So where's my critical beef? To my great personal disappointment, for once I couldn't find a single hair in the stew. But I still want to frame today's subjects. Macrodynamically, the Pass combo aced it but that's not uncommon with amps in this class. The €14'500 Moon 700i v2 had done similar and my own much-referenced 3-piece affair goes still further when bass-intense music meets inefficient under-damped loudspeakers. The real forté of going Pass squared lay where neither the Moon nor my residents could follow. How about the Luxman C-700u/M-700u from a few years back? That too had leaned toward the sonorous, in fact a bit more than the Pass, packed high resolution and impressed me with very dimensional soundstaging to match the Pass combo beat for beat. But the Americans then managed the broader more depth-lit stage, even more intense presence, wider dynamics, purer colors and better separation. For that one simply coughs up 20% more.

Compared to the Swiss CH Precision, it'll be 40% less however. And off the top of my head, that's the only amp I'd call out for being on par and perhaps slightly ahead because, for one, its adjustable damping factor optimizes specific loudspeakers to matter particularly in their low end; and for two because it includes a high-end DAC. But the price difference is large where the sonic delta is narrow.

In short, the Pass XP-12/X250.8 pre/power proposition weighed in as one of the most impressive I'd heard in a very long time. Dynamic, detailed, tonally even with a slightly sonorous tilt… any conceivable sonic criteria ticked off. Given that, it's fair to call this combo a high-end all'rounder. Beyond a certain sticker alas, one should expect more than just a litany of ticked-off marks. The prospective buyer hopes for some intangible but real magic. And here those hopes pan out. Thanks to perfect purity and first-rate resolution, color realism and tangible three-dimensional soundstaging operate at a level one rarely encounters. Many audiophile pilgrims should have a most blissful vision because of it.

Psych profile for the XP-12 & X250.8…

♦ Overall well balanced across very broad bandwidth. A minor emphasis in the upper bass and lower midrange creates a small shift into warmth.
♦ The bass is full, extended, articulate and semi dry13, thus elastic and pliable. Color and textures are finely resolved to be the polar opposite of monochrome and bone dry.
♦ Mids and treble are one. Purity and very high resolution create a stunningly realistic very natural presentation.
♦ Timbral hues and color transitions render without any gray filter. One nearly suspects that precision increases as SPL reduce which is far from the norm for muscle amps.
♦ Macrodynamics are on par with this class, microdynamics even better.
♦ Soundstaging is another standout discipline. The smallest nuances float in extreme contrast against a pitch-black background. Images render with very believable body and are surrounded by ‘air’ to visibly show the organically connective context of recorded space.
♦ Stage width adapts to the recording from the generous to the most  intimate. Of note is the exceptional front/back expanse. The music simultaneously projects forward yet reaches far back. An unusual combination.

Facts of the XP-12.
Category: Line-level fully balanced transistor preamplifier
Dimensions and weight: 43.2 x 10.2 x 31.75cm WxHxD, 9kg
Finish: silver
Input: 3 x RCA, 2 x XLR
Outputs: RCA + XLR
Other: remote control, balance control, mono switch, home-theater bypass (input 5)
Power draw at idle: ~20w
Warranty: 2 years

Facts of the X250.8
Category: Symmetrical transistor stereo power amplifier
Dimensions and weight: 48.26 x 22.86 x 59.38cm WxHxD, 43kg
Finish: silver
Inputs: RCA and XLR
Outputs: Single-wire terminals
Output power: 250/500wpc into 8/4Ω
Power draw at idle: ~295w
Warranty: 2 years