If in doubt, write Pass. They are very responsive.
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I have an X2.5 preamp and an X250.5 identical gain structures, different power. I too usually do not go above about 14 on the scale with my 4.5 vrms xlr input...the default gain setting for the preamps (x1, and x2.5) is the lower of the two. Despite what appears to be your voicing and inconvenience by the seemingly restricted volume range, how does it sound? I find that despite the non full use (ive never had a preamp that i can take past "12") i still get great volume control and do not find it a bother.
How does the piece sound to you coming off (former) tubes?
BTW, Pass will mail you an attenuator kit that you can do yourself, but its fairly major surgery. You have to actually remove the board from the chassis and replace 4 resistors. THe effect is to kick back the apparant vol setting by 4 steps (so 0 would be -4, if it could go there, and 14 would be 10..so on). THis does not change the gain at all, merely the initial voltage division to the input before it gets to the gain stage....
I did get the kit, but did not do this, as actually i'm quite fine with it the way it is...
The steps in volume don't really bother me all that much.Steps to 2 or 3 would have been perfect though.I was mainly seeing if this is a norm with this preamp.
As for the sound.It is very little change from the tube preamp as used prior.In most ways it's 'Better.I now can listen at much lower volumes and hear twice as much.The inner detail this unit gives is incredible.I hear more at lower volumes because it is so quiet.The ONLY thing the tube preamp was better at was the mids.And this is by a slight margin.My main fear of making the switch was I thought I would give up alot of my Imaging.I was very wrong in my prior assessment.Also,changing power cords was a huge upgrade.
yes. the inner detail, even on the x2.5 is the best i've heard yet in my system. That was one of my 1st remarks about the x2.5; the noise floor seems to be so far down, which leads to excellent forward projection of whatever comes into the unit upstream. Spatially/imagaing wise I lost nothing when I moved from tube preamp to this. The only thing i think about from time to time is can i have it all? Can I have the mids that only a tube seems to offer plus the absolute silence and stunning dynamics of the ss...and afford it....!
What kind of power cord are you running?
What tube preamp did you have prior to the Pass X1?