg is in St. Louis and the main distributor is out east. If you ever get to Michigan, you are welcome to hear mine.
Regarding sonics, IMO, my M300's are richer, more natural, and more musical sounding than my former DNA 500 (which was a very nice sounding high power AB amp); and they are more powerful (300 vs 100 wpc), more extended in the treble, and have more detailed bass than my former Lamm M1.1's, although they are a touch less dimensional than the Lamm amps (tube vs. no tube). I would like to compare them with Lamm's M1.2 Ref. amps. The Clayton's do a nice job of passing through what they are fed, with maybe just a touch of flavoring toward the warm and rich side of things. They sound good upon turn on, but best after they have been on for an hour or so, high bias sounds better than low bias, and the M300's do more of everything the M200's do (I owned both). Unfortunately, I have no direct comparison experience with the XA.5 amps.
Mitch2, thanks for the offer. I've changed systems from ss to tube since the Clayton quest, but I never say never.
I would say Ayre and Symphonic Line are worthy SS competitors to Pass. I'm not sure I am comfortable with the phrase "amp du jour" used to describe any Pass amp, as I think all his work merits and receives credit far beyond the temporary enthusiasms this hobby is prone to. That being said, while I loved the XA30.5, Aleph3, 2, and Js in my systems, for my taste I always return to tubes and with my gear no tube amp has bettered Atma-sphere M60s (but you will be limited to speakers that are not current hungry - "tube friendly").