pass labs x0.2 "pro's and cons's"

looking to buy a pass x0.2 here on audiogon. before i finalize the deal, i am looking for anyone with experience using and listening to this preamp for their impressions.

dead quiet but uninvolving.No harmonic richness of any kind.Kinda like a monitoring pre.
Heard it at the dealer some years ago. It is dead quiet as Overhang points out but it is fairly neutral, so don't expect it to create any kind of "harmonic richness." If it is not in the recording, it is not going to show. It is the ideal pre-amp for those who simply let the music speak for itself. If you want harmonic richness, go for a tube pre-amp. Lots of dynamics- you hear everything in the recording but it never sounds dull or clinical. No listening fatigue of any kind. I have the X2.5 and it has similar characteristics- the 0.2 is a lot smoother, quiet, and detailed. Also, the build quality (solid lab grade looks)is exemplary. If you can secure a good deal, go for it. This is a world class reference pre-amp.

I had one. Great build quality however did not match well with Levinson Amps. Very bright.

Probably the Greatest Thing In The World combined with Pass Labs amp(s).


Paul :-)
thanks for the replies. i have a great deal on one and i am going to buy it . it will work well with my pass momos.
It did not match with my Pass 250,5.Beware.

"Beware" sounds like some kind of ominous warning! It would be rather strange if it doesn't match with the X250.5. Generally speaking, Pass Pre-amps matches very well with their amps. I have heard the X1 with the X350.5 paired up with Gershman and also Avalon speakers and the sound was very good. I have also heard the 0.2 and Pass amps at various hi-fi shows and there is nothing to indicate that they would not match well- even with the newer .5 series. The Hovland pre and Pass amp combo had an edge in richness but the X1 combo had more dynamics- hear more of the music. To each his own I guess.
i have one coming tomorrow. i will hook it up and compare it to my bat vk51se. the bat is broken in and the x0.2 will need some time, but it will make for an interesting comparison.

i think i will keep both preamps for now, use them in rotation and see which i truly like better over the next 6-9 months.

i will note i have had the bat vk51se for 3 yrs. and i matches very well so far with my 600.5 monos and wilson watt puppy 7's.

i will keep all informed.

dr. keith zeliger
Keith, I have the X1 and agree with Zenaissance. I do not find it uninvolving at all. It is, however, not something that will "add" any of its own character to the sound, which is the way I like it. If you're looking for a "sound" you won't find it here. But if you are looking for a dead quiet preamp that will let all of your source information shine through unencumbered then the x0.2 (or X1 !) might be the right choice. In my case I have it matched with an AVA FetValve amp and the sound is pure heaven!
tonyptony thanks for the input.

i got the x0.2 on friday and hooked it up in my system. i ran my purist system enhancer rev.b disc thru all it unputs one at a time. i ran the disc 4 times thru each input and then sat down for a listen.

over the weekend i listened to the x0.2, my vk51se, and a freinds ref2 mkii. overall i like the x0.2 the best. it is extremly quiet, dynamic, huge soundstage, very 3 dimensional, and i agree does not color the music.

i actually found it the most involving of the 3. with listening to the music as it is meant to be heard i found myself finding a new appreciation for all i listened to.

i also very much like my vk51se, but came to realize how much it and the ref2 mkii color the music.i found them different from the x0.2 and had a flavor of their own which i like but not as much as the x0.2. my least favorite was the ref2mkii.

my amplification are a pair of x600.5's, and the entire system is cabled in nordost valhalla. my speakers are wilson watt puppy 7's. i have a vpi hrx which i just upgraded the suspension, 4 12.6 arm tubes and 4 differnt cartridges(lyra titan i, dynavector xv1s, koetsu onyx platinum, and a benz lp).i use a manley steelhead v.2,
and a wadia 861se with gnsc statement upgrades.

the system is phenomenal and i loved it with the vk51se, but it has taken on a new and i think better , more enjoyable , air about it.

the x0.2 is detailed, but not fatiguing at all, and i found my self drawn into the music more than ever. the unit i got is new with pass labs newest updates.

i will keep both preamps and use them in rotation. why not?
the x0.2 will be my primary, but if i want the coloration and lushness of tubes , i can.

thanks for everyones input, and god bless,

dr. keith zeliger
Keith, I have as similar situation. I have an X.0 and a Ref2 Mk 1 driving Avalon Ascents and I swithch back and forth. I like the 6922 driven ARC better than the 6H30 preamp because it sounds more tube like. I have cxhanged my mind several times as to which is my favorite preamp and I suppose it depends on what I'm listening to. Anyway, enjoy.
take a pass on the pass--sterilty without humility.

there is a solid state signature, despite its "alleged" neutrality.
take a pass on the pass--sterilty without humility.

there is a solid state signature, despite its "alleged" neutrality.

Well, isn't it time you got back to the French Open Mrtennis? I think Dr. Zeliger has made up his mind and therefore it doesn't make sense to dissuade him at this point. No pre-amp is ever neutral- don't turn this into a SS vs Tubes debate. Since he is keeping both units, he has the best of both worlds.
I use one with a pair of Wolcott Monos into a pair of Sound Lab U-1s (soon to be updated to PX mode) Best of both worlds. Detailed, quiet, absolutely transparent yet reveals the source material. If the recording is rich, the sound is rich. If it is threadbare, the sound is threadbare but the music always comes through. If you change from agood speaker cable to an excellent one, you can hear the superior sound but the good cable is still acceptable. The sound is never objectionable if the music and the performance is good.

A case in point. I'm listening to the new Charlie Parker 20 bit reissues and they sound absolutely fantastic and soooo musically involving even though they were originally recorded in 1947. Occasionally you can hear a distortion from the original recording around I believe the drum kit, (this is on the broadcast performances) but it is somehow detached from the totally involving musical performance. One can "bracket the distortion" and ignore it.

On most systems this distortion would be integrated with the music and fatigue the listener. Not with the Pass front end.

This is uncanny ability, not sterility. If you hear sterility something else is wrong with your system, I opine.

The first preamp that I recall that separated distortion artifacts from the music was the Levinson Ml-1. Critics at the time used to the tube preamp sound did not understand this ability, or, vide Pilate, "asked "what is truth?," but did not stay for an answer."

The Ikeda cartridges also separate the recording distortion from the music, and the underrated stone bargain Kontrapunkt B does it to a certain degree.

The Pass is obviously 25 years more advanced than the Colangelo design....and we are more open minded.
The X.02 is a very good preamp if you can get a good deal on a used one. If you have to buy it new at $10k, take a pass and get the Audio Research Ref 3 for the same $10k.
>>If you have to buy it new at $10k, take a pass and get the Audio Research Ref 3 for the same $10k.<<

Depending on your components of course. There are no absolutes.
Hi Dr Keith,
Now that you have your BAT VK51SE and Pass X0.2 for some months can you pls tell us how you find the Pass/BAT comparison ?
Thank you.
I am pleased to own an X0.2. It drove a McCormack well, and it drives my "older'n dirt" X150 very well, and with the X350.5 ... I don't see myself ever upgrading again.
Audio is subjective. The way we hear is subjective, *For me*, I have foound a winning combo. Crazy expensive front end; Audio Physic Virgo as transducers.
"It works fer me!"
cheers apo
Try matching it with mcintosh! That's what i've got with MC402. Match made in heaven! Rich and warm with the mac and superb detail of the pass! :-)