Ayon or Pass

A choice between Ayon Auris II Signature and Pass XP-22.


Ayon S10 II Signature

Pass X260.8

Totem Forest Signatures

REL S/510 (pr)

Townshend F1 Fractal speaker cables

Townshend  F1 Fractal interconnects

Untreated room 13x19 - (known issue but can't be addressed at this time)

I ordered an Ayon Auris II Signature model. Unbeknownst to me, I received a standard model and only realized it recently. The dealer was extremely apologetic and will be correcting it after the Holiday. 

This creates an opportunity, because initially was slightly disappointed. The Ayon/Pass combo definitely improved the dynamics and soundstage vs the ModWright KWH225i, but of course I was expecting more/different. 

Soundstage larger more dense but not detailed and dynamics better but not by much. Vocals are wonderful.

Because of the mix up, I have an opportunity to change to a different preamp. Will the Signature model help in those areas or should I try the Pass XP-22. Will the ss pre and "Pass synergy" give me more of what I am looking for in soundstage and dynamics. Will I lose the mids and vocals.

note: @150-175 hrs on amps/pre may not be enough to fully allow for changes to be complete.

Knowing that the number of people that have actually listened to or owned both is extremely small (if not non-existent), what could be the main sonic differences, such as, detail within soundstage and dynamics. Also, any pros/cons of each.

Info gathering to assist in final decision.

Would like to keep discussion on these two preamps as they are my options.







If you are going to change the preamp, I strongly recommend the Linear Tube Audio Microzotl preamp. Steve Guttenberg, the “Audiophiliac” and popular reviewer just switched out his Pass Preamp for the LTA as his reference preamp. I purchased mine about a year ago. Its impact on my system was so outstanding, I no longer have any desire to research or explore other preamp options. Imagining, soundstage, air, gorgeous tone… it’s all there. 

They have a 14 day no questions return policy. 

There more I watch Guttenberg, the more I question his genuine commitment to the gear he "often so casually" gives passing grades to.  His reviews have become increasingly subjective as he uses flowery descriptive words that lack any real audio specificity, when describing how particular music sounds.  This just kinda irritates me!  (I believe on the LTA web site he uses Rolling Stones as his test music for the Microzotl pre.)  
As for the Microzotl, I entirely agree that LTA builds some really nice sounding gear that punches WAAAAY ABOVE its price point.  I previously owned an LTA MZ2 headphone amp and it was wonderful.  And actually, I'd love to A/B test the Microzotl preamp against my current pre that is 4x the cost of the LTA.  However, a deal breaker might be a lack of balanced outputs.  

@bluethinker "...switched out his Pass Preamp for the LTA as his reference preamp.".


That’s what reviewers do, they switch out gear. What I keep an eye out for is what they keep around for 2+ years to compare everything else to along the way.

If you watch his reviews, you can’t just watch one of them. Watch 20+. For example, he refers back to his Pass XA-25 amp over and over, while rotating new ones in. There are certain components he keeps in the short term list, rotates them out quickly. And, others kept in the long term stable - it seems.

I viewed one of his later reviews on the LTA and Pass, and he does comment about differences and what he likes about each. Check on this theory if you like over time - watch about 20+ and then see which components he brings back up again later. I really don’t believe that XA-25 amp is going anywhere, he loves that damn thing. This explanation is a long roundabout way to figure out what he actually prefers vs. what he’s marketing momentarily. I was surprised to see him start back into tube amps again as he claims he did a lot of tube gear several decades ago. And, tastes can change with audiophiles, and it could be more about just trying the next thing vs what sounds best to them. We see a ton of gear rotaters right here on Agon fwtw, so take it all with a grain of salt.

Hi Everyone... 

Totally get your POV on Steve G. I've actually watched a lot of Steve the past few years. And it's true his real preferences come out over time as he brings components up persistently over time. 

He has brought LTA up a few times in different contexts. 

All that said, I'm still a massive fan of the LTA preamp, especially at its price point.