Singular Amplification Experience; Review Now Published


Well, at at least the first of 3 segments is published at Dagogo.com 

The Pass Labs XA200.8 Mono Block Amplifier; super-amps exist, and it's shocking, when they throw their weight around, how much they sway a system. 





douglas_schroeder
The rest of us, who understand that an amp’s sound is no more harmed by placement on cinder blocks or furniture dollies versus a $10K audiophile stand, are managing quite nicely.
I am saying that the hand wringing about how long to burn in an audio component is a waste of time

With these words you are now my favorite reviewer
Welcher, thanks for the support! I’ll try not to lose your support in segments 2 and 3! :)



"The rest of us, who understand that an amp’s sound is no more harmed by placement on cinder blocks or furniture dollies versus a $10K audiophile stand, are managing quite nicely."

My commercial restaurant rack shelving (on casters) makes my amps tasty!
Oh, geez, not more anti isolationists!? Did I just wake up back in the 1980s? 😳
douglas_schroeder

Thank You for the review.  Happy Listening!
I was surprised at the comment about the amp stands Doug. I understand the realities of being a reviewer and needing to move these beasts around, but that doesn't mean that you should discount the efficacy of proper supports in a good system. I know that a proper stand made a startling difference in the sound of my tube DAC.
For the benefit of the community, I am not an "anti-isolationist". In my discourse I do not speak to the topic of isolation of analogue front ends, as I do not use analogue source. I presume it would be a very important part of the analogue setup, and were I using vinyl I would aggressively pursue the comparison of various devices and methods to determine their efficacy, as I have with other methods for speakers, components, etc. 

I have done many comparisons of various isolation devices for components, and choose to focus instead on the electronics. My time is better served by building systems than waiting for burn in and placing isolation devices. 

Imo, the principle benefit of footers, spikes, stands, etc. for speakers is the elevation of the speaker, not the materials used. Some industry members would disagree; so be it. That is why I have 2 dozen hard rubber hockey pucks on hand to elevate subwoofers, speakers, etc. BTW, what does Pass Labs use for "isolating" the XA200.8 Mono Amp? A very hard rubber footer that has similarity to a hockey puck. 

As can be seen, I don't fawn over every proffered improvement the industry promotes. Disagree? Great, build systems your own way.  :)



Roxy54, I"ll give you lenience on your comment! ;) 

FYI, my last response was not so much a reply to you, but to the assertion that I am an "anti-isolationist". Do not consider me to have shown disdain toward your comment. 

I would agree that pursuit of a stand for tube amps would be more desirable than SS amp. 


douglas_schroeder OP
For the benefit of the community, I am not an "anti-isolationist". In my discourse I do not speak to the topic of isolation of analogue front ends, as I do not use analogue source. I presume it would be a very important part of the analogue setup, and were I using vinyl I would aggressively pursue the comparison of various devices and methods to determine their efficacy, as I have with other methods for speakers, components, etc.

I have done many comparisons of various isolation devices for components, and choose to focus instead on the electronics. My time is better served by building systems than waiting for burn in and placing isolation devices.

>>>>I hate to judge before all the facts are in but it appears I called that one right after all. 🤗 Yes, I know what you’re thinking, “but SS amps don’t have any moving parts.”

Here's Audiogon in a nutshell.  Nine responses into this thread, and nine comments on the amp stand. Score so far:

amplifier electronics, sound, synergy, etc. etc. 0

ampstand 9

@douglas_schroeder   What is your flooring? Thanks.
twoleftears, not to worry, I think things will even out over time. If people learn to put their hard earned money into the actual electronics that make the sound, that's a good thing. It's a whole lot better than me gushing over some ridiculously expensive amp stands for inconsequential electronics, don't you think? 

david_ten, my room is in the basement, which is ideal for sound isolation from the rest of the house. The flooring, then, is concrete slab with thick pad (At first the carpet company did not wish to put as thick a pad down, but there has never been water in the basement in the 54 years of the home's existence, and I insisted), and thick Berber carpeting wall to wall. 
The sensation I have when listening is that the room does not seem to distract from what the system is doing, a particular preference that I feel was achieved well. 



High end audio is like art......no one sees it the same. Quarter mile drag racing is a science. There are only 6 factors that get you down the quarter mile the fastest and quickest:.....weight, drag, traction, horsepower and gearing.....and then there is the driver. That is it. In subjective audio hot rodding there is an infinite number of things that change the sound. This is why no audiophile does their system like anyone else. It is an individual sport. "What I like to hear and what I think makes a difference to what I want to hear and experience....is what I want/believe and do." Some people who experiment a lot and are perfectionists know that everything you do makes a difference.....including amp stands. But who says you have to play there? No one.....we are all doing our own dance. Look at the dragsters......they are almost identical....because everyone knows its just those 5 factors and the driver. There is an infinite number of changes you can do to an audio system that are not measurable....not at all.....but you can hear them. This is one reason why most audiophiles limit their intake of info and things to try. You either have to be seriously rich or want to fool around all the time and try everything (which is impossible, anyway).

Please read Jason Serinus’s review in Stereophile for another opinion:
https://www.stereophile.com/content/pass-laboratories-xa2008-monoblock-power-amplifier

The dance is infinite....just like life. Enjoy the dance.
Interesting read this thread, on the subject of Isolation when i put my Speakers on the Townshend Audio Seismic Podiums i was gobsmacked by the improvements to the sound in all areas possibly bigger than any component upgrade i have ever done. It would be great Douglas if you could review a pair in your system i would love to read your opinion on them.
I also use DH Super Cones and Squares under all my components and can say they have built on the strengths of the Podiums. The music is completely free from the Speakers, holographic very musical with effortless dynamics.
From my experiences correct Speaker, Source and Preamp Isolation is critical.
Sorry if i have gone off the topic but i felt i needed to mention in my system Townshends Seismic Podiums Speaker Isolation were the key that opened the door.

Stay safe everyone and enjoy the music.

douglas_schroeder OP
twoleftears, not to worry, I think things will even out over time. If people learn to put their hard earned money into the actual electronics that make the sound, that’s a good thing. It’s a whole lot better than me gushing over some ridiculously expensive amp stands for inconsequential electronics, don’t you think?

>>>>>First, no one said you have to gush over ridiculously expensive amp stands. We’re actually not even talking about amp stands, much less ridiculously expensive ones. If you’re happy with the “pure sound” of your ridiculously expensive amps without benefit of isolation more power to you. It’s actually not (rpt not) true that amps make the sound, the SYSTEM makes the sound. It’s the concept of isolation. A system engineer’s system will ALWAYS sound better than an electronics engineer’s system. 🤗 That’s why I am saying you’re an anti isolationist. 
select_hifi
I also use DH Super Cones and Squares under all my components and can say they have built on the strengths of the Podiums. The music is completely free from the Speakers, holographic very musical with effortless dynamics.

>>>>Another example of physics at work, extremely hard materials like DH (Diamond Hardness) ceramic cones ALWAYS SOUND better than softer materials like brass, aluminum and carbon fiber. Back when I was a dealer for DH Cones I had a great number of them and other sizes too, and the DH Squares, maybe 50, in my room. There are many uses for them, some of which are perhaps beyond scope of this discussion. 😬
I am drawing up a plan to do comparison of the following in combination:

Two identical systems, one with selected elements featuring burn in, warm up, support, isolation devices, and cable "settling" vs. the other with selected elements featuring none of them. It will be similar in methodology to my previous work in the article "Audiophile Law: Thou Shalt Not Overemphasize Burn In". 


recevs, I almost never pay attention to other reviewers' work primarily because I am so busy working on my own articles. Perhaps three times in 14 years have I read what someone else said in regard to a product I review. I could not have told you that Jason reviewed it. It was an interesting read, primarily as his methods and demo music are fundamentally different from mine, as will be seen clearly in parts 2 and 3 of my review.

In terms of the character of the amp, there is a notable difference in how we describe the bass; as the other amps compared in our reviews are distinct, a variance in experience should be expected. One can see in my review how the XA200.8 fares in comparison to other amps of similar power. Much of what Jason said in regards to the imaging, sound staging, headroom, etc. is quite similar to my impressions. Other than the bass, we reached a strikingly similar conclusion, and if we were both listening to the same systems, it is likely we would be in agreement on that aspect as well. 

Pass Labs must be quite pleased to have two distinctly different reviewers being harmonious in verdict. 

@douglas_schroeder 

Thank you for all your review hard work. Well done!
joinid, you're welcome! 
I love the endless variety of system building, and that keeps me motivated. My goal/reward is the variety of experiences. 

Just yesterday I put the Legacy Whisper DSW Clarity Edition speakers back into the rig with the XA200.8, one of my favorite combos. Together, the experience of hearing it is like "elegance overload," which I force myself to suffer being exposed to for longer sessions.  ;)  
One of the most surprising and humbling experiences is ongoing discovery of how vast the performance spectrum is, a sensationally great range of sound quality and playback experiences. If I had not handled so much gear and built so many systems I would have no idea of the extent of it. It has taught me not to say there is no more room for improvement. 


Part 2 now published. In this segment it will be revealed how dominant an amplifier's presence is in a system. When an amp is so extreme, new options for system building become available - and the results can be superior to traditional setups.