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Pass Labs 40'th Anniversary VFET Amp at CES 2014

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

Here's something you cannot buy: The 40th Anniversary Sony VFET Amplifier from Pass Labs. Why can’t you buy it? Because the transistors inside it are 40 years old, and the two monoblock amps Sony showed off at the Venetian are the only two of their kind in the world, and since Sony no longer produces the "vertical field effect transistor," there won’t be any more of them. Nelson Pass, the owner and head designer at Pass Labs, scoured the world to get enough VFET transistors to build these two 250-watt (4-ohm load), class-A amplifiers.

 

While designing and building these amps, Nelson Pass utilized a pair of Sony SS-AR1s, Sony's top-of-the-line reference speakers, which are generally reviewed and rated among the best in the world.

 

This amp is not for sale

 

There was no other demo at CES that left a greater impression upon me. If I could own one sound system, this would be it. The best part was how Sony played the exact same track on its own TA-A1ES amplifier (utilizing FET transistors) and a pair of its still-amazing-sounding Sony SS-NA2ES loudspeakers before letting us hear the Pass Labs Anniversary amps. The character of the sound was the same, but the one-of-a-kind system had more of it.

 

This system had the best sound quality I heard at the show, bar none.

 

I'm no fan of opera music, but I can recognize what a feat it is for speakers to fully emulate the sense of being in an opera hall—before the opera music, we were listening to Beck's "Already Dead," and he sounded like he was right in front of us. A switch to opera made the soundstage appear to fall back a good 60+ feet, as if a stage had suddenly appeared what was once a wall in the room. It was a total 3D sonic illusion, the likes of which I almost never get to hear—and when I do, the system's MSRP is invariably in the six-figure range. Best sound of the show, IMO.

 

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post #2 of 6
I skipped the Sony suite and now I'm sorry I made that mistake. Edit - or was this Pass Labs suite? I missed both.

I thought it would be low end Sony junk... I knew they offered one or two highend ES-branded loudspeakers but dismissed the possibility that it would be worth the time. rolleyes.gif Those amps look menacing.
post #3 of 6
I love to hear about Nelson Pass throwing even the biggest of the big dogs a bone. If there is ever a Mt. Rushmore of audio titans, he may legitimately deserve a spot.
post #4 of 6

Those two amps, aesthetically, are simple elegance! 

 

Admittedly, my ears are no longer good enough to justify some of my Sony expenditures. But what compels me back to Sony, year after year after year, product after product after product, ... is the sheer beauty of their industrial design styling. "Sony-Style", indeed.

 

The audiophiles will always tell us "it's not the beauty but the sound", and I of course concur. But once I get to my own personal threshold to differentiate between two pieces of audio equipment, from that point forward the only two factors which control my choice are 1) styling, and 2) the depth of my pocket. And all things being equal, I will spend more for the visually beautiful.

 

I hope Sony will never let down its long commitment to produce aesthetically beautiful products.

 

Cheers!

Robert.


Edited by REnninga - 1/16/14 at 2:10pm
post #5 of 6
^

Robert, while I cannot say that I am a Sony fan, I think yours is a very astute perspective.
post #6 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by REnninga View Post
 

Those two amps, aesthetically, are simple elegance! 

 

Admittedly, my ears are no longer good enough to justify some of my Sony expenditures. But what compels me back to Sony, year after year after year, product after product after product, ... is the sheer beauty of their industrial design styling. "Sony-Style", indeed.

 

The audiophiles will always tell us "it's not the beauty but the sound", and I of course concur. But once I get to my own personal threshold to differentiate between two pieces of audio equipment, from that point forward the only two factors which control my choice are 1) styling, and 2) the depth of my pocket. And all things being equal, I will spend more for the visually beautiful.

 

I hope Sony will never let down its long commitment to produce aesthetically beautiful products.

 

Cheers!

Robert.

Sony used to be Apple :)

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