Review: Pass Labs X-2 Preamplifier

Category: Preamps

The Pass Labs x-2 is a very nice sounding, well built preamp ,loved mine dont know why I sold it .Its such a good preamp its hard to tell what it sound is ,Being so netral in sound is what a preamp should do get out of the way of the music and that the pass does .Played a wide mix of music threw mine didnt seem to like one type over another .Compared to my Audio Research Ls-12 Seemed to have better bass drive and a cleaner more open highs .It was close between the x-2 and the Audio Research ls8mk2 though the mids on the A.R. where a bit better ,the Pass had better more controled bass also perhapse a bit lower.Lot more smooth sounding then the Krell 250p I had before it .Does not sound as good in the mids as my curent preamp an Art Audio tube preamp but has much better build quality then either ,Looks krell like in its build ,kind of retro because of the knobs, not as nice as the Art with its crome face plate and gold knobs ,Problem ,maybe a lack of remote would bother some .thats all I can think of. Ran 40 year old tube amps of it .No noise, more than enofe gain for tube amps ,Sounds best threw its xlr imputs and outputs .Had a Krell fpb200c , Stratus,Aragon 8008b Sounded best with the Krell [it cost more so it had better sound good] ,the others where all a great match .If you pick up a X-2 you will not regret it .

Associated gear
Amps from krell arc,many tube amps,tara cables ac filters

Similar products
Audio Research,ls 12 ls8 mk2,art audio pre ,wright pre ,krell pre .
Unfortunatly I do not share Johnk review on the X2. I own a Pass X250 and it is a keeper, great midrange, dynamics, control and musicality. I was using a First Sound Reference II Passive preamp and traded it for a Pass X2 thinking that I would be getting better impendance matching and greater dynamic range.

The X2 sounds rolled-off, muted in comparison not only with the First Sound but with a Monolithic preamp I had and a friend kindly borrow it to me. All my friends who had listened my system (Avalon Eclipses, Metronome CDP, VPI table) coincided of this same observations.

I will sell it fast and go back to passive preamps as fast as I can.

There were 2 incarnations of the X2. Make sure you get the 2nd version for the best performance. I eventually will upgrade to the X1, hopefully it'll be worth it. But I've been quite pleased with the X2 in my rig.
I mailed to Nelson Pass, who always has been very kind and responsive with me, I mentioned this situation and he kindly offered to check the preamp for me, may take that route.