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Review: Pass Labs X600.8 mono block Power Amplifier

by John Stancavage in Components

Do you want the hernia or the double hernia? The voice on the phone asking that question was Bryan Stanton, a communications specialist who works with Pass Labs. A few weeks prior, we had begun chatting about Pass sending me one of its X-series amps for review. I had agreed, and now Pass wanted to know if it should ship the 127-pound X350.8 stereo amp or a pair of the top-of-the-line, 123-pounds-each X600.8 mono blocks. I didn’t hesitate for even a second. “Oh, the X600.8s. [...]

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  • In the world of high-end audio, there are solid-state tribes and there are tube tribes. Usually the two pretty much stick to their own camps, except for scattered skirmishes when they cross paths at the watering hole. Each tribe believes theirs is the one true path, and questions the auditory capabilities of the other side. This is why I’m always surprised to see any attempts at the two co-existing in the same room, let alone the same system. Yet, one of the better sounds I heard last year [...]
  • Welcome to something new we’re going to try here on PTA thanks to our friend Wynn Wong of Wynn Audio in Richmond Hill, Ontario. I’m going to be curating a new list every month featuring different categories of gear that I think you – our readers – have to hear under any circumstances you can arrange: beg, borrow, steal, drive for hours, hop a train, take a plane… you get what I’m saying. Price will not be a factor, with individual pieces on each list reflecting a spectrum of what [...]
  • Picking the best audio component of the year is kind of like pondering your ultimate list of girls to ask to the high school prom. There are many very attractive choices, but probably a much smaller number actually in your league. That doesn’t stop you from dreaming, though. And the girl who maybe initially wasn’t near the top, after you gave her a chance and got to know her better, became the perfect choice. Possibly that even led to a longer-term relationship. The Part-Time Audiophile [...]
  • Review: Merrill Audio Cara preamplifier

    October 29, 2017 // 3 Comments

    When was the last time your heart was sent racing by the opportunity to audition a preamplifier? Yup, line stages are not the most exciting components. They just sit there, allowing you to select your source, and adjust the volume, right? Yawn. Yet, when UPS pulled up outside my house with the new Cara preamp from Merrill Audio Advanced Technology Labs, I felt a surge of anticipation. Merrill always seems to make a good sound on the show circuit, and this $3,500 USD unit was priced far below [...]
  • Review: Pass Labs XA60.8 Mono Amplifiers

    October 1, 2017 // 3 Comments

    by John Richardson I’ve been on something of a roll lately with amplifiers from Pass Labs. Readers might recall that I reviewed a monster of an amp, the Pass X250.8 a couple of years ago, and then more recently, Pass Labs’ lower powered integrated offering, the INT-60.  Both were fine examples of top-drawer modern solid state amplification, and while I found the INT-60 to be a bit pickier about speaker pairing, the brutish X250.8 could drive just about anything and always look great doing [...]
  • Complaints. I had many complaints with this system. Not from me, from my neighbours. You see, this was one of those systems that just begged to be played ridiculously loud. It was the sense of scale, it was the musicality, it was the tone, the timbre… the bass. The CH Precision L1 Dual Monaural Line Preamplifier, ($32,975 USD/$40,870 CAN) and M1 Reference Power Amplifier ( $51,000 USD/$63,960 CAN) being fed Redbook Tidal, and high-resolution local files (a mix of 24/192, and DSD) via a [...]
  • Pass Labs will be showing off their brand-new XA25 Power Amplifier at AXPONA this week, and announced today that the company has started shipping the Class-A amps which have an MSRP of $4,900 USD ($6,500 CAN). According to Nelson Pass, the brand new design embodies everything that traditional, and current designs feature, but with lower-power requirements, a more simple single-ended circuit with fewer parts, and gain stages in the signal path. This translates into lower voltages allowing for [...]
  • By John Richardson I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and soul searching lately, both regarding my place in this quirky hobby and my written musings on it.  Why do I enjoy coming home from a long day’s work, and after a short break, running up to my listening room and firing up the system?  Why do I look forward to late nights listening intently to new (and old) tunes on new (and familiar) gear?  Why do I hanker to excitedly share my thoughts with you about all of this on the [...]
  • Review: Linear Tube Audio MicroZOTL2.0

    February 26, 2017 // 7 Comments

    by John Richardson Linear Tube Audio and David Berning Let’s start this review with a little pop quiz. Question 1: Have you heard of Linear Tube Audio (the company)? No? OK, I didn’t think so. Question 2: Are you familiar with David Berning? You are? No surprise there, as Mr. Berning is one of the best known amplifier designers of the last 40 years or so, especially when it comes to vacuum tube designs. So why do I ask, you ask? As it turns out, there’s a very definite link between these [...]
  • Vinnie Rossi (of VinnieRossi.com), and his effusive smile are a bit of a legend in hi-fi circles, especially on the show circuit. Rossi is always quick with a handshake, and never forgets a face or a name. In short, he always makes you feel welcome, and actually sets aside real time to talk with journalists covering the shows. I’ve never seen him turn down a music request either, something that definitely can’t be said for many manufacturers showing these days. Rossi very kindly [...]
  • When an amplifier takes two men to move it, you could start to question your choice in amplifiers… but not me. I knew I was on to something truly special. The fact that Audio Note dealer, whiskey confidante, and bon vivant Don Thorne had taken the time (and considerable effort) lugging the behemoth Meishu Silver Signature integrated amplifier all the way over from Victoria to my home in Vancouver was the sign of true friendship. How the hell he’d managed to get the damn thing into [...]
  • As audiophiles, we transfix on the transducer. We debate amplifiers; solid state or tube, and yearn for watts of power to provide absolute dynamics. We tweak every element of our audio systems … akin to building a race car to get every ounce of music out of the vinyl grooves or hi-resolution digital files. But if this was Formula One, we would be putting the best fuel in that car, too. To ensure we get 100% of the performance, not 70, 80 or 90%. Aside from “great music”, [...]
  • When DVL Audio distribution from Toronto asked if I was interested in hearing the Swiss-designed, and made CH Precision electronics driving American reference loudspeakers from YG Acoustics, I answered absolutely. They arranged for a sweet demo session to take place in Vancouver at a local dealership, so I grabbed my camera, and headed out. The setting was a familiar one for readers of my Vancouver listening sessions, with Element Acoustics playing host, but this time Lawrence Lock, and David [...]
  • Mini-Review: GamuT Lobster Chair

    October 4, 2016 // 14 Comments

    The GamuT Lobster Chair (chair $4,995, optional matching footstool $2,590) is a billed as “the world’s first audiophile chair.” I will respectfully defer — “firsts” don’t really matter to me as much as “awesomeness”, and this chair is awesome. Michael Vamos tells me that the Lobster is a joint-venture with GamuT investor, the furniture maker Kvist (you can check out the original Lund & Paarman at various retailers), and modifies their [...]
  • Burmester Reference Demo in Vancouver

    September 24, 2016 // 6 Comments

    Got $400,000? Send it to me “Alright, alright… c’mon already,” I hear you say, half-groaning as you read the title of this post, and surmise (correctly) that this is another demo review of a ne plus ultra system from a European hi-fi manufacturer. Listen, I can’t help myself, and can you blame me? Edward Ku at Element Acoustics in Vancouver, B.C. was holding court at his über hip showroom, only this time instead of Tidal Audio from Germany, it was Burmester in the [...]
  • by John Richardson A Clutch of Amplifiers Let’s start this review with a little chat about First Watt and its founder, Nelson Pass. As experienced audiophiles, I’m assuming we all are at least somewhat familiar with Mr. Pass and his work. He’s the chief dude that started companies such as Threshold and later, under his own shingle, at Pass Labs. For many years, he was also the head designer for these outfits, coming up with some of the legendary solid state amplifier designs of all time. [...]
  • The $25,000 USD gold, and Ferrari-red, solid-state integrated amplifier from Switzerland exuded raw sex appeal as it sat in my listening room oozing quality. With it’s staggeringly addictive color scheme (a point of opinion, and contention I know), muscular casework and that rubbery, nubby-feeling volume Pleasure Control for tactile feedback, the darTZeel CTH-8550 could be a bit much for some people at times, but oh baby was it posh. Edward Ku at Element Acoustics had made the amp [...]
  • Review: Backert Labs Rhythm 1.1

    March 19, 2016 // 5 Comments

    “Freakin’ awesome!” I’m tempted to leave it there, but I’m not sure that it really would mean all that much. But, on the off-chance you’re one of those bumper-sticker review enthusiasts, there you go. The Backert Labs Rhythm 1.1 is a line stage, not a preamplifier (in that it doesn’t include a DAC or a phono pre), but what it is, is the hub of your aspirational audio system. And I say “aspirational” intentionally — this $7,500 [...]
  • Technics Premium Class Audio System by John Richardson Technics, a subsidiary of Panasonic, Inc. (formerly Matsushita), was established back in the mid 1960s as a high-end purveyor of audio gear. Of course, history tell us that the company went far beyond those boundaries in the last 50 years, and after a brief hiatus, it’s good to see them back. Many of us were crestfallen when word got out a few years ago that Technics planned to stop producing its last hi-fi product, the SL-1200 series [...]
  • Review: DeVore Fidelity O/96 loudspeakers

    February 13, 2016 // 6 Comments

    Introduction and background There’s a mid-2000’s British television series I became addicted to watching called Life on Mars  (not to be confused with the dreadful U.S. adaptation of the same name), and I loved it for many reasons, not the least of which was its ability to provide me with the oft sought suspension of disbelief. The show has a fantastically original premise which details the breathtaking, and disorienting temporal jumps suffered by present-day Manchester Police [...]