VTL / Pass / Lamm

Hi Folks. This is my first post and thanks for reading.

To give you a sense of my tastes, it shocks me how 99% of the population puts up with cheap gear that measures well and sounds like crap.

In comparison, my Marantz model 8 tube amp (which to this day is the greatest amplification device I have ever heard) may stink in it's measurements, but blow the lid off 99% of everything else out there in musicality.

At this point I am making final decisions on building a new reference system. Almost all of it will be used. Can't use the Marantz with my reference speakers due to power and my desire for more accuracy. Taking into account the law of diminishing returns and my budget compromises, system synergy must be done carefully. I like a very detailed yet musical, non fatiguing sound. Both on vinyl and CD.

The closest I have come in today's technology to approach the Marantz experience has been VTL, Manley and Pass. I have not yet heard LAMM but look forward to doing so. Your views on his gear are welcome even though I may never afford it.

My benchmark listening experince has been the Conrad Johnson Premier 17LS into a VTL ST150 into Thiel 2.3 speakers. Theil is my reference.

The ST150 knocked my socks off. Effortless music and energy. The Manley 250 monoblocks did the same although I thought that VTL was slightly less warm, however it could have been the room and the speakers used. I just wish that the high powered tube gear could be pure class A and not AB. VAC is, but the price is very high, let alone the other units mentioned here.

Have any of you ever combined a CJ Pre-amp with a Pass X design? Any problems with impedence?! Do the designs cancel each other out or work well? Is it the best of both worlds that one might seek?

How would you compare the sound of the X series to a pair of VTL MB450's or 225's?

Would a combination of CJ with an older Pass Aleph design be too lush? I may love tubes but an extreme euphonic system is not the goal here at all.

If the 17LS is my first choice for a preamp, what other amp's, that I may yet to hear, would be a great combination for my desired sound?

I look forward to your views.

Can't answer your question directly, but I did own an Aleph 5 for two years. The Pass is not a lush sounding product. It has what I'd call a refined sound. Detailed and clear, but not etched. A very clean and non-fatiguing sound, but not at all syrupy. Also the Pass works best when driven by a fully balanced preamp.
As usual, onhwy61's description is right on the money.

I found that pass amps work best with pass preamps. I tried several tube preamps and found that nothing sounded nearly as good as the Aleph P then later the X1 preamp. I found that my aleph 2's lost some of the deep black background and magic aleph transparency with a warm n' fuzzy tube pre. The aleph's also greatly benefited from the use of balanced cables.

I owned the aleph 2's/X1 pre for quite some time. (had to sell them because they wouldn't drive my power hungry avalon speakers).
Onhwy61 is right that the Pass are moer refined sounding than lush. I own the X-250 and also have a X-1 preamp along with a BAT VK-30SE preamp. I am not sure that the best preamp for a pass amp is a pass preamp because I have not heard all of the combinations. The X-1 is a very natural, clear and extended preamp. SLightly forward sounding in my system with B&W matrix 803 seakers. You go from tubes to SS with your quesion but if youwnat a tube sound, go with tubes and can drice the speakers you want with them. Otherwise the SS Pass with a tube preamp can work. The Lamms are excellent and would be my choice for a tube setup, but out of my price range. Also I beleive the CJs preamps are warmer sounding with less details than lets say the BAT or ARC tube preamps.

You need to get out and go listen to these things to make your decision easier.
1. Supratek pre with VTL Sig transformer amps monos
2. Supratek pre with Pass amp, although I think coming off the 8B you are going to find SS a touch, just a touch, strident.
I've owned Pass Aleph and X series
I've owned VTL 450 and 1250

The Lamm 1.1 monoblocks are far and away better. They remain my current reference. The difference is not subtle.
Killer low end control, sweet shimmering grain free highs, and just the most seductive fleshy mid range and mid bass.

Have Vladimir send you a pair to audition. They will change your perception of how GOOD good really is.
I have Thiel CS2.3's and drive mine with Sim Audio Moon W-5. I would characterize the Moon as an iron fist in a velvet glove. The result is excellent control and dynamics with a nimble delicate touch and a fair amount of air. Currently the DAC is connected directly to the amp, but I have a Supratek tube preamp on order and I should know how the combo sounds in a couple of months.
Love my Aleph P and 2 monos. Lush? Nope. Transparent, quiet, and natural. No euphony.
Your scattershot questions are difficult to respond to. Sounds like you need to do some focusing and get out and do some listening. Have fun. Your opening comment of an old amp "blowing the lid off 99% of what's out there" is not indicative of the openmindedness you'll require in your search. Stay with you can afford, get the transducers right first, IN YOUR ROOM, then get the best electronics you can afford. Good luck.
Good advice Subaruguru.
Just got dedicated lines and new fuses the lamm m2.1 sound great dont kid yourself by putting 2 of them on 1 15amp line They sound like they had a $10,000 upgrade!
Amps to keep for a lifetime