Three Cheers for Pass Labs

We all have complaints about customer service now and then, and when we do, we don't hesitate to voice our complaints. I have a positive experience that I would like to relay to Audiogon members. Last November, I bought a Pass Labs X250.5 amplifier from a fellow Audiogon member. When I received the amp, I used it for 4 days, and I was surprised and disappointed that the sound was not nearly as good as I was expecting. I chalked it up to a difference in tastes, and put it away, intending to sell it after the holidays. I did sell it to another member 2 weeks ago, and he too noticed that it did not sound good. He had long experience however with Threshold amps, and knew that it should sound better. He called Pass, and they guided himm through a simple test that showed that the bias settings were way out of whack. The buyer no longer wanted the amp and I refunded his money. However, I was told by Nelson and Kent at Pass Labs that if I shipped it to them, they would repair it at no charge. I want to add that the amp is out of warranty. I think that this is exceptional customer service, and I want everyone to know. I have had a similar experience with McIntosh, and I want to give a vote of support to all manufactureres who treat their customers in this way. Thanks!
692a24fc 01aa 4983 8ebb d203925ad1d3roxy54
That IS awesome. Thank you for sharing the good news.
Do you have the details on the bias test? I would like to chek mine for the heck of it...I'm sure it can't be any tougher than when I rebiased my arc and nerve wracking with the dmm probes across a 450 volt potential...while tweaking a trimpot...
Kudos to Pass. Thanks for sharing, you help us all.
I too had remarkable dealings with Pass Labs in recent years. Business integrity is the trait that best personifies Pass Labs in my opinion. We are fortunate that there are in fact numerous companies in our hobby that exhibit remakable levels of customer service. Pass Labs, Cary Audio, Resolution Audio come immediately to mind for me.

Thanks for sharing!
Never had a problem with my Pass while I owned it. But have received excellent support from the following company's: Krell (Patrick is great), BAT, Channel Islands, Thiel come to mind in particular for providing exceptional support and timely feedback, either by phone or e-mail. Other notables where McIntosh and B&K. Most recently, I have received great after sales support from Aesthetix, both the company and the distributor here in the States. Kora and Audio Aero (both French companies) on the other hand were very much lacking of decent customer support.

More importantly here I think is the fact that there are units in the field that do not perform properly or to their full potential. It is sometimes difficult to determine whether this is a matter of personal taste or an actual problem with the component. Knowing that pieces ship from the factory out of spec, imagine how much more likely it is that they are being sold used "out of spec". Recall the reviews the rags have done only to report that their test sample was out of spec or not functioning properly. If the manufacturers can't get an in spec item to a reviewer, imagine how poor their quality controls are for the everyday customer.

I have purchased equipment in the past with print outs of the actual testing procedure for the individual component that I received. In this industry, at the higher end price points, it would seem that this should be standard protocol. I believe it was an ARC preamp that came with the hand written pre-ship test results. Also I think my very old Golden Tube Audio SE 40.
surprised the buyer didn't then want the amp if Pass could fix the settings for free.
I have found Pass to be a CLass act also. I would recommend their products and espescially the after market care. If all companys treated people like the good people at Pass the world would be a better place. I also would like to add that the people at B&W are very friendly and helpful also. While I could go on forever about the good service that I have had I would be remise if I didn't mention Audio Research they really go out of there way to resovle any issues you may have with their equipment. I think the common thread with these companies is these companies sell some of the best gear on the planet so they stand behind the products knowing that a happy customer is a repeat customer and will always recommend them.

Hi Roxy,
Thanks for sharing!
Great news that Pass Labs equipment owners are in good hands.

However, I was just curious, have you had a chance to as the fellow Audiogon member who sold YOU this amplief if any work or any "tweaking" was performed on this amplifier during its stay in his system and if not, then how it sounded? Has he noticed anything unusual?

Just wondering how is it that the bias settings on this ampifier were out of wack. Pass indicates in their literature the entire process of testing each amplifier before it is shipped and that involves checking bias.
It seems like the chances it left the factory with bias settings all screwed up are very slim.
I once called Pass Labs for a question about my amps and Nelson Pass himself got on the phone. He took his time and was very thorough and answered all of my questions. I still own Pass Labs amps.
I generally don't join cheerleading squads (I mean that term in a neutral way) but wanted to also point out that the Pass philosophy I read about seems to extend to at least one part of the dealer network, specifically RenoHiFi who also carries FirstWatt.

I recently considered one of the FW amps and Mark Sammut was way helpful, and ultimately cool and understanding when I decided not to buy due to a system change. I had taken a lot of his time by then and almost made the deal, then came upon something different and had to change direction. Mark was completely cool with that and his level of professionalism and cordiality changed not one bit when he was told I would not be buying from him after all.
This is going to get very repetitive as I had exactly the same type service from Pass and Mark at RenoHiFi. The fact that Pass' SS is perhaps the finest available does not hurt either.
So Roxy, was the amp fixed and have you listened to it since?
I, too, would like to second the three cheers! It's a wonderful surprise to have Nelson himself pick up the phone, as he did with me several year's ago. Also, Peter is the best. They have always been most helpful and generous in, yes.... the old McIntosh style.
Turner Truitt
Several of you had questions that I will try to answer.To begin with, I have not received the amp yet, they are still working on it- I am very anxious to hear it. I am not at all versed on how one would check the bias, but Nelson said it is not a job for beginners. And yes, I did write a very cordial email to the member who sold me the amp. I asked for nothing. I told him of my experience, and asked him if he had noticed any deterioration in the sound during the time that he owned it. I also made a point of telling him that I did not blame him, and asked him to give me positive feedback, and told him that I would do the same. That was over a week ago, and I am sad to report that he has not answered my email.
It's good to know that Pass will take good care of me if anything happens. I had bought a X350.5 last year to replace my Levinson #333 after a bad experience I had dealing with Harmon. This is the second Pass amp in my "collection" as I also have a Aleph Os that my wife absolutely loves and would not let me sell.

I have received nothing short of stellar service from Pass. They often service out of warranty units at no charge. I received update modules for free for a preamp I bought used.

As an original owner, on two different occasions they went beyond what I would have expected. I doubt many companies would do so.

They were, unfortunately, too nice for too long to too many dealers that sold too loosely. As a result, last June Pass cancelled all their US dealers, and began a dealer structure from the ground up, with the intention to have their product represented and sold by dealers who treat and sell their products only in their territory, and demonstrate them as the fine, first quality audiophile electronics they are.

I find my X250.5 a beautiful sounding (and looking) amplifier that has freed me from the nightmares of tube amp maintenance, power limitations, impedance matching effects, etc.
I'd also like to climb on to compliment Nelson, Kent and everyone at Pass. They really do offer exceptional customer service. It's quite special to call and have Nelson himself answer the phone. He also personally replies to posts at the Pass DIY forum. A very pleasant, unpretentious guy.

As an aside, Mark Sammut at RenoHifi works closely with the folks at Pass and offers equally excellent customer service. He's a great source for used gear.

Another company that takes care of customers is Aesthetix. I bought a used, out-of-warranty Calypso from an Audiogoner which had a slight problem with one channel. I wrote Jim White about it and he set me up with his techie Glenn who was very hopeful with troubleshooting. Eventually, they told to send the unit back to their place where they fixed it promptly and for free. Amazing service.
Actually the former retail network was dismantled on 4/5/07.

Dealer disclaimer.
Cary should also be put onto this short list of manufactures that go the extra mile. I have had an several occasions Denise Had (owner of Cary) take the time to talk with me and guide me through a couple of exercises to get an amp that I also bought used up and running when it arrived to me DOA. He went so far as to send me a tube at no cost to me overnight (and didn't even charge me for the shipping) so I could get that amp operational for the weekend. This was several years ago, I would only hope that that customer interaction still exists.
Add Thiel to this list. Always above and beyond!!!
Roxy54, that's sad, but let's hope that there were reasons that prevented the former owner to respond to you.
But if you never get anything back from him, I think that it's pretty safe to think that we have the answer, which would be that the most likely cause of the amplifier bias being out is the fact that previous owner had tempered with the amplifier settings for some reason. Oh well......

But on the positive side, I am pretty sure you will love the amplifier after it comes back to you from Pass.
It really is a stunning amplifier, both sonically and visually.

Best of luck!
I too wish to chime in on the remarkable service that Pass Labs gives to its customers. I had bought a Pass Labs X350.5 recently and noticed after some use that the power cord was hot to the touch and concluded that the cord was not the correct one.

I had recently e-mailed Pass Labs and alerted them to my situation. A gentlemen named Desmond answered my e-mail and after asking me the serial number and address, sent me a free power cord at no expense to me at all!

Kudos to Desmond and Nelson Pass for exemplary customer service and I would recommend their products (and no I am not connected to Pass Labs in any way!)
Based on build quality, sound quality, customer service, and the design chops coming from Pass Labs I can't really imagine anyone buying an SS amp without considering a Pass amp; other than pricing which can get quite high, especially for their Class A designs. If there is a better sounding SS amp than their XA30.5, I have not heard it.
Yes, I considered them. Heard them on Apogee's. Wasn't blown away. Sounded ok but I've heard better. Nothing really stood out as exceptional. Also the volume was scratchy when adjusted. Still I'd like to hear some more because they garner so many good reviews. And also what I've ready about the customer service above endears them.
I own a Pass Labs X0.2, an XVR-1-3 crossover, an Xono phono, a pair of Aleph 2s, and a Threshold S/550-e. Not only do they sound great and are well-build; they're all classics or destined to become so.

When I was considering the crossover purchase I had several e-mail exchanges with Kent at Pass - always very helpful, informative & patient. Mark at Reno is a class act all the way.

Nelson's in a league by himself. I know of no one in the audio community who does more for this hobby than him. Go over to where he's constantly helping out others with their projects sharing circuit advice & design experience selflessly. He doesn't have to do this. In an audio world that's got more than it's share of paranoid, egocentric designers (sometimes with good reason!), he's clearly in it for the love of it.

I'll continue to buy Pass Labs equipment in the future & this is one of the reasons why.