It was a half-baked idea but he released it anyway because of pent-up demand. He couldn't pass on the opportunity.
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I talked with Peter at Pass Labs today. The XA series is about to release .5 series. So if any XA series owners I would start dumping before you take a major financial hit.
To add a .5 on your XA-160 mono block amps will cost you about $5000 per amp plus shipping round trip Ouch almost $11K for the upgrade with shipping from the East Coast !!
On a positive not the new XA-160.5, XA-100.5 and XA-200 amps are going to blow away the old XA series so I am told by Pass Labs.
Hi guy's, I just got off the phone with Peter at Pass Labs so here's the facts regarding the new XA.5 series amps.
Peter shared the following information:
1) The XA.5 series amps will double down as impedance drops, unlike the present XA amps that do not.
2) The sonic signature of the XA.5 series will not qualitatively differ then the present XA amps, but will offer the XA sonics to audiophiles with much more difficult speakers to drive in their systems.
So, if your a present XA amp owner and have no problems driving your speakers, the new XA.5 series really would not offer an advantage sonicly to you. On the other hand if you love the sound of the XA series but did not consider these amps because of the mismatch with your speakers, the XA.5 series would remedy that concern.
Finally, to be as accurate as I can be regarding what Peter shared with me if there is any sonic differences between the XA/XA.5, there should be no difference if impedance does not matter, but it's still "theoretical" because no one has yet directly compared a XA-100 to a XA.5-100. However, what I got out out of the conversation was that I don't think I will be sending in my XA-100's for upgrading in the near future.
Ahhh thanks everyone. It kind of sucks that I just bought my XA160 but teejay's post made me feel better. My speakers are 89db efficient and I do not listen at very loud levels at all (70-85db). That being said, I hate not having the latest and greatest. I am gonna to have to fight the urge to upgrade on this one!!! Good luck to me!! Must resist....aaahhhhhhhh
Just to let you all know the reason I started this thread.
I have had my XA-160's for sale here on Audiogon for 3 months. Recently a perspective buyer inquired into the cost and had some warranty questions. I told him my price and referred him to Pass Labs for tech info and warranty assurance. His next email to me was,"I know why you are trying to unload them, the new XA-.5's will be out next month".... He said my "XA-160's would be hovering in the $4K to $5k range". My first thought was he was confusing the X-.5 series with the XA series...low and behold he was right! I hate to be the last one to know, Gee whiz (I never say gee whiz) I thought they were the best amps I have ever heard!!!%$##&*^).... $4 to $5K... maybe in 7 or 8 years!
The "hovering in the $4K to $5K range" was a insult!!
Am I too thin skinned?
Sometimes I feel I should advertise like the Audio Pimp... lay out the rules of engagement... "don't waste my time with nonsence". Pardon my short fuse. I have been low balled 4 times in the last 2 weeks because another member decided to unload his XA's at a big discount($8500.00) he must have needed the cash fast! I understand that... but did I get any offers when another set went for $10,000...
For everyone who owns the XA series amps, you have great ears and impeccable artistic taste!
Personally I never thought the XA's weren't such a good idea. At those prices, I believe the amps should be able to handle a much wider selection of speakers. I suspect that a great many people who buy speakers that don't drop below 8 Ohms, have a strong preference for tube amps and wouldn't even consider ss alternatives. Even Pass' older top of the line class A Threshold amps had no problem with low impedance speakes. If the XA.5's can really double down and maintain their sonic qualites, I bet they'll have a truly special winner. Perhaps they can do away with the meters to keep the prices down a bit.
AudioFeil. I am Not Wrong.
Read my forum. I said they were about to release the XA-.5 series for Pass Labs. When asked about the XA-160 monos about a price Peter told me it would be about $5K per amp for the upgrade "per amplifier".
I said ouch ! Living in CT it would cost about $11K for the upgrades. I only said this because I have a friend who is selling his Pass Labs XA-160's for $7500 cash on the pair.
I don't want to spend $7500 then in the near future spend another $11K if I want the best. Because before the year is up XA-160's will be selling below $6K for the pair. If the XA-160.5 is that much better than the XA-160.
AudioFeil, I know you are a Pass Labs dealer so there clearly is an agenda to sell new product. So say what you want to say. But I talked with Peter Perkins and Nelson Pass recently.
You cannot send a pair of XA series amps to Pass and have them upgraded to XA.5 series. Perhaps the cost "upgrade" you allude to is the price difference between the current XA model and its' XA.5 counterpart.
Call Peter and get clear on that. You misunderstood.
I have an email from Pass to all dealers stating that very fact.
Agenda? I don't think so. You haven't read enough of my posts old buddy.
How about....... bring out the best the speaker has to offer. I think even Pass Labs would acquiesce and "say the X-600.5 would be a better match for some".. ie, B&W 802D etc. I'm sure there are many other designs that prefer more push/pull s.s.amps or big tube amps( like 100 watts a channel)but do they sound better?
So how about a list of the worst of the best speakers to be paired with the XA-160's, I hope you understand, We want to match these wimpy 160 watt class A mono blocks with a speaker that just will not upen up and speak pure music to YOU under such under powered conditions.
Gandme, perhaps I'm mistaken, but, I suspect a bit of sarcasim in your posts. Lest anyone think I have a bias against Pass, let me say that I think the Pass X 1000's may be the best amps I've ever heard and I currently use a Pass designed Threshold.
In answer to your post, I suspect that customers of the entire current Thiel line might get more bang for their buck with Pass' X series amps than with the current XA series amps. Furthermore, I suspect these future XA.5's might just become the ideal amps for these speakers, especially if they offer even greater power.
gandme, that is an interesting question. I personally believe that unless the speakers are really inefficient and dips down to less than 4 ohms and the user listens at pretty loud volumes (>90db), most people do not need a whole lot of power. I do not mean to start a war over this but I just happen to believe in quality of power over quantity. I wish I could actuall measure the amp output but my theoretical calculations for my listening conditions shows that I do not really ever need more than 140w. Empirically, I have listened to other Pass amps at very loud volumes and have never seen the meter ever move (according to PAss that means the amp is still operating in Class A).
Anyway, just my opinion...
Unsound, my point is... if you listen to music at extreme spl's in very large rooms you may need A/B amplification. That is why Pass has the X line products. I think people get the idea that the XA's are not capable of driving difficult loads because Pass also has the X series.
Now they have decided to address this misconception by consumers and give them a class A amp that will double down. What will happen to sales of there X-.5 series?
I don't get it...
I suspect that there will be a considerable price difference between a similarly powered X.5 and an XA.5. With the availability of an XA.5 individuals may now be able to choose between the better sound of pure class A or the compromised sound of class AB based on price alone. Previously spending more for the advantages of pure class A ,may have actually limited ones choice of loudspeakers. From a marketing perspective, I would have guessed the opposite would have made more sense. If appropriate attention is paid to providing appropiate lines of appropraite power levels, I believe, that the market place will welcome both a value offered class AB line and a top of the line, no holds barred, cost be damned, class A line. That the top tier may be as accomodating as the lower tier already is, can only help the sales of the top tier to those who can afford it and are willing to pay for it. For those that can't or won't the lower tier will still be available. I can even imagine situations where, some individuals might opt to power the two main channels of a HT system with XA.5 amplification and use X.5's for the surrounds, or bi-amp with XA.5s on top and X.5's on the bottom and still have the same gain.
Tbooe, you can't be serious that you haven't seen the meter move on Pass amps. On your XA amp, that series the meter should never move. But on the X series, the meter moves on my 250.5 when I play above anything approaching high medium volume levels. So, I cannot believe your claim that you have listened to other Pass amps at very loud volume and never seen the meter move. What, with 100db horns?
kevziek..calm down dude...no offense meant. I heard the x350.5 with Vienna Acoustics Mahler and at what I consider loud, the meter did not move. And yes, I know that the meters on the XA do not move (I do own them after all).
What speakers do you have? The Mahlers are 90db at a nominal impedance of 6ohms.
Anyway, as I said in my post, this is just my opinion and my experiences....
Kevziek is right though, the meter on the XA series is just a "nice-to-have" feature and does not perform any function.
On the X.5 series, the meter, when it starts moving, indicates that bias on the amp is going from Class A to A/B operation.
My B&W N803s make the meter move on my X250.5.
Playing a recording with some decent bass/mid-bass, I have to get the preamp volume above the 10 o'clock position and the meter on the amp starts moving.
But I love the Class A operation of the X250.5 amplifier when listening on low levels. Plenty of drive, slam and detail.
The meter thing is sure weird. I have 87Db 4ohm speaker in a 25x 18 ft room and play at medium level. The x350.5 meter only moves when I play double bass or organ stuff very loud. I barely shakes a hair on loud orchestral passages. I think the meter moves only when I switch out of class A to AB and I guess 350.5 is at least 50W class A.
With the same speaker, if the Mac meter is correct, I rarely exceed 30W.
Even though the meter may move, I highly doubt the amp is outputting anywhere near its rated power. All I was trying to do was support gandme's claim that the XA160 can power almost all speakers without a problem. The fact that the meters move indicating a transition from class a to class a/b operation has nothing to do with my contention that I do not believe most people need all that much power.
Very interesting thread. I recently bought a pair of XA160's. I had three different Alephs before then. The Aleph series and X series were around for quite a while. Then came the XA's, then quickly the X.5's and now very suddenly the XA.5's. Product life is getting shorter and shorter. Reno HiFi will have more trade-in (upgrade)business. Pass is a great company with great service and products, but I'm beginning to wonder if they are now building product obsolescence into their business plan.
I've found some links to XA100.5 in Japan :
It seems to be available in Toronto too :
I have found a pdf of the XA100.5 :
The 2 big differences are :
selectable gain : 26 or 30 db (the XA100 has only 26 db gain) and a much higher max current : 28 A against 5 A. This point should bring a better power with low impedance speakers.
The other specifications are very close.
The XA60.5 seems to be available too, but no XA160.5 or XA200.5.
Jameswei, thanks for sharing the link......wow, I don't know what to make of that Stereophile article. I'm a little saddened to hear of the new alignment from the end user point of view...but, I can understand businesswise why they are making the changes that they are.
I just hope this isn't a trend that puts the high end further out of reach for audiophiles.
I drive my x250.5 with Wilson Sophia 2 (89db 4ohm ) meter starts moving around -35db-45db(boulder pre.). However, I can make critic listening just a bit below -50db. That is ,I think, near limits of Class A operation. I didn't sense of any signal of congestion from either speaker and amplifier side.
Keep in mind Wilson Sophia2's impedence drops 3.26 ohm and Pass x-250.5 will not drop more than 4 ohm.
I have been very interested in the new XA.5 amps for a while now. I have the XA160 and have a sneaking suspicion (unfounded though) that maybe they are a bit unpowered and perhaps an impedance mismatch for my pre. The new XA100.5 specs shows more power, higher input impedance, and higher damping factor. Has anyone had the chance to listen to any of the now available XA.5 amps? Here is what Nelson Pass said about the new XA.5 amps compared to the current XA series:
They tend to sound like a cross between the earlier XA and X.5
Comparing the XA.5 to the XA's, our subjective listeners
The soundstage is larger and deeper.
Placement is more accurate.
The bottom end is tighter.
The midrange has greater definition.
There is strong similarity in the upper mid and top end.
Our measurements show:
Greater power, current, speed, and damping.
Lower distortion and noise.
Comparing the XA.5 to the X.5's, we see simiilar results
subjectively, except that the mid and top is smoother.
Objectively, the distortion is lower.
I assume you had the XA-100 there in that system for comparison. Right?