Are Pass Labs amps probably the best ever you can buy ?


I have about 15k to spend on an amp/preamp/integrated amp.

I mostly listen to smooth jazz like Dave Koz, Rippingtons, Brian Culbertson etc.... and loud.

I have yet to hear any amp that comes close to Pass Labs.

Your experiences pls ?
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Showing 4 responses by audiofound

I would say that Pass Lab's products are certainly up there with the best of the best. There will be an infinity of opinions regarding what is "the best". There are currently just so many top shelf products out there. I just auditioned seven of the best integrated amps in their price range and I would be extremely happy to own any of those seven amps. They ALL sounded different but amazing in their own way. The Pass Labs int 60 was one of those amps and, IMHO, it sounded absolutely incredible. So did the other amps. But the int 60 was one of my top two picks after a full day of auditions.
I took an entire year to research my new audio system. I put many, many, hours into reading reviews and forums culminating in an actual all day audition of some of the top amps in the world. I visited with many very knowledgeable and experienced audiophiles. I even flew from my home in Iowa to Sarasota, Florida to audition amps. I auditioned amps by Pass, Gryphon, Naim Hegel, VAC Audio, Simaudio, and Luxman among others. I finally picked the Pass Labs INT 250 and couldn't be happier with my choice. I'm pairing it with some superb sounding Harbeth Super HL 5+ 40th Anniversary model speakers. I'm also running the INT 250 with an MSB Discrete DAC with dual power supplies and Roon Nucleus.

I can't imagine a better sounding similarly priced system. I'm sure there are systems that sound as good, but just different. I very, very, highly recommend the Pass INT 250. Mine is just now really getting broken in and is sounding sublime. I also auditioned the INT 60 and was similarly impressed with it.

BTW, the heat issue with Pass amps is, IMHO, totally irrelevant. I can lay my hand on my INT 250 all day long and never get uncomfortable. It's really a non-issue. It gets "warm" but definitely NOT hot. If you want to feel hot, lay your hand on a tube amp. That's HOT. An INT 250 might raise the ambient temperature of a small room a degree or two in warm climates. But so will some other amps. Especially tube amps. My listening room is about 12' x 27' and I don't even notice the room heating up any when my amp is on. But, after having said all the above, use your own ears and audition any amp you're interested in. It'll be time very well spent. Lots of great choices in amps and other components out there. 
Really when you get into high end amps Pass, Gryphon, Luxman, Simaudio, T+A, Hegel, and other similarly priced components it's really about what your ears like. It's preference, not necessarily fact. I mean some like chocolate ice cream, some like vanilla, some like the color blue, some like the color red.

One man's thin sounding component is another man's open, air-ey sounding component, one man's smooth top end is another's unexciting, dull top end, one man's strong bass is another's boomy bass, one man's warm mids is another's too dark toned, one man's smooth top end is another's rolled off top end. If we didn't hear things differently we'd all be buying the same exact components. 

We (myself included) seem to have great difficulty putting sound into words with any kind of accuracy. And then we'll have comments like Brand A will "blow the doors off Brand B", or "Brand A blows Brand B out of the water"...whatever the heck that means. I personally find these kinds of descriptions useless. It tells me nothing about the components. 

We need to get used to the idea that we very often don't hear things the same. From a strictly physiological standpoint I don't know why we should think otherwise. Our hearing apparatus and biology/physiology is completely different from one day to the next. 

Here's a news flash...it's OK to have a preference and for other people to have theirs. It's OK to be absolutely convinced your set up sounds "better" than anyone else's or for me to feel my system is the best sounding out there.

And there are an infinity of variables that are obvious and some not so obvious to consider when auditioning, comparing, and evaluating components...the room and how a specific brand and model interacts with it is one major factor regarding how you hear things. I mentioned both physiology and biology above as factors governing how we hear and process sound. Have you ever listened to a system one day, come back in a day or two and something about your system sounds different? This sometimes happens to me with my guitars and amp.

Aural memory can also be a factor...you listen to your system and it goes into your memory and a week later you listen again and it sounds different. I traveled to Suncoast Audio about a year ago to audition several top notch amps for my new system. But my aural memory of that experience is starting to fade to the point where I can't remember the fine details of how each amp sounded. I just remember which ones my ears liked most. 

There are just so many factors to weigh when it comes to making value judgments about audio components. But we sometimes have a tendency to form snap, knee jerk, opinions without being honest and objective with ourselves. Anyway, just my 2 cents.
None better than Pass at it’s price point. SQ, craftsmanship, attention to detail, build quality, all top shelf components. The best customer service in the business. My ears have not heard anything that sounds "better" for the money. I’m sure there are certainly amps that sound as good, but "different". When you get into this price range it’s just a matter of preference and not so much what is "better". It's what your ears prefer. Speaking of ears, my ears also really like the Diablo D300.