Pass Labs XP-10 & XP20 Users

I recently got a XP-10 preamp. It provides tremendous clarity, a deep and wide soundstage, nice seperation of instruments, lower bass, better defined bass, and a touch of warmth (which is a plus in my system).

It has been in the system for a couple days now, and I am thrilled with the results. This thing is so resolving (without being harsh), that my friends and I could hear differences in the sound depending on how we spiked and isolated the XP-10. A sand bag on top also changed the sound. I will pick a final setup once it finishes breaking in this weekend.

I am using this in a 5.1/2.0 system. The Bypass function is setup on input 5 which is an unbalanced input. My Prepro has both Balanced and Unbalanced outputs. In theory the balanced outputs coming out of the prepro should sound better, so I have it routed through Input 1 and manually set the volume to max and Gain to 0.

Does anyone have any tips or tricks about these preamps? They seem pretty straight forward. It seems the only setup/optimization may be related to spikes, isolation, and weight placed on top of the unit.
I recently bought a brand new Pass Labs XP-20 preamp. Have to say honestly this is the most transparent and superb resolution of any preamp out there for under $10K.

Not really any tips other than make sure to use an excellent power cable with the XP10 and even more important with the XP20. The power supply on the XP-20 is quite larger and has it's own dedicated chasis. A great power cable added to this preamp will even make the XP20 a world class preamp.

There is definitely a break in period with the XP20 preamp. I have owned my XP20 a short time and notice better control in the dynamics as it's breaking in. I would not put anyting on the chasis, just keep them isolated and on seperate shelves. I don't believe in stacking the XP20.

Pass Labs XP20 is the most quietest preamp I have ever owned . I can say I've owned +$40K preamps in the past and the XP20 is a winner and will be part of my personal reference system forever...
Yes, I forgot to mention the power cord. Good Catch MrChips. I went through several cords when setting up the previous Aleph P preamp. I finally when with a DCCA Source II cord. It is a terrific fit in my system, and it seems to work very well with the XP-10. The two preamps have a similar sonic signature, so this isn't surprising.

I'm glad you are enjoying the XP-20. Its a tough choice between the XP-20 and XP-10. I am short on rack space, so I opted for the XP-10.

How long would you say break in is? I heard most of the break in occurs in the first 24 hours, but some people hear changes for a bit longer.
Hey the XP10 is no slouch either. The XP20 just brings a bit more to the table in definition and bass dynamics.

I probably don't even have 20-hrs of listening time under my Pass XP-20. But I did notice initial breaking in the first several hours. Probably about 100-200 hrs should fully break in the XP preamp. Plus I love the "Green" design and efficiency of the XP20. Burns less than a 12W bulb when left on. As you know there is no power on or off button on the XP preamp. Just like the Threshold Fet 10E HL preamp. Pass believes that solid state design is meant to stay on 24/7 for max performance. I don't leave my equipment on 24/7 just when listening. I turn on my system maybe an hour before listening and find it reaches full potential within 2hrs after.

Break in period is an enjoyable time because everytime you sit down and listen to the XP20 it just sounds incredible. I use a BMI HG4 power cable with the PAss XP20 with great success especially in the soundstage and natural focus of the vocals and instruments.

Having several systems going now and this one with the Pass XP20 is my favorite. I still have my longtime reference Threshold Fet 10E HL preamp which is a classic and probably one of the most neutral active preamps you will ever hear. The Pass XP20 is sure to be a classic in the future as the Threshold Fet 10E HL preamp is now.
Mrchips, have you ever heard the Parasound JC2?
I have owned the Pass X10 since it first came out.
Some thoughts. It sounds its best after about a week.
Change the 1Amp fuse to the Silver fuse type.

I am using Synergistic Apex interconnects to the Pass X10 and Synergistic Precision ref to my Amp.
Power cord is the Synergistic T2 which is plugged into my Synergistic Powercell 10SE and that is plugged into a Telsaplex outlet. See a pattern there?

Many claim that the X20 is only marginally better or very hard to tell the difference with the X10. That is why it was delayed in coming out.
Instead of spending that money on the X20 I went for adding a JL F-113 sub plugged into the Pass X10.

My only complaint is I wish there was a way to balance the level of the inputs. Its only low gain or high gain which affects all the inputs.
The Pass Labs XP-20 is more than marginally better than the XP-10. At this level it's a game of inches and subtle improvements. But they all matter and up and make a "BIG Improvement". I compared the two on all aspects (XP-10 $5200) vs (XP-20 $8600) ; for the $3400 additional bucks the XP-20 is worth every penny to spend if you are serious about maximum performance from a preamp.

If I gave a score to rate both preamps for overall, the XP-10 would be a 8.5 and the XP-20 would be a 10.

But again the XP-10 is no slouch. It's just the XP-10 takes it to another level to world class performance. That is why I personally chose to buy the XP-20 so there would be no regret.

I have had my unit for 4 days and have played if for about 20 hours so far. The first few hours sounded nice, and it has just gotten better. It seems like most of the break in occurred during the 1st 24 hours, but I have heard some improvement since then.


I actually have a Hi-Fi fuse that will fit the XP-10. I may try that later. I ended up spiking the plaform the XP-10 rests on and put a light sandbag on top of the XP-10, and the unit now has the perfect blend (in my system) of detail, crispness, bass detail and warmth. I am afraid to experiment right now becuase it sounds perfect to my ears as it is.

But, like the rest of us, I am sure the temptation of even better sound will get the best of me, and I will try the other fuse. It is an easy test. :-)

I am lucky that so far all my sources will work with the 0 Gain setting. It would have been better though if each Input could have a different Gain setting.

I also wish that we could select Balanced or Unbalanced for the Bypass. That could be a software option I'm sure.

I'm glad you found a cord and outlet that works for you. Synergy is the key, eh?
Dmccombs, My suggestion is to keep it simple and dont change too many things during the break in stage so you can tell what is happening.

Once the unit is broken in, unplugging it will cause a loss of sound quality for a short time.
At first it took hours to return but now it only takes a few minutes.

I have tried sandbags and spikes and thus far find that my X10 sounds better with just the unit sitting on a quality spiked platform (or shelve).

You are lucky with the gain settings, I have a Cary 306 SACD Pro CD Player and it has a huge difference in output compared to my other sources.

You will really love the X10, it is a pure sounding gem
Isn't it amazing that no matter how amazing a product is we immediately feel the urge to improve on it?

The XP10 is supposed to be one of the best preamps on the market, you seem to love it in your short time owning it, and yet you want tips to make it sound better. What am I missing? This is the part of our 'passion' for better sound, that sometimes (like now) gets in the way of just enjoying the simple act of turning a song on and enjoying it w/out thinking about what silly fuse will improve the result. These could be the death throes of me as an audiophile. Pay no attention. Carry on.

Nothing is getting in the way of enjoying the music. I have played the heck out of this thing and am having a good time. Just because I have also tried some simple tweaks doesn't change that. I have enjoyed numerous CD and movies. It is possible to do two things at the same time.

Did you have a bad day or what? WTF?
I am glad that you are also enjoying the main point of upgrades, to appreciate the music more (at least this is what I tell my wife). My comment was less about you and more about a general trend we audionuts find ourselves in. Sorry for hijacking your thread a bit with this, i should a put it somewhere else. I was not saying it's impossible to do both; that is, enjoy music and listen for changes from tweak to tweak. Rather, at some point "it" transforms, in many cases, into listening sessions where it is less about the actual musical enjoyment and more about, "did i hear this difference between cables, thie latest bag of sand, this oak block of wood, this steel tipped 500 pound audio rack", you know wwhat I mean?
You have a sweet piece of gear. I had a Pass X2.5 and X1 a while back. I was floored with the microdetail that both of those units are capable of. Right now i'm back to tubes, but I have been thinking about trying out the XP10 sometime. Pass seems to blend the best of tubes and ss.

I looked through the Virtual systems here and noticed that there are at least 6 Audiogoners with an XP-10 or XP-20. Does anyone else have setup suggestions?

Ozzy, can you give more detail as to what the fuse change did to the sound?
I have been using my XP-10 for about 8 months. Previous I had an X-1 pass, and compared the two for a short time. The first time I fired up the XP 10 I felt immediately that I should keep it, not even broken in it just sounded right and a step up from the X-1 which is no slouch. After a week with the XP-10 I put the X-1 back in for a comparison and confirmed my inital decision. I'm happy with my Pass 150.5 & Xp-10 although i'm getting the cable bug again, but I didn't win the lottery. LOL
Dmccombs, The fuse upgrade is a very minor improvement, but it results in a slightly smoother presentation. I had the fuse left over from my Cary SLP-05 days. They sell for about $25.
I have not found anything that was better than just sitting it on a good rack.
I am using the balance out to my Pass Labs X350.5 and the RCA outs to JL Audio F-113's subs. Great combo, awesome sound.
Use good cables to get the best performance and enjoy.
Thanks for all the feedback and responses. They are appreciated.

At this point, I have put numerous hours on the XP-10 and it is broken in and sounding great.

I have a Hi-Fi fuse that I may try at one point, if/when I do, I will report back on that.

I guess that how one spikes/isolates the XP-10 (or any piece of gear) depends on the rack you have it on. In my setup, I found that putting the XP-10 sounded best (to my ears), by placing it on 4 spikes.

Irregardless of weather I put my unit directly on the rack or on spikes, I find placing a light weight on top of the unit does change the sound a bit. Maybe the top is susceptible to vibration?

I suggest folks with the XP-10 take a few minutes and try placing a couple of different light weight items on the XP-10 to see if it helps/hurts the sound. It is free and only takes a few minutes to try.
I heard that the newest XP-10 ( most current production ) sounds better than that of the original XP-10. Have anyone been able to confirm this?
Zenieth, Just talked to Kent at Pass Labs. His repley was, "Todays XP-10's are the same as the first run XP-10's. No difference".
Ozzy, Thanks for checking into this. I'm curious now as to why a reputable dealer would make that comment? Never the less, the XP-10 is the direction that I'm going.
Does anyone have an opinion on the XP-10 vs. the preamp section of the INT-150? The integrated has preamp out capabilities and seems to offer the same functionality as the XP-10, though I believe it does not have any gain. Of course, the two share a chassis and all of those integrated vs. separates arguments. Still, I'm wondering if, for not a lot more money, you can basically get an XP-10 plus an X-150.5 and still have the ability to try other power amps if you want.
I just ordered the 250.5 and the XP-10. I'm going from a BATVK300x Integrated. I can't see how the 150 pre amp section can be what the XP-10 is. Your are at a disadvantage with the one box unit. The BAT seperates ( amp / pre ) beat the VK300x hands down. I'm sure I'll find the same is true with the Pass products. I'm excited to be able to choose either pre or amp verses having no choice at all.

The Pass Labs XP10 has indeed changed. However, it is a software only change, removing the switchable high / low gain settings and automatically switching to the high gain setting at a certain point on the volume control. This was done because the Asian market did not like the switchable high / low gain feature. There are no circuit changes, and the sound of the preamp is exactly the same.

Maybe the reputable dealer wanted to ensure that you bought a new unit instead of a used unit.

hi all,

just curious, there is a black ring around the volume knob of the xp-10 and xp-20. anyone knows what material is the black ring made of? plastic? metal?

Hi Alan,

how to check which version of the software is loaded?

how do we upgrade the software? must send back to the factory?

what power cable is best for xp20?
"just curious, there is a black ring around the volume knob of the xp-10 and xp-20. anyone knows what material is the black ring made of? plastic? metal?"

Aluminum. You can make out the brushed aluminum texture under the anodizing on the front of the ring.
Just thought I revive this thread. Recently bought a XP-10. I have Pass XA30.5 as well. Any suggestions on PC and SC?
Kzhtoo - I also have the XP-10 and the XA30.5.

My power conditioner (PC) is the Running Springs Dmitri. It is awesome and I highly recommend it. I found a (slightly) used one on Audigon. It still wasn't inexpensive but I am VERY happy I got it.

I'm not sure what you mean by (SC) but I'm going to guess your asking about the power cord (also, er, PC). I use Spiral Groove GrooveLine power cords for both the XP and the XA. (Actually, all my wire--power, inter, speaker--is SG GrooveLine). I don't think these have come to market yet. So that's probably not too much help. But these are very, very neutral. And that seems to suit the Pass stuff (and my system) perfectly.

BTW I moved up from the previous generation of Pass pre and amp and used a mix of cables and went through many gyrations with them. If you want more info, let me know. I won't bore the rest of those on the thread.

Hope that helps.
I meant SC = speaker cable :) thanks for the suggestion.
Do share your Pass experience, I'm sure no one minds.

Btw, I used to run XA30.5 with Anthem MRX as pre/pro (with ARC room correction). Switching in XP-10 doesn't give immediate big improvement. I think it's my source that is limiting. Currently running AppleTV because most of my music is on iTunes. I listen to electronics a lot. Will have to figure something out in that department too.

My speakers are Focal Electra and Paradigm Studio sub.
Kzhtoo - I wrote this really long response and decided it was waaaay to long. So, here's my (somewhat) abridged version.

Start with your source. Your system will never reach it's potential unless you can feed it the right "stuff" played through the best front-end you can afford.

Second, the speaker cables were Stiltech LS-100 G3, which I came to after a lot of experimenting. (Thanks Cable Co! Note, I have no affiliation with them.) My power cords for the front-end were Audience powerChords and for the amp it was a Synergistic A/C Master Coupler. (I ran a Shunyata Black Mamba to my Sony SCD777-ES CD player. I also had an Immedia RMP-1 table and RPM arm with Lyra Helikon cart.)

When I began my upgrade (binge) I started with my speakers going from Audio Physic Spark III to Sonics Amerigo. (Both are easy to drive.) Then, I replaced my PS Audio with the Running Springs Dmitri. If you don't need as many outlets you could try the Haley or, if not quite as much performance, the Elgar.

Then I went through all my other stuff. Big upgrades to my font-end; dropped the CD player. Finally, all my cables--speaker, interconnect, power cords--are Spiral Groove.

I know they guys at Spiral Groove and they were developing a line of cables. It's the same cables they use in their electronics and the Sonics/Canalis speakers (they partner with Joachim Gerhard). It wasn't a difficult choice once I heard it in my system. The bummer is that it's not easy to produce on a large scale, so they've been holding off going to market with them. That way, they can focus on their tables, arms, speakers (they partner with Joachim Gerhard on the Sonics and now Canalis line) and vibration control systems. Otherwise, I would whole-heartedly recommend them to you.

So there you recommendations:

1. Source and front-end
2. Running Springs for power conditioner (PC)
3. Cable Co for finding the right cables for YOUR system

Sorry, Mr OP if I hijacked things. Hope this helped too.
Picked up Oppo 95 over the weekend, mainly due to its ability to play Flac files and 32-bit dac. Also with tube mod from Modwright in mind, somewhere down the road. After 15 hr of running, I don't think it is even close to how it is described in reviews and accolades it gets from everyone. If it sounds very close to this after 300 hr, then Oppo is definitely going back.

Cables have to wait for now. I might pick up one or two quality power outlets from Music Direct first though.

Thanks a lot for the suggestions. I'm still fairly new to all this. I do not mind your long version at all, in fact that's what I'd prefer. :)
Hi all

I am a proud owner of a pass xp10, mated it with the original aleph 0. They fit together just nicely, one could never tell that the (overhauled) aleph is about 20 years older

Last week i upgraded the aleph with a pair of Furutech (Padis) Fuses. They do an incredible improvement for the 50 Bucks! Reason why i would love to do the same with the XP10

I've found the specs for the fuse, but dont know where it is placed. Could you please help me out? Just to avoid opening the chasis for nothing.

Many Thanks

here are some prospects on PC;
Silent Source
Signal Cable
I am on my 3rd Pass preamp. About 13-15 yrs ago I had an Aleph P. I heard some things that I liked in that revamp, but I ultimately sold it after about 2 yrs. the preamp just was not very lovely/dynamic.

FAST FORWARD- it's 2015, and I've been happily using an INT-150 for a number of yrs. 

decided I'll go back to separate. Initially purchase an XP10, nice preamp. I have that about 2 months, decide to compare it to an XP20. Bye bye XP10. What does the XP20 do better? Micro-dynamics which is probably because as low distortions the XP10 is, it just sounds to me the folks at Pass Labs figured out how to reduce what little distortions there was to nothingness. 

Soundstage is is improved as well. I won't say that the extra $ is a no brainier- depends if you can swing it. The XP10 is great, the XP20 is the best preamp I have ever owned (that title previously belonged to a CJ 17LS2). 

Powering all all my Pass gear are Cullen Crossover power cords. 
Nice to see this tread alive and well.  I just upgraded to an ARC Ref 5 SE.  Pretty amazing pre, but I don't like the 40 second delay, mute and zero volume.  I understand why, but after the delay, couldn't they at least unmute the thing and maybe set the volume to "1" if not the setting it back to the last setting?  Sorry for the vent, but because of this, I am thinking about going back to SS.  

I have a pair of Pass Labs XA-100.5 mono blocks.  I am sure the XP20 pre would match up extremely well.  My question, has anyone compared the XP20 with the ARC Ref 5 SE?  

I do like that the ARC has a 12V remote, so when I turn it on, the amps come on.  Since the XP20 is designed to stay on (similar to my Ayre K5 Xe mp) it won't have the 12v remote switch.


This from the XP-20 manual
The XP-20 gain chassis has a single pair of binding posts labeled “Ext. Amp Turn-on”. A 12-volt signal is available at these binding posts to control additional entertainment electronics. This External Turn On feature was specifically intended to control Pass Laboratories power amplifiers but may in fact control competitive product with similar features. Check your power amplifiers owner manual and specifications for particulars. This function is only active from the hand held remote control.