Pass Aleph 1.2 monoblock power amplifier Setup & System
Because the Pass Aleph 1.2s weigh so much, I didn't try to herd them into my video room; instead installing them in my main large room (see Vol.19 No.8, p.117 for photographs). They were saddled with the Dunlavy Signature SC-VI loudspeakers. I tried a passel of power cables—Aural Symphonics Missing Link Cubed Gen.III and Synergistic Research RC/Master coupler (serial numbers 555 and 556, I kid you not). I heard no difference between the two (like Betty and Sue in Pat Sky's version of "Cocaine"), so I settled on the Aural Symphonic AC cables because they were shorter, and easier to keep out of harm's way. For speaker cabling I lassoed some Aural Symphonics Gen.II, Discovery Signature, Audio Magic Sorcerer, and Synergistic Research Resolution. I settled on Audio Magic. By and large the cables sounded remarkably similar, but with this particular combo the image seemed to lock in slightly better.
My analog source was a VPI TNT III turntable with the outboard flywheel on a Bright Star base and Townshend Seismic Sink. I used the Graham 1.5 TC and Clearaudio/Souther TQ-1 tonearms. Cartridges on hand included the van den Hul MC-1 Super, Dynavector XX-1, Clearaudio Veritas, and Fidelity Research/van den Hul FR-1. Discovery Plus Four cable connected the Clearaudio arm and the phono preamp, as well as the phono preamp and the line-level preamp.
The digital front-end was a PS Audio Lambda II CD drive, C.E.C. TL 2 CD drive, and Sony D-8 "DATman" connected via coaxial, AES/EBU, TosLink, and AT&T optical connectors to an EAD-9000 III D/A. Digital cables were Mod Squad Wonder Link 1 coaxial, Audio Magic Sorcerer coaxial, TARA Labs RSC master AES/EBU, Illuminati RCA coaxial and AES/EBU, Aural Symphonics Digital Statement cable in both RCA coaxial and AT&T optical, AudioQuest and Sony TosLink connectors, and fiber-optic cable from Parasound with EIAJ connections.
Preamps sometimes used in the system (footnote 1) were the Carver Lightspeed and Pass Aleph P line-level units, with Vendetta SCP-2C outboard phono unit. Other Power amps in-house were the Boulder 500AE and Pass Aleph 0 monoblocks. I used Discovery Plus Four and AudioMagic Sorcerer balanced XLR interconnects between the preamp or direct digital source and the power amplifiers.
Other accessories included RoomTunes CornerTunes, EchoTunes, and Ceiling Clouds, Acoustic Sciences Tube Traps, Arcici Levitation stand, Bright Star Audio Big Rock bases (for the power amps), Shakti Stones, VPI Magic Bricks, Fluxbuster, PAD break-in disk, NoiseTrapper Power Strip, Power Science Foundation AC line-conditioner, AudioQuest record brush, Gryphon Exorcist conditioning tool, Nitty Gritty record-cleaning machine, RadioShack Sound Pressure Meter, Kleenmaster Brillianize CD cleaner, and a 1972 Gibson ES-175 sunburst arch-top electric guitar.—Steven Stone
Footnote 1: Most of my critical listening is done sans preamps. I just run a balanced line from the back of the EAD-9000 III D/A directly into the amplifiers.—Steven Stone