High End 2017: Pass Labs’ New XP-12 Preamp and XP-17 Phono Stage

Pass Laboratories has announced a pair of single-chassis components, just in time for Munich High End.

From the press release:

Munich HIGHEND Show, May 18, 2017 — At Pass Labs, we don’t change our products unless we feel that the changes are significant improvements over previous versions. Because of this we see typical product life spans of seven to eight years.

We are constantly working on and listening to new things and increasing our knowledge of circuits and components on sound. Eventually we find some things worth putting into production because they are significant enough. That time has come with a new series of preamplifiers.

The XP-12: Single Chassis Line Level Preamp

The new XP-12 starts with a new power supply. It uses an efficient toroidal design with both an electrostatic and Mu metal shield, along with vacuum impregnating and epoxy fill. This gives us a very quiet transformer both electrically and mechanically.

The power supply circuitry itself is also lower noise and has additional filtering; perhaps a little more complicated, but worth it.

The XP-12 uses the single stage volume control borrowed from the Xs line preamp. This gives us one hundred 1 dB steps with lower noise and distortion, while removing some signal path parts.

The gain circuitry continues to use our favorite transistors from Toshiba, but has a larger, higher biased output stage like the Xs preamplifier’s auto bias. This makes longer and multiple cable runs easier to drive and provides the advantage of simplifying our single-ended output circuitry while increasing performance.

Overall this makes for a quieter, more neutral, musical and versatile control center for your system.

XP-12 Specs

  • Power consumption 50 Watts
  • Gain 9.3dB Balanced
  • Frequency response: +/- 0.05 dB 10Hz to 20KHz, -1dB @ 100KHz
  • Crosstalk > 100dB
  • Residual Noise 15uV 10 – 30Khz
  • THD < 0.001 @ 1V 1Khz
  • Double shielded low noise toroid
  • Dimensions: 17” W x 12.5” D x 4” H
  • MSRP: $5,800

The XP-17: Single Chassis Phono Preamp

The XP-17 uses the new-shielded low noise toroidal and input filter module, like the XP-12. The power supply has an extra stage of RC filtering, allowing for lower radiated and mechanical noise.

The XP-17 has an all new input circuit that is symmetrical and lower in noise and distortion, with greater drive capability. Noise being the most prominent part of THD+N in the first section of a phono stage; by lowering noise we get better resolution and dynamics.

It was designed with a split EQ network, like the XP-25 and XI Phono, that is more accurate and can handle greater signal levels. The secondary stage runs a higher bias output stage with auto bias.

The numerous loading options from the XP-15 are all still available, plus three gain settings to accommodate low output MC to MM cartridges.

XP-17 Specs

  • Power consumption: 40 Watts
  • Gain: 76, 66, 56 dB balanced 70, 60, 50 unbalanced
  • Output impedance: 110 Ohms RCA; 220 Ohms balanced
  • Input impedance: 10 – 47K Ohms more than 200 values
  • Capacitive loading: 10 -750 pF
  • RIAA curve accuracy: +/- .1 dB 20 – 20 KHz Passive / Active EQ
  • Distortion and noise: .004%
  • Quad-matched low noise symmetrical JFET input.
  • Double shielded low noise toroidal transformer
  • Dimensions: 17” W x 12.5” D x 4” H
  • MSRP: $4,300

About Pass Labs

Founded in 1991 by legendary audio designer Nelson Pass, Pass Laboratories, Inc. markets its unique amplifiers and preamplifiers. The company is based in Auburn, California, and is universally regarded as one of the most innovative audio brands in the world. It’s critically acclaimed Aleph, X and XA-Series products have won numerous awards, and Founder Nelson Pass holds numerous audio patents. His achievements include developing the first dynamically biased Class-A amplifier circuit, developing a fully cascode audio power amplifier, and developing the Stasis amplifier in 1977. He helped popularize solid-state, single-ended Class-A power amplifiers, and developed the very successful Aleph series of products, and the Super-Symmetry™ circuit, which achieves exceptionally low distortion and noise levels.

About Scot Hull 1030 Articles
Founder, Editor and Publisher at Part-Time Audiophile and The Occasional Magazine.

1 Comment

  1. So is this a matching preamp for the Pass Labs XA25 power amp that was mentioned here on April 17? It sure seems like it. However, in the comments to that article, Rafe Arnott wrote “I spoke with Nelson Pass and he said the HPA-1 should be considered the companion preamplifier for the XA25,” which seems odd.

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