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!

Showing 2 responses by trudat

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.
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.