Pass Labs X0.2 Preamplifiers

X0.2

  • Freq. Response: -3dB @ 2Hz, -3dB @ 100kHz
  • Output Impedance: 750 Balanced
  • 150 Single-ended
  • Input Impedance: 20K Balanced
  • 10K Single-ended
  • Output noise floor -110dBV ref to 20V output
  • Single-ended only inputs 5

User Reviews (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2  
wet weasel   Audio Enthusiast [Sep 25, 2007]
Strength:

Excellent user interface. Understated cosmetics. Will handle any input signal. Five inputs, balanced or single-ended. Tape in&out. Mono out. Two stereo outs. Can slave a Pass power amp to it. Remote is industrial art. Display can be dimmed or made dark. Effectively defines high fidelity to the signal. Needs no tweaks.

Weakness:

No phono stage - must add outboard unit. Won't forgive or conceal any problems or weakness in the associated equipment. While it isn't etched or unmusical, it might not appeal to seekers of euphonic or relaxed presentation. No off switch.
Never ask this unit "do these pants make me look fat?".
Expensive - MSRP is 10k. (Still I give it high marks for value. You can't get this good for cheap.)

This is Pass Labs' latest incarnation of their cost-no-object solid-state preamplifier. It comes as three identically-sized chassis - two gain stages and the control box. They are connected by short jumpers with multipin connectors - two power, two control. This arrangement has three benefits, in order of increasing importance: 1) Looks way cool. Granted this is a taste thing, but I find the entire X lineup to be a very attractive family of products. Clearly at the high end, but not overdone. Classy. 2) Breaking a 70-pound unit up into three independently-manueverable pieces makes setup, rearrangement, etc. easy. It also increases the surface area, promoting adequate heat removal without sharp fins that could be dust traps. 3) There are the plugs and wires, but they aren't on the signal path. Isolating the channels from each other and from the volume/ input select machinery probably contributes significantly to what I heard, or rather didn't hear! Also, the utterly solid construction means that I can confidentlly drop the unit onto a good rack and not need to think about accessories for mech. resonance control or EM noise abatement. This thing sounds great right out of the box, slurping unimproved AC from the wall with a sensible but unassuming power cord. I'll eventually play with power conditioners, but I really don't find real room for improvement.

At the top of the preamp tree, one can find units that cost 1.5 to 5 (maybe more by now...) times as much as the $10K retail price of the big Pass pre. I am not qualified to comment meaningfully on their performance relative to the X0.2. What I do know (imo) is that I have finally found my reference preamp. I used it as a headphone amp - pretty rough duty, and the Pass, uh, passed with flying colors. The source component had a built-in linestage; that allowed me to compare the sound of some CDs I know like the back of my hand. Using Grado HP2 headphones, the sound was the same through the X as it was direct from the player's built-in linestage. (I left the linestage in the signal path for this test.) The SAME. The X did not add, subtract, reproportion or smear anything - transients, tone, timing. It maintained its composure through the densest, chewiest orchestral fortissimi. It rocked the house with Led Zeppelin.
I doubt I will ever have the urge to replace this preamp. It's the David Carradine of audio: an invincible, utterly confident physical presence married to a complete lack of ego, self-imposition, in the acoustic domain.
Oh, and did I say I like it?

Customer Service

As good as it gets. I have always received "bend over backwards" service from the manufacturer. Glitches in materials or assembly are often handled free of charge.

Similar Products Used: Mark Levinson linestage in No.39.
Pass Labs X2
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Barry   AudioPhile [Sep 10, 2007]
Strength:

- Dead quiet especially with balanced interconnects
- Spacious good sense of front & back depth- good soundstage and sense of recording venue
- Very dynamic
- A bit of sweetness, very seductive, not etched, dry or thin
- Totally tonally neutral - absolutely no added warmth (how neutral is the rest of your system - afraid to find out?)
- Great volume control - totally accurate on balance with repeatable settings, balance tracks perfectly (this drives me nuts on other line stages)
- All the flexibility you'll need with inputs and ouputs
- subteranean bass
- built like a tank - beautiful industrial design if you like this sort of styling. Circuit layout, boards, and most important power supplies . the equal of any high-end component. his work is hot and heavy for good reason.
- Nelson Pass is a world class electronics designer with 30 years in the business - no witchcraft involved, many patents and white papers. Read the website and see if you learn anything.

Weakness:

- If you're looking for tube warmth you won't find it here and may hate this preamp- main caveat
- Quirky remote and mode settings but you'll get used to it once you use them for 10 minutes or less.
- need to keep the 3 separate units close as the connecting cords don't allow flexible placement. probalby not an issue for most people
- no phono so you'll have to buy Xono to get the whole package
- how big is your bank account? It just took a hit but you'll love it if you head the above!

This is a great preamp and for the cost it should be.

Customer Service

Great. Pass Labs the field failure rates are low low low and they stand behind their stuff

Similar Products Used: - classe DR-six MK II
- Lots of other stuff
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Showing 1-2 of 2  

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