Good things come to those who wait, or so they say. Pass Labs INT arrived dressed in an externally reinforced double cardboard. The key component wrapped in thick foil bag was found in-between two foam inserts. Sundry accessories included a manual, QC leaflet and handy quality aluminium RC. This remote was exactly the same as found in Pass Labs XP preamplifier. Even the most compact and affordable products by the same audio house are anything but.
After comparing my loaner to its higher tiered far beefier kin, I understood what was so funny. Power consumption is watts. No DAC, network or phono boards, fancy footers, shiny front panels, large displays or any alternate finishes. An endlessly rotating substantial volume knob a bit further to the right sports mild friction, as if a thin felt insert was put in-between it and front panel. In effect it operates very pleasantly and stops quickly if rapidly turned. The product sits on four oversized rubber pucks and its rear features two solid handles, three gold-plated RCA inputs, quality Furutech FT binding posts and fused IEC inlet.
Just two these devices replace what normally would look like a series of multiple smaller units. No degeneration also results in higher efficiency and deeper class A bias into reactive and low impedance loads. To properly review the Pass, a load tailored for its specs was needed, but some two weeks ago I had none. The product closest in my schedule to fit the profile was sound kaos Vox 3afw. Upon asking nicely, Martin Gateley kindly sent my pair far sooner than planned.
These two integrated decks squared up whereas the Vox 3af was the judge. This list is not long by any stretch and the INT is in fact my first big Pass. Just so, each known to me device by this audio house shared the same sonic elegance. Think freedom from extreme bias towards chunk, zing or any other excess; ease, finely applied textural generosity, vividness, admirable expressiveness, overall sophistication and lack of shout, grit and harshness of any kind.
Executed this tastefully and mature, the density of highly organic approach typical for class A drive can unlock large open landscapes which breathe and are free from any stuffiness. Images reveal naturally from within, instead of being spot-lit by extra treble. The ability to do all this borderline casual is the result of thorough engineering, silent circuitry and in general next-level play. Srajan already covered this product extensively already. For now suffice it to say that it sounded remarkably well with the INT The impression of a compact monitor on the job was absent from the get-go.
Speaking of imaging, Vox 3afw fixed to its bronze stands evaporated from my room to leave admirably huge wall of quicksilvery open sound. The mean trick was injecting a quickening agent without diluting the tone density and chunkiness I adore in our stable mate. It's as though to go so fast, they have to shed some tone mass or physicality.
Decisively, the XA25's uptick on the accelerator did not. The core beneficiary I made out on this first track was higher dynamic contrast within the range of a first-rate singer, i. Audiophilia calls that microdynamics. As the XA25 showed, those needn't be so micro. For my second pass, I transitioned to virtuoso Arabian chamber Jazz compliments of The Khoury Project's Revelation , a prior year's best find.
It showcases violin, oud and qanun against bass, hand drums and percussion. Again the XA25 took the lead in dynamic range. It also notched up the frisson or electrifying aspect of drum hits, cymbal slaps and wood stick cracks though neither amp peeled those out from the surrounding thicket like our ultra-bandwidth LinnenberGs do.
Ditto for harmonic envelope. The Middle-Eastern violin played as modal fiddle and the region's lap zither can scratch and splash, respectively. It takes a leaner amp with more treble exposure to maximize those coarser rawer aspects. By implication, such amps will also reduce some tonal mass and colour saturation in trade. Yet over the XA On these Khoury tracks, I also appreciated how the previously mentioned enhanced contrast ratio tied directly to the XA25's slightly quicker percussive transients and somewhat more open overtone window.
Finally and admittedly unexpected, the XA25's bass was a bit more emphatic and potent. These small but significant gains didn't come about at the apparent expense of anything else. At least on these speakers, the smaller amp began to make a most reasonable appeal to downsize yet get ahead. Time for the king of instruments, some piano. For some reason, now I first tuned into how fundamentally similar these amps were in their sweetness. HiFi Squirrel , Jan 1, RH67 , Jan 2, Location: Columbus, Ohio.
DaleClark , Jan 2, Location: New York City. I've been pondering adding a Pass amp to my setup, as a second amp. It's nice to read a little feedback from someone who's only been using tubes for a long time, and if they can find satisfaction going over to SS. I havent run a SS amp in about 6 years or so.
What is heard sounds like real life and not recorded even badly recorded or mastered material will have their moments of goodness. If there is a need for a little more power the Location: St. Louis Mo. Slippers-on , Jan 2, RH67 and Pythonman like this. Slippers-on likes this.
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