This is in part an apology. In issue 94, we got the price of the Pass Labs XP-25 phono stage mixed up with another product’s price tag. However, it is a good enough product to be worthy of a revisit.
Especially as there is a sense of effortless dynamics and precision that takes some time to get under your skin, because the XP-25’s remarkable musical flow from bar to bar is so uppermost in the presentation. Moreover, the phono stage plays to the strengths of both the cartridge and what’s playing on that cartridge, no matter what the LP is. If it’s up- beat and fast paced, it will portray that. If it’s soft and sultry, it will portray that too. Yes, there is an underlying tonal warmth to the XP-25’s presentation, but it doesn’t get in the way of any kind of music.
In fairness, some of this deeper discovery comes with being ultra- disciplined with listening to the variation in cartridge loading relative to the cartridge used. You should consider the cart-maker’s specs to be the starting grid, not the chequered flag. You may find the cartridge maker’s settings perfectly correct or you may have to spend some weeks fine-tuning. But the joy is when its right, it’s so very right, you’ll find everything else sounds off-kilter. I mentioned this in the original review, but even then I was still only about 80% there. A touch more experimentation and the sound took off in all directions.
The Pass Labs XP-25 has remained and will likely remain our phono stage in residence for some time. While I’d prefer more EQ curves than RIAA on its own, its ability to bring out the best in a cartridge means the XP-25 sets a very high standard. It did that when I thought it cost thousands more than the £9,495 it really costs. So, at its real price, it’s very highly recommended!
Pass Labs XP-25 Phono Preamp
Inputs: 2x RCA inputs for phono, earth tag
Outputs: RCA, XLR
Gain options: 53dB, 66dB, 76dB
Resistive loading options: 30 ohm, 50 ohm, 100 ohm, 160 ohm, 250 ohm, 320 ohm, 500 ohm, 1k-ohm, 47k-ohm
Reactive loading options: 100 pf, 200 pf, 320 pf, 430 pf, 530 pf and 750 pf
RIAA response: ±0.1dB 20Hz-20kHz
Distortion (MC): < .005 % THD @ 1mV (MM): < .002 % THD @ 10mV
Unweighted noise: -93 dB ref. 10 mV (MM), -85 dB ref. 1 mV (MC)
Dimensions (per chassis): 43x10x30cm
Tel: +44(0)1900 601954