Pass Labs X-1, X2.5 preamp volume increments.


I have a xa30.5  and have been contemplating picking up a used X generation  preamp.   I think likely that particular generation  because the next is generally more than I would like to spend.   XP-10 etc.    And interestingly  the XP-10 does not have tape  in/output--- you have to go to the XP-20 to have that which will cost even more. 
  My question is quite simple and were I able to hear the pre in my system I would immediately know my answer.    I have read the manual and notice that  volume graduation is around 2 -3 db and this possibly may be inadequate when trying to volume down to a barely audible volume---such as I would need for my bedroom system.   I often keep music on into the night and turn it off at some point in the early am.   It would not be an issue in the main system because essentially just dont play at barely audible levels so I may still go for one if there are reports of a less than ideal volume range.    Do those who have used the X-1 or X-2.5 find the volume  control lacking in incremental  attenuation?      I do notice that many preamps in the $4 to $6k range often have  volume increments of   .5db..   Some ,  I forget which,  possibly BAT actually will have .5db at the lower end of the spectrum and when going up to higher volume will increase  1-2 db .  
Appreciate any experience others have had regarding this.
   Skip
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Contact Pass Labs. They are very helpful

I have read the manual and notice that volume graduation is around 2 -3 db and this possibly may be inadequate when trying to volume down to a barely audible volume---such as I would need for my bedroom system. I often keep music on into the night and turn it off at some point in the early am.



This is impossible to determin.

It all depends on how high or low the output from your source is?

And then the gain of your poweramp as well as the efficiency of your speakers.

Cheers George

Hi there skiroe,
I recently owned two Pass .5 series amps (X150.5 and XA30.5) used with an X1. My sources have max outputs in a range of 2V (RCA) to 4.5V (XLR), while speaker efficiency was 91dB (nominal).
In this setup, volume increments were borderline too loud even at the setting of "1" - meaning that I and my wife probably could not sleep to the music. But it could still be considered low volume listening, and it worked in my setup. Make sure you use the "low gain" setting for the X1, which has lower noise floor in any event.
Because of the efficiency of the speakers, I had to step down the Ono’s output so that I could get a decent range of volume adjustment. If you have a way to do this with your sources, it should not be a problem. If you have less efficient speakers, you could get better results than I did.
I did try the XP-10, and have since moved on to the INT-30A. Both of these offer a much greater range of volume steps than the X1, which I appreciate.
In addition to the loss of the tape loop, you will lose the "mono" output, a sense of fuller bass, and less warmth with the XP-10 vs. the X1. You will gain increased transparency, speed, lower noise floor, and remote control ergonomics moving to the XP-10.
If you have a system or sources that tend towards thin or bright, the X1 will likely be a good choice. If you have sources that are warm or might benefit from a little energy, the XP-10 will likely be a better match. If your system is pretty neutral, either would likely work well.
Also speak to Kent English at Pass.
Thanks much for the info..   (George)   re/source output,  amp gain,  speaker sensitivity---I hear where you are coming from---but--- just off the top of my head ..  would not a preamp that is able to do volume increments of .5db or even 1db  have more capability  of volume range  then a pre  that does it in 2 or even 3 db steps?  Seems to me it would..  (Watercourse)    And hearing of your experience with bedroom system of being a bit too loud at "1" setting is exactly what I was contemplating could happen.   I have had systems like that.    My speakers are 96db in the bedroom now and sources are rca likely around 2-3 v.    My bedroom system is now using a Creek passive pre but it is also hooked hooked into a Decware  Csp2 non remote preamp ... Sounds like a lot of signal routing doesnt it?   It sounds fine though but I think I have some redundancy going on and would like to get back to a  single active preamp with remote capability.  The Creek has a remote  but its passive which I like to think is not affecting the signal all that much.    What is nice about the Csp2 though is it has adjustable gain for each channel.  This system lets me get the volume down so low that one can leave it on all night and forget its on until you wake up and still be slightly audible were one to wake up..     Although, the thing here is I really wanted to put the Pass X-1 or X2.5 in the main system so as to run it with my XA30.5 which would be a first for me to actually run a pre and amp of the same manufacturer and see what that might unveil.   I can switch back and forth with the Pass or put the SF Line 1 in the bedroom where the tape deck is. 
Thanks again for the thoughts,
Skip  
Oh,  I have spoken to Kent although not about this and may do that.  
Watercourse--- What is the Ono?   
skiroeThanks much for the info.. (George) re/source output, amp gain, speaker sensitivity---I hear where you are coming from---but--- just off the top of my head .. would not a preamp that is able to do volume increments of .5db or even 1db have more capability of volume range then a pre that does it in 2 or even 3 db steps?


Depends on the sources output, I’ve seen some cdp that have 6v output at 0dbf and some the only have 1v output at 0dbf. This then would be the deciding factor on which one will be quiet enough at minimum. Then there are the amp gain and speaker efficiency which will come into it as well after that.

This is why Nelson Pass also quoted this little gem. (Even though he designs and sells preamp with gain, he needs an income as well as anyone.)

" Nelson Pass,

We’ve got lots of gain in our electronics. More gain than some of us need or want. At least 10 db more.

Think of it this way: If you are running your volume control down around 9 o’clock, you are actually throwing away signal level so that a subsequent gain stage can make it back up.

Routinely DIYers opt to make themselves a “passive preamp” - just an input selector and a volume control.

What could be better? Hardly any noise or distortion added by these simple passive parts. No feedback, no worrying about what type of capacitors – just musical perfection.

And yet there are guys out there who don’t care for the result. “It sucks the life out of the music”, is a commonly heard refrain (really - I’m being serious here!). Maybe they are reacting psychologically to the need to turn the volume control up compared to an active preamp."


Cheers George


Sorry, "Ono" is the Pass Aleph Ono, their first phono stage. I stepped down the output voltage to about 2V, and that gave me a workable volume adjustment range, while still being above the unit's noise floor.
Re: passive preamps. I have used TVCs and resistor-based, and indeed, with digital sources, there was a noticeable flatness to the sound. With all of my phono stages however, this was not the case - analog had intact dynamics with either passive or active preamp stages.
The passive preamp stage in the INT-30A does not suffer from any loss of liveliness, so I would not assume that passive preamps will generally sound less lively.
watercourse

Re: passive preamps. I have used TVCs and resistor-based, and indeed, with digital sources, there was a noticeable flatness to the sound. With all of my phono stages


Very simple explanation for this, this is why I never recommend a passive for a preamp just with a TT/phono stage setup, unless the phono stage has a well known strong low impedance output buffer with enough gain.

If this was the case then your phono stages output stage was not up to the task. As many are hardly ever as strong as other non phono stage line sources, such as cdp, dacs, tuners ect


Cheers George

George, I think you misunderstood my post.
It was the digital sources that lacked drive with certain passives; these same digital sources do have plenty of drive with the INT-30A. All of my phono stages worked fine with passives, Pass Labs Ono or otherwise.
But again, the moral of the story is you can't generalize about passive vs. active preamps, you just have to try.

Yes must have been the way you worded it, if that's the case then I'll go back to Neslon Pass's concluding statement, as I've also found.

Cheers George

What could be better? Hardly any noise or distortion added by these simple passive parts. No feedback, no worrying about what type of capacitors – just musical perfection.

And yet there are guys out there who don’t care for the result. “It sucks the life out of the music”, is a commonly heard refrain (really - I’m being serious here!). Maybe they are reacting psychologically to the need to turn the volume control up compared to an active preamp."

   

Watercourse,    I neglected to acknowledge  the pertinent info  you gave regarding  low volume capabilities (or not) of the X-1 when in your system.    Sure there are variables involved ,  source output ,etc.   What you have conveyed though would seem to be in line with the info re/  volume control graduation of the X-1 and the X2.5 of which the manual,  if I recall correctly,  refers to a  3db volume increment in the X2.5.  I came back to check this post and realized again that  these earlier Pass pre's may not lower to barely audible setting.   When checking specs of volume control on many of the $2k plus preamps older and newer production it is often note that a .5 db increment is available.    
Having owned the PASS Ono, the Aleph P, the X2.5 and the the X1, I tend to agree that the volume change increments are greater that I would prefer. I am still using the Aleph 0s and wish I had taken up Nelson's offer to lower its sensitivity, which is the other possibility to be able to play at low volumes.