Bryston 14B-SST or Pass Labs X 350.5

I am looking for a new amplifier and am torn between the Bryston and Pass Labs. I do not have the ability to audition both otherwise I would do that. I would appreciate some thoughts from others. Thanks for the help!

Current System:

Kef Reference 205/2's
Modwright Transporter
Modwright LS 36.5
Synergistic Research Tesla cables
Hi Rydenfan, I have a hunch that you are Ted B's good friend. I have listened/auditioned both Bryston and Pass Labs over the years, and still believe that the Pass X.5, XA and XA.5 series are some the most musical and natural sounding SS amps I have ever heard. Take a look at my reviews of the 350.5 and XA-100's here on the GON for the details. I actually left a message for Ted last friday that there was a pair of 600.5 monoblocks here on the GON that was in your budget, which would make your Kef 205/2's sing like a very musical bird, indeed!
I owned a 14B SST, and presently own Pass Labs XA-60.5. Not apples to apples with a X-350.5, but I'd put my money on the Pass Labs over the 14B SST (which is an excellent amp in its own right).

Pass Labs has a naturalness to its sound that I have yet to hear matched by any other solid state amplifier. At the same time, the Pass Labs has bass control and definition equal to Bryston.

You should also consider Ayre amps...I think its the best of them..
I had owned a Pass Labs X350.5 previously and definitely a good amp. But do yourself a favor and just buy a McIntosh MC402 power amp. Once you hear the big McIntosh MC402 you will forget about the Bryston 14B-SST & Pass Labs X350.5. The McIntosh MC402 is a great power amp and I have absolutely no regrets trading in the Pass Labs X350.5 for it.
Thanks for the comments guys. Tvad what you are saying about the bass control is very interesting to me because my concern is that the Pass would not have the woofer control that the Bryston does. In the past I have heard that the Pass' have incredible midrange but they do not have good woofer and thus bass control.
In the past I have heard that the Pass' have incredible midrange but they do not have good woofer and thus bass control.
Rydenfan (Threads | Answers)

All I can say is with my XA-.5 series amps, this is not the case. The XA-.5 and X-.5 should perform equally well in the bass department as they both double power output as speaker impedance is halved.

On the other hand, Bryston amps control bass incredible well regardless of the version.

Pick one...or one of the others mentioned.

The bottom line is you won't know how any of these amps perform in your system until you install one or two.

Buy a used version of whichever amp you select, and your risk is substantially reduced. Bryston, Pass Labs, McIntosh and Ayre all have excellent resale value on the used market.
Let me echo Tvad. I have not been able to hear either in my own system but from other sources it is clear that their design philosophy is quite different and their sound is quite unalike. Pass has their own sound, class A has a midrange that you can't get from AB. In the past I used Krell, Musical Fidelity and Stax class A amps. I now use AB, Musical Fidelity and Meridian. The main thing is to decide what your sonic priorities are, no amp is the best at everything. If you can't audition them at home read the reviews and see which of them matches what you are looking for. And Buy Used, a high quality amp has a long life. I have a Tandberg 3026 that I bought used as a sub amp 15 years ago and it still works fine.
I used to own Pass X-600 mono's with a an X-1 preamp driving my B%W 800's and switched to the much less expensive Bryston 7B-SST mono's and BP-26 preamp with the same speaker setup. I was hoping the Bryston set-up would still be in the same ballpark as the Pass X series. Unbelievably, the Bryston gear blew the Pass stuff away in almost every way. Now, I have owned and enjoyed Nelson's equipment for many years, so you can imagine how shocked I was that this was the case. The 14B-SST is very similar to my mono's and would imagine it sounds excellent as well. Oh, and the 20 year warranty doesn't hurt its long-term value either.
Given there was a slight design change within the 14B-SST amp commonly known as the "Swedish choke" if buying used you want to make sure you get the most recent version. I believe this "mod" was incorporated after unit serial # 505 (can be confirmed by Bryston). You can have an older version updated but of course the mod will cost you (around $250) as well as freight both ways so look for a more recent amp.

Also if buying used you want to review Bryston's warranty info on their website. Gear made after a specific date must have the original invoice to ensure the 20 year transferable warranty.
Anyone have any experience with the Levinson 432 as well?
I had my pass .5 amp in service 3 times under warranty in less than 6 months..I agree with the post on the mac 402,cant go wrong
An amplifier's, or any component for that matter, service or remedial work is not always attributable to a factory problem.

I've seen just as many cases, probably more, damage resulting from customer mis-use than actual component failure.
Can anyone comment on Plinius? I would be looking at the SB301, thanks!
Plinius builds great stuff.

I wouldn't hesitate to audition any of their products.