Pass Labs XP-22

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
5,049
82
48
North Shore of Boston
#1
Has anyone heard this new preamp from Pass Labs? It was recently released and it replaces the two box XP-20 which has been around for about eight or ten years. I think it retails for about $9,500. It should have some trickle down technology from the XS series. I think I read that it has a new volume control, or the one from the XP-30 and lower noise.

I am curious how it sound compares to the XP-20. Is it like the .5 versus the .8 amp series, where they seem to be voiced differently? Some people ended up preferring the .5 to the .8 in certain systems. Or is the new generation an across the board improvement?

EDIT: Here is a link I just found and some photos. The specs in the link are quite impressive. Note the new front faceplate and power supply cable connector.

http://www.moremusic.nl/pass_labs/xp22.html

XP-22_front.jpg

XP-22_back.jpg
 
Last edited:

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
5,049
82
48
North Shore of Boston
#2

BlueFox

Member Sponsor
Nov 8, 2013
1,088
5
38
Silicon Valley
#4
Thanks Peter. I am in an email conversation now with Mark about this product. I just might do a trade-in. I was curious if they stilled used the DB-25 cable to connect the two chassis together. I upgraded mine to the Revelation Audio cable, and it took the XP-20 to a much better level. It appears Pass paid attention to this and the new cable uses aviation grade plugs with silver/copper cable.

Just noticed it has a power switch. Wonder why?
 

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
5,049
82
48
North Shore of Boston
#5
Thanks Peter. I am in an email conversation now with Mark about this product. I just might do a trade-in. I was curious if they stilled used the DB-25 cable to connect the two chassis together. I upgraded mine to the Revelation Audio cable, and it took the XP-20 to a much better level. It appears Pass paid attention to this and the new cable uses aviation grade plugs with silver/copper cable.

Just noticed it has a power switch. Wonder why?
Yes, I replaced the stock cable with an Revelation Audio Cable on my XP-25 and it made an audible improvement. It definitely looks like there is some trickle down from the XS line.
 

cjf

Member
Nov 19, 2012
323
1
18
#6
Just noticed it has a power switch. Wonder why?
Probably has something to do with a Lawyer somehow.

I may just wait for all the bleeding edge folks to dump their XP30's in anticipation of the XP3x once it comes out instead of laying down for this new unit. Err..maybe

Very curious how this guy sounds though. I keep telling myself this two chassis unit is more practical but the devil on my shoulder keeps disagreeing with the sensible side of my brain telling me to go for the "old" XP30 instead. :)
 

BlueFox

Member Sponsor
Nov 8, 2013
1,088
5
38
Silicon Valley
#7
My gut feeling, which is usually wrong, is that there will be no XP-32. Three chassis for a pre is a PITA, and I doubt the performance is all that much better than the two chassis XP-20.

Disclaimer. I am a biased XP-20 owner who has ordered an XP-22. :)
 

jackelsson

Active Member
Dec 1, 2013
144
40
28
.de
#9
My gut feeling, which is usually wrong, is that there will be no XP-32. Three chassis for a pre is a PITA, and I doubt the performance is all that much better than the two chassis XP-20.

Disclaimer. I am a biased XP-20 owner who has ordered an XP-22. :)
Well, the difference when I moved up from the XP-20 to the XP-30 was large enough to make me smile and never look back. :)

IMG_5452_Pass-Stapel_WBF_750px.jpg
 

ack

VIP/Donor & WBF Founding Member
May 6, 2010
5,261
34
48
Boston, MA
#10
I cannot imagine the 22 will be better than the 30
 

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
5,049
82
48
North Shore of Boston
#11
Well, the difference when I moved up from the XP-20 to the XP-30 was large enough to make me smile and never look back. :)

View attachment 37601
That's a great photo jackelsson. What a stack of hardware. A few years ago I borrowed a friend's XP30 and directly compared it to my XP20. I actually preferred the 20 at the time. In my system, it had a more neutral tonal balance where the 30 sounded too warm. It had slightly higher resolution, but I did not like the added warmth. In combination with my slightly warmer XA160.5, the 30 was too much. I also tried the XA160.8 in my system. Perhaps the .8/30 combination would have struck the right balance, as does my .5/20 for my preferences.

I later tried the XS Pre in my system and found that its tonal balance more closely resembled that of the 20 in my system, and not the 30. That struck me as odd because the frequency response specs and impedance output (120 ohms) of the 30 and XS are similar while the 20 has a much higher output impedance of 1K ohms. I now realize that my Transparent cables which are calibrated for my XP20 were not properly calibrated for either the XP30 or the XS, so I did not hear the XP30 or XS at their best. I am still confident that the 20 and XS have more similar tonal balance than either does to the 30 because I heard similar tonal differences between the XP30 and XS in a different system.

It is hard to say if Pass will develop the three box XP32. If the separate power supplies are that important for sonics, why does the XS have only two? Pass also decided not to have a three box XP35 phono. The new XP17 phono may already be better than the XP25 phono which is scheduled to be replaced by the XP27. I suspect the XP27 will be extremely good.

I have just ordered an XP22 which will arrive next week. I have sent my cables back to Transparent for re-calibration so that I can hear the XP22 at its best. I have also borrowed a pair of balanced ICs so that I can directly compare my XP20 to the XP22. If someday the XP32 will be released and it is considerably better than the XP22, that may be an upgrade worth doing also.
 

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
5,049
82
48
North Shore of Boston
#12
I cannot imagine the 22 will be better than the 30
Ack, why do you think that? I just heard from someone who has directly compared the new XP17 to our XP25s and he told me that he prefers the new one box XP17. The 17 and 22 both have trickle down tech from the XS which was developed as a flagship after the XP30 had been around for a while. You may be right, of course, but I'm curious on what you base your assumption.
 

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
5,049
82
48
North Shore of Boston
#13
My gut feeling, which is usually wrong, is that there will be no XP-32. Three chassis for a pre is a PITA, and I doubt the performance is all that much better than the two chassis XP-20.

Disclaimer. I am a biased XP-20 owner who has ordered an XP-22. :)
Congratulations Bud. As you and I have both learned, the performance of the XP can be greatly improved by using the Revelation Audio umbilicals. I have compared the 20 to the 30 and preferred the former in my system, but see my other post for the possible reasons. The 30 uses the noisy umbilicals while the new XP22 apparently has much quieter ones similar to the ones from the XS.

I am sure the guys at Pass have compared the new XP-22 to the XP-30. I have not heard which they prefer. It would be an interesting comparison. A used 30 is about the price of a new 22. If they sound similar, I would buy the newer design with one less box.
 

ack

VIP/Donor & WBF Founding Member
May 6, 2010
5,261
34
48
Boston, MA
#14
Ack, why do you think that? I just heard from someone who has directly compared the new XP17 to our XP25s and he told me that he prefers the new one box XP17. The 17 and 22 both have trickle down tech from the XS which was developed as a flagship after the XP30 had been around for a while. You may be right, of course, but I'm curious on what you base your assumption.
As you know I am NOT a fan of the XP-25 phono; I am a fan of my MODIFIED 25, but I still remain skeptical when people claim that the 17 is better than the stock 25. As to why I think all that is because reputable manufacturers carefully version their products, and that has been proven true time and time again. I think the 17 is a replacement for the 15, the 22 for the 20 and the 27 for the 25; but otherwise the 30 remains a statement product.

I feel you would better off with a used 30, and I also think your prior assessments had been based on an overall less resolving system, nothing to do with your cables. Since then, the resolution of your system has improved significantly and your preamp purchase merits careful thinking.
 

Bruce B

WBF Founding Member, Pro Audio Production Member
Apr 26, 2010
6,603
16
38
Seattle, WA
www.pugetsoundstudios.com
#15
I feel you would better off with a used 30, and I also think your prior assessments had been based on an overall less resolving system, nothing to do with your cables. Since then, the resolution of your system has improved significantly and your preamp purchase merits careful thinking.
Love my 30. Don't see it ever leaving my rack!
 

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
5,357
134
63
Beverly Hills, CA
#16
. . .
I have just ordered an XP22 which will arrive next week. I have sent my cables back to Transparent for re-calibration so that I can hear the XP22 at its best. I have also borrowed a pair of balanced ICs so that I can directly compare my XP20 to the XP22. If someday the XP32 will be released and it is considerably better than the XP22, that may be an upgrade worth doing also.
Congratulations on placing that order, Peter! That is very exciting!

I look forward to your comprehensive report and comparison!
 

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
5,049
82
48
North Shore of Boston
#17
As you know I am NOT a fan of the XP-25 phono; I am a fan of my MODIFIED 25, but I still remain skeptical when people claim that the 17 is better than the stock 25. As to why I think all that is because reputable manufacturers carefully version their products, and that has been proven true time and time again. I think the 17 is a replacement for the 15, the 22 for the 20 and the 27 for the 25; but otherwise the 30 remains a statement product.
Thanks for your comments, Tasos. Yes, I understand that you bought the Pass phono as an interim solution because you were tired of waiting for Spectral to come out with a new phono, so I know you are not a fan. You did buy it after briefly hearing the Xono phono in my system. From what Pass tells me, the differences between the 15 and 17 include some of the modifications you made to the 25, like better shielding to the power supply and umbilical cable. The 17 does not have a separate power supply and umbilical, but those are significant sources of noise in the 25. The 17 may not suffer from those same issues and may in fact sound better. Of course I have not directly compared the 17 to the 25, but at least one guy at Pass told me that he preferred the 17 to the 25 during his long term listening. I have no reason to doubt him. The 27 should be even better maintaining their two price/performance levels.

I feel you would better off with a used 30, and I also think your prior assessments had been based on an overall less resolving system, nothing to do with your cables. Since then, the resolution of your system has improved significantly and your preamp purchase merits careful thinking.
I gave the purchase some careful thinking. I have had the XP20 since March, 2009, eight and a half years. Prior to the XP20, I had the X1 and was thinking of upgrading to Pass' then statement preamp, the three box X-0.2. I was told by the dealer that he and Pass Labs thought the newly developed and just released XP10 was better than the former statement X-0.2 still in production. In fact he "strongly recommended" that I get the slightly higher priced lower model one box XP10, over the statement three box X-0.2. The one box base model sounded BETTER than the former statement product according to the designers. So I saved a bit more and waited for a deal on the even better sounding second level product, the XP-20. I just reread my emails to Reno Hifi from 2008 discussing the X1 to XP10 or X0.2 upgrade path to refresh my memory.

Your thinking that the "statement product" can not be surpassed by a newer, lower model was refuted by Pass Labs and Reno Hifi back in 2008 and even addressed in a review at the time by HiFi Unlimited in 2011 regarding the new XP-20 and the former flagship, three box X-0.2:

"The moment I fired up the XP-20, I was thinking to my self "now this is more like it!" The two box XP-20 came with very bold expectations as the foreign reviews already claimed that it's so... good, that it made the much more expensive and higher end X-0.2, three box model redundant."

and this one from a later article in HiFi Unlimited comparing the X-0.2 directly to the XP-20:

"The X-0.2 offers subliminal, textured, and solid bass reproduction. It's noise floor levels are not as low as the latest XP-20 that good ol' Odiosleuth had up graded to recently, but still amongst the most quiet of preamps as they come. Out right transparency and low level signal preservation is another area where the newer preamp designs like the XP-20 has clearly marched on. So clearly, statements about the XP-20 out performing the Pass(t) statement product are not without substance."


So, apparently, here is a clear case of a former statement flagship product being surpassed by a newer product. Pass Labs may have just done it again with the XP-22 which benefits from technology first developed in the much more expensive flagship XS line. I don't know, but history does have a way of repeating itself, and it is clear that Pass knows how to develop and market new products.

I have given this new preamp purchase some careful thinking, in fact since the new models were announced a while ago. I have not heard the XP20 yet, so I can not have directly compared it to the current statement XP30. I don't know which is better, but based on both the story of the earlier statement/flagship being surpassed by the then new XP10 base model PLUS the auditioning in my system of the XP30 a couple of years ago and preferring my XP20 after a direct comparison (even with cables that were not re calibrated for the lower output impedance, and which aren't the issue anyway), I feel confident that I am making the right choice, for me, at this moment. If in a couple of years if there is indeed a new three box XP32 available, that may be worth considering too. There are just too many examples of former flagship products being surpassed by later generation technology. Magico has done the same thing a few times and I will soon find out if Pass has done it again like they did ten years ago in 2008. I would not be surprised.
 
Last edited:

ack

VIP/Donor & WBF Founding Member
May 6, 2010
5,261
34
48
Boston, MA
#18
From Reno's website:

The New PASS XP-17 single-chassis phono preamp (successor to the XP-15) is now in stock and ready for quick shipment.

In September-October 2017 the XP-22 (successor to the XP-20) is scheduled to be released by PASS.

In Fall 2018, the XP-27 and XP-32 (successors to the XP-25 and XP-30) are forecast to be released by PASS.


Beyond that, I hear you, but what they said in 2008-2009 may not be representative almost a decade later.

Based on the above and your claim that the 22 is better than the 30, then we would have two preamps, the 22 and 32, better than the 30. So why would then one spend the money for the 32, unless it’s so much better. None of this computes.

 
Last edited:

BlueFox

Member Sponsor
Nov 8, 2013
1,088
5
38
Silicon Valley
#19
My gut feeling, which is usually wrong, is that there will be no XP-32.
From Reno's website:

“In Fall 2018, the XP-27 and XP-32 (successors to the XP-25 and XP-30) are forecast to be released by PASS.”



Beyond that, I hear you, but what they said in 2008-2009 may not be representative almost a decade later.

Based on the above and your claim that the 22 is better than the 30, then we would have two preamps, the 22 and 32, better than the 30. So why would then one spend the money for the 32, unless it’s so much better. None of this computes.

Looks like I was right about being wrong.

My XP-20 is sounding so good now the XP-22 had better be a lot better. Of course if it is better then I will have to upgrade to the new Shunyata Sigma speaker and ICs. :)
 

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
5,049
82
48
North Shore of Boston
#20
From Reno's website:



Beyond that, I hear you, but what they said in 2008-2009 may not be representative almost a decade later.

Based on the above and your claim that the 22 is better than the 30, then we would have two preamps, the 22 and 32, better than the 30. So why would then one spend the money for the 32, unless it’s so much better. None of this computes.

Good Morning Tasos,

Those quotes from the Reno website are not quite accurate. For instance, the XP-22 was not released in Sept-Oct 2017. The first units are going out now in December. The XP-27, I was just told, may be ready by year end or early 2018, not Fall 2018. No word on the XP-32. I think the website needs updating.

Perhaps I was not clear enough in my previous posts. I am not trying to claim that the 22 is better than the 30. I have not heard the 22 yet, so I have no basis for making such a claim. However, you seem to be claiming the opposite. I simply thought carefully about which to buy and made a decision. There are two used XP30s available right now on Audiogon, and I decided not to buy them based on my conversations with Pass and Reno and on what I wrote above. Here are more excerpts of me specifically NOT claiming that the 22 is better than the 30:

From post #12:
Ack, why do you think that?...The 17 and 22 both have trickle down tech from the XS which was developed as a flagship after the XP30 had been around for a while. You may be right, of course, but I'm curious on what you base your assumption.
My comment that "You may be right of course" refers to your statement "I can not image that the 22 will be better than the 30". That is hardly me claiming that the 22 is better than the 30. I admit that you may be right.

From post #13:
...I am sure the guys at Pass have compared the new XP-22 to the XP-30. I have not heard which they prefer. It would be an interesting comparison. A used 30 is about the price of a new 22. If they sound similar, I would buy the newer design with one less box.
Again, I concede that they may sound similar, not that the 22 is better and that I have not heard which preamp Pass prefers, and that it would be an interesting comparison.

From post #17:
So, apparently, here is a clear case of a former statement flagship product being surpassed by a newer product. Pass Labs may have just done it again with the XP-22 which benefits from technology first developed in the much more expensive flagship XS line. I don't know, but history does have a way of repeating itself, and it is clear that Pass knows how to develop and market new products.

I have given this new preamp purchase some careful thinking, in fact since the new models were announced a while ago. I have not heard the XP20 yet, so I can not have directly compared it to the current statement XP30. I don't know which is better, but based on both the story of the earlier statement/flagship being surpassed by the then new XP10 base model PLUS the auditioning in my system of the XP30 a couple of years ago and preferring my XP20 after a direct comparison (even with cables that were not re calibrated for the lower output impedance, and which aren't the issue anyway), I feel confident that I am making the right choice, for me, at this moment. If in a couple of years if there is indeed a new three box XP32 available, that may be worth considering too. There are just too many examples of former flagship products being surpassed by later generation technology. Magico has done the same thing a few times and I will soon find out if Pass has done it again like they did ten years ago in 2008. I would not be surprised.
Again, the statements in bold don't make any claims as to the 22 being better than the 30. In fact, I clearly state that "I don't know which is better". Based on the past developments of Pass preamps, Pass may once again have decided to introduce a new line of products that surpasses the old statement product. I don't know if that is the case here, and to repeat, I am not claiming that it is. I have decided to audition the XP22 in my system under the generous Reno HiFi trial period and compare it to my XP20. If it is better, I will keep it.

Deciding to buy the XP20 over the then flagship X0.2 was the right decision for me at that time, and I am basing this decision in part on that experience and on the recent conversations I've had with my dealer and Pass Labs. If you are confused by, or don't agree with, that decision and want to learn more, I suggest you contact Reno or Pass directly and discuss it with them.
 
Last edited:

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 convertors (DACS), 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