Pass Labs X-1 Preamp Questions:

Hi all,
These questions about the Pass Labs X-1 preamp are for people who own, have owned, or are very familiar with the Pass Labs X-1 preamp, with the full sized power supply:
1.Is the Pass Labs X-1 preamp sensitive to cables, and power cords? If so, what are the best brands to bring out the best this preamp has to offer?
2. Is the Pass X-1 sensitive to support feet, cones, blocks, or other items placed under it?
If so, what are the best things to put under it?
3. Does the Pass X-1 generally sound best with the control unit stacked on top of the power supply, the power supply stacked on top of the control unit, or with the two units well seperated from one another, or, does it really matter that much either way?
4. Is the Pass X-1 sensitive to A/C plug orientation?
Also, does it generally sound better with the extra ground left working, or with the extra ground disconnected or defeated with a "cheater-plug" for example?
5. The Pass X-1 sounds really good in my system [see my system in my member name section of audiogon], but, compared to a Parasound P/LD-2000 preamp that I also own, the Pass X-1 seems to sound a tad thin, cool, and instruments and voices seem to have less weight, texture, body, solidity, and warmth. The bass also seems less solid. Are there any ways to diminish these things, or do you think that I may just be used to hearing possible colorations of the P/LD-2000 preamp?
6. Any other things to know about tweaking the sound of the Pass X-1?
Thanks in advance!
The X-1 is not an overall warm preamp, it is neutral sounding to my ears. The best power cord I tried was the Elrod Sig 3 on it. It added a slightly warmer mid range with a little more body. I never felt the bass was less than solid in fact I found it to be one of the best bass preamps I have heard. Try a 14" bicycle inner tube under the unit to see if it makes a change in your system and if it does and you like it, you'll know what to do. Also put some wood blocks under the unit and experiment. My experience may be quite different that yours do to room and vibration effects. I never really heard any real difference with the power supply on top, under or separated from the main unit but there are others who will have a different experience. I compared the X-1 to over a dozen preamps including tube preamps. Each preamp had their own strengths and weaknesses and added a different flavor to the sound but the only one to make me want to change was the Tom Evans Vibe. It was that much better and more $$$$. I never found AC a problem with the X-1 so maybe someone else can offer some suggestions.

Happy Listening.
Hi, Lanny. I've owned the X-1 and X2.5. But I've never had anything underneath them except for Star Sound's Audio Points coupled to a mechanical transfer to ground designed rack which also was sitting on Audio Points.

I've also never used anything to connect to the X's except for a Foundation Research LC-1 passive in-line power conditioner.

I've never had concerns with either unit regarding bass or lean sonics.

The X-1 power supply sat on tiled fireplace hearth floor with Audio Points underneath simply because I did not have an extra shelf for it.

You would potentially start to defeat some of the purposes of the separate power supply should you stack them.

As for lifting the ground, it is my experience that the best sonic benefits are gained when the amp and preamp grounds are lifted and the cdp ground remains in tact.

I believe you still own the JC-1 amps. If so, and if it's sonics are capable of what reviewers had to say, then I would look at the interconnects and speaker cables.

Contrary to some beliefs, cabling can make all the difference in the world.

I would recommend contacting an Audience dealer to see if you can obtain a 30 - 60 audition on their Au24 line of speaker cables and interconnects.

It was amazing for me what the Au24s did to minimize/eliminate so much time-smear that appears so common in the other cables I've owned or demo'ed. Especially in the lower bass regions. In my opinion (and apparently some reviewers'), the Au24s just might be a/the best buy cable as some have claimed them to be better than the much more expensive and supposedly very good Nordost Valhallas.

1. The pass X-1 is sensitive to cables and cords. The best moderately priced solution I've found is the cardas golden reference PC, and Harmonic Tech Magic link cabling

2. Get a good solid platform under it, but as far as cones etc. goes I noticed changes but never real overall improvements. You'd gain something you'd loose something.

3. I noticed some improvement having the two units on different shelves. Maybe it's not good to have a source of electromagnetics right next to the inputs on the control section.

4. never tried

5. The pass has excellent tight bass control and I've never heard it's bass quality as being a complaint. Try a golden reference on it to richen it up a bit perhaps. I would probably look elsewhere for this problem. You want real good bass try a Cary audio 306/200. You won't bother with SACD untill you can afford something like a Esoteric X-01

6. Most importantly, the X-1 shines with balanced connections in a fully balanced systems. Try some Magic Link XLR's between the CD to pre and pre to amp and you'll get a lot more fullness, depth and tonal texture out of it.

Are you running fully balanced?
The people at Pass Labs told me that, from a sonics perspective, it makes no difference whether you stack the units or don't. They designed and built the preamp, have done experiments and they should know.

The X1 is one of the best, most neutral preamps anywhere near its price. I never found mine to be lacking in the bass or to sound thin or cool. As for power cords, you might try a Kimber Palladian PK-10. IMHO.
Hi again, Lanny,
I know we discussed this some outside the forums, but I wanted to add a few points.

(1) As far as cabling is concerned, I don't think any amount of cabling is going to change the fact that this is basically a cooler sounding preamp with somewhat threadbare harmonics. I used Zen Matrix II balanced IC's & Tsunami power cord with it, both of which slightly plump up the midrange and enrich the sound, yet the X-1 still sounded somewhat threadbare & lean in the harmonics dept. I do agree with others here that the bass was never anything but outstanding. If you're having a problem with the bass, it must be another issue. I ran the preamp both balanced and unbalanced. While I didn't make any tedious comparisons, I didn't find it sounded that different in single-ended mode. With Audio Research preamps, there is a huge improvement running them balanced.
i owned x1 & find no diff stacked or not. yes, it's ever so slightly lean & lack bloom but very quiet and accurate. try cardas gold ref or gold cross.
Just a comment. I have the PL/D2000 and have not found a preamp at 4-5 times the price I paid that sounds better. It all started with trying to replace it with a BAT (5I) and it was good but lacked the dynamics. It appears it would take more than $5000 to better it to my ears anyways and I'm really picky..I'm using Llano and Pass amps and still trying to find something actually better used under $3000 and have not had much luck. I believe I paid less than $1000 for the Parasound during the closeout of the model......
I have to agree totally with Superbee973!
The Parasound P/LD-2000 has to be one of the most underrated and unrecognized preamps of all time.
The Parasound P/LD-2000 kicks some serious booty, and can be had used for as low as $400.00.
If the upcoming Parasound matching preamp for the JC-1's is indeed better than the P/LD-2000, then this upcoming preamp will be simply outstanding in all respects!