Pass Labs XA30.8

Hi all,

I had the opportunity to audition the Pass Labs XA30.8 at a dealer was really like the whole presentation - huge,deep soundstage with great depth.

My preamp is Simaudio Moon 390. I am wondering if anyone here is running this combo - Moon 390 with Pass Labs XA30.8s.

My speakers are fairly efficient (92.5dB).

While my current combo (Moon 390 preamp and Moon 330A power amp) is great, the presentation is a little in your face. It feels like I am sitting in the front row with the band right in front. I want a more laid back presentation and hence the mind flirtation with the XA30.8s :)

Appreciate any input if anyone is running this exact combo. Please note I am only looking at XA30.8s and not the X series or any of their Class A mono blocks.

I don't have the exact match but it is pretty close.   For 5 years or so I ran a 740P + 380DSD into a X250.8.   I think it sounded great; very musical with lots of front to back soundstage depth.   I went from a 600i integrated and it was like moving back a decent number of rows in terms of detail retrieval when I added in the Pass amp and separate SimAudio preamp.  The soundstage depth also exploded with a very nice 3d like presentation.    Based on my results and your suggested preferences, I would think that would be a killer combo.  I'm actually tempted to try an XA30.8 against my 250.8 as my current speakers no longer need the muscle of the big Pass.


Hi have the Firstwatt J2 and thinking to going up to the 30.8. I hear it will be just a little bit more dynamic and snappy
If you’re open to tubes I’d take a look at ARC amps.  Over on eBay there’s another great Class-A option in the Valvet A4 at $3995, which seems like a good deal and would likely also deliver the qualities you’re looking for.  Best of luck. 
Hey sim_audio_nerd

I am sorry, I do not have your Moon 390 preamp, I use a PS Audio BHK Signature preamp with the XA30.8 and I absolutely love it. You should know something about me as an audiophile. I’m very picky. A friend of mine owns a hifi store so I’m very fortunate, he sells me stuff at his cost. If I buy a product and I don’t think it’s great, I’ll sell it within one year. Because I get to buy things a true cost, I’m not afraid to try products that have received rave reviews that he may not have in his store. There are a lot of products out there that get rave reviews that I find good but rarely are they great. If I don’t find it to be great after it’s fully broken in, I’ll sell it. I only keep what I consider great. I still can’t believe how great that amp is. I’ve had 4 or 5 different preamps in front of that amp and at least 4 or 5 different pairs of speakers connected to it and it always sounds so musical. It’s so good, I have no desire to try anyone else’s amp. 

With regard to needing efficient speakers, doesn’t matter. I’m using Eminent Technology LFT8B speakers (which I love) and they are 83db and that XA30.8 drives them effortlessly and always remains so musical it’s not even funny. That amp is all power supply and will drive just about any speaker. In my opinion, Nelson Pass builds some of the best sounding solid state amps out there. For me, a good tube preamp with some good vintage nos tubes from the 50’s or 60’s and the XA30.8 are one of the most musical sounding combos you can get. The XA30.8 is phenomenal! Hope that helps.

Running the XA30.8 in a Pass Labs & Linn with Spendor speaker system. Love this amp...
@ddafoe @scothurwitz Thank you very much for your input and thoughts. I think it is clear now that I must try the XA30.8 with my system and hopefully purchase one.

Yes, you must!  I drive my 30.8 with an LTA MZ2 pre., and they make beautiful music with a pair of Vandersteen Treo CT speakers.  You won’t be disappointed.
The 30.8 is a 94 lb monster.  It may be rated for 30 W Class A but puts out much more power if needed.  It will drive your speakers with ease.
I have the XA25 and it’s fabulous ! the 30.8 is a bit more hard hitting and transparent. It will easily drive your speakers !  I’m a tube guy and have been for decades..  but have had my share of issues with power amps..  I was going to go with the FW J2 or one of the SIT versions. after some discussions with Pass and Mark at Reno Hifi, I was directed to the XA lineup to match my needs. my speakers are 95dB at 8 ohms with a 1 ohm variance throughout the freq range.. easy load, but needs lots of current, Daedalus Athena.
I still might get a first watt amplifier, the SIT3 or J2.. as they excel is certain areas, but overall.. The XA does everything well. Good luck !
As general info pursuant to the .8 series, feel free to read my review of the XA200.8 Monos, which I compared to previous series. Article appears at 

The Pass .8 series has been out since late 2013 maybe its long over due for a new series.  Has anyone heard about a possible new series of Pass amps?
If so, it would be nice to move on from the .8 cosmetics and especially the black rings on the faceplates.

To me, the previous generations were much more beautiful and jewel like in their design.
I like the faceplates on both the .5's and .8's.  Maybe a completely new faceplate on their next series 
New could be interesting too, but I never understand why they were changed.

That being said, Nelson Pass must be one of the smartest guys in audio, if not the world.
I think the 30.8 would fit nicely in your system.. It’s a beast! Yet very detailed And delicate when it needs to be..  

sim_audio_nerd OP
the presentation is a little in your face. It feels like I am sitting in the front row with the band right in front

Your problem is too much gain with very efficient speakers.
The Pass 30.8 only needs 0.7v input for it to give full output. Any source is 2v or more even.
Can you see that you definitely don't need any more gain from an active preamp.
If your source has volume control use it direct into your 30.8
If you don't have volume control in your source, then try the next best, a 10kohm passive preamp as Nelson below will tell you..

Nelson Pass,

“We’ve got lots of gain in our electronics. More gain than some of us need or want. At least 10 db more.

Think of it this way: If you are running your volume control down around 9 o’clock, you are actually throwing away signal level so that a subsequent gain stage can make it back up.

Routinely DIYers opt to make themselves a “passive preamp” - just an input selector and a volume control.

What could be better? Hardly any noise or distortion added by these simple passive parts. No feedback, no worrying about what type of capacitors – just musical perfection.

And yet there are guys out there who don’t care for the result. “It sucks the life out of the music”, is a commonly heard refrain (really - I’m being serious here!). Maybe they are reacting psychologically to the need to turn the volume control up compared to an active preamp.”

 Cheers George
Low gain is ket with high efficient speakers. More so with Tubes in the system (tube hiss can get super loud). I have the FW J2 and BHK Pre Combo...very quiet. The FW is super low gain.

Just noticed you also are now using a ModWright PH 9.0 phono which has up to 66dB!!! of gain also, you have so much gain, do what I suggested in my first post, two posts back. 
You’ll not only have a a more palatable presentation instead of what you said "presentation is a little in your face", but also the background should be much quieter, as your then using all of what the cartridge is giving instead of shoving half of it down to ground and wasting it.

Cheers George

Sim audio nerd

Iy would be interesting to know if you finally got the car 30.8 and which are your impressions compared with the moon 330? Thanks

@alfau7 I did end up getting the Pass XA30.8. I am running it with a tube preamp and it is very very musical. I don’t think I will let go of the 30.8 anytime soon.

I prefer the XA30.8 over Moon 330A - more 3D/airy presentation, refined bass and overall more musicality.

I ran the same tube preamp with Moon 330A first. The 330A had too much gain and there was a faint crackling sound through my speakers when music is not being played. With the XA30.8 (26db gain), it is a great match with my tube preamp. Dead quiet!

I would be happy to answer any other questions you may have re: the XA30.8s

I also had the First Watt J2 prior to the XA30.8. Both are excellent amps. J2 is more sweet sounding while the XA30.8 has more defined bass and overall "more of an audiophile amp". I would have been happy with the First Watt J2 if I didnt get my hands on the XA30.8. Again, it would depend on your speakers as you may know.

Thanks sim audio nerd, very helpful information. Just wanted to ask you if you have tried some other speakers with the 30.8? I currently own a apir of bookshelf 86 db sensibility , I get decent and enough levels with the moon 330 at 65 db on my preamp. Do you think the 30.8 would drive them easily? My room is quite small, 11x 14 foot

Well, my 30.8 with drive every speaker I’ve tried with it, including some LS-50’s, which are pretty insensitive.  I don’t think I’ll ever get rid of this  amp.  It is especially happy with a Backert Rhumba preamp.