Pass XP22 demo vs my XP12

I recently had the chance to do an in-home demo of a Pass XP22 pre-amp vs my XP12.

It was nice to do in my home system. Obviously I had to switch inputs as quickly as I could. But I did set things up with a DB meter so outputs were exactly the same.

I was skeptical in regards to their being much of a difference, though I have been a big believer of power supplies throughout the years. But, in reading so much about switching power supplies, I started to even question if having a toroidal power supply still mattered! Call me old-school (though I’m only in my 40’s) but I do think it still matters.

But in regards to the XP12 vs XP22. I figure the "guts" of the pre-amp have to be pretty similar, though I did feel the volume control on the XP22 was a bit better.

Where I really noticed a difference was in the cliche... blacker background. I did really notice more space around instruments and vocalists without a doubt. My bass response was more defined, and a bit quicker with the XP22. The midrange was great with both, but a bit more clear with the XP22 (but not brighter by any means).   The highs on both are quite good.  A bit more space on the XP22, but I wouldn't say more extension (though that would be tough to know as I doubt my hearing goes as high as either pre-amp kicks out). 

I suppose I have to attribute this to the outboard power supply and additional transformer.  As I suspect that is the primary difference. 

It’s funny as I don’t have a way to measure it, but there was no doubt it sounded better. I didn’t want that to be the case as I was throwing around a different DAC (that I also had in house). But to me, in my system with my ears the XP22 made a bigger difference than a newer DAC (though my older DAC still has a fairly recent chip).

I think both are pretty darn neutral (but that is all relative I suppose to what else I have had and heard).  

Looks like the budget is going towards a new pre-amp!
Oppo Sonica and the RME ADI FS2.

The pre-amps made a much bigger difference in sonics than both DAC's.  I heard a slight difference in the DAC's, but not anything I would rave about one over the other on SQ.

Have you tried running the RME directly to your amp yet? I recently set mine up direct and I’m not sure I’ll throw my preamp back in the chain except when I want to listen to vinyl. I haven’t put my preamp back in since going direct as I was to get more used to the difference in sound but from memory it’s significantly different and I am afraid maybe better. My ModWright LS 36.5 is a great preamp but the RME ADI 2fs is dead quiet, spooky soundstage with images floating far beyond the walls of my room. If you haven’t tried it yet I’d strongly suggest giving it a run. I’m going balance out to my amp and the cable I’m using cost more than the RME but I think that only shows how great this little DAC is. 

Oh, I played around with all of that also.

Dac Direct (either) - Depending on the track it could be a toss-up vs the XP-12. On clean, smoother tracks I prefered DAC direct. On bad recordings (of which there are so many...) the XP12 I preferred, particularly at louder volumes.

However vs the XP22, I found that I liked the XP22 better 85% of the time. It was as clean of a background as the DAC direct, but took just enough of the rough edges off on the bad recordings that I preferred it there also.

For instance on Kind of Blue, where there is the well known distortion out of the right channel - it was all there in it’s glory (and annoying me) DAC direct. I prefered either pre-amp in this case.  But the XP22 was better.

So DAC direct vs xp-12... recording and volume dependent.

Dac direct vs the XP22 - XP22 about 85% of the time was preferred.

Just my findings as I have pretty revealing speakers also.
I’m in this situation right now.. do I go for from the XP12 to the 22.. sigh.. it sounds good now.
Go for the 22. I went up the line to the 32. Each step was progressively better, but the jump to the 22 from the 12 was much more significant. 
The XP22 arrives this Tuesday..  will be interesting to compare and looking forward to it..
The XP22 arrived a few days ago. I moved the XP12 aside and hooked up the 22..  After a day of warmup time, I put on some music for some background listening as I was busy in another room. 
I could hear differences from the other room.. a few days later I sat down for critical listening. Some very nice differences, quieter background, more focused , an ease of presentation.. nothing forced. Everything sounds more “live”.  Still breaking in, but the xp12 is boxed up ready to be returned. The 22 is more neutral sounding. The PS chassis stays cool to the touch.. and the audio chassis also runs cooler than the 12. I also thought the power umbilical cord was well designed and executed.
enjoy !