Stereophile's Products of 2014 Amplification Component of the Year
Pass Labs XA60.5 monoblock power amplifier ($11,000/pair; reviewed by John Atkinson, January 2014, Vol.37 No.1 Review)
In a list of finalists that was more or less evenly divided between preamps and power amps, and more or less evenly divided between tubes and transistors, one product stood above all others: the XA60.5 solid-state mono amplifier from Pass Labs, which enchanted John Atkinson on all but the warmest days of summer. (The amp runs moderately but not dangerously warm.) This recent design from the legendary Nelson Pass, a man who approaches his craft with equal measures of engineering chops and unbridled imagination, is the second-least-expensive model in the XA line, and uses Pass's patented and gloriously noisephobic Supersymmetry topology. While noting its slight departure from the ideal in terms of bass control, John Atkinson described the Pass XA60.5 as "the best-sounding amplifier I have ever used." Notwithstanding the five-figure price for a pair of these monoblocks, the Pass is considerably less expensive than most other contenders for the best. "Class A all the way!" says the august JA.
Notes on the vote: It's interesting that two of the 10 finalists in the Amplification Component of the Year categorythe Pass XA60.5 (no.1) and the Constellation Centaur (no.10)can sort of be described as single-ended, balanced, class-A amplifiers. How's that for symmetry?
Finalists: (in alphabetical order)
Audio Research SP20 preamplifier ($9000; reviewed by Robert J. Reina, June 2014, Vol.37 No.6 Review)
Constellation Performance Centaur monoblock amplifier ($54,000/pair; reviewed by Michael Fremer, November 2013, Vol.36 No.11 Review)
Dan D'Agostino Master Audio Systems Momentum preamplifier ($32,000; reviewed by Michael Fremer, August 2014, Vol.37 No.8 Review)
Lamm Industries LL1 Signature preamplifier ($42,790; reviewed by Robert J. Reina, August 2014, Vol.37 No.8 Review)
MBL Corona C15 monoblock power amplifier ($25,000/pair; reviewed by John Atkinson, June 2014, Vol.37 No.6 Review)
Naim NAIT 5si integrated amplifier ($1895; reviewed by Herb Reichert, October 2014, Vol.37 No.10 Review)
Rogue Audio Sphinx integrated amplifier ($1295; reviewed by Herb Reichert, August 2014, Vol.37 No.8 Review)
Simaudio Moon Evolution 850P preamplifier ($30,000; reviewed by Brian Damkroger, December 2013, Vol.36 No.12 Review)
VTL Siegfried Series II Reference monoblock amplifier ($65,000/pair; reviewed by Michael Fremer, May 2014, Vol.37 No.5 Review)