Pass X Pre - Ruthlessly revealling?

It seems the X series power amps have a reputation for being very critical of associated components, and can sound harsh. I'm basing this on published reviews, the fact that Pass has come out with the XA series, and reports of my local dealers, who both dropped the pass line when they went from Aleph to X. I have never heard any of the Pass X series (since my local dealers dropped the line), but was wondering if the pre-amps shared the same difficult to match qualities as the power amps. Pass hasn't come out with XA pre-amps, and I've seen descriptions of the pre's with the words "tube-like". Any thoughts?
Interesting answers. I have owned a Pass Aleph 3 for many years, and really enjoy it, so I'm not intending to start any flame wars. I have heard it next to several other amps, and the only thing so far which beat it without compromise was a pair of AtmaSphere MA60s (which sounded quite similar in mjany ways, to my ears). I've been running a Wadia direct, which I'd like to upgrade, but will probably need a preamp. Pass seemed like a natural, since I like my Aleph so much, but I have Talon speakers, which like warmish sounding equipment, hence my concern over some of the things I've heard about the X lineup. BTW, I agree 100% about system synergy being the most important "component". At high-end shops, I usually ask to hear their "Ultra" systems if they're not too busy. I am often disappointed at how ordinary or even bad some of these systems sound. You really can't just string a bunch of $5,000 boxes together and have it sound good automatically.
The inside scoop is that some dealers dropped Pass because Pass didn't continue to allow them to have exclusive distribution as they once enjoyed. Other examples of this are Audio Research, B&W, Levinson -- you can't buy their product from an out-of-state dealer, unless you have no local dealer. This is a carriage trade game that's been played for years, and successfully.

Pass is a great company. You couldn't ask for better customer service. Search the threads, and you'll find many comments about how helpful & friendly they are, and how they go out of their way to help, even out of warranty.

The X preamps are excellent, as are the X amps. The X-1 is very revealing, but I would never call it 'ruthless'. The top end is extended & detailed, but does have a certain roundness to the sound that is preferred by many, and definitely preferable to the thin shrill quality I hear in transistor preamps. In the end, it is a question of musical taste, opinion, matching. They do not have a recessed or retiring sound, but most certainly not harsh. I'm a tube guy, so no transistor piece does, to my ears, what tubes do, but the X amps do have a fullness in the midrange which is often lacking in transistor units. But this was typical of Nelson's designs back from the Threshold age.
I do find the Pass X preamps, at least the X2.5 that I use, very revealing, I wouldn't use ruthless though. As Bigkidz says, system matching is very important, this has become more and more apparent to me as I have progressed in this hobby.

I find it interesting that your dealer dropped Pass when they went from the Aleph to the X; the X amps are known to be neutral, I would agree with this as I find the X150.5 the most neutral I've owned, not that I have a lot of experience. I will stop here with the assessment as not to start a flame war.

Furthermore, I found the X2.5 to need at least 3-4 days of straight play before break-in. At first hookup it was veiled, the next day it opened up but was agressive, after about 4 days it settled in and I enjoy it a lot and do find I have the most revealing system I have ever had, I do not mean this in a negative sense but rather positive.

I will reiterate what Bigkidz has already said, system matching is very important. I had a Concentra II that was excellent with B&W N803's, a switch of speakers and it fell on its face.

I am not sure what published reviews you are refering to that state the X amps as harsh, as with Bigkidz, I do not view them this way. But in my system I do not view my X2.5 preamp as laid back either. Remember, the XA amps are an addition to the Pass line, not a replacement for the X amps.
Yes here are my thoughts, I own both the Pass X-1 preamp and X-250 power amp, and I DO NOT find them anywhere near ruthlessly revealing or harsh. I find most electronics simply pass along the source most of the time. The X-1 has a laid back sound, not tube like but Pass has sort of a "golden glow" that may seem to soften the sound. I also hear this with the Audiomeca Mephisto II.X CDP and most people I know think the CDP sounds warm and lush, but IMO it does not really give you a true tube sound. I have recently tried a few different tube amps (more expensive also) and found that the X-250 is a better amp then I originally thought. I knew for the prices that they sell for that it was the best or one of the best of the bunch and I have not heard a lower priced SS amp beat it sonically. When I played around with some really good preamps the amp realy suppirsed me on what it can do. It will not offer a true tube sound, if you want tubes, buy tubes period, but it was so natural, musical, wider soundstage, depth, etc., and I was not aware that the amp was this good. I was posting many threads recently about amps and preamps and I was thinking of selliing the X-250 recently. I am now looking to up grade other areas of my system to get the improvements I am looking for.

The Pass Aleph amps are great amps but do not have the bass extension/control of the X series and the new XAs bridge the gap although I have not heard one in my system and they cost too much for me.

Are there better amps and preamps than the Pass Labs gear, well yes, but it all comes down to system synergy and mating components that work well together as I recently found out by trying a dozen preamps, etc., in my own system and taking the time to listen to each units own strengths and weakness and what they offer (how they work in my system)that I have right now.

Hope this helps, email me direct with any questions.

Happy Listening.