Pass Labs x250.8 or x350.8
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  1. #1
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    Pass Labs x250.8 or x350.8

    Hi Everyone,

    First time poster for my own selfish reasons, of course. I have an XA30.5 that can't control the woofers on my Revel F208 speakers that are in a VERY lossy room. FYI, there are two 8 inch woofers per speaker, and the impedance where most of the action happens is about 3.8ohms.

    I haven't heard either of the .8 amps. I do like the midrange on the XA30.5, but it isn't as spectacular as you move away from the middle. I also think it might be lacking some detail in the midrange in favor of thickening it up a bit. That may be explained by the amps difficulty in driving the speakers, rather than an inherant characteristic.

    Kent English from Pass Labs told me "I find with similar speakers that the X250.8 has a tiny bit more warmth in the lower mids and the X350.8 is a tiny bit more neutral and certainly more dynamic; neither better than the other with 89dB speakers but certainly different. "

    I keep going back and forth, but at the end of it all, I wonder if anyone with the X350.8 would regret not getting the x250.8 for sonic reasons.

    It is interesting to me that the x350.8 has extra transistors. You'd think that would result in lower distortion at the least, but others say matching the transistors gets a lot more difficult as the numbers increase.

    I should say that I doubt I would make the x250.8 struggle, I'm just very interested in the "certainly more dynamic" aspect, even at moderate listening levels.

    Does anyone with personal experience have anything to share? Did anyone prefer the x250.8 over the x350.8?

    TIA

  2. #2
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    Re: Pass Labs x250.8 or x350.8

    Welcome to the forum, thank you for joining.
    Joe

    Avantgarde Duo XD, Klipsch RB-75, Klipsch RP-160M, JBL 590.

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    Lumin U1 mini, ModWright Ultimate Sony XA-5400ES, Audio Mirror Tubadour III NOS R2R Tube Dac w/ upgrades.

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  4. #3
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    Re: Pass Labs x250.8 or x350.8

    TIA, welcome to the fold.

    I own a pair of Revel Studio II's, driven buy a pair of X260.8's , IMO they are the 'sweet spot' in the Pass lineup. There are no control issue what so ever with respect to the bass drivers.
    Cheers ! …. Dave

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  6. #4
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    Re: Pass Labs x250.8 or x350.8

    Based on your choice above, 250.8 vs 350.8, I'd recommend the 250.8 based on it being a little "sweeter" overall. I have extensive listening to the 350.8 and love it but that was on more power hungry Salon2 speakers.
    Joe

    Avantgarde Duo XD, Klipsch RB-75, Klipsch RP-160M, JBL 590.

    Job INTegrated, Naim Supernait 2 w/ HiCap-DR.

    Conrad Johnson GAT2, Wyred 4 Sound STP-SE Stage 2, Misho Myronov Wooden pre, Linear Tube Audio MZ2.

    Misho Myronov Wooden amp, First Watt SIT-3 (X2), Luxman MQ-300, Job 250 Monos, Valvet E2se, NuForce STA200, AkitikA GT-102 amp, ASL Wave monos, Dennis Had 45 monos.

    Lumin U1 mini, ModWright Ultimate Sony XA-5400ES, Audio Mirror Tubadour III NOS R2R Tube Dac w/ upgrades.

    Burmester 948, McIntosh MCLK12, Kimber Kable, Siltech, Cardas, Avanti Audio cables.

  7. #5
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    Pass Labs x250.8 or x350.8

    Hi tarasman, Joe for sure has tremendous experience in hi-end audio and Kent from Pass is always very supportive and knows his products inside out. So I’ll just add my 2 cts to the views of those guys who I think already gave good advice.

    I was facing the same question you have and went for the X250.8 to drive Magico S3 mk2s. I think it comes down to your sonic preferences. As I mostly listen to classic and Jazz the tad of warmth comes in handy with my musical choices. And 500 wpc with the 4 ohm speakers is also plenty. At my listening levels I hardly leave class A.

    I have not faced any dynamics issues, but for sure the X350.8 has more power on tap. Both amps certainly have enough headroom for good dynamics and sweetness on the top.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
    “Life’s too short to listen to bad audio.”

    Big rig: AMG V12 + AMG 12j2 arm + Benz Micro Gullwing SLR MC/ Cardas Clear Beyond phono cable/ Stillpoints LPI/ Soulution 520 preamp with phono section/ Synology NAS with Roon and HD Plex linear PSU with Shunyata HD/ AQ Vodka RJ45 + Aqvox Network Switch SE/ AQ Diamond RJ45 into DAC/ Brinkmann Nyquist MK II/ Soulution 511/ WyWires Platinum ICs + power cables/ Magico S3 mk2/ Inakustik Reference LS 4004 AIR/ REL S5 SHO/ REL Blue/ Audioquest Niagara 5000/ Shunyata AlphaHC (x2)+ Alpha+Alpha Analogue+Alpha Digital/ Finite Elemente Pagode/ Stillpoints Ultra SS.

    Small rig: Naim UnitiServe/ Curious USB/ Tidal/ Ayre Codex/ Auralic Aries Mini/ Sbooster LPSU/ Pass Labs INT-60/ Acoustic Zen Silver Reference II/ HiD Diamond 8/ Harbeth 30.2 40th Anniversary/ Shunyata Venom EU7 & Venom 3 HD.

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  9. #6
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    Pass Labs x250.8 or x350.8

    A fun tidbit: Because of my room, the XA30.5 only hits 98db on my RatShack meter, whether it's a 1khz tone, or music. So, I'm about 9db down from the sensitivity rating of the speaker assuming I'm dumping 128W or so. It's astonishing, but an actual 500W won't even get me to 105db. That said, I think it's common knowledge that Pass underrates their amps. I am going to install a dedicated 20A circuit for the amp, and possibly another for the rest of the gear. My SVS SB16-Ultra already causes voltage drops.

    I should mention that my pre-amp is a Sonic Frontiers Line-2 that has been upgraded to "SE+" level from Chris at Partsconnexion. In addition to the SE+ upgrade, I had him replace the coupling capacitors (these are interstage, not output) with very expensive V-Cap CuTF caps. How does this compare to a new pre? No idea. I think it's probably really good, but most tubes seem to have some kind of compromise. If I change out any of the three pairs of tubes, the difference is usually really obvious. Once the amp is replaced, I think the pre will be the weak link. But for now, I probably DO have the sweet midrange thing covered at the pre-amp, and I can certainly sweeten it up if I so desire with less neutral output tubes. I will eventually replace this with something along the lines of a Pass XP-30, or a REF6 that doesn't require 50 year old tubes.

    My DAC is a Schiit Yggy. Not sure how popular that is here. I have to say that I like it. My system really does piano right, and I have to believe the DAC gets a lot of the credit.

    I see myself stepping up to the Studio II, Salon II, or maybe the new Magico A3 sometime in the future.

    So, yeah. It kinda sounds like I'm trying to talk myself into the x350.8. On the other hand, if I wouldn't be able to hear much difference between the two amps, I could be blowing an extra $2k that could have gone towards my next speaker or pre upgrade.

  10. #7
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    Re: Pass Labs x250.8 or x350.8

    Why not other amplifier brands?

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  12. #8
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    Re: Pass Labs x250.8 or x350.8

    Because Pass sounds sooo wonderful .

    But you’re right, there are also other great amps. I was just cheeky.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
    “Life’s too short to listen to bad audio.”

    Big rig: AMG V12 + AMG 12j2 arm + Benz Micro Gullwing SLR MC/ Cardas Clear Beyond phono cable/ Stillpoints LPI/ Soulution 520 preamp with phono section/ Synology NAS with Roon and HD Plex linear PSU with Shunyata HD/ AQ Vodka RJ45 + Aqvox Network Switch SE/ AQ Diamond RJ45 into DAC/ Brinkmann Nyquist MK II/ Soulution 511/ WyWires Platinum ICs + power cables/ Magico S3 mk2/ Inakustik Reference LS 4004 AIR/ REL S5 SHO/ REL Blue/ Audioquest Niagara 5000/ Shunyata AlphaHC (x2)+ Alpha+Alpha Analogue+Alpha Digital/ Finite Elemente Pagode/ Stillpoints Ultra SS.

    Small rig: Naim UnitiServe/ Curious USB/ Tidal/ Ayre Codex/ Auralic Aries Mini/ Sbooster LPSU/ Pass Labs INT-60/ Acoustic Zen Silver Reference II/ HiD Diamond 8/ Harbeth 30.2 40th Anniversary/ Shunyata Venom EU7 & Venom 3 HD.

    HP rig: MacBookAir/ Tidal/ Auralic Gemini 2000/ Sbooster LPSU/ Audeze LCD-2 Classic + WyWires Red/ Shunyata HD/ Shunyata Hydra 2/ Shunyata Venom.

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  14. #9
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    Re: Pass Labs x250.8 or x350.8

    Fair question. Another amp that came up on my radar is the Hegel H30. I haven't read anything bad about it other than it's actually superior in the stereo config vs mono. Bass control is supposed to be off the hook. In fact, things I've read lead me to believe that it's just great in about every way.

    Do you have any other amp recommendations for $9000 or less used?

    If memory serves, the absolute most amazing amp I ever heard was the big Halcro monoblocks (that don't look like blocks). Incredible separation and dynamics. I saw one for sale on Audiogon, but I just don't know enough about them. Were they unreliable? Did they have some fatal flaw after the honeymoon period? It seems weird that the "greatest amp ever" by many accounts didn't seem to gain a lot of traction.

    I like my Pass XA30.5, and it did a pretty good job of driving my Revel M106 speakers, but the F208s require more grunt. So familiarity is a big part of this, but also know I did a lot of research before I bought the xa30.5. Nelson Pass has a great reputation as a contributor to DIY forums, his company has a great reputation, and there is a pretty good resale market for Pass gear.

    I've owned some fiddly stuff. My pre-amp has been sent in 5 times over 18 years for fixes and upgrades. My DAC is broken and on its way to Schiit house for repair. That said, I am extremely averse to regularly packing up and shipping something that weighs over 120lbs on even a semi-regular basis. It's hard work, potentially injurious (I ain't 20 anymore) and it's expensive to ship and insure. So for the amplifier especially, reputation and reliability really are important to me.

    If I have a reservation about the two Pass amps in question, it's that Pass intentionally added some distortion because a panel of people preferred the sound (I'm sure that's an oversimplification). The .5 certainly measured great, and the .8 really doesn't in some respects. So I'd be going out on a limb by trusting the wizard's judgement. Also, I'd be going from a (small) XA model to a big X model. At the same output rating, I wouldn't be surprised that the XA models sound better, but I'm going from a 414VA xa30.5 to a 2240VA x250.8. Also, it seems there are a lot of super satisfied people driving big expensive speakers with the x350.8, so I figure it has to be great for the money.

  15. #10
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    Re: Pass Labs x250.8 or x350.8

    My feeling is amp power is like money. Better to have too much than too little. Get the 350.8, and better yet, get two X600.8 amps. You can thank me later.
    Bud

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