Can you say any piece of equipment or manufacturer is the best. As Roberjerman suggests, best is in the context of other components.
Pass labs are great, I still remember my old Aleph 3 and wonder why I sold it. If you put a gun to my head and don't please, I would say D'Agostino, with Dartzeel a close second. Of those, the best value would be the Darzeel integrated amps, I'd love one.
Op Pass makes very good warm sounding gear, there are many companies that do battle with Pass and some feel that their products are even better.
We had a client who was looking for an uber integrated amp and was comparing the 250 watt Pass integrated to a T+A integrated a $11k 2500R and thought the T+A gear was far superior drivin g his Wilson's.
The T+A 2500R is an amazing integrated amplifier that employs high voltage rails to run transistors like tubes the amp sound very present with a slightly warm sound killer bass and dynamics and a gigantic soundstage a bit hard to find but worth checking out.
A Gryphon integtrated is another killer piece that many people feel is better as well.
Also a real sleeper package the new Anthem STR amp and preamp is very warm, 400 watts on tap, built in dac, and room correction the two peices are $10k, not very well known but very impressive engineering and a great deal.
I would compare any of the above with any Pass product.
Another sleeper is CODA. CODA is run by Doug Dale. Doug and Nelson worked together at Threshold. CODA continues a lot of Nelson's design ideas but they charge about half of what Pass does. American made with a cult following.
A CODA CSIB integrated is a 400 watt integrated amp with the first 5-25 can be run in Pure Class A. Great amp for $6k
Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ
probably the best ever you can buy...
'Probably best' to reframe the above. : )
I'm writing this as I listen to and enjoy my system with my Pass XA30.8 in it.
Having said this, I prefer my T+A PA 3100 HV.
The T+A stands strong after being tested versus a number of amps, including the Pass XP20 and XA 30.8 pairing. Recently, I used the T+A's Pre-out and I was really, really surprised by the sound quality of my system. I'll be doing the same with the amp section once I get a proper XLR cable in system.
I encourage you to consider the T+A. Once the savings from a reduced interconnect and power cord count and isolation, are factored in, you will be ahead financially. It's also more feature laden and flexible than my Pass separates.
Let me repeat that I really like my Pass gear.
I happen to like, appreciate and enjoy the T+A to a greater degree, given my system, personal preferences, etc.
Many amplifier companies have fanboys. Not just Pass. Each brand may bring a slightly different flavor to the game, but all are great amplifiers.
My primary reason for NOT owning a Pass amp is no local dealer.Plus the big class A amps are furnaces you cannot leave on 24/7.
My best local dealers sell Audio Research and Bryston, BAT and a few others. I chose Bryston myself, as it was the most recommended with my particular choice of speakers.
Generally folks suggest choosing the speaker you really want, THEN picking one of the amps which are best to use with that speaker.
I have read here folks who want a specific amplifier, and then ask what speaker can go with it?
I used to own a ’tilted to class A’ small amplifier, Forte’4a. With it on 24/7 my electric bill was $7 higher in Winter, and $10 higher in Summer, just due to that amplifier. The amp I have now runs 230watts idle. like TWO 100 watt electric light bulbs on 24/7/365. The newer Bryston amps ’cubed’ models are half that. And yes they do lower the class A level, but still sound better than the squared model. Saving 100 watts left on 365 day a year is worth considering in cost.
To have an amplifier you have to turn off.. Would bother me. I DO now have a preamp I cannot leave on 24.7 as it runs way too hot. (A Conrad Johnson ACT2) In the Summer the heat is really a problem with the Conrad Johnson, and this is just a preamp, not even the monster heat furnace of a Class A amplifier. I know some folks can’t use the main amp in Summer due to the heat from it. So heat generated IS a real factor in choosing an amplifier.
Fantastic Integrated my brother just bought one a month ago
Gryphon Diablo of Denmark this is a work of Art it is better sounding then the majority of seperates . I owned a Audiostore
and inside parts quality and engineering design are critical.
and has won many awards .thereis a distribution center in Canada
and one in the U.S.
this is Built, tested and retested on many parameters before for days before passing and very powerful and doubles in power from 8-2ohms.a Fantastic product which I rarely will say !!
I have been at Pass labs dealer for almost 6 years we are located on Long Island - The name of our store is sound insight. I have access to just about any type of amplifier there is out there.
We just won best sound at show at capital audio fest 2018 from AVshowrooms and have been given rave reviews by many other reviewer‘s who have visited our exhibit. We exclusively use Pass labs electronics on our new planar magnetic speakers from GT Audioworks ( which incidentally does not possess a crossover on the main wideband planar magnetic driver) Pass Labs was also used at our exhibit at capital audiofest.
Please click the below link we are the fifth reviewed system.
I have a Pass Lab's Original X-350.
" I LOVE it",. And I looked around and there is one on ebay that say's it's, "Mint cond. and serviced with a warranty".
Hee hee, You would still have ten grand left!
What to do?
what to do?
New preamp to match?
The new models do not list a new model X-350.8. I think it's just the X-300.8? So 50 watts less per channel.
But at $83,000 MSRP? It's a bit pricey.....
Best is a relative term in that you need to understand the synergy between the Amp and speakers and pre amp.
Pass makes a great amp, but the key is finding those who have the same speakers and what they use for power.
I have my own bias and budget and those also play a role in ownership.
It is Not a simple answer, yet the journey should be enjoyable as you discover what is best for Your Ears.
I am fortunate to have a friend in the business which over the years has allowed me to switch various amp & pre's in and out of my system.
I was fortunate to have a Pass designed Threshold for quite a while, then I heard a Pass X250.5 mated to a X2.5 pre amp and that has been the foundation of my system. Great specs, reliability, hand built like a tank, manufacturer backup if/when needed, and incredible sound. And isn't that what it's all about ?
I don't necessarily agree with others on the alleged "furnace" effect. As you inferred, it's Class A . I'm generally pumping 60-100w per channel which on my system and in my music room is perfect. The amp gets hot to the touch when pushed, but in standby it's cool and draws about 100w. Turn it on and it can drive most anything perfectly without concern. ( I'm currently using bi-wired B&W 802D2s ) . I will add that since I added a PS Audio P10 Regenerator , the amp and pre have only improved in performance.
I would and will buy nothing else and that's my opinion on the matter.
Happy hunting & listening ....
I guess since you listen to your music "Loud"....I need to tell you that I recently tried an McIntosh, model MC402. After swapping everything over from the Pass X-350 and powering it up?
,The difference in power was literally "astounding". Physically the X-350 is an intimidating amplifier. It is, just plain and simply, "Huge". But the MC402 is no slouch. In fact next to the X-350, it's the largest "By physical dimensions", amplifier I have owned and about the same weight.
The thing was, When I first powered on the MC402. I brought the gain up just a bit to hear the source that was playing. The gain was set so low that at most it should have been about 60db.
I didn't hear anything and walked over to the media player that I had been playing with as well, and noticed it actually hadn't started. So,
"And yes, I can feel many of you cringing , As you surely know what came next!!!"
I "manually" hit "start". The MC402 responded immediately, and out of the corner of my eye I saw the large glass pane in my, "French Doors" just to my left bow outwards from the SPL, As I turned quickly to reach the gain control to reduce the volume I noticed "Again out of the corner of my eye", that the "cat" was in mid-air, "NOT again" I thought. and very luckily down went the gain before any damage, "real" had been done. Over the next few days I played with the amp but it was just too much. I LOVE my music loud. Just under the threshold for damage actually. "I do keep a calibrated db meter handy". But with the speaker system I have, which is VERY sensitive. And the peaks at certain times, in certain passages were just too much because of the "headroom" that amplifier had. This in my 40+ years of listening seriously, has never happened before that amplifier or since. So you "May", wish to give a listen to one of those. The fellow I sold it to in Ca. a couple of weeks ago simply couldn't stop calling me and thanking me. "First time for that as well"! He had been "Bi-Amping" with a pair of MC2205's he said. And that he had wanted to try a more contemporary and possibly more powerfull amp. "Mission Accomplished"!
And I went back to my, "as I see it now", "Moderately Powered", X-350. Though according to "Nelson", It does have an "Albiet Breif", and I do forget the amount of "nano-seconds" mentioned but, An output of 1500WPC at certain times when reproducing "Detail" was in fact, available in the X-350. I will add though that as a whole I have always found the Mac's just a bit too bright for "my" ears at least. And at my "Reference" listening level.
But if you want a multitude of power..... Try hunting one of those up, or a similar "Mac".
And give it a shot. Many do swear by them. Just not "I".
I do wonder what kind of "Home" audio speaker would be "SO" inefficient that one would actually need a pair of their MC601's? Their use in "Pro" applications "Not-withstanding".
Pass will Pass but others wil to. Try as many as you can and try a Hegel if you have the chance. I have heard them only in an audio Show setting. As a tube gear owner I put this sollid state Amp on my check it out in my system list. In my network there is a buzzing about Innamorata AMPs. They are all tube lovers that have no objective to sollid state but Sollid state gear has to be "alive". What that means is to subjective and a matter of taste. Only your ears can judge. Great to have such a budget at hand...many options. Don't settle in to soon and have fun.
Pass is one of the top choices among the solid state amplifier.
But if you listen to mostly Jazz, I recommend you to try tube amplifier.
The Jazz voice will sound magical with tube amplifier.
You did not specify your speakers.
If your speaker is efficient you can try small power SET amplifier.
But if your speaker is not efficient you had better try out PP tube amplifier with more than 100watts.
If is always important to check the synergy between amp and speaker by auditioning at your home.
No other company I know of takes care of their customers like Pass Labs. You can call them at any time and discuss your entire system. They will cheerfully talk to you. When it comes to repairing something NOBODY compares to Pass! Their philosophy is not to charge for repairs more then
necessary. I had a Pass Labs X1 preamp for years. It finally needed work. It was of a vintage that they needed to replace several circuit boards in order to facilitate the repair. I braced myself for the bill. Including a new shipping carton they charged me $125.00!!!!! Insane but great for me and all who decide to be Pass owners. Good luck. Joe
It all comes down to system synergy and with the right front end and the right speakers, Pass Labs are extraordinary. I have heard Pass Labs sound only so-so, but it has pretty much always been due to poor speaker synergy.
For my Audio Physic Avanti III, the Pass Labs XA60.5 has really turned out to be the best.
"At Pass we build amplifiers with excessive output stages, huge heat sinks and massive power supplies. We use the highest quality components in simple linear topologies, assembled and tested with great care in Auburn, California. They measure well and sound great. They are heavy, reliable and expensive."
In my opinion, the only way to go is class A and I'm not sure anybody does it as well as Nelson Pass. Beyond that, Nelson is just an excellent human being that embraces a great life philosophy. I think the thing that makes Nelson such a great guy and engineer is that he finds fulfillment and joy in giving and humbly receives new ideas and approaches to things through that process of giving and interacting with his customers, fans, and DIY'ers. That guy has taught me a lot. His followers have taught me a lot.
Best amps there are? Tough question. Are his mainstream amps everyone's cup of tea? No. The guy readily admits that some speakers pose problems for amps that he doesn't waste time worrying about. On the other hand, he's designed some amps that are ideal for very unusual speakers. They're all very well built. He puts a very high priority on his designs being very stable and reliable. I love my F5. I haven't heard anything yet that compares to it and there's definitely room for improvement. But I'm sure it's not for everyone.
Pass are superb, there is better.
for less, shop around, listen and learn.
I went with McCormack. —-and no turning back now.
Im hooked on Steve’s house sound.
Passed up a Pass mono pair for the McCormack monos’, could not be happier, your ears will tell you what you like, when the goosebumps hit......you will know.
Enjoy the hunt.
I’ve always liked Nelson Pass and his designs but unfortunately I’m tied to a little Dennis Had single ended tube amp driving efficient speakers...I can’t break loose...that new 25 watt Pass amp seems SO cool...but I fool myself into thinking tubes are just better sounding...maybe the SIT First Watt amp...no...I can’t do it...damn.
Take a look at the SIT3. It uses 2 complementary input JFETs to drive an autoformer for voltage gain followed by a single power JFET output actively biased by a MOSFET constant current source. A real damping factor, 200kR input impedance, and a near double of it's output into 4 ohms...it's a real amp with real triodic response curves that makes real power.
Didn’t I just mention the SIT amp? Are you trying to make me feel sad? I've read a lot of reviews of that thing but I’m stuck!..I REALLY like my Had amp...it just sounds so good...and the tubes glow...plays plenty LOUD if need be simply since my speakers are (supposedly) 99db...Why? Why? I’ll just have to think of something else to do with four thousand dollars...*sigh*...
Regarding the SIT3, an important point to note is that it has an extremely low gain (for a power amp) of only 11.5 db. Power amp gains are typically in the mid to high 20s. Most Pass Labs amps have gains of 26 db for example, although most of the other First Watt amps have gains in the teens.
Consequently it can be calculated that the SIT3 will require a single-ended input (it does not provide a balanced input) of about 3.2 volts to be driven to its maximum power capability of 18 watts into 8 ohms. If a digital source having a volume control is used without an active preamp it will almost certainly not be able to provide that much voltage, even with the volume control at max. And in many and perhaps most cases vinyl or other analog sources won't be able to do so even when used in conjunction with an active preamp.
I considered purchasing a SIT3 recently, but that factor made it a non-starter for my system. I went with a Pass Labs XA25 instead, which I have been delighted with.
Absolutely in the team photo.
One of their greatest strengths is that while they may not be the "perfect" pairing with a given set of speakers, they typically sound damn good with everything. So, as far as an investment that is nice to know.
I've run my 250.8 with power hogs, and with easy loads. I've swapped out amps on the same speakers. Typically, the pass still sounds the best.
The 250.8 however I believe is one of Nelsons best designs. I like it better than the 350.8 when I've heard it.
Just has a really great midrange.
There are a number of great amplifiers out there, both tube and solid state, for a range of prices. I have been lucky enough to have many of them from ARC and CJ tubes to a number of Rowland, Levinson, Krell and, yes, Pass Labs amps including most recently the XA100.5's. I have not owned the 0.8 series Pass amps yet. Having said that, a critical factor for most amps remains the speaker-amp interaction. I have ML CLX's and Pass Labs has recommended the larger X 0.8 amps which they feel are better suited to driving the CLX's than the XA series due to its need for higher voltage and amperage as well as its punishing impedance curve. Your taste in music and in what aspects of music reproduction are most important to you are obviously critical as well; no amp or speaker is perfect. This sounds trite, but I really think that you need to hear your speakers with the amps under consideration. Others have opinions, but you may not share them.
I just crunched the numbers on Wolf's speakers assuming a typical room size and speaker placement. He should only require about 9 watts to get up over 101dB at 14 feet away. That figures out to about 9.5dB of gain. The SIT3 would work. It wouldn't work for me though. I need about 3dB of pre-amp gain to get where I want to be with the F5 at it's 15.5dB. It's easy enough to fix that if I wanted to. Getting it up around 19 is a matter of swapping 4 resistors. Most people do make that change when running 32V rails. I didn't.
There "is" a Nelson Pass designed vintage SS amp that for the money and to me that is "Crazy good" sounding. The "Nakamichi PA-7", is one of his "Stasis" designs he did for them and are built like tanks and rated "200Wpc. @8Ohm" and down to 2Ohm very stable as well in my experience.
OR, the last year of that model was 225Wpc. Those are marked, Pa-7ii.
"No roman numerals on this keyboard!"
I have one rig put together using nine of them. "Tri-amped mains plus surrounds and a bi-amped center for watching movies". But I do need to either turn the heat down or off in the winter about half-way through a movie! They are a nice design for a class A/B and reliable.
They seem to run about $1200-1500 for a nice one, But I have seen them for 4-600 as well.
But the nice one's? "As in mint cosmetically and serviced". I think they are a hell of a deal as long as serviced by a good rep. company. Most were bought of course by guy's that still take allot of pride in them. One I bought even had the orig. top removed and a vented plexiglass top installed so you can see that giant "Nakamichi" labeled, toroidal transformer in the front that is about 9" in dia. and the four big caps. It's my favorite one of the bunch. I do get lots of comments from friends on it. But it's not to impress anyone but, "Lil 'ole me! And they do a good job of that. In fact the "Firefight" at the end of the movie, "The Accountant"? My friends still gossip about that as we watched it the room with that rig! Amazing!
And, Just think of all the good that the $13,500 that you saved would do for your favorite charity! Or you could start your own!
That is such a hard question to answer, I had a Pass X350 and it was quite sterile sounding, beautiful build quality but not for my system
at the time. Your question is impossible to answer as it depends on your personal taste and your system. There is no such thing as a best component, it’s too subjective. You should be asking yourself what do you like the best as that’s all that matters!!!
Not sure if anyone mentioned this (probably), but not every amp is a great fit for the speakers you have. So 'best' really can not apply to any single piece of gear.
We sell Wilson, Sonus Faber, KEF, and others and have been Bryston dealer for years, but grew up on Classe' and Mark Levinson. When we took an older PASS 250.5 in on trade and it simply bested our brand new (but burned in) Bryston 14B3 on a pair of Sonus Faber Il Cremonese's, we became a PASS dealer. We've been pairing PASS with most Wilson's and have not found a bad combination of speakers to run with them. We also demo all speakers over $10K with a pass amp and often sell the amp too.
I typically avoid the forums as a dealer so as to not promote ourselves, but we really do like the PASS products (despite the fact our current order of gear will ship Feb 2019 :-(