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RMAF 2018: Zu Audio, Pass Labs, MoFi; Another Late Night of Late Night Tales









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Listening to a slew of high-efficiency Zu Audio speakers is nothing new to me, and doing so with Pass Labs amplification is also old-hat. Spending late nights at audio shows in the Zu Audio room is also nothing new, however every night creates a different experience. If you haven’t heard, or I haven’t been clear enough, Zu Audio is known for bringing the party atmosphere both on and off the audio show scheduled hours.

The Story

A pair of Pass Labs’ newest and most affordable, XA Series class-A stereo power amplifiers, the XA-25 ($4,900 USD) were powering two separate Zu Audio systems at Rocky Mountain Audio Fest; the Druid Mk VI ($10,000 USD) and the Omen Dirty Weekend ($1,000 USD) model loudspeakers. Also in the systems were Pass Labs’ new XP-12 preamplifier ($5,800 USD) and XP-17 phono preamplifier ($4,300 USD). Along for the ride were a smart pair of MoFi UltraDeck’s ($1,799 USD) which were not outclassed by the operation of equipment stated above.

When it came time to get serious and listen to this new gaggle of Pass Labs electronics, I admit freely that with all three parts being new, I wasn’t sure how to gauge what I was hearing. What I could gauge however was that the main system contained three Pass Labs boxes and came in still under $15K for the electronics — which is unheard of for me. Most of the Pass’ systems I’ve heard contained more and pricier components.

This time around, it was the gimpy fella who was my favourite daytime DJ.

The Sound

Pass Labs (and First Watt) is sometimes the only name in solid state that everyone universally can be happy about. Characteristics change between all of the models, so picking your favourites out of the product line-up can often have you all over the metaphorical map. With the trio of new components on hand I felt that transparency had taken a big leap over the last time I heard the Druid Mk VI. Hangover and decay of the high frequency micro-details were better, and the lower treble and mid-bass seamed ballsy.

It’s not often you see (and hear) an exhibit where one model of amplifier is used to showcase such a wide berth of a speaker line hierarchy, and yet everything feel right at home in both cases. Yes, the XA-25 is the most affordable stereo amplifier in Pass’ current class-A lineup, but nowhere would I dare think or speak that the Zu Druid ever sounded better anywhere else.

The Systems

THE MAIN SYSTEM

MoFi
– UltraDeck Turntable – $1,799 USD

Pass Labs
– XP-17 Phono Stage – $4,300 USD
– XP-12 Preamplifier – $5,800 USD
– XA-25 Amplifier – $4,900 USD

Zu Audio
– Zu/DL-103 [Grade-2] Pickup – $799 USD
– Druid Mk VI Loudspeaker – $10,000 pr USD
– Event Loudspeaker Cables – $1,300 pr USD
– Event Interconnects – $400 pr USD
– Event Power Cables – $500 USD
– Submission Subwoofer – $5,250 USD

THE OMEN SYSTEM

MoFi
– UltraDeck Turntable – $1,799 USD

Pass Labs
– HPA-1 Headphone Amp – $3,500 USD
– XP-12 Preamplifier – $5,800 USD
– XA-25 Amplifier – $4,900 USD

Zu Audio
– Zu/DL-103 [Grade-2] Pickup – $799 USD
– Omen Dirty Weekend Loudspeakers – $1,000 pr USD
– Mission Cables – $1,000 USD









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