Pass Labs never introduces anything new. When a new model of preamplifier ends up on the shelves, something has also been changed significantly. This is also the case with Pass Labs XP-12, which succeeds the ‘good old’ XP-10. We put these two beauties thoroughly next to each other!
Fans of Pass Labs better start saving this year. We have heard at High End Munich that they will replace the entire series of preamplifiers this year. So both the ’10’ and the ’20’ and the ’30’ will have a successor. And then there’s the phono pre’s. Unfortunately, they all get a price increase. The Pass Labs XP-10 went out of the shop for 6750 euros. The XP-12 has to change owners for 7500 euro. That’s a spicy raise. Desmond let us know that unfortunately the exchange rates and raw material prices could not be otherwise.
Under the hood
As we said before, Pass Labs doesn’t just introduce a new model. The XP-12 has been given a big overhaul. Not from the outside; we hardly see any differences, except on the front. The sides are no longer bevelled at the ’12’. So for looks, you don’t have to do it… We would have liked to have seen a nicer, more modern display. Although certainly not disturbing, this is a point at which certain competitors have passed Pass Labs.
It’s different under the hood. Of course we took the caps off the XP-10 and XP-12 to see the differences. You don’t have to be a technician to see the differences. On the far right is the XP-10. On the left, the XP-12. You’ll see that the Pass Labs XP-12 has been given a different power supply, more smoothing and a more powerful output stage (more cooling). We also see other modules for the volume control. And that’s true to the story of Desmond Harrington (CEO of Pass Labs).
We see it more often in the better companies: the reference models are used for research into new technologies. This costs a lot of money and so a premium price is charged. Once the costs are out, the technology – perhaps in a somewhat stripped-down form – can find its way to the ‘cheaper’ models.
The XP-12 uses techniques from the more expensive XP-30 and XS series. Think of the volume control, which is much more precise and luxurious. And the food was borrowed from the reference phono stage. That’s a nice, quiet, cast model with additional filtering to remove noise from the circuit. Also, the output stage has been made a bit more powerful to control longer, more difficult cables. In short: an improvement overall.