Pass Labs XP-32

BruceD

VIP/Donor
Dec 13, 2013
1,153
166
135
#21
Wow! well that's review one can take to the bank--wasn't that in some movie?

Simply superb writing sir Peter if only 90% of the reviews we garner were as honestly presented.

Enjoy the Pre--we all know the feeling of a fine product when it delights.

"The quality remains after the price is forgotten"---Gucci or ???

BruceD
 

Vienna

VIP/Donor
Oct 14, 2018
378
250
145
44
#22
Thank you Peter.
Enjoy it in good health
 

MadFloyd

Member Sponsor
May 31, 2010
2,477
62
225
Mass
#23
Peter, what a wonderful write up. Written so well and very entertaining. Preamps are truly the heart and soul of a system and I am in the middle of my own audition of one (which I won't mention here because I don't want to derail the thread). Sounds like you auditioned it very carefully/methodically and got a lot of what you were hoping for with the XP-32. Congratulations!
 
Likes: PeterA
#25
Truly excellent review Peter!

It must have taken a long time to write up all this wonderful information. You are a very a gifted writer, as you are able to bring the reader right along with your XP-32 experience. I do not think the effect your writing had on me was just because I have also experienced the XP-32. I believe others will get a similar impression as I did after reading your review. Tying in your previous live music experiences was most helpful in framing the performance of the XP-32 and how it was able to bring you closer to the idea live performance. As I had mentioned in my previous review posts on the XP-32, with the XP-32 in the system, your brain does not have to work as hard to fill in the gaps of what we know of our past live performance experiences. The XP-32 is a pleasure to listen to and a few steps closer to reliving a live music performance.
 
Likes: PeterA

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
6,661
1,752
340
North Shore of Boston
#26
Thank you everyone for the kind words. I find it is easy to write if I enjoy the subject and know what I want to say.
 

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
6,661
1,752
340
North Shore of Boston
#28
Thank you for your kind words Passfreak. I love your moniker. This is my favorite audio form on the Internet, mostly because I learned so much from reading what other people have to say. There are a lot of people here with a lot of experience and I really appreciate their willingness to share it.
 

Lagonda

VIP/Donor
Feb 4, 2014
1,292
1,153
355
Denmark
#29
Great review Peter ! It’s nice to get a real comparison from someone who is not afraid of saying “clearly better “
about products from the same manufacturer. Something those dealer sponsored reviews just have a hard time doing ;)
 

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
6,661
1,752
340
North Shore of Boston
#30
Thank you Lagonda. It’s an interesting thing. It is difficult to know what one product is lacking until he hears something significantly better. I was able to hear issues with speaker and cartridge set up which were not apparent to me with the XP 22. I made those fine-tuning adjustments and the XP 22 sounded better in my system as a result.

I think Wayne Coburn created something very special with this pre-amplifier. It is significantly more expensive than the XP 22, and it is half the price of the XS Pre. It is not inexpensive, but strangely I think it is a very good value given how much other top-of-the-line pre-amplifiers cost, and I think it is a very worthwhile upgrade consideration for current XP 22 owners.
 
Last edited:
Likes: Lagonda

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
6,661
1,752
340
North Shore of Boston
#32
Good one. No it is not cool. Nor is it pretty. My electrician was all set to come in and redo my wiring before Covid. When I took out my distribution box and got the Ching Cheng power cords I had to become creative. In the process I have woken up to the sound of some power cords.

I have a nice simple plan for a new dedicated power service to my audio system. I am waiting a little bit before I invite my electrician back into the house. I will then be able to compare four dedicated circuits with industrial grade isolated ground outlets and stranded copper wires versus the direct connect JPS labs in wall power lines from the panel to my components.
 
Last edited:
Likes: marty

marty

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2010
1,718
845
275
United States
#33
Good one. No it is not cool. Nor is it pretty. My electrician was all set to come in and redo my wiring before Covid. When I took out my distribution box and got the Ching Cheng power cords I had to become creative. In the process I have woken up to the sound of some power cords.

I have a nice simple plan for a new dedicated power service to my audio system. I am waiting a little bit before I invite my electrician back into the house. I will then be able to compare four dedicated circuits with industrial grade isolated ground outlets and stranded copper wires versus the direct connect JPS labs in wall power lines from the panel to my components.
Sounds good Peter. Remember, just like the Ching Chengs, there is no need to go crazy with outlets. The Hubbell 8200 series works just beautifully. (For an "all out" assault, you might wish to consider Shunyata's CopperCONNs.)
 

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
6,661
1,752
340
North Shore of Boston
#34

Urs55

New Member
Oct 28, 2019
5
0
1
#35
I received my XP32 and am just starting to let it burn in. My question to other XP32 owners is about the volume setting. Depending on the album my volume settings are somewhere between 100 and 120. Is this within the range others are also using, or am I far off?
If it's late in the evening, I would probably use more a range between 95 and 110.

Power amp is Pass Labs X250.8 and speakers are Magico S3 Mk2.
 

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
6,661
1,752
340
North Shore of Boston
#36
Congratulations on your new preamp Urs55. I only have a vinyl source. I generally use a volume between 115 and 140. When I was breaking in the unit and using digital it was 10 to 15 lower because of the higher output. If I wanna go crazy I have had it to 160 but that is extremely rare. I look forward to reading more of your impressions when you feel comfortable sharing them.
 

Urs55

New Member
Oct 28, 2019
5
0
1
#37
Thank you very much for this information, Peter. This means with a digital source we are using pretty much the same range. That's a relief for me ;-) I was afraid something would be wrong, when I hardly heard any sound at Volumes like 30, re-checked all cables and switches for the third time, before I was courageous enough to go to something like 90, 100 or more...
Yes, I will try to describe my impressions as good as I can. I think, it will take two or three weeks. The main problem with regard to my impressions will be, that I changed preamp and DAC at the same time.
Old: ARC Ref 6 and a second hand dCS Vivaldi. New: Pass XP32 and the newest emm Labs DA2 V2
 
#38
Hello Urs55,

Conrgatulation on getting the XP-32. Do not judge it during the first few weeks of operation as the sound quality will vary a lot during this break in period. To give you a better feel for you gain settings Here is a list of the volume indicator vs actual gain in DB and normal voltage gain in decimal form.

199 = 10 dB = 3.16
179 = 0 dB = 1.0 (Unity Gain)
159 = -10 dB = 0.316
139 = -20 dB = 0.1 (Divided by 10)
119 = -30 dB = 0.0316
99 = -40 dB = 0.01 (Divided by 100)
79 = -50 dB = 0.00316
59 = -60 dB = 0.001 (Divided by 1000)
39 = -70 dB = 0.000316

So each step is a 0.5 dB increment. Note that the first 20 steps are 1 dB steps. The first 20 steps are so attenuated that most people will likely never use them in normal day to day operation.

Please post your inpressions of the XP-32 after you have had some time to experinece it. I'm hoping other XP-32 users will also post their findings.
 
Last edited:
Likes: Urs55
Jun 19, 2016
85
7
23
#39
Pass Labs XP-32 First Critical Listen
Prior to my comments below I had white and pink noise going thru the XP-32 preamp with its balanced outputs loaded with 22K resistor loads for a week. I alternated the noise sources every other day. Hopefully this will help reduce the break-in time some. With the previous XP22 preamp I used the noise source break-in for two weeks. I still felt it took nearly 2 months to fully settle into its final voicing. I play the system so seldom that this may another reason for the long break-in time that I observed even though it was powered on the entire time.

Some general comments first: I’m a rather critical listener, and less apt to say something sounds better just because it is sounds different. I do not expect my comments on this initial listen are going to be the final word on my thoughts going forward. I’ll likely formulate some of the preamps weaknesses as I listen to it more over time. Since the XP-22 was the most recent preamp being utilized in my system many of my XP-32 comments will likely reflect the differences I hear between these two preamps. I have used the Berkeley RS DAC as the volume control to get repeatability in level with the preamp set for unity gain (179). I have a varied list of music that I have volume level setting for DAC to get repeatability in my listening sessions. With the entire system now having 23 hours of being powered on the DAC and N10 Aurender unit clocks should be settled in better than the initial listen that I did yesterday. I’m using my XA-160.5 amplifiers and curious how the XP-32 will sound in this paring.

The Strengths I Noted with the XP-32 are as Follows:
1) This preamp makes it hard to peg it as a solid-state unit. The transparency of the unit would easily pass for SOA tube unit, but without the associated tube noise. This design surely has blurred the difference between SS and tube units, which is a first for myself.

2) This preamp has the best overall spectral balance that I have ever experienced in a preamp. I have not heard the Pass Labs Xs preamp, but at half the price, I suspect this unit would compare well. I now understand why Desmond would be willing to use this unit in his own system (as Wayne Colburn noted to me previously). An example: I have always questioned the sound quality on Keith Johnson’s symphony recordings. It always seemed like he had incorrect microphone placement, which caused many instruments groups sound anemic IMO. Playing some of this music today showed a well-balanced recording, which tells me Wayne has fixed my problem in the reproduction chain.

3) The harmonics of instruments are more fully flushed out than the XP-22. This is very evident in piano and string instruments. This brings a new level of realism to my system.

4) The timing of those harmonics and the amount of detail has improved. Everything sounds more realistic and playing in free space. Again, more tube-like performance. The decay of notes seems to linearly go blackness. The XA-160.5 amps are champs at natural sounding instrument decay in my book. Now with the XP-32 as the signal source the decay really brings noticeably improved realism to the picture.

5) The soundstage images have more equal weighting than I have ever heard before…what does that mean? The best photograph analogy would be the central images usually have good focus in a decent Hi-End system, but it seems they are taken with a wide aperture lens. The images deeper in the soundstage and off to the sides are there but not as well in focus. The outer images are not flushed out well with respect to the density of the sound in them and the full harmonic content and detail of the central images. The XP32 seems to be using a small aperture lens, so everything in the soundstage is in much better focus. The sounds are more saturated like the central image all across the sound stage depth and width. This brings improved realism and flow to the music. The soundstage portrays more saturated images in the soundstage with well recorded music. I believe this effect is highly related to the next effect I’m experiencing.

6) Now with all that acoustic energy being better focused (where it should be) the preamp seems to handle complex and loud passages of music more like a tube design. You do not get the urge to turn down passages because they get irritating and compressed sounding during loud and complex music. I found myself even seeking out music that I found irritating before and found the XP-32 allowed me to play them through to the end, which I had not wanted to do previously.

7) All these above traits come together to good effect. It is so easy to follow individual instruments or voices. The improved spectral balance and the added detail in the sound stage has made hand claps on live recordings sound much more flushed out and real. I use the well recorded Alison Krause & Union Station live album for one of my hand claps references (“Stay” cut and others).

Weakness?
The only thing I’m questioning with the XP-32, compared to the XP-22, is that maybe the dynamics seem a bit more muted. My thought process on this has led me to the considering that the sound energy is more uniformly spread around the sound stage (in the proper image locations) with the XP-32. The images having more body, spread more evenly/correctly, which makes the previously center centric image sound of the XP-22 sound more dynamic in comparison.

Summary/Comments:
This preamp definitely has the effect of pulling you into the music. Your brain just does not have to work as hard to fill in the mental sonic gaps. We are asking our brains to do this all time. We have to mentally complete the music as we know it from our past live performance experiences. The XP-32 IMO achieves a few steps towards a more realistic and enjoyable experience.

On the surface the XP-32 looked like it offered move balanced inputs and the useful additional buffered Slave outputs. Given the large price-point difference, I was hoping, but not really expecting to hear this much of an improvement with the XP-32. Wayne Colburn has managed evoke some magic in this unit and needs to be commended. Even a jaded, performance orientated, audiophile like myself is likely to become more of a music lover with this unit in the system.

I admit that was a little worried, given that the XP-32 was likely designed with the PT 8 amplifiers in mind. This might have meant that it would not mate up as well with the sonic character of my older XA-160.5 amps. I find that my old XA-160.5 amps were able to portray a higher level of detail and finesse with the XP-32 feeding them, which banished my initial reservations. I find it interesting that the amplifier was not the weak link and allowed me to hear the much improved signal the XP-32 was generating. More time is need to see where the XP-32 finally ends up sonically. I do not think it will be leaving my system any time soon….

RE: 'BREAK-IN' (Initial; first week-or-so):

Power 'ON'; warm up/run for several hours. Power OFF (for 15-20 minutes), Power back ON/few hours, OFF, REPEAT.

This I've found accelerates Break-in considerably; gear, cables, etc.

pj
 
Jun 30, 2020
2
1
3
67
#40
Pass Labs has finally added the new XP-32 Preamp to their equipment pages on their site.

https://www.passlabs.com/preamplifier/xp-32

XP-32 Specs:
Power consumption 70 watts
Gain 9.6 dB
Balanced Output Impedance: 25 Ohms RCA, 50 Ohms XLR Input Impedance: 22K Ohms
Frequency response: +/- 0.05 dB 20Hz to 20KHz -2dB @ 150KHz
Crosstalk > 110dB
THD < 0.001 @ 1V 1Khz Max out 23V RMS 0.1%
Residual Noise 500nV RMS, SN -150dB ref max out
Dimensions: 17”w x 12.5”d x 4”h times three
Weight: 62.5 lbs Shipping weight: 78 lbs

It has been 2 months since I received the new XP-32 preamp. In a week or so, I will post another update on how the unit is sounding now that it has had a decent amount of time for a break in period.
 

About us

  • What’s Best Forum is THE forum for high-end audio, product reviews, advice and sharing experiences on the best of everything else. A place where audiophiles and audio companies discuss existing and new audio products, music servers, music streamers and computer audio, digital to audio converters, turntables, phono stages, cartridges, reel to reel, speakers, headphones, tube amplifiers and solid state amplification. Founded in 2010 What's Best Forum invites intelligent and courteous people of all interests and backgrounds to describe and discuss the best of everything. From beginners to life-long hobbyists to industry professionals we enjoy learning about new things and meeting new people and participating in spirited debates.

Quick Navigation

User Menu

Steve Williams
Site Founder | Site Owner | Administrator
Ron Resnick
Site Co-Owner | Administrator
Julian (The Fixer)
Website Build | Marketing Managersing