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 6 responses by jollygreenaudiophile2

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.....
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".
Uh oh, Umm Wolf? You mean these things are supposed to glow?
 I thought.....
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!
The "Nelson Pass", designed amplifiers I have tried. "And I believe that I have tried most if not all of them" at this point, Are not "Just a cut" above other SS amplifiers out there. They are WAY above the others. Even the old "Denon" mono-blocks are nice!
 But the A-400 is probably my favorite. For many reasons including but not simply because, of the sound. And It still runs great! It is now kept in an all "Threshold", tri-amplified system.
 People keep bringing up, "Giant Killer" types out there. I have yet to meet one. And I have searched, and will continue to do so.
But anyone looking to just, "Best", Nelson Pass designed amps?
 I do not think it can be done. Different perhaps, but better? Or even near as nice? THAT, is a tall order to fill!
"Rotel", IMHO is not really in the same (class) as the "Pass Labs", or "First Watt", amplifiers, which is Mr. Nelson Pass other company. I still have eight or nine of them "The Rotel's", as they do have their uses. But there is simply a huge difference in not just the design, but also the build quality and I am not even mentioning the sound differences!
"Rotel" is no slouch for sure! But NOT anywhere near a Pass amp for sure!
 I will say one thing though, A few years ago I needed/wanted a third "Pass", "X-350", to match my other two in a tri-amped system I was building that had a calculated 6Ohm load from the (64), transducers per side. "(42 tweets), (14, 8" mid's), and (8-12" Mid-woofers). The eighteen ten inch sub's were separate with their own amplification.
 But I could not find a decent example of another X-350 anywhere!. "At that time there was a waiting list for even a "Used", X-350". And I heard this from a few different places I did business with at that time. So, to hold me over I acquired a used "McIntosh MC-402". I thought the power matching between the two amps would be fairly close. With the Pass amp at 350wpc. and already quite a "Legend", for the power it put out. And the Mac at 400wpc., with similar specs but, I had never heard a word about this amp.
 Man-o-man was I wrong!
 That "Mac-402", very literally "Scared", me. Which was a new experience in my book. out of me as soon as I powered up the rig. I didn't melt anything...."I could just imagine in my minds eye the (42)-Mag-planar tweets I had it driving just melting their ribbons"! And I could just tell that the amp was barely even breathing. And when the same load was applied to an X-350? They had it running pretty hard. That "Mac", amp barely ever became warm while I owned it.
 Part of that difference was of course in the design parameters with the Pass amp going farther in "Pure Class A", while the Mac's auto-formers made the load just easy as it could be. At least that's what I thought after calling and mentioning it to "Ken", at "Pass Labs".
 And blindfolded I could not have told the difference between the sound of those two amps either. And believe me....I am NOT a "McIntosh" fellow at all really. Too "Clinical", is how almost all of the Mac's sound to me. But everyone is different!