Pass X1 / X250 - how to get a bit foregivable ???



Hi, my system is

Pass X1/X250
Lindemann D680 SACD/CD
Jean-Marie Reynaud Offrande speakers
HMS Sestetto balanced signal-cables
HMS AC-cables
HMS Fortissimo Bi-Wire speaker-cables

Who has experienced "successful" system-
cabling to reduce the brutal honesty of Pass X1/X250
(or similar) amps in combination with highly resolving
speakers and high esolution source ?

Bad recordings are sometimes just very hard to take
and stress my ears. Also the overall sound of my system
tends just a little bit too lean and organic weight is
missing.

I did not try out different cabling yet, so any experiences are appreciated.

I tried out replacing (a) X1 by E.A.R. 864 tube pre,
(b) X250 by Manley Labs Snapper or (c) both, but the
lack in soundstage and resolution compared to the Pass
amps was so much degrading (sorry) the purity of the
original recording by adding content that was just not
part of the recording, that this was no acceptable
solution either, at least IMO.

Please, any hints/ideas are very appreciated.

Regards
rocou
I owned JMR Trentes and they were the most listenable speakers I have ever heard, never harsh in the slightest. I used an Audio Note Soro SE tube amp with 18 watts per channel. Why do you need the ss Pass? the only Pass amp I heard (X150 I think it was called) was lean and not very listenable to me and that is what I would replace if it were me.

Sorry to stray off topic but I wish I could hear a pair of Offrandes as they are supposed to be Jean Marie's favorite speaker he builds and my Trentes were superb so I can only imagine...

FWIW I highly recommend Audio Note cables - they are superb and never harsh either...
Nice system. You might try Van der Hul cables. Completely different philosophy and design and they're not that expensive to experiment. Not my choice but might be right for you.
The Pass Labs is good stuff. The X-1 and X2.5 are two of the better preamps I've owned.

My guess is it's not the brutal honesty of the music or even the recording at issue here. Most likely it's the brutal honesty of inferior or no AC line conditioning and ics and scs that induce time-smear. Either of these shortcomings will induce an ear fatiguing presentation that makes one run for cover.

Everybody has dirty AC to one bad degree or another and everybody incorporating a cd player (and dac) is subject to bi-directional digital noise that will make its way back into the AC, even back to the service panel and then contaminate your other components. The only line conditioners I can recommend are the Foundation Research passive, dedicated, and bi-directional (for digital noise) line conditioners which I've been using for 5 years and recently took on that product line when I became a dealer. If you do not have proper line conditioning and start to shop for it, be aware that some of the most popular line conditioners actually induce sonic harm rather than purify it. Proper is the keyword here.

Time-smear in cabling (ics and scs) is very common regardless of price. But cables that induce little or no time smear are out there and they make a world of difference. Several that come to mind include Audio Tekne, BPT's, Audience, and Speltz. And none of these will cost an arm and a leg.

Assuming these are two areas that need addressing and resolved you will hear a pristine musical presentation that will catipult your system to levels you did not know were atainable.

If these shortcomings do exist and you choose not to address them it really doesn't matter what else you do.

BTW, with proper line conditioning, the performance of the X-1 should be near identical to that of it's single-chassied little brother the X2.5 which I actually preferred because I did not want the seperate power supply and 6 ft umbilical cord that comes with the X-1 if I could not hear any audible differences.

-IMO
contact Amherst Audio. he knows what it takes to make Trentes sing.
You could try upgrading to the 250.5,much better in the mids than the older model and kinder to less than stellar recordings.
I used to have the X350/2.5 combo. (Still own the 2.5). If it were me, I would upgrade to one of the .5 amps and keep the X1. I've noticed that some dealers are offering a generous trade in on the older amps. Also the Shunyata Aries S XLR's worked out nice with the pass gear. I still own a couple pairs.
I use a Supratek Syrah with my X-250.
This combo works well for me and gives a nice
blend of s.s. & tubes.
As Stehno says sorting the mains supply
and power cords is crucial.
I find the e.a.r. stuff a bit lean and
the Syrah is not exactly a 'cuddly' valve sound.
I found the snappers - a new pair right enough, less
than refined with a solid state pre-amp.
Only my thoughts but I never new how good the Pass
was till I paired it with the Supratek.
My speakers are AP Virgos which are not thought
of as the 'overly warm soundin..g
Very few things sound unbearable and most sound sublime
but I do tend to favour vinyl.
HT Cyberlinks ended the constant i/c upgrade saga once and for all and treating my room stopped me striving for stuff that I just can't afford - at least for now??
Just an afterthought, I used HMS Gran Finale speakers cables for years and still think they are fabulous cables but - the Pass did not seem to gel with them.
Regretfully sold them and now use Harmonic tech Pro 9+
which I'm very happy with.
Strange as my last amp of similar power to the Pass (Nu -Vista integrated)gave astounding results with the Grand Finales.
Never did get along with the matching i/c's - the network boxes or whatever had me switching between the 10 settings like a paranoid loon and they never seemed to give neutral or natural results which was a major anti-climax after the
magic their speaker cables brought to the equation.
How about the room itself? Is your room acoustically 'glaring' and 'reflective'? Maybe experimenting with room treatment first?
Tube preamp, simplest attempt period, borrow something to audition local and go from there, if its not gonna help then at least you know. Cary, VTL, Thor probably good choice, or even the Mcintosh should be fairly organic and less intrusive sound to add to the mix. good luck
I think you should upgrade to the .5 version. I own the 350.5. Best Amp I have heard.
There is not a hint of harshness, very mellow sound,almost tubelike.
So , summing up,

upgrade your:

amp
preamp
power conditioning
power cords
ics
speaker cables
and room.

Only then will you get the sound you are looking for!

Good luck!!!
Thanks to all your feedback and sorry for the late answering…

@Philjolet
”Why do you need the ss Pass?”
-> The Pass amps are quieter than any other analog amp I listened to. For me this is essential when trying to achieve satisfying listening joy. Tube amps together with (IMO required) speakers above 95 dB/watt for true bass control hiss too much for my taste. You can´t really focus on details when hiss is between the signal.

”Sorry to stray off topic but I wish I could hear a pair of Offrandes as they are supposed to be Jean Marie's favorite speaker he builds and my Trentes were superb so I can only imagine...”
-> The Offrandes IMO are perfect for listening to Jazz and not too complex classic music in rather small rooms at rather neighbor suited listening levels.

@Pehare
”contact Amherst Audio. he knows what it takes to make Trentes sing.”
-> “Thanks, will try that.

@Ngjockey
”Nice system. You might try Van der Hul cables.”
-> Thanks, I will explain my latest cable tryouts further down.

@Stehno
”My guess is it's not the brutal honesty of the music or even the recording at issue here. Most likely it's the brutal honesty of inferior or no AC line conditioning and ics and scs that induce time-smear. Either of these shortcomings will induce an ear fatiguing presentation that makes one run for cover. Everybody has dirty AC to one bad degree or another and everybody incorporating a cd player (and dac) is subject to bi-directional digital noise that will make its way back into the AC, even back to the service panel and then contaminate your other components. The only line conditioners I can recommend are the Foundation Research passive, dedicated, and bi-directional (for digital noise) line conditioners which I've been using for 5 years and recently took on that product line when I became a dealer. If you do not have proper line conditioning and start to shop for it, be aware that some of the most popular line conditioners actually induce sonic harm rather than purify it. Proper is the keyword here. Time-smear in cabling (ics and scs) is very common regardless of price. But cables that induce little or no time smear are out there and they make a world of difference. Several that come to mind include Audio Tekne, BPT's, Audience, and Speltz. And none of these will cost an arm and a leg. Assuming these are two areas that need addressing and resolved you will hear a pristine musical presentation that will catipult your system to levels you did not know were atainable. If these shortcomings do exist and you choose not to address them it really doesn't matter what else you do.”
-> Thanks, I guess you are absolutely right in all of your points, I will explain my latest cable and
AC tryouts further down.

@Rost
”You could try upgrading to the 250.5, much better in the mids than the older model and kinder to less than stellar recordings”
@Frankg
”I would upgrade to one of the .5 amps and keep the X1. I've noticed that some dealers are offering a generous trade in on the older amps.”
-> Thanks, did you here them in A/B comparison ?

@Simon74
”As Stehno says sorting the mains supply and power cords is crucial.”
” Only my thoughts but I never new how good the Pass was till I paired it with the Supratek.”
-> Thanks, I will explain my latest cable tryouts further down.

”I find the e.a.r. stuff a bit lean”
-> Less lean than X1 but also less details/transpareny than X1.

”I found the snappers - a new pair right enough, less than refined with a solid state pre-amp.”
-> Absolutely right, in a hight transpareny system your they sound rather “robust”.

”Never did get along with the matching i/c's - the network boxes or whatever had me switching between the 10 settings like a paranoid loon and they never seemed to give neutral or natural results which was a major anti-climax after the magic their speaker cables brought to the quation.”
-> Right, I leave everything on “0”, only when listening to recordings with bass blurr I do
sometimes switch to “leaner settings”.

@Yr44
”How about the room itself? Is your room acoustically 'glaring' and 'reflective'? Maybe experimenting with room treatment first?”
-> Thanks, your´re right. In my case this is quasi the second step, to achieve stable performance even when listening at higher volumes.

@Undertow
”Tube preamp, simplest attempt period, borrow something to audition local and go from there, if its not gonna help then at least you know. Cary, VTL, Thor probably good choice, or even the Mcintosh should be fairly organic and less intrusive sound to add to the mix. good luck.“
-> Thanks, guess you can find optimal timbral solution by doing this. Unfortunately I did not find a tube-preamp in the Pass X1 price class, that adds tubes-typical mids-richness and weight without adding some goo and sacrificing dead silence and resolution.

@Ozzy
I think you should upgrade to the .5 version. I own the 350.5. Best Amp I have heard.
There is not a hint of harshness, very mellow sound,almost tubelike.
-> Thanks, did you here the X350 vs. X350.5 in A/B comparison ?

-----------

Ok, here´s the update: I tried out..

1. Replaced ics (Lindemann to Pass X1):
HMS Sestetto TopMatch balanced -> Nordost Valhalla RCA

2. add-on replaced ics (Pass X1 to Pass X250):
HMS Sestetto TopMatch balance -> Nordost SPM Balanced

3. add-on replaced scs (Pass X250 to Offrandes):
HMS Fortissimo TopMatch Bi-Wire -> Nordost SPM Bi-Wire

4. alternatively replaced scs (Pass X250 to Offrandes):
Nordost SPM Bi-Wire -> Nordost Valhalla Bi-Wire

5. add-on integrated Nordost Thor AC filtering vs. no filtering vs. HMS Energia Filtering
- all plugged in
- just digital plugged in
- digital and preamp plugged in

Results:

1. I´d say 70% improvement concerning harshness, glare almost gone, liquid sound, satisfying
2. I´d say some further improvement, but not dramatic
3. softer sound, easier to the ears, but less impact and dynamics
4. even softer, but even less impact and dynamics, ideal though for Classic
5. Improvement in any setup over no filtering or HMS filtering. Could not decide yet if I
liked it better to leave the X250 without filtering at all ot plugged into the Thor. Dynamics
seem to be at least a very little “calmed down”.

So far I still have to try out the Nordost Valhalla “Balanced”, because the Lindemann Balanced output is more dynamic and higher resolution – my dealer just had the Valhalla RCA, so will still have to find out. The Valhalla between source and preamp is definetly matching.

-> Did anybody experience comparable results for less money ?

Possibly I can keep the HMS Sestetto between Pass X1/X250 due to their
rather sonic neutral character and Pass´ less sensible behaviour between Pas devices.

The Thor AC filtering I will definetly give a try.

Regards
Hi Rocou,

I can't see switching to the .5 as a value for money upgrade.
If things sound unforgiving, I can't see another power amp changing much.
imo Nordost cables are about the most 'unforgiving' I've ever heard.
I find the Pass susceptible to changes of speaker cable,
copper and the more of it the better.

I've found treating connectors with Mapleshade Silclear, Walker SST or the like, to remove a whole layer of grain
from most systems.

Rgds Simon
Hello Rocou,
I just bought the combo X2.5/X150.5 which is more or less comparable to your set-up. I've never listened to the X150 or X250 but, acc. to my dealer, the .5 is regarded as "warmer". OK, let's move on to the cabling : you should definitively go balanced with the ic and for both source/pre-amp and pre-amp/amp; rca is not ideal with Pass gear. Secondly, use your best ic between source and pre-amp; the ic between pre-amp and amp is less critical compared to the former. In my case, the former is Stealth Indra and for the pre-amp/amp NBS Omega I. Thirdly, watch out for the power : given Pass' transparency, the quality of power is paramount particularly if the rest of your gear is high-resolution. I have a dedicated AC with Furutech Rhodium plug on the wall for the poweramp which, in my view, is the best you can do. In addition, the dedicated line has an audiophile circuit breaker (copper). I suggest you don't hook the poweramp on a power conditioner. This would be fine for source and pre-amp. Finally, I also had a all Valhalla cabling system. Great low level dynamics, speed but rather thin in bass and perhaps edgy in the highs. NBS Omega line has done a much better job for me.
So, these are just a few thoughts you may consider in your quest for the perfect cabling.
cheers
in my experience, what makes it unlistenable is usually a source component. Not the pre-amp, not the amp. Try a different player. May be a tube cd player would be a good solution. Just a thought....