Disappointment with Pass Labs - I'm looking for something else

Hello, I am new to this forum and my mother tongue is not English, so please forgive me if I make mistakes as I use a translator.

I recently bought an XA30.8 and an XP12. I was very happy but as time went by I began to not feel comfortable with the sound.
After doing many tests, I find that the XA30.8 sounds very very sweet but actually too much. I find it to be a loosely defined amp, somewhat muddy and lacks a lot of air and grip. The soundstage is very closed.

The XP-12 is the worst of the two. It is a previous that removes a lot of resolution and information, without transient attacks and sunken mid frequencies. Instead it brings warmth.

Has anyone of you found the same?

If you ask me, I have a Klipsch Cornwall and a dCS BArtok.

Now I want a capable amp, forceful, something warm, decisive, airy and with a great soundstage.

At first I thought of changing my XA30.8 for X250.8, and changing the XP-12 for a second-hand Audio Research Ref5. I am afraid of this change and continue with Pass, since I can go back to the same thing a bit.

On the other hand I have thought of going for a Luxman 900 combo, since it has very good reviews and from what I have read it could be the winning ticket.

Showing 25 responses by opm


I don’t live in the USA.

I am also in the process of changing the Cornwalls. Although I am happy with them, I am looking for more definition.
I would very much like to be able to test the Xa25. You in the USA have it very easy because the manufacturers offer demos at home but in Europe it is not like that.
The wiring is not the problem.
Yes, I know.

Another option is to see how the XA30.8 behaves when it comes out of Class A to go to A / B if I decide to switch from much less efficient speakers. I don't know if I read one day that Nelson commented that he went from accentuating the second harmonic to the third. Nor do I know if it will sound more forceful. I doubt it.
Thanks for your recommendation but I don't live in the USA.
I think the Pass Labs X250.8 / AR 5SE combo might work very nicely for you

that is an option
Yes. in fact it is how I currently have it. more resolution, more dynamic, more clarity but less warmth and depth
sorry but i find mac electronics terrible. I've been listening to the mc275s and I didn't like them at all. they had little delicacy compared to Pass.
Thank you for your advices. D'agostino is a lot of money for me, I can't reach them. Outside the USA it is very very expensive.

Gryphon Diablo is much more accessible, especially in Europe and Soulution has a distributor nearby.

Can you elaborate on Gryphon or Soulution?
I suggest settling on your speakers before doing anything else.
I guess that's what I'll do I have heard some impressive Usher BE10s although it is not exactly what I am looking for and the second hand price is very good.

also, I wanted to talk about electronics Luxman, Gryphon or Sooulution .....
Correcto. Creo que es el paso más sensato. aun así, la serie xa tiene serios problemas de fuerza y ​​definición.
I am a much bigger fan of Luxman than I am of Pass.

Another really good, but different sounding, solid state amp you might want to listen to is Ayre.
could you describe the differences?
The only tube amplification that I have liked is the Jadis 120 monophonic blocks. Really brutal, an incredible push, an incredible detail recovery. But they have a problem, that they make a lot of noise while they are silent. Changing all the tubes is a lot of money.
voy a aclarar las cosas.
Sé perfectamente cómo son los Cornwalls III: grandes, dinámicos, cálidos pero no tienen definición.

el pase 30.8 también sé cómo es, pero en comparación con otros amplificadores es vago y carece de autoridad.

Sé que si quiero más definición tengo que cambiar los altavoces, pero cuando he probado otras amplificaciones he descubierto que mejoraba la autoridad, la claridad y el aire. Con todo, los Cornwalls volvieron a la vida y fueron más vibrantes. con el pase es ultra dulce y muy agradable pero es aburrido, sobre todo con el xp12.
Yes, it is true that Klipsch are not high definition speakers. but this should not hide that the XA30.8 has a forcefulness problem and especially the XP12 have a resolution problem.
I now have a Luxman M900u, and it has the attributes you say you are seeking - - a lot of definition, wondrous soundstaging, while still retaining a smidge of warmth. And they do have plenty of drive, their Japanese pedigree aside (where did that blanket statement above come from?!). However, I honestly can't see it with the Klipsch. But since you're going to throw everything up in the air with a speaker change, I've offered my amp comparison, FYI.
I appreciate your appreciations
If you do go with the Pass X250 and AR Ref 5 pre ... take a close look at the gain matching. I have Pass XA 60.8, AR Ref 6 and Avantgarde UNO speakers.  The I love the sound of my setup but I can’t turn the volume control past 5 without blowing my ceiling off (so to speak).  I had to add attenuators.
I know AR preamps have a lot of gain. In my case, when I tested an LS27, with the "low gain" setting I didn't have that problem.
This happens with First Watt. I built myself a couple of ACAs and it is.
But on the XA30.8 it seems to me that it donima the second harmonic and when it leaves class A, it dominates the third.

In fact, from how the Xa30.8 sounds, it looks like a second harmoic because of its warmth and depth
A few days ago I am testing a stage of professional power that I have had for many years, a Crown XLS202, in fact I rescued it from a local, it did not work and I fixed it.
It's a cheap 200W amp, it's not very good but when I put it on with the Cornwalls, everything opens up dynamically, the ends come out, everything becomes big and vibrant. Interestingly, the XP12 suits him well.
So I come to the conclusion that I need a more lively amp. The Cornwalls appreciate it.
InI totally agree with you. I think that if you like the sound of valves, you have to buy valves and not an imitation. I think that with the XA series with XP it remains in an indefinite field, which is not just one thing or the other.
Creo que puede encontrar Luxman demasiado cálido y falto de ese último detalle, por lo que dice sobre su Pase. Los amplificadores Vitus pueden ser buenos para usted, si están disponibles en su país. Superan algunos de los aspectos negativos que describe en los Pass Amps, y lo hacen sin sonar nunca demasiado "secos" y demasiado analíticos, como lo hace De Agostini a veces. El SIA-025 integrado es de Clase A y suena excelente, pero si está por encima de su presupuesto, la gama Reference tiene una muy buena opción integrada y pre / power.
excellent answer. I'll keep it in mind
looking for a way to "fix" those shortcomings with electronics that will somehow compensate.
Maybe I have not explained myself well or you do not understand it. At no time have I said that I want to solve the definition of the COrnwall III with electronics. That's impossible.
I really appreciate every answer.

I get many responses "the problem is the Klipsch".
It seems that to some the Pass XA30.8 and XP-12 are perfect, and since they are, do I have to change my speakers to match my Pass well?
Let me clear things up:

The problem is not the Klipsch. I love this speaker. I know it is not the best definition. Is the speaker going to die? No. Is it the best? No. Does it sound better with tubes? It depends on everyone's taste.
I have tried various electronics with the Klipsch and the Pass has been the best in the mid-range but the most boring of all. Klipsch are not boring speakers, and nobody buys klipsch to sound boring. Do you understand now why the problem is not Klipsch?

I am not asking for help on how to configure my system or how to find synergies. Forget the Klipschs, please.

I only commented on my findings after a while with the XA30.8 and XP12 to share with others and if anyone had found the same findings and what electronics I had fixed it with.

So, there are several options:

1st- Choose a X250.8 and an ARC Ref5.
Can anyone comment on the differences between the X series and the XA? I don't know if it will solve things to continue with Pass. I have read that ARC ref preamps have a lot of resolution.

2º- Forget the Pass and change the electronics.
Luxman 900 series, Gryphon, Vitus, Spectral, etc ...

Almost all tube amps I've heard have never quite convinced me because I find them slow, not very sharp but very enjoyable. Perhaps that was the reason for opting for Pass Labs XA. I thought that would be the solution. It was a mistake.
(i.e. throw a very deep front to back soundstage with 3d presence, and at least with my D9s control them with force)
Thanks for your extensive response.

I did not say that the Xa30.8 lacks depth. I have said that the soundstage is closed. That is, very little open.
I've never heard Cary Audio. On the other hand, I have listened to the MC275 with my Cornwalls and I did not like it at all. In fact, listen to the MC275 alongside the XA30.8.