Review: Y B A Passion Integre Amplifier

Category: Amplifiers

This is my second review in about 3 weeks. Let me first start by saying that the other intergrateds I've listened to had many great qualities. I couldn't, however,listen to each one with exactly the same source material and speakers. This is always a problem when comparing. I can't gurantee where the weakest leak was. The YBA,(price was not a factor) did it the best. I was able to hear the YBA with my Revels. I have owned a YBA Integre for 7 years. NO DT (dual transformer) status. Still, a beautiful sounding integrated, that 'til a year ago, was satisfying my musical needs. I have been upgrading my system, for the past year, and this was the obvious next step, with the Audio Aero Prima, to follow, shortly. This is one beautifully, streamlined, piece of electronics. The only thing very different about this integrated (on the surface,if you will) that I have never seen or heard before, is the volume control. YBA has decided to replace traditional volume potentiometers with attenuators. This attenuator circuit is achieved by a relay-controlled resistor array. The resistors are custom-made for them and follow, (YBA says) strict load guide lines. Their performance (1W, 1% tolerance) enhances sound purity and transparency. What's nice about this applicable technology (which is vastly different method of changing volume gain) is that it's a return to simple components (contacts, resistors) which effectively eliminates the inherent problems of the potentiometer (non-linearity, difficult matching...) and allows a more natural sound. Now to the sound. I went through the traditional break in. I love all kinds of music, but spend a good deal of time listening to jazz. I listened to pieces of music that I'm very familar with, finding myself saying things like, "shit, I never heard those triangles before." Now, I realize that I didn't have a chump system to begin with, so I must have heard them, but since they were now taking on a whole different sound quality, it was even more notable. Female vocals are absolutely world class. I've never heard better, 'cept on far more expensive electonics, and then, really not a whole lot better. Coltrane, Rollins, Adderley all saxes, infact, sound sweet and mellow on top. Very much like tubes. In fact, many times I would sware I'm listening to a fine vacuum tube system. No kidding. I know you guys have heard that ubiquitos phrase before, but it's so true. Then all of a sudden ( and a good thing at that) I'm hearing and feeling the SS advantages. The bass is extended, tight, defined and very powerful. Complex musical pieces come through beautifully, with every instrument getting its share. Patricia Barber, Madeline Peyroux, Billy Holiday, Anita O'day, and the like are wonderful. I don't have the audio adjectival mumbo jumbo, (which don't mean a thing when it comes to subjective listening experiences) that most of you guys have. I will say this. I have a killer ear, and am not easily pleased or influenced by reviews. I trust my ears. They have never steered me wrong. This baby is doing it for me big time. I'll certainly answer any questions that I can. My YBA has no phono. I purchased it new. You'll be hard pressed to find a used one. Sam Tellig told me (the most I could get out of him. His review should be out shortly)is that "if you're thinking of buying one, go ahead. The amp is superb." Of course, your ears are what matters. Mine say "buy this baby and groove."

Associated gear
Micro Mega Stage 1 cd player
Revel M20 Speakers
Sistrum Mini Monitor Platforms
Audio Points on all electronics
Audio Magic Stealth
LAT International cables, interconnects & power cords.
Sunfire Architectural subwoofer on Sistrum support stand

Similar products
ML 383
JRDG Concentra II
MF Nu Vista
I too was impressed by the Passion Integre. The system was Lurne, SF Cremona. On a side note, the "Passion" line is commendably voiced & engineered IMO. It's only the YBA Signature 6 pre, that seems to better its passion stablemate -- & this was auditioning in less than ideal situation (dealer, not @ home).
Did you audioned the ML383 and YBA with similar setups. If so, which one and what was your impression regarding the ML. I don't plan on upgrading very soon but if I do I would consider these two among others. Thanks.
I can add some more comments.

- The Passion sounds less tube than the YBA3 and YBA 2 series.
- The separates sound a bit warmer compared to the Passion (or maybe more colored).
- The Passion is more powerfull (it can actually be played louder the the separates).
- One of the drawbacks of the Passion versus the separates is that the Passion is sounds a tiny more lean on the lower end.

I was able to listen to the Passion on a pair of JMLab Utopias (ok, the Utopias are not hard to drive but still) and all I can say is this amp can play loud and very clean...

I auditionned a bunch of Integrated and separates before buying. Here's a list of the integrated I auditionned:

Musical Fidelity NuVista M3
Sonus Faber Musica
Mark Levinson 383
Krell 300IL
Sim Audio I-5

Overall, the Integre Passion came WAY ahead of the integrated I auditionned.
They were similar, but that's not the same. That is (same source material and the like) really the only way to have a true comparison. Source material was different. One, I'm listening to a Meridian, and one I'm listening to..I forgot already. There are so many factors. Interconnects, sound room dynamics, cables; you name it. I was able to listen to the ML with the Nautilus 805s. The ML was a little too clinical. Not transparent enough. The bottom end was well extended as I remember, but female vocals were just great. Not amazing, like the YBA. I know we're splitting hairs here. I don't have my notes from the original listenings and it's somewhat foggy to me. I made the decision to buy the YBA 6 months ago. Was just waiting for my finances to allow the purchase. It's practically impossible to make a truly fair comparison. Was I unhappy with the amp or was it the 805s? Or both? It's hard. I go with my gut and ears, and a little leap of faith from things that I have heard. This Passion, was the best thing I listened to.
Hey Warrenh, which Sam Tellig are you referring to? The one who changes his amplifiers as often as his underwear?
Around the first of the year I upgraded my YBA Integre DT to the Passion mated with Revel M20s and YBA CD3. The Integre DT sounded great with the M20s and the Passion a touch better. At the time, I was disappointed that the difference was not more marked. This speaks to the strength of the Integre.

I just upgraded the M20s to JM's Diva Utopias...took delivery a couple of days ago. The Passion makes them sing even though they're not yet broken in.
You want to hear some real singing? Wait to you lose that cdp. The French do wonderful players, buy YBA is not the one. Try Audio Aero. Then you'll be there....peace, warren
Hey Stu, that was a bit unfair on my part. My remark came on a little too strong. Sorry about that. Sounds like you have a killer system, now, especially with those new speakers. Enjoy..peace, warren