Some crazy supped up class d maybe. For different, but as GREAT as? Maybe.. I have a few good ones. But Pass.. Just one of my all time favorites, First watt, Threshold, Even some of the Adcoms like the 5800 series, monsters. Man could I get them to sing with a couple of parts.
At the level you are talking, there really isn’t a yin/yang just preferences of nuance. Going to a tube amp would possibly be considered a yin/yang, (SS vs valve) but the 30.8 is a pure class A amp so even with that more of a preference thing over a yin/yang.
A Sumo Polaris would be an interesting comparison to a Pass! Designed by James Bongiorno. 120 wpc A/B. His amps emphasised beauty over a stark, clinical sound! I have an Andromeda, along with two older Sons.
@redwoodaudio Ya know, the XA ".8" amps sound different from the older X ".5" version amps, and a little different again up and down the range. Or, some variations in FirstWatt or even older Threshold. Depends on what speakers you have too, right?
What type of change in sound are you looking for, if you have an idea...What's missing or what are you wanting more or less of in sound?
In a good way? Well, that is up to the listener. But if one likes Pass with a particular speaker, it would be difficult to go the opposite way and call it "in a good way" I suspect.
But opposite of Pass? (which I consider just on the warm side of neutral in general). I don’t consider it syrup either though. I consider Moon (more recent stuff) to be just to the brighter side of Neutral but certainly not crazy bright.
Bryston comes to mind, anthem does also, Krell, though they seem to be trying to get away from that.
@decooney its hard to say what I would rather hear from an amp that would be different from the xa30.8. Mostly curious about very different sonic profiles that are well-enjoyed. I really haven’t tried much, so curious where a thread like this leads.
Ayre, Luxman are intriguing, for sure. I’d probably not like the brighter solid state stuff, personally. Maybe fuller, weightier, denser?
I just picked up an octave v110 kt120/kt88/el34 integrated to try out that flavor. So far, it’s different... still good... still warming up, going to tube roll a bit.
The pass is just a great amp. But there must be unique magical Sonics elsewhere too.
redwood, That thread is a never ending journey. wcss goes through so many amps, some multiple times, that it’s unbelievable. It starts out with mid-priced amps but he’s been in ultra-high-end territory for a while now.
He also has a youtube channel (Jay’s Audio Lab) where you can see and listen to what he’s got. It’s one man’s opinion, but that man has done a lot of listening to a lot of amps. I find him to be honest and straightforward with his opinions and advice, but will everyone agree with them? Of course not.
Well one of his first posts mentioned the octave v110 very highly and it stuck out for me because I'd had a brief but interesting dalliance with a smaller one last year. I'll put in the time and go deeper into it.
Saw the recommendation for the Sumo Polaris... it is the most odd duck of the Sumo line and will sound different than Pass. However Jim did not design this amp. Rich May did it. Jim would Never use mosfet outputs. The original Andromeda was a JB piece, but it could be edgy from the mids & up. The Andromeda II was a similar flavor to the Polaris, but everything is better on the Andromeda II than the Polaris. It is odd that its a cool sounding amp, yet never gets sterile or harsh. The Andromeda III is an update by Jason Stoddard. The Polaris is a good recommendation non the less to hear a different sound than Pass.
The Xa 25 is designed differently. Most Pass amps are voiced with 2nd harmonic distortion. Older ones use different transistors as well. So there is that. MACS sound different with lots of power. Lots of fans.
I had Ampzilla and Quattre originals and remember power with good sound but i think similar to Pass.
@redwoodaudio, Threshold gear tends to be leaner, analytical; reminds me of newer Burmester. Please note, I have never owned/heard the big threshold monoblocks. From what I gather, these are some of the best in the line.
Sugden (tired of saying it lol) class A seems to get it right. They have only been doing it for over 50 years. Loving mine driving my Tannoys....only 30 watts! Sounds like more to me. Seldom raise the volume over 10 AM. They (sugden) were the first @ Solid State Class A amplification. Sounds like tubes without the hassle. My tubes are in my Tavish phono stage. This set up works for me. Best I ever heard or had. Took me a long time to get where I am at, ain’t changing a thing. All I need now is my Linn LP 12.....someday...I highly recommend these Tannoy Eatons...beautiful cabinetry and fantastic sound for the money, just shy of 6K. Not into the monolithic color of the day speaker monstrosities available. They look god awful. I prefer the furniture look. If you need a speaker with 10 tweeters to get the high frequencies right, that to me is a turn off. To each their own I guess ..happy listening...now back to those LP’s...😁
@erik_squires and a couple others on here have said Ayre and Luxman. I agree 100%. I just had a Pass X150.8 in my system to try. It's very, very different than the Ayre V-5xe I have. I know the Ayre isn't new by any means but I've had newer Ayre here and the sound signature is very similar. I could live with either easily but I think system matching may, and I emphasize may, be more important with the Ayre than the Pass. It seems the Pass would sound good with most anything. Maybe that's why it's so widely liked.
Got to say, ayre gear is sounding very intriguing. Where in their line is the sweet spot for preamp, power amp?
Also, I've been digging the octave v110 as a contrast to the pass. Fuller more authoritative sound. Bypassing it's preamp section with me EAR 868 is sounding really good. Still have some tube rolling to do, but it's an intersting yang to pass yin so far.
At the moment Ayre has no lower priced (under $10k) amps or preamps, just an integrated. The EX-8 is an all-in-one if you get every option (they’re boards that can be added or apparently upgraded in the future) for about $8k. I think that’s a bargain for what you get. They also have a $13k integrated that is latest spec. My dealer says they’re coming out with some lower priced stuff in the 8 series line, their least expensive. I have their older V-5xe and have had the K-5exmp preamp in my system and, for $2000-$2500 used I can’t imagine finding better if you like their sound. I preferred the V-5xe to the PassX150.8 in my system and to my tastes using the preamps I had/have.
@jaybe “Well, there's a "sound" to Pass. I know, it's what I have. And wouldn't call it dead neutral. There are many ways to retain top sounding SS without it being only Pass”
I agree.. The Pass house sound is to the right of neutral, leaning towards warm. This works out well for me and most music I listen to. I also attribute that warmth to the MOSFETs used in his designs. I tried Class D amps. My last iteration was the Ncore hypex in the bel canto ref600 monos. They’re very dynamic and all, but not to my tastes. I went SS because after many decades with tubes and their issues, I’d rather not deal with it anymore.. as to the OP question, I would say the yin would be an early model Krell from the 80’s with bipolar transistors. Sterile, bright and edgy.
Opposite? Not sure what that means since Pass occupies the space between solid state and tube sound IMHO. Different- audition a CJ Art 150. Beautifully captures rhythm, pacing and inner detail. Great Imaging and very musical without the drawbacks of some older tube gear.
I’m not sure totally different applies, especially when come to Nelson Pass amps. With the First Watt series included; Nelson Pass has become the Baskin Robbin’s 31 of amplifier designers. If restricted to Pass Labs gear, and again I’m not sure totally different applies, but in the context of the gist of the question at hand, Spectral jumps to mind as leaning towards the opposite direction.
Would love to hear CJ Art line, Ayre, Atmasphere. Clearly high end, unique designs.
@redwoodaudio These would be in my top 5 to try also. Atmasphere, Ayre, Pass, Luxman and CJ...all great choices and established, well-liked companies with well-built gear. I don't know about Luxman support but the other 4 are great.
@OP, I own both Ayre and Atmashphere and find them to be very close sound-wise. ( MX-R and MA-1). As you might expect, a little more 'rounder' on the Atma and a bit more 'crisp' on the Ayre.- Which is one of the reasons I would like to compare Pass with them. Bob
After going from Pass XA30.8 to Octave v110 (KT120 P-P 100wpc) and back to Pass, I think that nice PP tube amps are a different and enjoyable beast. Much fuller sound, denser soundstage, more immersive on the Octave. VERY detail-oriented, precise, more sparse soundstage with the Pass. I ultimately enjoyed listening to the Octave more than the Pass, but both are extremely good at what they do.
I had to return the Octave due to a tube biasing issue, but I went for an alternative PP tube amp that seemed like a cool value proposition: Wavestream Kinetics Boxter (6550/KT88 100wpc) from The Music Room. No information about it anywhere, but designer is Scott Frankland (of MFA, Wells Audio fame).