Speaker match with Pass Labs XA-160

Just upgraded to XA-160 monos. Currently running X-350 with an X-1 pre. Speakers are Audio Physic Virgo IIs with REL Storm III subs in stereo config. Any thoughts on full range speakers that would match well with these gems.
Focus Audio FS-888 Signature or their flagship full range Master 2/3 series. I heard the Pass Lab X350.5 driving the Master 2 & it was pure magic..........life like & effortless.
Von Schweikerts-model depending on budget and deals available.
Usher Audio Be 20 are remarkable ultra high performance loudspeakes that are super reasonably priced for the price which is less than $20k a pair for a speaker which offers Kharma or Avalon levles of performance and build quality.

They may be hard to find currently but they are worth the effort to find them.

Check out the current threads on these wonderful speakers.
Be careful replacing the Virgo IIs. From what I remember of hearing them in shops when they were new (and I oculdn't afford them), they were one of the best speakers I've ever heard. I wouldn't sell them until I lived with their intended replacement for a few months. Then give them one last listen before placing your ad to sell them. You might end up keeping them!
Michael Fremer said the Pass XA-160's were a perfect match to WATT/Puppy 7's.

The XA-160's are excellent class A amplifiers. They will match up with a wide variety of different types of speakers and will drive most anything. If you get 50 respounces, you'll probably get close to 50 different answeres. I would concentrate more on what you're looking for in a speaker according to your preferences and price range.
Dear Gandme: I agree totally with Frankg. The XA-160 could match with any speaker out there.

Now, if you are looking for a full range speaker that's mean that you are not satisfied with what you have, right?. How could you know if a full range speaker in your room could achieve your quality sound priorities?.

In my experience almost any full range speakers can beat a good set-up of fine speaker/satellite-subwoofer combination and the FRS can't give you any advantage over that kind of combination. The key here is " good set-up ", with good integration not only to the room but between the satellite and the subwoofer through the critical selected crossover frequency and in real stereo fashion.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Dear Gandme: I understand that the REL sub's were designed specific for bass reinforcement ( that is only one of the targets in sub's ) and that they can't integrated in " real stereo way ".
What this mean: that with a REL sub you have to run the main speakers full range because you can't cut/select, through the crossover REL sub, a high-pass frequency. So you are not really take it advantage of the sub's other that the bass reinforcement.
You have to try it, in the moment that you have a real stereo set-up between your main speakers and your sb's I'm sure that will stop to looking for a full range speakers.

This is what I posted in other thread about sub's:

" Where the subs can help us ? :

Intermodulation Distortions: Almost any three ways speaker ( all two ways/one way ) has it's crossover frecuency ( low driver ) between 150Hz and 450Hz. I can assume that any of ours speakers system goes down flat ( at least ) between 60Hz to 20Hz.

What does that means ?, well that a single driver has to reproduce frequencies/harmonics from 20Hz/60Hz to 150Hz/450Hz. With that kind of frequency range here exist a great intermodulation distortions that put it's " color " on the sound reproduction.

You have to imagine that that single woofer/driver has to reproduce, at the same " time ", a 30Hz frequency along a 350Hz frequency: here is where exist that IM that gives heavy distortions in what we hear ( there is no perfect driver: moving coil, electrostatic, ribbon, etc.. The speaker designers has to choose the best " trade offs ", but the distortions are there. ): less clarity, less resolution, less precision, less natural balance, less pitch, les, less, less......., and this is what we are really hearing: LESS MUSIC.

If you read any manufacturer specifications on their speakers they never " write " the value of the IM or harmonic distortions, they tell us the frequency range and how is flat on that range but never " talk " about distortions. I think that you know that when we have a speaker frequency specifications, say: 28Hz to 22kHz +,- 3db, that is a very nice spec, that speaker low driver don't stop at 28Hz it's goes a few hertz below that frequency with heavy harmonic distortion that increase the IM distortion of the sound reproduction of that driver and these additional distortions have a severe degradation in the reproduction of the MUSIC.

What happen when that low driver is free from those frequencies ? ( main speakers: monitors or full range, it does not matters. ), below 80Hz ( this is the crossover frecuency that we find the best point to start to blend a subwoofer ):

SUDDENLY the " lights are on ", your music/audio " life " its born: the mid bass is clean, the midrange is clean, the highs are clean: high resolution every where ( the distortions are almost gone ), and now you can really hear for the first time the MUSIC through your home stereo audio system: what a pleasure!!!!!.

This is truly a discovery for all of us that cares about MUSIC. We really discovery what kind ( quality/quantity ) of audio system we really have and where to work for a future improvements.

Now that we already settle in the subwoofers ( self powered ) with our main speakers ( yes, it is a hard work to do. We need at least: very good ears, love for music, experience with live music, patience, time and good muscles. We have to work with: location of subwoofers and the main speakers too, phase, crossover frecuency, volume/gain. We need two subwoofers not one and this issue is critical. TIP: avoid the common asumption that the crossover point should be at the low frecuency flat response of the main speakers, example: the speakers are flat at 40Hz, then you choose 40Hz for the frecuency crossover between the subs and the speakers, this is a great mistake: remember that we use subwoofers not only for a better and extended low bass but for a better midrange/midbass too. So, the frecuency crossover will be over that 40Hz: not at 40Hz or below 40Hz. ), we have others advantages:

- better quality low bass ( you can have at least one more octave ) and mid bass ( quantity? : you choose it: volume/gain ) ). Now we can heard the " foundation " of the MUSIC ( and its harmonics ) and this single issue is stunning for the pleasure to hear any kind of music. Now, we are nearest to the " real MUSIC ", nothing less.

The first time you can hear the subwoofers right blended on your stereo home audio system: YOU NEVER COULD LIVE WITH OUT THEM AGAIN, ANY ONE CAN, period.

- An improvement in the soundstage reproduction in all parameters: deep, front/side location, wide of the stage, etc...

- the main speakers amplifiers works best ( less distortion, more headroom, less chance of clipping, less amplifier stress, etc...) with out to handle the frecuencies range that now are handle by the dedicated subwoofers amplifiers. This is important for an SS amplifier but for the tubes ones is a must.

- Now the low bass frecuencies are handle for a dedicated driver that was build with specifics characteristics for to work in that frequency range and this low bass driver is matched with an amplifier ( self powered subwoofers ) that was build with specifications that mates excatly what the low bass drivers needs about: frequency response, output impedance, damping, power, etc..... You can't ask for more!!!

- Not only the IM distortion goes down but the harmonic distortion of the low driver of your main speakers goes down too, Btw, the whole harmonic distortion goes down, because ( in the case of my Velodyne's less than 0.5%: with's yours? ) the harmonic distortion of a well self powered designed subwoofer is usually " very low ". This means ( again ) less coloration: MORE MUSIC.

All what I post here are my own experiences and that's what I like to share with all of you.

It works for you?,. I think that you have to try if your speakers are not self powered or headphones.

Imagine how could your Wilson's, Dynaudio's, Karma's, Sonus Faber, Dali's, Merlin's, Martin Logan's, Aerial's, Spendor's, Harbeth's, Thiel's, Alon's, Talon's, Paradigm's, JM Labs, Epos, Avalon's, Boston'S, B&W, Magneplanar's, Proac's, Quad's, Revel, Totem's, etc, etc..... sound.

Better than that: don't imagine, try it. "

Regards and enjoy the music.
Thank you all for your thoughts and insights. I will be keeping my Virgos and Rel Subs no matter what I purchase in the a full range speaker. My short list: Audio Physic Avante III, Wilson Watt 7s or possibly B&W 802Ds.
To Raul
I believe it is possible to intergrate Stereo subs into your system. Just overlap the rolloff points to suit the room responce. My Virgos rolloff at approx 38 hertz I set my Rels crossovers to approx 40. Works well with good recordings... not so well with others... But one always has the option of adjusting Sub volume or crossover points for each recording... a big advantage over full range speakers. Hey nothings perfect!
Thanks again all!
If you are staying with Audio Physic, there is an Avanti V out in about a month.

I have BW 802d and I talked directly to Pass about whether I should get the x600.5 or the XA160. They emphatically recommend the x600.5. So in case you end up getting the 802d that is something to consider.
Dear Greg: I'm sorry to insist, the magic to integrate a pair of self powered subwoofers in true stereo way belongs to the crossover frequency selected: 38Hz/40Hz is to low crossover frequency, is a wrong one.
The first target ( and where the magic is ) when we integrate sub's is to liberate the main speakers ( Virgo ) of frequencies below 80Hz, these frequencies will take it for the sub's down to the very low bass octave. In this manner you will have the low bass ( foundation of the music ) that your main speakers can't handle/give and at the same time your main speakers ( that now are liberated of the frequencies below 80Hz ) will shine with a great mid bass/mid range/high frequency clarity, transparency, natural tonal balance that you can't have it at this moment and that a full range speaker can't beat.

Greg, the crossover frequency must be near 80Hz: in the low pass and high pass crossover filters. What you are doing today does not help to improve the quality sound reproduction in your system and that's why you posted what you are experienced in your system: " Works well with good recordings... not so well with others... ".

The problem is that your REL's does not have a high pass filter, then you need an external crossover to set-up in the right way.
Like I alredy told you: a main speaker/sub wired in the right way ( with same quality speaker level build ) beats almost any non self powered full range speaker. No question about.

Regards and enjoy the music.

I understand your what you are saying. I do not think you understand my point... It is the room and the recording that makes the difference. Setting my Rels up to 80 hertz, in my room.... I could surf on the low level wave created by my room response. My Virgos are not bass shy. They are rated to 34 hertz, they are not bookself speakers. When I (as you call reinforce the bass) I also effect changes in the midrange that are very appealing and not minor events that are hard to hear. My crossover points and sub volume may change w/some recordings, but if I had nothing to do but listen to the music..... I would not feel like a true Stereo operator. Ha!
I hope you enjoy your system as much as I. I truly enjoy the exchange of views.
Cheers, Greg

Your amps can drive just about anything from inefficient planars to 107 dB efficient horns. High power Class A amplification can pretty much do it all.

Obviously you like the Virgos and RELs because you're keeping them.

So... in what ways are you looking for a different experience from this new pair of speakers? Or, are you looking for a different experience?

Duke, I do not want to limit my experience to what I'm listening to now. Moving up from a Pass X-350 to the XA-160s is a large leap. Will my current setup do them justice? I have never heard true full range speakers in my room and I do not want to limit my audio quest with the feeling "I'm done" where is the fun in that! I thought with this thread people would jump onto their keyboards to sing the praises of the best XA - full range combo they have heard. I got a recommendation for Wilson 7s. But everyone else is way too logical. You now how hard it is to audition large high end speaker in your own room. That is why so many of us are members of this fine club...we get valuable information from informed, experianced Audiophiles. So yes I am looking for a different experience....not that my current one is lacking. But I know there is no end in sight... searching for audio heaven.
I heard the XA-160s with Eggleston Works Andra II's. If you like the Pass sound, the XA is a welcome step up from the X-350. More rounded, fluid, altogether more musical. The Andra II's are phenomenally good, the kind of speaker that will stop you from looking further.

Good luck!
boa2: i am curious, how would you characterize the pass sound?
How would I characterize the Pass sound?
X-350, X-350.5, X-600, etc. have a similar character to them, as do the preamps and phono stages. To my ear, these are the adjectives that come to mind:
incisive, dry, narrow, neutral, ashy, wispy, airy.
I'm calling it like I hear it, with neither a vote for or against Pass.

I found the XA-160s had a bit more jump and dance to them. They orchestrated the music in a more arrestive manner, and with a sweeter, tad more emotional (read: triode-ish) sound to them.

Hope that answers your question.
Thank you boa2. Have you listened to the new .5 series? I would agree with a few of your adjectives when describing the previous series. I felt they were a bit dry, clinical, sterile. The new .5 series is very similar to that XA series but they still retain the same detail, dynamics.

Thanks again!
I've heard the 350.5 maybe 10 months ago. If this is not the new .5 series, then no, I've not heard it. Thanks for the alert on that!

Now I am a little confused.

Understanding that it is always difficult to describe sound, I don't put:

"dry, incisive, neutral"

or in the words of Tboooe

"clinical and sterile"

in the same family as "liquid", palpable,warm musical, natural, wonderful, fabulous, gorgeous, I love it, let's rush right out and spend a few thousand dollars more on new amps.

I have always been intrigued by Pass equipment and would love to see two massive monoblocks with blue lights in my listening room.

But I don't need any more "dry" "etched" "clear" or "revealing" for as long as I live please.

I just want to admire the beauty and crafstmanship of these amps, enjoy the music, never run out of power with my Magneplanar Tympanis, and not rack up giant UPS bills shlepping them back and forth to the manufacturer for service.

If anyone knows if any of these Pass monoblocks are up to that task, please do let me know.

cwlondon: based on my experience with the new .5 amps, I would say they are very much up to the task. Now they are never going to sound like tube amps. So if you are looking for some serious warm, liquid, palpable sound, then I think you should look for tubes. However, if you want the best of ss and tubes then the I think the new .5 or XA Pass Labs give you this.
Dunlavy SC-IV, both are known for the accuracy, i.e. hi-fidelity if you can handle the truth!
Apparently Jack Nickelson(Cdma)didn't understand this thread or is lost without a purpose.
This thread also ended up in a Wine tasting room with some none related commentary, "dry and airy with a lingering analytical nose"!
Thanks for the heads up on the 802Ds. My plan was to bi-amp with X600.5s and my XA-160s for the mids and highs. It does not look like it's going to happen in the near future. My wife, who I love dearly, is showing signs of concern for my mental stability combined with a unhealthy dose of mistrust and disbelief. I may even have to sell my XA-160s. I think I will lick my wounds and fight this battle another day! If I do get the 802Ds and manage to hold on to my XA-160s, I can bi-amp with my X-350 for now.
I had also planned to upgrade my X-1 pre to an X-0.2....c'est la vie!
Cheers, Greg
Boa2, Now I am a little confused.
Understanding that it is always difficult to describe sound, I don't put:
"dry, incisive, neutral"...
in the same family as "liquid", palpable,warm musical, natural, wonderful, fabulous, gorgeous, I love it, let's rush right out and spend a few thousand dollars more on new amps.
Neither did I. I don't hear "liquid, palpable, warm, musical, etc." when I listen to Pass gear. Others might, however.

As I said above, if you like the Pass sound, they work well with the Andra II's. I would also suggest that if you have been pleased with your Levinson amps, the Pass are definitely worth a listen.
Boa, The problem with the Andra IIs... very hard to find on the used market.
Anyone heard Talon matched up with Pass gear?
Perhaps, I'm mistaken here, but, I thought I read in TAS that Nelson Pass didn't think that the XA-160's should be used with speakers that dropped below 6 Ohms.
I may be mistaken. But I believe he states there are no speakers that present a load that is troublesome to the XA-160. He does say for large speakers that are not very efficient the X-600.5 is probably a better choice. We are talking extremes here.
The Von Schweikery 5ES sounded quite good with the 600s.I'm sure that the 160s would sound even better.
If thay's not in the budget,then possibly the 4 jr/sr.
The Talons use the Accuton tweeter.I 've heard it sound very good and very irritating-depending on equipment and room.
Boa, The problem with the Andra IIs... very hard to find on the used market
I'm sure these can be had for a close-to-used price, and here is a used pair.

I've seen as many as 3 pair at once on the used market. But if you're deciding between the WP7 and the 802D, I'd suggest hearing the Andra II first. They are quite different than the Wilsons or the B&Ws.

Good luck!
Avalon line, from Eclipse to the top.

I had a Pass X250 with a pair of Eclipses - great sound!

I think the problem is... I would not ship a large heavy pair of high end speaker across the country. I would rather find a pair in N. Cal, used.... I have not seen one yet.
Gandme. I own the Talon Firebirds with Diamond tweeters. Right now I'm driving them with the Lamm M1.2 Ref. monos. These are rated at 110 watts of class A power. The Lamms easily drive the Firebirds. The XA-160's would have no problem at all with the Firebirds. I used to own the Pass X350. Good amp but too bright on top IMO and a little too S/S sounding. The XA-160's should cure all that. I would keep them and sell the X350.
As I said in my earlier post, the XA 160's will match well with most speakers assuming the rest of the system is well integrated once you have chosen the speakers to be driven by your XA 160's. Your choice of source, pre amp, cables etc. will all play a part in getting the sound that you are looking for.
For instance, if you chose the Firebirds or Karmas (that also use the accutron mid/tweeters) you would want a cd source that can take advantage of the high frequency clairty that these drivers can provide without sounding bright. I'm using the EMM Signature with excellent results but there is a new crop of players that are supposed to be excellent in this regard (if you can believe the reviews)that you could look into.
As for pre amp, I would keep the X-1 for now. It's very good but I'd up-grade that later to a different brand. I still own a Pass 2.5 pre but my EMM DCC-2 Sig. is better IMO. A quiet tubed pre amp like the ARC Ref. 3 would be a good choice.
It's late so that's it for now.
I persoanlly prefer the Pass LSXRTXA-460 unit. Much much much better resolution, power, dynamics, speed, highs/bass all superior
You really have nothing meaningful to contribute, do you Bartokfan?
I thought the Pass LSXRTXA-460 was only a prototype. When did you get the opportunity to hear this amp? How did it compare to the XA 160? A comparison would be helpful considering the XA 160 is the amp Gandme was looking to get some meaningful input?
I'm trying to get Gan to look at his system. The names mean something.
IOW I'd personally never buy anything witha X in its title. All his stuff has an X in it. Whats with the X.
Jadis NEVER uses an X in any of their amps names. Cayin also. Tyler speakers does not use the letter X. If these labs use a letter or number its something that is understandable right off.
I just don't get why all these new equipment uses all these letters and numbers. Its some gimmick, some ploy.
My 2 cents.
good luck Gan.
The Pass LSXRTXA-460 is only available in Louisiana to the hearing impaired.

Contact Bartok for details.
Cayin. That's a funny soundin' name. Sounds like pepper. Hot-n-spicy pepper. Like Tabasco. I would never buy gear that's hot-n-spicy...or made by Tabasco. Cayin...what a silly, nonsensical name for an audio lab.

Cayin 17? Cayin keeps makin' the model number higher and higher. Couldn't they stop with Cayin 2, or is 17 hotter-n-spicier? Heck, anyone interested in hot-n-spicy Cayin products might as well wait for Cayin 50. Muy caliente!

And by the way, what's up with Tyler Taylo 7U? What kind of name is Taylo? And 7U? Might as well be 7X, or 7Z. What ever happened to Taylo 7A, 7B, 7C...? These knucklehead labs and their nonsensical model numbers.

And what about Jadis? What's up with DA50S, DA88S, DA30 (what, no "S"), Orchestra, and Orchestra Reference (can Orchestra Reference Royale be far behind). What's up with "DA"? What does DA50S have to do with anything? It's not 50wpc. It doesn't use 50 tubes, and it doesn't cost $50? Why can't they just call them Integrated Amplifiers 1, 2, 3 and 4? Those kooky French. Too many frog's legs I tell 'ya! They're all whacked in the noggin!

Hey! And how 'bout that berzerk Ford Motor Company with their Model A and Model T. Whatever happened to all the models in between? No Ford Model K that I can recall.

I'm with you, Bartokfan. All these companies are really playin' with our minds! Definitely avoid the X. X marks the spot you know, and you don't want to be standin' on the spot when the Big One drops.
If you want to stick with Audio Physic, then the old, 3 box Caldera is phenomenal. Not quite truly full range, but close, and with a Storm 3 (which is also what I have) you won't care. I heard these only once but they left a lasting auditory impression, and they were the holy grail to me for many years. They originally retailed for around 20,000 dollars and appear RARELY on the used market.

I've never heard the Avanti III's, but owners on Audiogon seem to love them, and they appear to be VERY highly regarded, which is no surprise to me.

I've never compared these head to head with the Virgos, or even heard the Virgos, but in my opinion, the Intuitive Design Summits are phenomenal. However, their rolloff is around 40 hertz, similar to that of the Virgos you already own, so they're not truly "full range." Even so, I believe that they have better bass than the Paradigm Studio 100 V 3's I owned just before them. That was a huge, huge HUGE surprise. One caveat with that is that the preamp was changed and the Dodson DAC was added, and the amps were worked over. But to give you an idea of their bass capabilities, my Rel now has its crossover set at 27 hertz, whereas it was at 28 hertz with the Paradigms. Still these may seem too similar to your current speakers (at least on paper) to be a viable option.

If you want a truly full range floorstander, consider the Intuitive Design Denalis, which are said to be flat down to 16 hertz. All you need is 65,000 dollars and you're done....except for cables and stuff.....I've never heard them but can sort of, maybe, kind of, possibly, imagine based on how phenomenal the Summits sound.
Talon Firebirds will sound heavenly with your XA160. I am trading X350.5 for XA100. I've been assured by designer of Firebirds that the XA100 will have plenty of power, so your 160 would be great match. BTW, I have Firebirds.
Bartokfan is right on! I would never buy a recording that has a Xylophone on it.
I will no longer allow physicians and dentists to treat me with X-Rays. Only those rays associated with letters at the beginning of the alphabet.
OK, I accept that X is wrong. And I know two wrongs don't make a right. But what about three wrongs? It just feels right to me...
There seems to be a portion of the Audiophile community with nothing to say and too much time on their hands.

Islandbird, thank you for the recommendation, a pair of Firebirds just recently sold in Monterey, I'm close enough... I could have picked them up! I have never heard them, but have heard good things about them. I would like not to exceed $10,000... these Firebirds were $18,000! Any comments on the Von Schweikert VR-7s put on sale today?
It would have been beneficial to the conversation had you noted in your initial post that your list of considerations was no larger than space between the erasers and the Chicklets.
Boa,Bartokfan....I don't find myself inclined to contribute to a thread if I have no interest in the subject. You have obviously involved yourself in this decussion with no interest but disruption. If you don't care for the "Pass sound" why waste your superior opinion on such matters?
Boa,Bartokfan....I don't find myself inclined to contribute to a thread if I have no interest in the subject. You have obviously involved yourself in this decussion with no interest but disruption. If you don't care for the "Pass sound" why waste your superior opinion on such matters?
Gandme (Threads | Answers)
These responses seem to display an interest in your topic, and some good suggestions.

09-09-06: Boa2
I heard the XA-160s with Eggleston Works Andra II's. If you like the Pass sound, the XA is a welcome step up from the X-350. More rounded, fluid, altogether more musical. The Andra II's are phenomenally good, the kind of speaker that will stop you from looking further.

09-15-06: Boa2

I don't hear "liquid, palpable, warm, musical, etc." when I listen to Pass gear. Others might, however.

As I said above, if you like the Pass sound, they work well with the Andra II's. I would also suggest that if you have been pleased with your Levinson amps, the Pass are definitely worth a listen.

The Andra II was an excellent suggestion, as was Tpsonic's suggestion of something in the Von Schweikert line.

Which speakers in this thread have you added to your list, and which have you eliminated?
I heard the XA-160s with Eggleston Works Andra II's. If you like the Pass sound, the XA is a welcome step up from the X-350. More rounded, fluid, altogether more musical. The Andra II's are phenomenally good, the kind of speaker that will stop you from looking further.
Sorry, but outside of being a recommendation that you simply didn't like, that wasn't a disruption. I've heard the amps with the Andra IIs, and highly recommend the combination. You will also note that I did not disparage the Pass sound, but suggested that this combination could be just the ticket if you like Pass, which you obviously do. Truth be told, I've never been enamored with the Pass sound, but this might give you even more cause to investigate the Andra IIs. Because despite the probability of me not enjoying the combination, I did. In addition, as I have heard many a VS speaker--and the Andra IIs being a VS design--I'd recommend hearing those as well.

Greg, you have taken a dismissive, condescending attitude toward every suggestion that wasn't previously on your radar. So with that, I'll excuse myself from this tete-a-tete with the recommendation that you spend a day or two driving to Bay Area and/or LA dealers who carry the speakers in which you're interested, and then you can decide for yourself. Because $10K is a lot to spend when relying upon the kindness of strangers. :-)
tvad, I just neglected to add your name to my last comment!
Boa, I did appreciate the recommendation for the Andra IIs, several members decided at some point to disregard the original thread to become 12 year old standup comedians(you being one of them with an apologetic opinion of those stuck listing to Pass gear)
When I started this thread, I had no idea what Speakers were in combo with XA-160s out in the Audiogon community. I have Audio Physic Virgo IIs in my system with no other pre conceived opinions of what works well with these fine Amps. Boa's critique of the Pass sound indicates he does not like the differences in recordings(good or bad)He would like them all to sound the same! There are many great Amps in this world, most reproduce the recorded sound without putting a heavy signature of their own upon it. Pass Labs accomplishes this as good as any manufacturer. If you don't like their signature do not respond to threads that you have no interest in. I suggest you have your hearing checked, and seek help with your obsesesive/compulsive behavior.