spatial and first watt

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Abby356

Re: First watt
« Reply #20 on: 13 Feb 2021, 04:08 pm »
Keep in mind that there are some amazing variations within the First Watt stable and that the amps are individually more different than they are collectively similar; Single ended vs Push Pull, output into 4ohms vs 16 ohms (some are better on the 4-8ohms end, others on the 8-16ohms end), damping factor (calculation based on output ohms), gain, feedback, noise etc...

They get lumped together as low-gain, low power amps but are really very different in their intended applications.

F1 and 2 are current source amplifiers and cannot be used with passive crossovers.

My personal experience is with the F1, F3 and F5. Each is amazing, but there are very noticeable differences in how they sound/interact with the same speaker.

The F3 shines with single driver speakers and in an active, multi-amp type set-up, running a high efficiency tweeter (Look at its noise specs and ultra low damping factor). But sounds rather lackluster running my Earl Geddes Nathan speakers with a 10" B&C woofer. The F5 drives the same speakers sublimely.

The F4 is likely the most unique (like saying the purple unicorn is the most unique of all the unicorns) and depends heavily on the preamplifier that it is paired with to successfully drive the speaker.

All of the early amps are pretty rare at this point (F1-F6) as they were built in very limited numbers. The J2 was the first amp to break that limited mold and in Nelson's own words is the most broadly applicable of all of his amps thus far.

The Spatials have some cone area, I would look towards the F7 with its high damping factor and unique positive current feedback used to control reactive loads.

The great thing about First Watt amps is that they hold their value incredibly well. You could likely try out each of them on the used market and only be out the cost of shipping when you swap them on to their next owners.

Daniel

« Last Edit: 14 Feb 2021, 03:31 pm by Abby356 »

RDavidson

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Re: spatial and first watt
« Reply #21 on: 13 Feb 2021, 05:46 pm »
Your overall assessment of the First Watt lineup is pretty spot-on. I have tried them all except the SIT-1 (which is basically unobtainium), the SIT-2, the F1, F4, F6, and the new F8. I've also had several Pass Labs amps. I'm a fan to say the least. :D

Despite that they are all very different, they all definitely have limited "thrust." This is by design as all FW amps share the same power supply. But, as the are not the same circuit design they each have unique performance characteristics and unique behavior in their ability to handle varying speaker loads. Some are much more tolerant than others.

With that said, my gut tells me (and I agree with you) that the F7 and F5 would handle Spatials the best. They are both push-pull amps with higher damping and more output power into speakers with a lower ohm rating. Though the single-ended J2 has a similar output rating as the F5 and F7, it is (generally) less happy with complex speaker loads. The J2 is somewhat similar to the F3 in that way (both are  jfet amps).

But I digress, all this is not to say that any of the First Watt amps wouldn't work with Spatials. They'll, at minimum, amplify. :D As with anything this is very much a YMMV thing as I expressed earlier. Even aside from a speaker's power requirements (on paper), we have different power requirements for the types of music we enjoy and the SPL's we prefer in our rooms. Nelson has said the same ; The only way to know is to just give it a try.

RDavidson

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Re: spatial and first watt
« Reply #22 on: 13 Feb 2021, 05:50 pm »
Sorry please delete this post :oops:

russellreich

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Re: spatial and first watt
« Reply #23 on: 14 Feb 2021, 01:21 am »
I’m powering my X5’s with a Pass Aleph 30 which might be considered the first First Watt amp back when Nelson Pass initially called his “kitchen table” project Volksamp.

While driving a full spectrum speaker like the M series with a 30 watt class A amp (60 watts into 4 ohms) might present some challenges (I have no experience or evidence that it does or doesn’t), there is absolutely no problem driving the X5’s tweeter and midrange with it.


RDavidson

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Re: spatial and first watt
« Reply #24 on: 14 Feb 2021, 06:49 am »
Reading about the X5, the mid/treble system is an easy 8 ohm load with 97db sensitivity. The midrange is specified as low mass with a very strong motor. I'm sure the Aleph 30 does just fine with the X5 especially as it is not being taxed with bass duties which are handled by the built-in sub-woofer with DSP. I bet it sounds great! :thumb:

loki7177

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Re: spatial and first watt
« Reply #25 on: 16 Feb 2021, 12:47 am »
I have had my Spatial M3 about a year now.  In the last 6 months I have had various First Watt and Pass Labs, including, F7, SIT-3, 30.8, and XA25.  These are being fed by either a McIntosh C2600 or a Pass Labs XP-12.  They all sound slightly different and each have their pros and cons.  They are more similar than different IMO.  The 30.8 has the most low end grunt, bass was plentiful with excellent texturing.  It was also the most laid back and threw the widest and deepest soundstage.  The XA25 was the most neutral of the bunch, bass was equivalent to the First Watts but it cannot keep up with its bigger brother.  The F7 is the best bang for your buck here, and never put a foot wrong.  It is engaging and liquid, good bass control, but runs hot, I have a temperature gun and the heatsinks were hotter than the other three by 10 degrees F.  The 30.8 may dissipate more heat since it has more heat sink surface area but the F7 was the only one that was hot to the touch.  The SIT-3 just adds even more liquidity and losses a little bit of bass control.  The First Watts sound very intimate.  They make you feel like you are closer to the performance.  My favorites are the 30.8 and SIT-3.  I only have the SIT-3 now and have sold the other 3.  I would be happy with any of the 4 amps.

In short, 30.8 would be best if you need the headroom and power, due to large room or loud listening levels.  SIT-3 if you want the sweetest and most liquid presentation this side of tubes, and are OK with the lowest power output here and the lowest gain.  F7 if budget is a concern, it is can be had for about half the price of the SIT on the used market.  This may seem harsh but IMO the XA25 is the most ordinary of the four and I would only recommend it if you like the First Watt/Pass Labs Class A sound but need more headroom than the First Watts provide and don't want to or spend the extra on the 30.8.

RDavidson

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Re: spatial and first watt
« Reply #26 on: 16 Feb 2021, 06:06 am »
The 30.8 is a great amp and definitely has the most bass and most overall power of the "low" power Pass amps. I agree with the 6moons reviewer's thoughts that the XA30.8's sound is built from the bass region up, whereas other Pass/First Watt amps build their sound from the mids or even the highs to some extent (in the case of the F5). The 30.8's mids and highs are also really lovely, but it's the bass that really grabs one's attention with this amp. I liked it very much, but it dissipated just too much total heat for me, especially after my family and I moved and my listening room shrunk. But even in my larger space (prior to the move) it would easily contribute to a warmer overall room temperature, similar to the amount of heat another person in the room might generate. I also found it a little noisy for my Omegas, which I know is not a pairing that this amp would normally be used with. Note I also listen nearfield now (so noise is certainly a major factor for me). This probably is not a problem for most other speakers (with multiple drivers and passive crossovers), including Spatials. So I'm really not surprised you got great synergy loki7177. I bet it was a fantastic pairing! Spatials need space to breath as does the 30.8. :D

I liked the F7 quite a bit, but in my case the bass and lower mids were a bit over damped (with my speakers) which are easy to over damp. What some may find interesting is that I find the XA25 has a much fuller presentation despite having significantly more power (and overall control) than the F7. I had sort of the opposite experience in my setup in that the F7 sounded rather tonally flat, due to the lack of fullness, which I believe was caused by the over damping factor. Note : I know this thread is about pairing with Spatials (not Omegas), so please keep this in mind as you read. With this said, it makes me almost wonder if something was wrong with my F7. I doubt it, but I don't recall it running super hot as you describe...definitely not to where I couldn't keep my hand on it. I may just be less sensitive to the subjective "can I keep my hand on the amp" test. :D I may have to give it another try some time with speakers that present a little tougher (more appropriate) load. The F7 runs pretty quiet though. I remember that much.

The SIT-3 (which I also currently own) is wonderful and I agree it is the most liquid. It doesn't have quite the top end extension compared to the other three amps, but the highs are indeed sweet. It definitely has a realism and presence factor I'm not quite sure I've heard from any other solid state amp. Imaging and image outlines can be down right spooky. It is special, for sure and I'm happy I got ahold of one. I might add that the SIT-3 is SUPER quiet too. To hear even the slightest hiss or buzz, my ear has to be within maybe 2 inches of my speaker drivers. Wow! The only problem is that this amp is not nearly as speaker load agnostic as the other amps listed. I think this is its only major consideration (well and total output of course). It is very YMMV.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts loki. I enjoy reading about the experiences of fellow Pass enthusiasts, especially those who have extensive experience. My thoughts closely match yours in most respects. It seems where we diverge a bit has much to do with our speakers and how the amps react to their very different loads. I can certainly see how the F7 may be a better amp than the XA25 in some cases, not just in terms of speaker matching, but in terms of simple listening preference. The XA25 is indeed quite neutral, and it will let you know if your speakers and front end are playing well together or may simply inform you more about the kind of sound or presentation you prefer. It is chameleon-like in that respect. Synergy is always key and what may look great on paper might not pan out so well in practice. But sometimes the opposite can be true too. So if one has the means, definitely try things out and see. I agree with you that the F7 is a great starting point (and perhaps ending point) among all Pass/First Watt choices. It is not the most expensive option while still being very versatile. I started with an M2 many years ago because it was the least expensive (current) Pass design I could get my hands on at the time. I'm very happy to have simply given it a try as it really opened my ears and helped inform all my gear choices after that point. It was a game changer for me.

TomS

Re: spatial and first watt
« Reply #27 on: 16 Feb 2021, 01:11 pm »
Anyone with the INT-60 integrated on the X5/X3?

Any concern with noise since they're 97db?

Abby356

Re: First watt
« Reply #28 on: 16 Feb 2021, 03:35 pm »
 :popcorn:

Wow ! Some great contributions/contributors are offering experienced insight here.

Really emphasizes how an individual speaker and amplifier combination interacts with the room/environment to create a unique listening experience.

I will forever refer to this thread instead of wading through the 6 Moons comparisons.

RDavidson did you have a chance to try the F3 with your Omegas ?

I have the Cain & Cain Abbys (my first audio love) and have tried them with a variety of tube amps (Sophia Electric, Almarro A205A and 318A, etc.),
but they really come alive with the F3. Almost like a combination of the F1 bass and a tube amp in the mid-range.

The F3 is a single driver speaker's dream amp and a lifetime keeper for me.

Daniel

RDavidson

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Re: spatial and first watt
« Reply #29 on: 16 Feb 2021, 05:34 pm »
Abby356, I have an F3 now. I have owned it for about 2-3 years. I didn't go into detail about it here as it is difficult to get one. I'm really not sure how it'd do with Spatials, but I think you're right in that it (like some other First Watt amps) is generally happier driving a simpler load. But this also depends on room size, desired SPL's, etc. etc. It is low gain too, so that may be a consideration. It's a lovely amp and fully understand why it has been called the First Watt amp for tube lovers. With that said, I think the SIT amps might be the crown holders. The SIT-3 has more "magic" than the F3, but tonally they're very similar.

The 6Moons reviews are quite informative, but can be "wordy" for some. Srajan obviously has TONS of experience with Pass/First Watt and it was he who really got me curious to give the M2 a try at the time the F5 was the hottest ticket in town and impossible to find...though I have obtained an F5 since then. :lol: What's funny to me is that the M2 has grown a following and has gone up in price despite being one of Nelson's less popular children. Just goes to show to each their own. They're all very interesting and fun amps. To top it off, none of mine have required maintenance of any kind. Gotta love that!

Abby356

Re: spatial and first watt
« Reply #30 on: 16 Feb 2021, 06:24 pm »
Oh the F5...probably the rarest of the rare. Can't even remember when I last saw one of those for sale. You are one lucky audiophile.

I have zero experience with the newer generation of First Watt gear.  Based on lots of user feedback I have almost grabbed the SIT-3 on the used market more times than I can count, but just can't justify adding another amp to the stable without letting something else go. And for that coin, I would have to release more than one amp into the wild.  Like many, I definitely buy way more than I sell and am mildly embarrassed to admit the loot I keep tucked away.

My current plan is to use the F3 to drive some big compression driver horn/waveguide tweeters in an active setup with the First Watt B4 for the crossover. Long overdue on building the accompanying bass bin to pull it off.

First Watt gear is easy to justify.

Spatial speakers are on my wish list, bet its a great match.


JTF

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Re: spatial and first watt
« Reply #31 on: 16 Feb 2021, 06:37 pm »
Anyone with the INT-60 integrated on the X5/X3?

Any concern with noise since they're 97db?

Tom, I had an INT-30A, there wasn't any unexpected noise with the X5.

TomS

Re: spatial and first watt
« Reply #32 on: 16 Feb 2021, 11:00 pm »
Tom, I had an INT-30A, there wasn't any unexpected noise with the X5.
Thanks Jon. I upgraded to the King 60v PS and they do sound quite good. I'm thinking about an integrated and the INT-60 and Modwright KWH-225i seem like good options other than the heat and size. Your'e using CJ now?

JTF

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Re: spatial and first watt
« Reply #33 on: 17 Feb 2021, 05:30 pm »
Thanks Jon. I upgraded to the King 60v PS and they do sound quite good. I'm thinking about an integrated and the INT-60 and Modwright KWH-225i seem like good options other than the heat and size. Your'e using CJ now?

Yeah I'm still using the CJ amp and pre as my daily drivers. I think I'm going to keep them. Nice to hear the Cherries worked out. The Pass and the Modwright are good choices, I regret selling the INT-30A.

aniwolfe

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Re: spatial and first watt
« Reply #34 on: 19 Feb 2021, 06:10 am »
I will be receiving a XA25 tomorrow to pair with my X2's. I am currently using the LTA ZOTL 40 amp, which I love. So the reason for getting the XA25, is that I am looking for something different. This will also be my first time listening to a Passlabs amp. I have heard nothing but praise for the little XA25, can't wait.