Pass Labs Aleph 5 Amplifiers

Pass Labs Aleph 5 Amplifiers 

DESCRIPTION

60 Watt Stereo Power Amplifier - 2-Gain Stage

USER REVIEWS

Showing 1-10 of 22  
[Jan 28, 2009]
Ulisse
Audio Enthusiast

Strength:

The best sound I've ever heard from an amplifier.

Weakness:

Wastes a lot of electricity and so runs very hot; it needs a lot of space around. Sound at the top just 40 minutes after turning it on, at the beginning the sound is a little thin.

I bought 1 month ago as new an ALEPH 5 clone d.i.y. from an italian private. It is a little different (and maybe better) from the original Pass project, with a more powerful transformer and better matching mosfets. Formerly I had Nad 350BEE, Mission Smart Power and Marantz PM17KIS, and I have changed one by one searching a better sound. Now the Aleph works with a pre NAD C160 and replaces the italian 40wpch Bartolomeo Aloia ST140 power amp 40wpch. delivering high current. The chassis of my Aleph is a classical parallelepiped (similar to a Nad, but bigger to eliminate the heat). So my unit hasn 't the lack of comfort in connexions of the original one.
The Aloia was good, with beautiful bass and very good dynamic, but the Aleph 5 sound clearely better. The sound: open, detailed and full of air between the instruments, seems a lot similar to a tube amp, but has the extension and precision in bass and middle bass typical of a s.s. amp. The sound is richer in harmonics than the Aloia (expecially on mid-highs) and more refined in all frequency ranges.
I have Snell type D speakers, and it' s a not very easy load (on bass frequencies the Snell goes down till 3ohms), and for this reason on the Snells the bass of the high-current Aloia is more powerful than Aleph5, but that' s all: in every other aspect the sound of the Aleph5 is better. Maybe it's not born to play heavy metal or house music (though it can make it good enough), but with every other kind of music is perfect: I listen jazz for little combos, classical piano and chamber music, and sometimes electrical fusion like Pat metheny or Weather Report: in any field and different kind of music the Aleph dynamic, warm and overall very natural. The female voices like Diana Krall or Patricia Barber are fine, warm, natural, with beautiful midrange nuances. Theree is a price to pay: my unit wastes about 250watts as you turn it on, either at maximum volume or with no signal: this is the single-ended class A design of it, with a very low efficience. But I pay it willingly, as my pleasure in listening music is much bigger than before.
There is more a thing to notice: in the first 30/40 minutes the Aleph is not perfectly heated, and the sound is generally a little thin and lacks something in warmth; but when it' s perfectly heat, the sound becomes full and warm with a very beautiful and sourrounding soundstage.
In conclusion: if you find a DIY clone well builted and cheap enough (like mine) buy it, and you'll never regret it.

Similar Products Used:

NAD C350BEE, Mission Smart Power, Marantz PM17KIS

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Apr 20, 2007]
prmaik
Audio Enthusiast

Strength:

SOUND STAGE MIDRANGE AND HIGHS ARE MY FAVORITES.

Weakness:

NONE EXCEPT THE DIMENSION'S AND THE HEAT.

I OWN PASS ALEPH 5 FOR 6 MONTHS.
FROM THE VERY FIRST TIME I NOTICE SOMETHING DIFFERENT COMPARE TO OTHER AMPS I HAD BEFORE(THERE WAS A LOT OF THEM).
A WORD CAME TO MY MIND:SILKY
I READ ABOUT THE DIFFICULTY TO DRIVE SPEAKERS BELOW 90DB.
MY TOTEM MANI2 SINGS AS NEVER BEFORE AND THE MATCHING WITH THE AUDIO RESEARCH LS2B M II USING THE XLR'S IS PERFECT.
I HAVE NOT PREFERENCES IN MUSIC-I LISTEN EVERYTHING-AND PASS PLAYS THEM ALL FORCE ME EVERY TIME TO LISTEN MORE AND MORE.
YES,HE IS NOT PERFECT BUT IT SOUNDS LIKE HE IS.
SAD I DIN'T BUY ONE YEARS BEFORE. I COULD SAVE A LOT OF MONEY FROM ALL THESE CHANGES AND UPGRADES I DONE OVER THE YEARS.
SYSTEM:
ANALOGUE:GYRO SE/SME IV/ORTOFON ROHMANN
PHONO STAGE:EAR 834P
PRE AMP LINE:AUDIO RESEARCH LS-2B MKII
POWER AMP:PASS ALEPH 5
CD PLAYER:YES( I AM NOT FUN)
TUNER:SONY ST-SD900
INTERCONNECTS AND SPEAKER CABLES:YES(ALMOST ALL SILVER DIY)

Customer Service

THE BEST YOU CAN FIND!

Similar Products Used:

MC CORMACK DNA DELUXE, KRELL KAV250, THRESHOLD S-500(ONE OF THE BEST),
SONY TA-NR1(MONO'S 100W CLASS A) ,ODYSSEY STRATOS DUAL MONO,ANTHEM, ELECTROCOMPANIET AW-100DMB AND MORE.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Aug 10, 2003]
tubes
Audio Enthusiast

Strength:

MIDRANGE!!!!smooth as silk and the extremely soundstage accurate..

Weakness:

loose lower base sometimes distract during precusssion loaded sources.Runs HOT!!

With the main characteristics of a Class A amp solidstate amp with the smoothness of a tube single ended amp this amp is probably the most musically enticing solid state amp on the market,with its monolithic design and the ability to pull hidden details within any music source this amp is stunning.With efficent speakers and easy loads you can enjoy a truly amazing amp without second guessing your purchase,this is bascially the legendary Aleph 30 on steroids,what more can you ask for?...

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
[Jan 20, 2003]
Seantrong
AudioPhile

Strength:

Detail, open image with great depth.

Weakness:

With efficient speaker not complaint. Very hot and not easy to handle.

Very natural, very relaxing to listen to. For those who wants the punch not your amp to buy! Must use efficient speakers 90db and above.

Similar Products Used:

Aleph 30 and 3.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Nov 22, 2002]
rtsy
Audio Enthusiast

Strength:

I spoke with another local dealer and a former Aleph 5 owner. He says audiophiles are a crazy bunch, keep on changing gear, spend lots of money. Often, audiophiles forget it's about the music and not about having something new on their racks every couple of months. He considers himself crazy having sold his Aleph 5. He also begged me to listen to my Aleph 5 to rekindle fond old memories. The Aleph 5 is a keeper. This is its greatest strength.

Weakness:

The Aleph 5 is going to force you to consider whether the rest of the stuff in your audio chain is doing it justice. I shudder to think what I'll spend on my system before I find the Aleph 5 being the bottleneck.

First some gripes: the power switch, speaker and RCA jacks are recessed into its large heatsinks. Hard to turn it off without being reminded it's a class A design (WARM!) and I won't leave it on since it draws 300w so long as it's powered up. It's also a space eater. The amp itself is a cube about 1 foot all around. Nelson Pass recommends 6" clearance on all sides so you're actually required to give this amp 24 inces width, depth AND HEIGHT! The manual says it takes 1 hour warm-up before it reaches it's operating state but to my ears, it sounds good even from a cold start, it just gets better after a while. The looks are polarizing. It's definitely not a gold-trimmed Jadis. It's as industrial as amps can get without exposing transformer windings I think. I like it, more than some won't. When I share listening notes on audio gear I hear, I have some sort of formula, talk about the bass then the mids, then the highs, then dabble a bit into soundstaging/imaging, then pace/rhythm/timing. After sitting in front of this beast for half an hour, my notepad was empty. I couldn't break down the sound of this amp into bits that can be analyzed and commented on. Everything just came to place with no one part of the audio spectrum being highlighted or extremely outstanding. Amps such as Krell or Levinson are often praised for bass slam and control. Amps such as Conrad Johnson or VAC are often praised for midrange warmth and lushness and non-fatiguing top-end. But not the Aleph 5. Tight, tuneful bass, expressive, liquid mid, smooth highs were all there placed securely in a well-defined, expanded space. A word about space, this amp at times sounded really big on my system (Harry Belafonte in Carnegie Hall) and at times really small and cozy (Amanda Mc Broom). My theory is it merely reflects the recording venue. Now a word about timbre. A simplification (perhaps oversimplification?) of good amps for me is they belong to two camps. First are those that belong to the neutral/accurate camp and those that belong to the sweet/euphonic camp. The Aleph 5 is a champion of neutrality, ably amplifying whatever you feed it without adding a coloration of its own...well, almost. Not a major complaint but rather an observation that can guide in the selection of ancilliary equipment. I did hear a metallic/steely character. It's cool-sounding but not unemotional cold. It's not enough to turn the nylon strings on a classical guitar into steel ones but certainly enough for me to agree with more jaded audio buddies who recommend the use of warm and lush pre-amps like those from CJ (I'm using it now with a PV11), Jadis, V.A.C., etc. The guy I bought it from swears he never had steely timbre (he uses Audio Note front end, Audio Note and Blue Circle preamps, Spendor speakers, Silver Audio and Analysis Plus cables). Maybe it's my room or my source (a lowly NAD 502). I was using a 9wpc SET (nOrh SE9's Thai OEM, T.S. Audio 34.1) prior to the Pass Aleph 5/CJ PV11. I retained all of the benefits midrange of SETs and added depth and slam (thanks to 60wpc w/c was more than enough for my Sonus Faber Concertinos), greater top end extensions and resolution, and speed/control. One thing I perceived wihtin 10-15 seconds of the first track I played is the sense of immediacy and palpability this amp posseses. Maybe it's the ultra minimalist 2 gain stage design that gets me much closer to the emotion of the original recording. One thing about this amp is I now know exactly how much my favorite artists and bands weigh. Holly Cole, John Pizarelli, Harry James, Livingston Taylor, Tony Bennet, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Louie Armstrong, the New york Phiulahrmonic, etc. all weigh 60 lbs. of a cubic foot of iron that is the Aleph 5.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Feb 01, 2000]
George Brooke
Audiophile

Strength:

Looks (I think), sound quality (detail, precision), simplicity

Weakness:

Weight, heat, loudspeaker connectors (position and distance apart)

The Aleph 5 is probably the best sounding amp. that I have ever heard. Initially it sounds lacking in bass (it does not have the hammer approach of the Krell), after a while you realise that the bass is musical and deep. There is detail down there that the Krell reduces to a single thump.
Similarly the mid and high. I can concentrate on instruments and themes that I never knew were in my music. The Aleph 5 also looks different from most amps,and lacks grab-handles. Given its 60 pound weight you do need to be cautious.
Pass says that you can connect / disconnect to it whilst it is on. Its is TRUE ... not a single bang or thump from the speakers.

My present concern is to identify appropriate loudspeakers for the amp. I am using silver/bi-wired Spendor BC3 which are very very clear in the midrange. And to think I sold my Klipshorns!

Similar Products Used:

Krell KSA50, CAV250, Lumley ST70, Accuphase (?),

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Oct 18, 1999]
Stefan Vejdemo
Audio Enthusiast

Strength:

Superb sound,

Weakness:

dull looks, can t drive every speaker
Expensive

A very good sounding amp that makes a truly high end combination with my MF Nuvista preamp. A little to expensive here in Europe.

Similar Products Used:

Copland 504,Muse 300,Adcom

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
[Jun 09, 2000]
Ed Z
Audiophile

Strength:

Transparency, warmth, holographic soundstaging

Weakness:

Runs hot, requires sensitive speakers

The Aleph 5 is one of the sweetest and most transparent sounding amps I have ever heard. In a dealer showroom I have compared it to the Mark Levinson No. 336 amp, Bryston 4B ST, and Ayre V-3 (with upgrades). Here's a comparison based on the following environment:

CD Player -- Mark Levinson No. 39
Preamplifier -- Mark Levinson No. 32 Reference Preamplifier
Transparent Musiclink Super Balanced interconnects
(amplifier listed below)
Speaker cable -- Ocos
Loudspeaker -- B&W Nautilus 802

Mark Levinson Levinson No. 336 -- Total finesse,transparency,incredible detail, massive soundstage,volcanic power -- brings the best out of any recording.

Bryston 4B ST -- Dyanamic,very good detail,powerful,good soundstage -- great for rock music.

Ayre V-3 -- Outstanding detail,very good soundstage,excellent dynamics and bass response, great for rock and acoustic music.

Aleph 5 -- Very Good overall detail, excellent midrange and high end detail,very good dynamics,outstanding soundstage,outstanding for vocals and classical music.

I listened to several tracks of Sarah Brightman's Eden CD (a great CD!) and the combination of Aleph 5 and the B&W Natilus 804's was almost frightening. Sarah Brightman's voice hovered in the air, and the Aleph reproduced the purity and breath in her voice like no other amp I have ever heard (besides the Levinson). Wow! The naturalness of the sound of this amp is compelling. I suspect the fact that it is single-ended pure Class A provides the sweetness and transparency.

Of course, no amp does everything well (in this price range). At 60 wpc it doesn't have the tight bass of a Krell or extreme detail of an Ayre V-3. With sensitive speakers, i.e. 89db or better, the amp excels. You'll never get drum attacks to rattle the walls out of it, but you can experience a massively wide and deep soundstage, and bring vocalists almost to life in your listening room.

A few other details make this amp stand out. Build quality -- the amp is build so solid there is almost no chassis vibration, and is custom manufactured from machined aluminum. Inside is the extreme Pass dedication to perfection. Inside the top of the unit there are several wires which are actually bent into right angles in the same shape and length. All the solder connections are clean and precise. The owner's manual is signed by Nelson Pass himself, and a graph of distortion measurements for each individual amplifier is included.

Similar Products Used:

Aleph 3, Ayre V-3, Forte Model 6, Bryson 4B ST

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
[Feb 27, 2000]
George Lockett
Casual Listener

It's as good as everyone says it is, but only if you have compatible speakers. CAUTION: sounds best with 30 to 60 minute warm up and use the balanced inputs - there is a difference.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Nov 26, 1999]
pablo
Audiophile

Really wonderful amp. Maybe the best i've heard, also some giant VTL monoblocks.
Sounds pretty much the same that Pass 3, except some more "authority" at the bass. But the same amazingly open, detailed, well defined sound.
A suggestion for these ratings: some statistical clean-up should be made, eliminating in the averages ratings the 10% worst and better ratings, so to avoid those stupid 1 star classifications. On this amp, for exmaple, it is just a moron thing to do.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
Showing 1-10 of 22  

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