CAS 2013: Pass Labs

CAS4Pass Labs was on hand despite their lack of a Bay Area dealer.

We listened to vinyl here, spun on a Merrill-Williams REAL turntable, with a Triplanar arm and an Ortofon MC Anna cartridge. The speakers were YG Acoustic‘s diminutive, perfect-for-hotel-rooms, Carmels ($18k per pair). Electronics were, of course, by Pass. Phono preamplification was handled by a XP-25 ($10,600). Linestage duties went to the XP-20 ($8600). Power came from a X-250.5 ($8250).

The YG speakers demand power. The flip side, of course, is that they always let you know about any grain. The Pass electronics here were grain free. Shockingly, the soundstage was almost tubelike in its holography, with notes presented three dimensionally rather than simply pinned in space. There was no trace of added warmth, but neither was there any trace of sterility.

I’m sure people left this room wondering how the SF dealer landscape could be missing out on this brand. I did.


  1. Interestingly pass is apparently unconcerned by power cables since they appear to be using power cables by Home Depot.

    • I’ve heard Nelson Pass say something along the lines of this: If it still sounds good, without all the ‘audiophile upgrades’, then it must be the design. Interesting, no?

    • Maybe because when you properly design a separate power supply like the ones of the Pass XP-20 and XP-25 you know why power cords won’t improve the DC coming out of the PSU…


      I guess I shouldn’t say that to the ‘believers’…

    • Well sure. Based on these pictures, you might also conclude that Pass is unconcerned with putting gear on a shelf, or doing anything to isolate their turntable. Don’t read too much into these pictures.

      I somehow doubt that Nelson Pass cares much about power cords, mind you. I just think that these pictures aren’t sufficient evidence to support that conclusion.

    • Eighteen thousand dollars, cedup. Eighteen thousand dollars.

      I’ve heard those a few times now, and they’re a decent choice for someone with a fat wallet and a small room. They’re clean, they’re precise, they’re easy to fit, and the cabinet is *dead*. That’s a convincing combination for some folks. I don’t think they’re priced absurdly when their performance is compared to other speakers in their price range.

      Besides: despite what you and I might know in our hearts, there are some people who simply refuse to accept the joys of 15″ drivers. This speaker is for them.

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