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I have owned both the ML380S and the Pass Labs X-1 at the same time. The X-1, more expensive version with external power supply, is a little better sonically than the X-2.5. So it is not exactly what you are asking. But they are pretty close. In stock form, the X-1 has much more detail, clarity and spaciousness with tighter more powerful bass than the ML380S. The ML380S is more laid back, and is very smooth, with huge sound stage, but slightly rolled off in the highs. However, the ML380S has much more refined functions, particularly the volume control and remote control. In comparison, the X-1 (which has similar functions and controls as the X-2.5)is rather awkward, needing to return to the main memu to change functions. The volume control has lager steps and therefore is harder to fine just the right volume level. Some have complained of a tendency to jump steps.
I finally sold my X-1 and kept my ML380S even though sonically I thought the X-1 sounded better. However, I like the refined functions of the ML380S so much that I have had my ML380S modified by Component Plus, and the ML380S has been transformed. Now it sounds significantly better than the X-1. I don't know if a modified X-1 or X-2.5 would still sound better than a modified ML380S.
I quite agree with Drt. The ML 380S has more accurate control with the volume and there is more refinement in the various functions.
However, I currently have the X2.5 and I do like the sound which is closer to neutral. Aesthetics-wise I like the X2.5 better- the blue light grows on me- I think most ML designs look like large and sophisticated cable converters- too complicated looking. One important consideration to think about though is that the ML 380 like so many ML products have the power cord outlet in the bottom center of the unit (never made any sense to me- you most likely have to use the ML cords although I understand a few companies like PS Audio do make ones that fit). In my opinion with the Pass Labs, you have more options of tweaking especially when it comes to upgrading power cords. In addition, Pass Labs service is exemplary (one of the best in the business).
I have owned both the 380S and the X-1. I was very pleased with the X1 and the sound was great. A lot of punch, almost coloring the sound though and I'm not sure a preamp should change the sound too much. The X1 sounded a bit richer in the bass and highs with less mid range. However the 380S was and is a much finer piece of equipment with a very precise easy to listen to sound. The Volume control is super and the sound has all the detail you want even at low dbs. The real draw back and deal breaker is the X-1 remote is a pain in the butt, and you have to use up downs rights lefts to arrive at putting the sound up or down and changing inputs. This makes it impossible to include in a macro on a programable remote. Primitive, heavy and stupid is the only description for the remote. The ML 380S is finer, easier to use and a wonderful sound that you just don't get tired to listening.
I can't resist throwing in my $.02 worth with a twist. I've owned a ML380S for about 3 years now with an Ayre CX-7e CDP as my main source. I totally agree with the previous posters on the ML380S assessments. Here's where the twist comes in. I made a leap of faith and had David Schulte of the Upgrade Company modify both the Ayre CX-7e and the ML380S. I apparently had a similar improvement as drt experienced with his upgrade. The highs are no longer rolled off, I got more bass power, and more detailed resolution. David suggested I give the Pass Labs X-1 a spin since he thought it was a better machine than the ML380S. I found a very nice Pass Labs dealer in Des Moines who let me compare my ML-380S against a PL X-1 demo on his showroom floor. I also used my CX-7e as the source with my balanced ICs. At first listen the PL X-1 sounded incredible, wonderfully open and detailed, very pleasing sound. However, as the previous posters noted, the remote started to drive me crazy. The volume steps seemed huge and it was not user friendly to switch functions, including muting, unless you like studying owner's manuals and tech data. When I switched back to my ML380S, it sounded sort of dull and closed in compared to the X-1. Then another weird thing happened. After nearly 2 hours of critical listening, my ML380S had a chance to get warmed up (it had to endure a 2 hour car ride to the dealer). After later switches in preamps, the ML380S sounded almost the same as the PL X-1, but with more detail. I think the PL X-1 still sounded a bit more open, but my upgraded 380S was starting to show its stuff after it had a chance to warm up. I really wanted to buy that PL X-1 at first, but the remote control was a huge negative, especially considering how smooth and wonderful the remote and controls work on the ML380S. The ML preamp just seems more solidly built. I'd live with the X-1 remote if the sound were vastly superior, but I couldn't convince myself that it was. Who knows, maybe my ears were getting "fatigued" after 2 hours of listening? Please note my grains of salt here. If my 380S had not undergone the David Schulte upgrade, the Pass Labs X-1 would have won hands down. David does some amazing things. For now I'm keeping my ML380S due to it's user friendliness, great detailed sound, and good looks. I'm still searching for upgrades though. As for that crazy Levinson bottom center chassis power receptacle, there are companies that make upgraded cords with 90 degree male plugs. I got one from Transparent that made a significant improvement over stock. BTW, I'm not paid off by The Upgrade Company, . It's just that they did some good work for me and I like to pass along credit for a job well done.