I meant to write I am using anm X1/X250.5 combo. I traded up my 250 for the 250.5.
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I agree with Macdadtexas
Just yesterday at my friend Carlo house I listened his Pass Labs X20 with two Pass XA100 behind Harbeths HL5
I absolutely didn't find my X1 obsolete! .. On the contrary I suspect the X1 is more neutral than the X20 (great preamp but slightly romantic mids compared to the X1) IMHO
In few words I don't perceive the demand to trade my X1 for the new X20
I had the Pass Aleph P which I traded in for the X-1. The X-1 is much more neutral with better bass. I now have the XP-20 which I find to be quieter and more transparent. All of the Pass gear is great. They sound good, are very reliable and built to last. With the XP-20 I hear more inner detail resulting in more accurate timbre, more texture and better harmonics. Having said that, the X-1 is an outstanding value for $2,000. I have heard other preamps in my system, both SS and tubes. I have found that nothing sounds as good with a Pass amp as a Pass pre amp. You could consider trading it in at RENO HIFI for a used XP-10 or 20, but it would be expensive. I would hold onto it. Oddly, I like the looks/simplicity of the old remote. It was perfect for the Aleph P but became complicated to use for the functions of the X-1. The new remote works well, but is a bit too conventional for my taste and the buttons and print are tiny.
Over the last fifteen years or so, high-end two-channel amps and preamps have generally not experienced ground-breaking improvements in circuit design and listening and build quality. On the contrary, the market for high-end two-channel gear since the mid to late 90's has diminished considerably, one of the many results of which is that new designs do not benefit from the economies of scale that manufacturers enjoyed back then. What was a very high-end piece of two-channel gear ten years ago will often be better than today's high-end models, and cost a fraction on the used market of what you would pay for new gear. The short answer is that the X-1 is a very good solid-state preamp (of which there are unfortunately few), and there are only a handful of solid-state preamps out there at any price, be they current production or used, that compete with or beat it.
If you do buy an expensive new preamp, be sure to give it hundreds of hours of listening time before drawing conclusions - the effects of a good preamp on a system are subtle and take a lot of time to fully perceive.
Digital gear, in contrast, has tended to improve considerably because a CD player is part-computer (and computer technology improves over time), and I think it's safe to say that cheap and good-to-very-good digital gear now provides more bang for the buck. At the high end of the market, however, the power supplies and analog output stages of some 1990's models were outstanding and easily beat current production models. In addition, some current high-end manufacturers at the very top of the market achieve their sound through the deliberate use of vintage 1980's chips. In short, with very high-end digital, it's more complicated.
I agree with Raquel's assessment of the X-1, but to imply that high-end two channel amps and pre amps have not improved much since the mid to late 90's is a stretch. One need only to look at Pass Labs. The XA.5 and XP series are clearly better than the older Aleph series. I've owned them both and they have gotten much better. The market may be smaller and the prices are outrageous, but the sonics have indeed improved, at least in terms of noise and transparency. Build quality and reliability, on the other hand, have always been quite good. I don't know as much about other high-end brands, but I'd think the same could be said for ARC, VTL and Spectral.
Peterayer: I did not "imply" that high-end two channel gear has not improved much since the mid 1990's - I clearly stated it, and as a general proposition, I stand by the statement. But your point about the Pass gear is well taken, and on a very resolving high-end system, I have no doubt that you can hear and enjoy the improvements. Again to your point, is my darTZeel better than my Rowland Model 6's from the mid 90's? Sure. But as you point out, current gear is very, very expensive.
To my point, I will put my Rowland Coherence II with battery power supply up against any current production solid-state preamp short of the darTZeel. These days, the odds of finding Vishay-level quality parts in gear is slim - in the mid/late 90's, this level of parts quality was almost standard in statement designs. Aside from Atma-Sphere, you will be hard-pressed to find a current maker of high-end gear that hand-wires its gear - everyone went to boards because there isn't enough business volume to employ techs to do it. Alas, there are few companies like Pass Labs that have the resources and market presence to bring meaningful improvements to this type of gear (many high-end two-channel brands are in fact one-to-five person operations, often operated out of homes).
Happy New Year to the Audiogon community.
Sadly, society today has been so programmed by propaganda to be "good consumers" -- if you can brake out of "the Matrix" you will see that "the latest" does NOT always equal "the greatest." Infact, rarely does it equal -- this is true in music, audio, video, computers, cars, pharmacy, politics, and on and on...
Having said that, the only true way for you to tell which preamp you enjoy best is by comparing them in your own system!
There has been some good advice in the above answers. It really depends if you want to spend the extra money or not and if your system is revealing enough to hear the difference between the two preamps. I have heard both your current and X20 but in different systems and it does appear the Pass has made the improvements that Peterayers mentions. Both preamps are extremely good. I will also mention that I upgraded from a very respectable CJ preamp to the Joule Electra 300ME and cannot believe how much more revealing and musical the JE is. The best upgrade I have made in over 30 years however it did cost alot. If you are dying to spend the money than get the X20 but both preamps are very good.
On the contrary I suspect the X1 is more neutral than the X20 (great preamp but slightly romantic mids compared to the X1) IMHO
Curio, I'd like to hear more of your thoughts on this observation. I have the X1 and I do love it, but like others I'd been thinking about a X10 or X20. Your comment has me wondering how (the X20 at least) might fit into a system which already had a natural organic sound.
I found the XP20 better than X1 regarding soundstage definitely larger.. same height .. besides its mids are more refined than ours (I mean than our X1) and with additional warmth compared to ours.
The X1 is IMHO more neutral , speaking about mids , but thank to this also a bit less enjoyable and sweet than the XP20.
I was interested to change my X1 but after have listened the XP20 in a setup I know very well .. I still dunno if money effort worth one's while
That's why I warned the X1 isn't absolutely an obsolete preamp!
Did you hear the XP-20 in other systems as well? I find it to be so transparent that it really reflects the character of what is in the rest of the system. I agree the mids are more refined. The lower noise floor relative to the X-1 also allows me to hear more detail and I find it has less of its own signature than the X-1 has. For example, the quality of particular recordings is more apparent. I found the X-1 very slightly cool/dry of neutral and that character was evident with all recordings in my system. The XP-20 sounds cleaner, smoother and clearer and yes, warmer on some recordings, but I think that warmth brings it closer to neutral than the cooler X-1, if you follow my thinking. The X-1 remains an excellent value and is of very top quality.
You can do an in-home demo by calling RENO HIFI. I think there is a restocking fee plus shipping which shouldn't be bad for UPS ground if you choose not to buy. I've had great experience with Mark. I bought my XA.5 amps, and both the X1 and XP20 from him because there is no dealer in my area either.
Dear Peterayer :-)
- The X1 is trasparent exactly like the XP20 .. non more but not less
- The low noise is so low in the X1 the lower noise you refer to the XP20 you can discover only by instruments and not by your ears
- The more (more??? No no! .. maybe something more!) detail you discover in the XP20 is referring to the super transparency of the XP20 that allow you to capture something more than the X1 .. but pay attention .. I wrote "something more" and not more..
- I agree and I already wrote the X1 is on the cool/neutral side compared to the sweeter/romantic (mids only!) XP20
The XP-20 sounds cleaner, smoother and clearer and yes, warmer on some recordings, but I think that warmth brings it closer to neutral than the cooler X-1 ... (Peterayer)
Uhmm... not cleaner .. the X1 is super clean too .. surely warmer already said.
No , I don't agree the additional warm of the XP20 bring you closer to the neutral side.
I think in the end the X1 is the perfect preamp (nowaday too!) for Tube amps more than SS amps while the new XP20 is also perfect for SS amps! thanks to these additional refined and warmer mids.
In fact I envy the XP20 of my friend Carlo because it should be the perfect "team-mate" of my loved Parasound Halo JC1's .. surely better than the also super-good X1 I own.
But definitely the forward step Pass or Coburn injected into the XP20 is just a little step and not a radical change so I warn X1 owners that want to change into XP20 to listen the XP20 before to buy thinking to a great step-change inside their hifi setup.
Maybe a disillusion is just round the corner!
Detto questo (telling this) If I should buy a SS preamp today I surely would search for a Pass Labs XP20
I 'll have the perfect team-mate for tubes or ss amps!
Who knows what 'll be my amp choice for the future?
Owned X1 driving JC1s since 2003 and recently purchased XP20 but I prefer to wait for total break-in before making misconstrued judjements.That said and taking into consideration Pass' long standing reputation as makers of great sounding equipment, with build quality and post sale service second to none, looking into a used X0.2 may be worth your while.
I had my X1 looked at by the factory and although a few caps were upgraded and the display unit changed I was told that my X1 was already extremely clean when it arrived. Apparently it is supposed to be even quiter with the new tune up so I'm sure I'll keep this X1. I was told by someone that my X1 was the best they've seen and considering who said that I would think my X1 to be a keeper for sure. I get it back tommorrow and will hook it up as soon as I get it. I will not be able to compare fairly bfore and after tune up as my system is placed very much differently than before I sent in my X1.I hope my new speaker placement works for me. It looks as though it should sound a lot better but time will tell. I now feel confident that my system is well balanced and should sound good. The only reason I parted with my x1 is because we changed all our floors in our house so since I had to pack up my system anyhow I thought it appropriate to get the inevitable tune up my X1 needed. I placed the speakers more theoretically correct since my floors are finished and I'm hoping my new setup sounds nice. In the worstcase I can replace my speakers but I'm hoping this setup works.
The X1 returned as a new preamp and it sounds good. It requires burn in of a few parts but the sound is awesome directly from the box. The speaker placement has dramatically improved the sound and my X1 sounds fine. It is hard to tell what is doing what as everything has changed but in listening to my system I was brought to tears. That doesn't happen a lot but sometimes. To have that much emotion straight from the box I have a feeling I will be blown away when the system warms up and the preamp and cd player fully burn in. It sounds awesome now with much better speaker placement and my wife has agreed to let me keeop them in their place. This is a serious thing the WAF. She could have made me push them back but I'm OK. I'll keep both the stereo and the wife. Anybody want a kid?
My X1 is a keeper. I will never sell it. I am trying to express that I am thrilled with the sound I'm getting and could not be happier with my preamp. Even though it read well at Pass it was good to know for sure all was well. In any case I got the display and mute fixed which is something I could have done in the future but due to circumstance my system is like new. It sound huge with a large soundstahe left right top bottom and everything inbetween.