The house sounds of these 2 companies are very different, so don't buy without listening first, no matter what reviews you read. I'm sure that it is a matter of sonic taste, and not quality, but on the strength of numerous reviews, I bought an X250.5 to replace my MC300, and it was a big mistake. As it turned out, the sound was much different than the Mac, and not what I liked. That said, they are both great companies with exemplary service.
Ive owned both(currently the 402)..IMO, the Pass is a far superior amp and the customer service is in a league of its own.The 402 is slower,has less detail especially in the lower range(the blue meters look cool though,lol).Big mistake moving to Mac from Pass..Im still kicking myself !!! If your sold on the MC 402, honestly you can buy mine..1 owner/ about a year old with all da stuff..get back to me if serious
There you go. Like I said, you have to listen for yourself. Two high quality amps that have made many people happy- but not neccesarily the same people. It is really interesting to think about how we all hear things differently, and just as interesting to realize that even if we all heard the same thing, we would interpret it differently. And then, some would love what they heard, and some would dislike it.
Haha! There you go indeed!
I just love this hobby... enjoyable and ridiculous!
Not only will one person prefer the Mac, another the Pass, but even the same person will prefer one over the other depending on the speaker it's driving.
Thanks for the responses and input. I have a pair of Infinity Kappa 7 speakers that I am currently running with the Levinson amp. I also have a pair of Kappa 9 speakers that I am in the process of re-foaming (waiting for the foam kits to arive). I live in Alaska and we do have a McIntosh dealer here, they have told me that I can bring my speakers in and demo them anytime. A demo with the Pass Labs amp is pretty much out of the question. On my next trip to Seattle I will try to locate a Pass Labs dealer and give a listen on some demanding speakers if possible.
This is yet another example of the compelling differences amoung sonic tastes!! Both are exquisite for sure. A while back I had a Pass X250.5. It was driving my Dynaudio Contour S3.4s. A friend had the MC402 with his Dyn s3.4s. We swapped amps. I would say the Mac was tipped to the warmer side of the spectrum, and the pass, cool neutrality. Depending on program content, each trait of these fine amplifiers would show off it's potential a bit better over the other. If I could get an amp that has the best of both of these amps, I would probably stop writing about the sound so much.
This was the X250.5. I have not yet heard the X350.5, which I hear is a bit better than the X250.5 (perhaps the 'better' translates to a bit more liquid and good tone sounding in the midband, perhaps it means more frequency extension. For me I did not see how this was possible as I felt that the X250.5 was ultra resolving)
I did feel that in my setup they were sonically closer though, than different, but I have to say the Pass has more ass in the lower octaves (in the dyns 4 ohm nominal load, Pass rated for 500 wpc, mc402 being autoformer remains the 400 --but I would not get too hung up on the numbers). Where the MC402 excelled was its laid back warmish perspective of the music. It seemed to pull me in and was ultra easy to listen too. My latest trend about the sound I am going for is taking me away from the ultra resolution sound. I find this tiring and actually boring, as it seems more mechanical in nature than fluid, realxed and inviting ('musical'?). To that end you would be surprised at how the little Audio Research 100.2 makes this a reality.
Get both in your house if possible. Spend hours and hours. Its the only reliable way to know if you have a keeper or next weeks big shipment.
Everybody has their own taste. I tend to agree with Dpac. I need a system that make me want to listen and draws me in. I have similar likes. The 100.2 is a wonderful amp
Thanx for your input Dpac996 and for the referance to the Audio Research 100.2. Unfortunately I cannot even entertain the thought of an amp less than 400 WPC. My Infinity Kappa 9 speakers (or K-9's as I like to call them) are very demanding to say the least and would more than likely send most 200 watt or less amps to the recycle bin.
Bear with me while I make a comparison, A good friend of mine has a pair of the Kappa 8 speakers that he is running with a 400 WPC Denon amp. This set up will get extremely loud while maintaining pretty good sound quality (though not captivating) all the way up to "run and hide levels" in his listening room. When he walks over and turns on his 15 inch Velodyne sub things get real. The pictures on the walls rearange themselves and I could swear that there is a standing wave in the toilet bowl that could capsize the "tidy bowl" man's boat. Ha, Ha! I couldn't resist that one. That is deffinately pushing his amp to it's limits, things get very hot and sound quality suffers. You can just sence the Kappa 8's desire to have more power behind them to maintain sound quality.
My K-9's are more demanding than the Kappa 8's are, they drop down to .8 ohm pluss have an extra 12" driver and extra tweeter over the 8's along with a crossover from h&!!. I am aware that the correct power match for my K-9's would be a pair of mono block amps in the 500+ watt range but unfortunately I am a working man with teenage kids and the stereo budget has limits for the time being. While I do not usualy listen at volume levels that will shake your house off the foundation and make your ears bleed I feel that one of these 2 channel amps (or something similar) will be up to the task with some respect shown for the throttle knob.
I have enjoyed my Levinson amp paired with my Kappa 7 speakers but it simply wasn't designed for the type of load that the K-9's demand.
I could be wrong so if anyone out there has tried running a pair of Infinity Kappa 9 with a similar 400 WPC amp please tell me your thoughts or the results of this set up.
If you are serious about driving your speakers to those levels from time to time(and I think you are), you should be thinking minimum McIntosh 501 monos. The pass x350.5 would be pretty sick (as in good) as well. Methinks the McIntosh MC402 will not have the drive you are looking for.
I think you should seriously add Symphonic Line Kraft or the RG7 to your list. You have to hear them to believe what an amp can do. Organic, Structured, Real and Breathing...and it can drive any thing under the Sun.
I know Pass and Mac are good. A friend of mine just upgraded from his Pass Labs X600.5 to a Symphonic Line Kraft...and you know what, he has already ordered and second Kraft because his B&W Signature 800 is Bi-Ampable and he thinks even if a second Kraft adds a little more, he is ready to spend....because these amps are priceless.
Remember there is nothing called "enough power". But you have to stop somewhere and S-L can and had made people stop!! Just my 2 Cents.
Pani, thank you for the advice as I also had the MC501 and x600.5 amps floating around in the back of my mind. I do have a question for you on the Symphonic Line Kraft amp though.....this is a pure class A amplifier and I was wondering how much heat is an issue for your friend when driving difficult loads ?
My Infinity Kappa 9 speakers drop below 1 ohm and have a way of making most A/B class amps get very hot, very fast.
That being said, I would love to get the chance to hear any high end, full range loudspeaker with 300 watts of pure class A power behind them !
I re-read your post above about the Denon amp. Not knocking Denon, but 400 watts denon style, and 400-500 watts pass x250.5 style: no comparison. The Pass design increasingly makes more power into lower loads with ease and grace. I could not imagine a set of speakers that would tax this amp. I understand the K-9 are serious current suckers. You need a serious power supply to cope. I get it.
Pound for pound, dollar for dollar, my money would be on a used Pass X250.5 ~ around 4k. I too am a working stiff with kids and value is a factor in my audio toys these days.
The McIntosh MC501 monos will run you closer to 6k, for approx the same power into 4 ohm and lower loads.
Another steller set of monos for the price would be Parasound JC-1.
Another beastly and great value amp would be McCormack DNA500. Pretty sure that would light your speakers up when necessary.
And lastly the Bryston 14 B-SST....600 wpc into 8, 900 into 4...
Hi Goodwr3nch, My friend drives his Apogee speakers which again dips to 1 ohm and the Kraft does it effortlessly. Surprisingly the Kraft does not heat as much as some other pure class A amps. They stay relatively cooler...may be they dont have to try too hard while driving difficult loads.
The current capability and damping factor these guys have are almost infinite...and the way they make music breathing and real is only to be heard. My friends who own Kraft have tried top class amps like Pass Labs, Accuphase, Gryphon, McIntosh...but once they heard a Kraft..it was the end.
Man, you have to hear what the Krafts do. They are my dream amps and I hope to own them one day.
Just saw a listing where the seller is also selling a Kraft 300:
Thank you Dpac996 for taking the time to come back and leave some very helpful suggestions. That is exactly the kind of input I am looking for. I am aware of the differance in Denon power vs. quality amplification and my listening preferances are different than those of my friend with the Kappa 8's/Denon amp.
I am looking for a much warmer, detailed, authoritive yet effortless sound out of my K-9's. A sound that captivates you and draws you in and simply makes you want to hear more, without much fatigue.
I have spent a small amount of time with these Kappa 9 speakers hooked up to my Levinson amp (with carefully controlled volume levels) and I gotta say that the way that they reproduce vocals and string instruments and any type of brass is increddible! I want to hear more!
On the flip side, I do expect them to "belt it out" in a highly controlled manner from time to time when I do get an amp/amps behind them.
I have already put together a fairly nice little system to listen to while I am building this one. That is a luxury that some don't have and I can take my time picking out each component. Thanx again for your input.
I have heard both. The 402 has huge soundstage that is very believable. The Pass is very neutral, also large stage. I would say the 402 stage to be larger, higher and deeper. The Pass is more analytical and detailed sounding. They both will excel in the right system. They are both reference worthy, great amps.