Is the a21 a Curl designed amp, yes?
I highly doubt that the Pass XA25 is causing the lean sound with bright highs. I suspect it is something else. Maybe something in your preamp, or the type of 6SN7 tubes? Or are you using silver wiring - as this will definitely slant the sound towards lean/bright if you have too much silver.
As far as Parasound A23+ or A21 goes, I don't think it will solve your problem. It may make sound even leaner than the Pass Labs (the Pass XA25 is going to be biased much higher into Class A and providing a thicker sound). I have heard the XA25 and it's definitely not "lean" sounding.
The Paraound amps have an incredibly clean midrange, but the high frequencies can come across a bit dry (in my system it lacked engaging sound quality). You can fix with a fuse upgrade, but it can become even slower. I'm not sure if this is what you want since it still will not be as "thick/full" sounding as the XA25.
If you want an amplifier that is full sounding but with softer and laid back highs, I would recommend a McIntosh amplifier. But like I said, I think something else is going on in your system that is causing the lean/bright effect.
You should be able to pickup a 2-4 year old Parasound A21 for the same price or under the A23+ price new. If set on Parasound that’s what I would do. There are probably lots of other great amps new and used in that range as well. The A21 is definitely on the warmer side. I find it also very detailed and dynamic as well. Great voicing IMO. Is it neutral?? No idea but sounds great to me.
Yes, I have not ruled out the possibility of the problem being something with my preamp. I am continuing to research this. I will get back as I discover more. Might have to determine a better description for the problem.
I have looked into the Parasound A21+ however I don't need that much power or the weight. That amp weighs close to 1/2 what I do.
I was thinking the Parasound was more on the warm side than the XA25 which is unique for a Pass amp.
I am not sure that the issue I am having with my XA25 is typical to the model. I am not convinced that what I am hearing can be addressed with cables, break-in or warm-up. I have spoken to Pass Lab personel and have determined that my unit was manufactured last June and is still under warranty. If the issue is with my preamp I am confident Aric will help me out.
Based on my take from reviews and this forum I believe the XA25 to be more on the lean side, more transparent, than the XA30.5 or 30.8. The 30.5 having the most bloom of the three. Known to be quite distinct from the other Pass Labs or First Watt amplifiers.
if you are finding the pass lean, i seriously doubt the parasound unit will be the fix... in my experience parasound’s sonic palette is not as smooth and silky as pass
how do you compare the pass with your old bel 1001? i would guess the pass would be richer sounding than the bel (and the parasound)
maybe the answer is to roll some older smoother 6sn7’s in the aric (dunno which make tubes you are using presently) -- maybe try some old rca grey glass or tungsol’s?
Take this opinion for what it’s worth. I’ve A/B’d the Halo Hint 6 integrated against the Rogue Pharoah and Cronus Magnum amps. The Rogue stuff embarrassed the Parasound gear.
I also purchased purchased the A21+ and P6 amp and preamp combo. The P6 pre to my ears is dull and lifeless. I was able to return the P6 back to the dealer but took a beating selling the A21+ in the aftermarket. The A21+ (as well as the A23’s) input impedance is very low at 33k unbalanced/ 66k balanced which may make finding a good matching pre difficult.
I don’t think I’ll ever buy another piece of Parasound gear again. The fit and finish is pleasing, but will pass based on sound.
@jjss49 Thanks for your thoughts. I am beginning to regret the sale of the BEL. That amp and my preamp were a great match and mated with both pairs of my speakers well.
I was seriously hoping the Pass XA25 would serve me the same. As I stated above my research indicates this The XA25 amp is different than most Pass amps in being maybe the most transparent and not having the 'bloom' around notes like many others (some characterize this as lean). I am afraid what I am hearing is beyond that difference. Yes, this could be from my preamp.
Sometimes when I run into a problem I tend to panic a little, hence this thread, then go into action to solve. I am in the process now.
Thinking I should not have linked the problem with my system with my request for thoughts on the A23+. Focus in a question begets a more definitive answer.
Personally, I found the A23 (didn't own the A23+) to be dull...as though listening through a blanket. Another member here, Whitextix, has both a Don Sachs preamp and power amp...and just purchased a Purifi as a
"run cooler" option for the summer.
He loves it, clear, detailed, massive soundstage...and I just noticed the same one he purchased popped up as preowned yesterday on AC....here is a link.
FOR SALE: Purifi 1ET400A Amplifier Stereo Sparkos OpAmp ss3602 (audiocircle.com)
Your assessment is not too far off on the XA25, yet there may be a few things to look in to further before you leap away. Also, just for grins I tried a A23+ last summer for a month. It was okay, hoped it might be a 2nd amp to rotate in to give my tube monos a rest. It was not on the same level as your XA25. You have a nice combo, worth more tuning.
Tubes: Exactly what (brand, year) tubes are in your Aric 6SN7 linestage-preamp? The sound from different 6SN7s alone can make a difference.
ICs: Seriously, what interconnects are you using between your Aric pre and the XA25 now? It's a real factor with Pass gear some times. My last 3 pairs of ICs all went to Pass Labs owners btw for similar reasons.
I am using Audioquest King Cobra interconnectsThe King Cobra uses silver-plated connectors (XLR/RCA) and this can definitely make the highs have a bright edge and can reduce the thickness in bass and midbass. I would recommend looking for a cable that uses pure copper and gold-plated connectors, such as the Audioquest Red River series. If you want to move up to more expensive cable, Purist Audio Design and Transparent Audio make some excellent cables.
I must say that there is so much the XA25 does right that I will spend some effort in trying to make it fit. I believe much of the problem is me, my tenitus makes me sensitive to upper level frequencies which are accentuated by the high transparency of this amplifier.
It has wonderful drive and soundstage. Not all recordings are problematic. I will explore tube and cable options before doing anything drastic.
Thanks all! One of my favorite pastimes is as a member of this forum. Have made friends.
@jay73 Well, in November I purchased an Aric Audio Transcend tube amplifier and have been listening to it since. Haven't spent much time with the XA25 over the summer and fall. Will be moving my system into another room shortly and will get back to the XA25 in comparison to the tube amplifier driving Tannoy Sterlings. Like the few that have compared the XA25 to a tube amplifier I may find the XA to be leaner after having experienced a tube amplifier. My goal was (is) to have both a SS and a tube amplifier to rotate.I will likely always have a pair of speakers in my stable that may not be tube friendly. As always the value of an amplifier is dependent on the speakers being driven.
I would try some different 6sn7 tubes in your preamp first. I have found a great variation in sound in those tubes. My Rogue Metis pre uses those tubes and I have tried around 20 different pairs before I found a pair I really love. You could start with some NOS GE 6sn7 GTA's. Pretty cheap with a nice full sound. NOS RCA tubes have an even warmer sound. Plenty of not very pricey NOS tubes you could try to find a sound you like.