Pre Amp for Pass Labs X150.5


I am looking for a pre amp to partner my X150.5

Would the Audio Research SP16L pre be a good match with Pass Labs X150.5?

Or the Cary SLP-03 would be a better match?

Any comments are welcome.

Ever consider a Pass preamp? Whatever you choose, make sure the impedences match up because Pass amps typically are harder on the preamp to drive relative to other amplifiers.
Hi Bikerduud,

Thanks for the reply.

I always hear ppl say about impedance match up btw pre and power, esp for Pass power. Could you u pls kinldy enlighten me with some actual figures?

I use an Atma-Sphere MP-1 with Pass Labs XA-60.5 with excellent results.

I believe in general, you want to consider preamps with less than 200 omhs output impedance to match with Pass Labs if you're going to run single ended, and 600 ohms or less if you're going to run balanced.
i would go with a pbn audio amp

i see pass labs amp has two inout impedance, 30 kohm and 20 kohm. Which one refers to balanced? Thanks
30 kOhm is balanced.

20 kOhm is single ended.
Thanks for all replies. really appreciate it.

Anyone has any comments on the Jeff Rowland Capri? It fits my budget perfectly. Out impedance is also a good match: 80 ohms balanced & 40 ohms unbalanced.

The Capri would likely work very well. Buy one used and try it. Re-sell it if it's not to your liking.
Hello, I'm running a pair of Pass Labs X600.5 monoblock amps, which, like your X150.5 amp, have an input impedance of 22kohms balanced, and a Pass labs X0.2 preamp. The output impedance of the Pass Labs XO.2 preamp is 200 ohms unbalanced & 750 ohms balanced. You could buy a Pass Labs X-1 preamp for around $2200 used or try the JR Capri preamp that everyone is talking about--(assuming the output impedance of the Capri matches). Also, depends on if you want to go solid state or tube. Sounds like you are leaning toward tubes. To narrow the playing field: First, make sure that the output impedance of your new preamp is a good match with your Pass amp. Second, try to determine if there would be a musical synergy between the two components. The second part is the harder (and fun) part. Good luck! Stan
besides the impedance matching, i read that the gain also plays a part. just don't know how, someone pls enlighten me.

the X150.5 has a gain of 30dB, say the pre has a output gain of 14 dB, what does this mean? what if the pre now has a gain of just 4 dB?

It simply means you'll turn the volume knob farther on the 4dB preamp, and you may have smaller steps in volume versus the 14 dB preamp. In other words, the 14dB gain preamp will get louder faster than will the 4 dB preamp, and the 14 dB preamp may get too loud, or be too loud, at a low volume control setting.

30 dB gain on an amp is toward the high side from my experience.
just to make sure i get it right. X150.5 has gain of 30 dB and Balanced input impedance of 30,000 Ohm. say i have 2 pre:
A) Balance Output Impedance of 750 Ohm, Gain of 4 dB, every step in volume increment is 3 dB
B) Balance Output Impedance of 80 Ohm, Gain of 14 dB, every step in volume increment is 0.5 dB

Preamp B would give more control and play of the volume right? i.e. I could play my system late at night without getting too loud.

how does the output impedance affect the outcome?

Hello Driver, To my knowledge preamp output impedance doesn't effect volume. Matching of impedance just assures that the entire audio signal is passed. I looked up your X150.5's input impedance last night @ the Pass Labs website. According to Pass, your amp's balanced input impedance is 22 kohms, just like my X600.5 amps. The gain of my amps is also 30 dB. My Pass Labs X0.2 preamp has a gain of 12 dB balanced, while my old Audio Research Reference 3 preamp had a gain of 11.5 balanced. Both worked well with my system as far as volume goes. If a gain is very high, like a VTL 7.5 markI preamp which has a gain of 20 dB balanced, for example, then you can run into high volume problems no matter how low you set your preamp's volume. Also, with the VTL 7.5 markI, it would depend on an amps output and the amps gain, plus the sensitivity of speakers, etc. However, most preamps have a sensible gain and aren't as high as the VTL 7.5 markI. Hope this helped. Stan
Talon4 described it pretty well.

Impedance mismatch generally results in early bass roll-off.

Gain mismatch generally is an issue if the preamp has to much gain because you may have too much system volume with the preamp at it's lowest setting. Low preamp gain generally just means you have to turn the volume knob farther than you think is normal, but it usually doesn't affect the sound in a negative fashion.

Ability to listen at low volumes late at night is more a factor of speaker/amp match, and good power conditioning contributing to a low noise floor, IMO.
Thanks Talon4 and Tvad.