Have Luxman 509x. Considering Pass Labs INT-250 or Dan D’Agostino Progression Integrated

Hello Audiogon community.

I currently have the Luxman 509X, Isotek V5 Aquarius power conditioner, VPI scout turntable and pair of Wilson Yvette. 
I really like my current set up but I’m looking for an upgrade. I know upgrade is such an ambiguous word with nothing in particular as to what I’m looking for, but curious to see what others feel about the two integrated power amps being considered?   

Thanks in advance. 


I am familiar with the Luxman and Pass integrated. I would consider the Pass a big upgrade over the Luxman. It has much better rhythm and pace… sounding much more musically involving and much better midrange, both in quantity (being well balanced with treble and bass) quality. 


I was considering the Pass int250 and Dag Prog Int but finally decided on the Gryphon Diablo 300 which I preferred over the other two. I like the slight ”dark” quality to the presentation and the bass is awesome; powerful and articulate with great control. Very engaging.

I would consider all three a big upgrade over the Lux.

Thank you both for the feedback.

Swede58: I just closed out the Gryphon website and was looking at the same model after watching a review on Jay's Audio Lab . Too funny. 


Both the Pass and Gryphon are excellent products. I know for a fact after a conversation with him that Dan D'Agustino could give two shits about his customers. He will not service gear older than 10 years, does not even stock the parts. He comes up with ridiculous suggestions like "go to Radio Shack, pick up a pot and mount it on top." This was in regard to a Krell KRS 2 Reference Preamp that developed a sick volume control. It was a very thin unit and required custom pots. He burned through his supply and those of us who developed the problem from then on were fucked. This was an act of God. Two weeks later my house was struck by lightening and one of the things that got fried was the KRS 2. I am insured for replacement value. A current preamp then of equal performance cost $12,000. Rock and Roll. I would go with the Pass. 

The Pass is DIFFERENT.  The D'Agostino very close to the Luxman IMHO at least with moderate loads.

Of the three, I would not suggest anyone buy Pass without listening to it first.  ait's different enough ttat I wouldn't call it a safe bet you''ll like it and think you'll come away with strong preferences after you do.

Thanks Erik. I know everyone hears differently. Any more specifics about your experience with PASS you can provide? Thanks. 

mijostyn: Thanks for info and sorry about the lightening. That sucks!

@eclumsden I’m running Pass Labs with Wilson Sabrina. No issues and no complaints. Current amps are X260.8 mono blocks. Prior to these a single XA30.8 was driving the Sabrinas. Yes the X260.8 have more common control of the speakers but even the XA30.8 was excellent. 
Pass sound is slightly on the warmer side, very natural and never analytical. As long as everything else is up to the task, you should be fine with the Int250. 


I got to hear a lot of different Pass amps at a show, and at a local audiophile’s home. I’ve also gotten to discuss Pass amps with more objective owners than some fanboys.

I find Pass lean, and scratchy. I don’t like listening to it for long. From the owners I got to talk to, they didn’t agree with my scratchy comments, but did say that the bass balance was very speaker dependent. Seems to perform better with old school, big woofer, big cabinet type of designs.

We know from Nelson Pass’ writing that he’s got strong opinions about the types of good distortion, as well as how to handle a woofer, which many listeners completely agree with. I may respect the man and admire the physical beauty of his products but I’m afraid his gear is 100% not for me.





To add a little, in the 1980's, 1990s there was a big trend of pairing B&W with Audio Research.  The Pass gear strikes me as sounding similar in tonal balance, one I never really could hear as neutral or engaging.

Clearly, CLEARLY, many audiophiles would have disagreed with my tastes then, as they do with my tastes with Pass today.  That's fine, cause you should spend money to please yourself not the crowd.

OP:  As an owner of a Luxman 507ux, and an admirer of D'Agostino I've been thinking about your dilemma. 

Honestly I find the Luxman and D'Agostino to be VERY similar.  So much so that it seems a shame to make that move, in either direction. 

I think if you really want "more and better" sounding you should instead consider going to the Luxman separates OR perhaps an Ayre.  I recommend the Ayre not becuase I actually think it's better but because it's significantly different sounding.  I recommend the separates because the additional current in the top end amps can really make a difference.

@erik_squires I get you don’t like Pass. You’ve just upgraded to a new level though by calling it “scratchy” sounding. Even lean it isn’t. That’s pretty funny.

Lean and scratchy?  Pass?  Not in my experience.  I have 60.8's driving Magico A5's; musical and slightly warm is the result.

The XA25 is a more neutral sound tonally, but very pure and certainly not "scratchy" driving Joseph Audio's.

Have been told D'Agostino's have had some reliability issues - no personal experience.

Advise listening in your home, with your speakers before changing the Luxman, if possible.

Thanks all. I’m not quite at the separates part of my Hifi journey yet. The rack, the additional cabling, etc that add to the cost are a hindrance. 
now, just realizing that the Pass is not fully integrated, I do need a separate phono stage…

constantly learning. 

I try to avoid discussing pass except to say i find it distinct enough listeners should form their own judgement.

Arguing with others is like arguing cilantro or licorice.

I got to hear a lot of different Pass amps at a show, and at a local audiophile’s home.

Erik, it would be nice to know what generation of Pass amps you listened to (and the rest of the system);  i.e. are you saying the current .8 line is across the board “scratchy”?

I've actually had folks say my recent speaker choices sound "scratchy" (Spendor D series, and Magico S series) along with other names, but when I did use both the XA.8 and X.8 series of Pass amps with those speakers, I didn't hear any such noises :) 

For what it's worth I compared the X250.8 in my system to the Bryston 4B3, and Benchmark AHB2, (I currently own  the AtmaSphere Class D monos) and I thought it was warmer, fuller, and less forward/resolving than those models.   I would say it is slightly more forward/resolving than the AtmaSphere, but then the latter reminds of tube sound, just with a super black background and a death grip on the woofers...


I haven’t heard Pass in about 5 years I guess. "Scratchy" is not the right word really. To me, I just can’t listen to it for a whole song. Irritating to listen to for me is the right word.

To me, and perhaps only me, listening to Pass amps is like being constantly bothered by something I can’t quite place my finger on. I just can’t let go and enjoy the music. I find it bothersome. Like some taste soap when they have cilantro. 

I’m definitely not asking others to agree with me, just being honest about my own experiences with it.

@erik_squires … “I find Pass lean, and scratchy. I don’t like listening to it for long.”


While I agree different people have different tastes. This is not at all the Pass sound. I am familiar with the overall spectrum of component sound. I would put Pass more or less in the middle, with contemporary models having much better rhythm and pace and overall well balanced tone and undistorted treble. 

I think that Pass's failure ( sarcasm ) as a commercial enterprise demonstrates how many others feel the way I do.  😁

this is why I simply wont' argue the point, but I can describe my own experiences with it.

No point arguing this. That description was inaccurate and you even back pedaled that one. So let’s move on 

Throwing another option at the community. What about the Macintosh MA12000? Fully integrated and a boat load of power. What say you?


I have heard the MA8950 in my system with the Sabrinas. It was good. The MA12000 should be a good step up from the MA8950. 
McIntosh includes a decent phono amp but the DAC in these integrated amps isn’t anything to write home about.



While I agree different people have different tastes. This is not at all the Pass sound. I am familiar with the overall spectrum of component sound.

That's fine with me, I don't claim to own the exclusive rights to describe what Pass amps sound like to all music listeners.  I've mentioned from the start my experience was in the minority, and that's fine. It does however make me encourage listeners to give them an unbiased audition before purchase. I feel that regardless of what I type they will love it, or go "meh."

No point arguing this. That description was inaccurate and you even back pedaled that one. So let’s move on


That entire statement is false. I’ve not back pedaled anything. This is why I hate Pass fanboys. They feel the need to argue something not argued and prove they have won or scored points.

Scratchy IS the right word for my experience. Lean is the right word for my experience. Both perfectly accurate, but in the context of trying to use written words to describe a somatic / cognitive experience all words are lacking and could benefit from being fleshed out, so in the spirit of clarifying my original statement said that irritating is a better word than scratchy to convey the meaning of my personal experience to others. Not a back pedal, a filling in or adding additional color. I also stated from the very start stated I knew I was in the minority and strongly recommend a personal audition which will have much more weight than anything I type.


Mind you, I am in the minority but I sometimes have people send me private messages saying they agree with my Pass views. Point is, there’s no absolute truth about the quality of Pass sound that will apply to everyone.


As I mention before, I don’t claim the right to tell the world an absolute truth of what Pass gear sounds like, and I am skeptical of those who do, for Pass or any other gear for that matter, but oh, the Pass fanboys just can’t abide that.

I have absolutely nothing to back pedal. I don’t like the sound of Pass gear at all and my reasons are true for me. Nor do I feel a reason to argue to come to some sort of shared truth. My experiences cannot be challenged for honesty or accuracy by the likes of you and I do not demand others agree with them.

I’ll never buy anything from D'agostino. Below is a copy and paste from his facebook site, 06/04/2021. I don’t care about his politics, I do care about the way he would potentially treat a significant subset of his customers that might have a different opinion than his.  

"I am closing my face book account

Patriots unite close your account

No Trump no face book

Goodbye to all"

I have a Pass INT25. Love it. I’ve owned various models of Luxman, they’re great too. I’ve been using it with my Harbeth 30.2XD’s and I like the fact it’s made in the USA.


In your price range definitely check out Aavik Integrated amps....They are hard to beat for that live sound....The  vocals are so real ...it's scarry.

as soon as I saw the title to this thread, I was waiting for multiple responses from Erik...

I own several integrates, and one is the Pass 250. It replaces a Pass 60. The pass in my system sounds natural with a hint of warmth. Lovely engaging midrange and bass seems to be dependent on what feeds to it. It seems to just get out of the way and do no harm. It is a  very satisfying listen. It's a just sit back and listen to amp. Not the best at any one particular thing, but no faults. Yeah, it Passes on what's fed to it. having said that I would love to own the 300 and hopefully, I will be able to add to my collection. Yes, I got my blue meter amp, Accuphase, and Hegel.

Hey @erik_squires I’m fine with what you’re hearing. No need to flare up. You hate Pass. I get it. And you’re making it abundantly clear every time you see the brand brought up in a discussion. 

I guess you can call me a Pass fanboy. I’ve owned several Pass amps and preamps, paired with different speakers. 
B&W N803/Pass X250.5/ARC LS-25 line stage. Had also tried ARC Ref1 in place of LS-25

Dynaudio S5.4/X250.8

Martin Logan Montis//XA30.8/XP12 linestage

Wilson Sabrina/XA30.8/XP12, later upgraded to XP22

Wilson Sabrina/X260.8/XP22. Also tried ARC Ref6 in this system 

I guess I’ve optimized my room acoustics and the associated equipment synergy to the level where it results in a fatigue-free, dynamic and musically satisfying presentation.

There’s no high resolution system that doesn’t require care, effort and time to optimize within a listening space. What you heard and described could be a product of bad setup, bad room acoustics, bad components system synergy or all of the above. 

Without taking all factors into account, forming a final opinion and blaming one component for what you didn’t like is an opinion. But it isn’t necessarily a correct assessment.


No need to flare up. You hate Pass. I get it. And you’re making it abundantly clear every time you see the brand brought up in a discussion.


Don’t put words in my mouth or in my writing and we won’t have a problem. I don’t actually follow every thread to seek out Pass and bash the brand. I was pretty discrete and to the point. I also don’t hate Pass, the man or the company. The choices they make in tuning the amps is for many but not for me. I find it a distinct enough sound that I can’t recommend purchases without listening.

I’m convinced that a listener will have a strong preference either way and not really need me to tell them what it sounds like.

Of course, fan boys can’t see me posting an opinion like this without using words like "hate" to describe my experiences. It is the deliberate attempt to alter what’s been written to suit their own narrative that makes a fanboy a fanboy as well as just being a generally insincere person. .

Take a look at Sugden,Masterclass series. I have been completely satisfied with their amps. My main system has had the SPA-4 power amp and LA-4 pre amp. I sold the power amp, and bought a pair of Sugden MPA-4 mono blocks. I am not ever giving them up. I also have a second system in the basement, with a Sugden IA-4 integrated amp.  We all have a preference, and I have never been one for clubs or group thinking when it comes to making purchases. 

As usual, opinions are like buttholes. I may as well share mine. I owned and sold several pass labs amps of recent design. Why? I did not like the sound, period. This includes both class A, AB, monoblocks, and stereo .8s.  For lack of a better description of what I didn't like about them I felt they were lacking in detail and seemed a little fatiguing at times. I finally brought in a new Luxman 509Z. It is the best amp I ever owned. Sounds amazing to my ears. 


I had pass  int-60 and int-250 in my system with Sonus Faber Serafino and Amari tradition speakers. I kind of agree with Eric. To me pass sounded a little mechanical and I could not get rid of this feeling, until I changed pass to luxman. First it was luxman 590axii that to my ears was more organic than pass. I changed it later to luxman 507z and sound became liquid with better bass and blacker background.
now ordered luxman 509z. Should get it soon. The luxman gear requires at least 400 hours of burning before you can make comparisons. Otherwise to me luxman all the way.

Please keep in mind that in my prev post I reference only integrated. I don’t have any hands on with pass or luxman separates. 

Funny how we all hear different. I have owned the Pass 60 and I now own a Pass 250 and neither sounded mechanical. My 60 sounded very warm and smooth. My 250 is less warm and more articulate and refined in the treble compared to the 60. 

Funny how we all hear different. I have owned the Pass 60 and I now own a Pass 250 and neither sounded mechanical.


True, and personally I am OK with that.  I just felt these amps needed to be hears by the purchaser, really ANY amp should be.  Also, I may have mentioned, this may very well be speaker dependent.  I've heard from some objective owners of Pass that they had very different experiences with different speakers, so it absolutely pays, IMHO to think of whether or not to buy a pass to think of them as part of a system rather than standalone units.

I am using the Pass Labs X250.8 monos.  Love the sound.  A few things I found using these amps that improve on their already great sound are: 1) Better power cords.  Don’t skimp on power cords.  They will be expensive but worth it.  2) Dedicated power lines.  3) I isolated the amps from the floor using springs.  The amps sit on four 48 lb/in springs making the Fn= 3.6 Hz, if I recall correctly.  Big improvement in sound.  Detail increased by quite a bit.  The overall sound improved.  4)  Added a patch of constrained layer damping material on the inside of the top cover.  Primarily I didn’t like the clangy sound when tapping the top cover and the damping material took care of that.  What I didn’t expect was another improvement in the sound.  I find the Pass Amps respond very well to better Power, Speaker and Interconnect cables.  Buying cables is not as fun as buying a new amp or speakers but the right synergy can be very satisfying.

I have not heard any other amp in my current system so I cannot judge what would or could be better.  I have heard my speakers in a store with the Dan A amps and they sound really good too; but that was before my tweaks.



+1 I used to have Pass and moved to Audio Research… doing exactly what you did. Yep, don’t cheap out on power cords and isolation steps can provide further improvements. I’m using springs now… I’ll probably spring for Townsend or Silent Running Audio platforms at some point.

Post removed 

First it was luxman 590axii that to my ears was more organic than pass. I changed it later to luxman 507z and sound became liquid with better bass and blacker background.
now ordered luxman 509z. Should get it soon.


@denon1 i currently own the L-590AXII and could not imagine moving from it. It is my endgame. Now I'm curious. Is the difference between the 507Z and 590AXII as described big enough? If you have received the 509Z I would appreciate your impressions.

Ryder,  yes 590axii is terrific integrated - if your speakers are not demanding a lot of power. In some cases I felt that bass is a little shy and missing some articulation. When 507z came out, my dealer sent me well burned unit. Again the key to luxman integrates - especially latest z series is sufficient burn (at lest 300-400 hours). The 507z had deeper, more resolving bass in compare to 590. This I expected, but what surprised me is how 507z presents overall sound - more liquidity, blacker backgrounds. It’s also more resolving. I guess new technology contributes to all that. This Thursday 509z should be delivered. I did not hear it before pushing the bottom, but regardless - it should be a keeper for a long time. Even with 507z I feel like I can leave with it and just enjoy the music. Of cause all is ear and system depended. 

Thanks Denon1. I would be looking forward to your experience with the 509z.

I will have to burn 509z for many hours. The mistake of some owners (I was there too many times) to make conclusions before sufficient burn. It costed me a lot of money to ignore burn in significance, system synergy, isolation and room acoustics.

@denon1 "It costed me a lot of money to ignore burn in significance, system synergy, isolation and room acoustics."


100% agree. I like to look for low-hours gear put back on the market by people prematurely looking to move to other components as a result of this situation. Same happens with new speakers as well, by not letting everything settle in.


And, to your point, I was a show a 3.5 years ago where there was imo a really bad setup of Pass Labs amps and speakers. Omg it just sounded horrible to me, woah, compared to what I’d heard prior times in other setups. It was all new gear too, and break-in seemed to be limited too. The speaker pairing just did not work, at all. The cabling seemed limited, and could not say much about the room setup. Just weird.

Felt really bad for the presenters, and lack of care paid attention to the results. A total miss on that day imo. It clearly showed that good matching and setup can make a real difference. People did not stay long in that room, flowing in/out.


Then hearing the same amplifier(s) with better matching speakers and appropriate cabling, in a much better room setup, a very different and more enjoyable result.


If anybody interested, I got luxman 509z last week.  I traded 507z towards it. The 507z is already build like a tank, but to me the 509z build is another level up. The speaker terminals, top cover , side panels - better quality. But what surprised me the volume knob and input selector knobs are also on a different level- smother and more precise. 
i got mine brand new and now it has about 30 hours on it, I already  can say that it’s even more naturally sounding with even blacker backgrounds than 507z. My personal opinion - when burned for 300-400 it will exceed 507z on all levels. 
With every solid state integrated I personally owned (pass int-250, gryphon 300, plinius hiato, accuphase E-800, gamut 150, luxman 509x, luxman 590axii, mark levinson 580.5) i always herd some hardness at the beginning. With 509z - not a case. This 509z is  a real gem. Granted I learned a lot for the last few years about system synergy, cables, isolation - so it’s all contributing to the sound.
I am just a customer and not affiliated with luxman in anyway.



@eclumsden Why not take a plunge into the world of separates with the Luxman c900u + m900u. Those 2 are the prior gen and available for a lot less than new. I heard them on the same system back-to-back against the Luxman 509x. Big mistake on my part. The separates were so much better.

I would rather use the cheaper and sonically preferred Holo Serene preamp with the Luxman m900u.

The footprint of the separates is not that much bigger than the 509x.

The most important consideration for me is that I can run about 15 - 25 feet of XLR cables from the preamp to the amp. The preamp and the sources are far away from the speakers and not messing up the sound.