Tag Archives: pass labs

Acoustic Signature Typhoon NEO turntable and TA-5000 tonearm | REVIEW

Does anyone really NEED a $34,000 turntable/arm/cartridge setup like the Acoustic Signature Typhoon NEO, TA-5000 and Acoustical Systems Palladium? Well, of course not! Okay, let me qualify and rephrase that. If someone is a serious [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Audio Hungary Qualiton X200 Integrated | REVIEW

Last year I reviewed the Audio Hungary (website) Qualiton APX-200 power amp (review linked here), which was 100 watts per channel of pure vacuum tube goodness. It was, and still is, a tremendous sounding power [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Sumiko Amethyst MM Phono Cartridge | REVIEW

This isn’t the first time in the last few months where I had to explain my reasoning behind reviewing a certain component. Take this new Sumiko Amethyst cartridge, a moving-magnet cartridge that retails for a [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Charney Audio Maestro Loudspeakers | REVIEW

  From my first exposure to Charney Audio speakers at a Capital Audiofest a few years back, I’ve remained somewhat smitten with the possibilities that exist in the world of well-designed single-driver speakers. The single-driver [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Audio by Van Alstine DVA M225 Monoblock Amplifiers | REVIEW

I’m not gonna tease any of the readers by making them wait (or skip to my conclusion), so I’ll say right up front: OH. MY. LAWD.™ I was in audiophile heaven from the minute I [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Pass Labs XP-22 Preamplifier and XP-27 Phonostage

I’ve had Pass Labs power amplifiers in my audio system for more than 20 years. A pair of Aleph 0 monoblocks was first, eventually joined by an X5, when I took the plunge into multichannel music. Now, I employ three XA 60.8s for the main-front and center channels, plus an Aleph 0s for the surrounds. For some reason, in all that time, I never tried a Pass preamplifier. So when Robert Harley proposed a review of the Pass Labs XP-22 preamp and the XP-27 phonostage, I leaped at the chance. Ok, that’s not entirely true—I didn’t leap. My leaping days are over. But I did stand up very quickly when I got the news. I have witnesses.

Even steadfast admirers of Pass electronics may not be aware that the company’s products have long been designed by two individuals, founder Nelson Pass and Wayne Colburn. Colburn first worked with Pass at Threshold Audio in the 1980s, and later joined Nelson at his new company, soon becoming a partner. There’s definitely a division of labor at Pass Labs, with Colburn largely responsible for the preamplifiers, integrated amps, and the manufacturer’s only DAC to date, while Pass himself is in charge of the “big iron”—i.e. the power amps. However, the two are in constant dialog when developing new models, and, as expected, listen critically to each other’s designs. Even for these hardcore engineering types, listening outranks measurements in the evaluation process.

Pass Labs launches new models relatively infrequently—a product life of seven or eight years is typical. When I asked Wayne Colburn what prompted the introduction of the XP-22 and XP-27, he responded that “some of this was regulation driven for emissions and safety standards. This led to power supply redesign with new lower-noise transformers and EMI control. We also upgraded our Audio Precision [analyzer] to the latest model and upgraded our ability to correlate measurements with sound.” 

pass labs xp-27

Highly regarded for the volume controls he designs, the famously self-effacing Colburn does his best to give the credit to the semiconductors utilized: “Just a state-of-the-art chunk of silicon,” he said. “I have worked on volume controls since the Forte 44 and Threshold T2, and they are pretty critical. (Forte was a lower-priced Threshold product line.) I had my own unique design in the original X preamps, and then NJR from Japan paid us a visit with a new part. They seemed rather proud of it, and Nelson and I gave it a try. I was skeptical but pleasantly surprised. They had done a great job—a compact solution with no inductance or capacitance due to packaging or layout, and great matching, coupled with transparency.”

The power supplies are dual-mono, employing very quiet, double-shielded toroids that have lowered the noise floor over prior models. The output stage is more robust, which makes driving long cable runs easier. In all their products, Pass and Colburn strive for simple circuits and use parts with the most linear behavior. As low-level nonlinearities are additive in their impact on sound quality, avoiding them in the first place reduces the need for negative feedback—a technique that itself has a deleterious effect on sonic neutrality and detail.

The XP-22 preamplifier is a two-chassis design, the control module attaching to the identically sized power supply with a 9-pin JAE umbilical cable. The two boxes are stackable, and there are pieces of felt glued to the bottom of the preamp’s four feet to prevent scratching the top surface of the power supply. The owner’s manual does comment that the “best performance” results when the power supply is sited on another shelf. The rear plate of the power supply sports an IEC 320 power receptacle with an associated rocker on/off switch, as well as the connection for the JAE cable. A discrete blue LED on the front panel of the power supply lights up when the preamp is turned on.

The post Pass Labs XP-22 Preamplifier and XP-27 Phonostage appeared first on The Absolute Sound.

Original Resource is Articles – The Absolute Sound

Atlas Cables Grun Coherent Earthing System | REVIEW

The Grun Earthing System from Atlas Cables is the third product I’ve reviewed in the last year that addresses grounding in your high-end audio system. The first two products, of course, were the Nordost QKORE [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Merason Frerot DAC with Pow1 LPSU | REVIEW

My review of the Merason Frerot DAC is the first time I’ve ever done a formal review of a stand-alone digital-to-analog converter. I do have plenty of experience with DACs over the last few years, [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Luminous Audio Technology Arion Mk. II Phono Preamplifier | REVIEW

“Did you ever hear one back in the day?” Tim Stinson of Luminous Audio Technology (website) asked me. He was referring to his Arion phono preamplifier, the original version which created a lot of buzz [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

AVM Ovation 6.2 Master Edition Integrated Amplifier | REVIEW

The AVM Ovation 6.2 Master Edition integrated amplifier just kind of snuck in here, made its impression, and left in just a few weeks. My time with it was so short, so fleeting. I didn’t know a lot about AVM before the Ovation arrived. This German company has been making quality hi-fi since 1986, and they currently have an extensive line that includes turntables, amplifiers, digital products and all-in-one boxes. Except for cables, loudspeaker and cartridges—AVM recommends Ortofon Cadenzas for their ‘tables on their website—you can easily assemble an all-AVM system. Let me tell you something that reviewers, as well as fickle audiophiles, will immediately understand—if you’re constantly making changes to your audio system, there are time when you’ll get lost. It’s like turning around a corner on a city block and realizing you wandered into a bad neighborhood full of room nodes and channel imbalances and the mysterious disappearance of all sorts of frequency responses. What happened? Where did I go wrong? The AVM Ovation arrived at my home, in its uber-cool flight case covered in shipping labels, during one of those times. Too many swaps, too many things coming in and out, and before I knew it I [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile