My new reference loudspeaker—Alta Audio Celesta FRM-2

My new reference loudspeaker—Alta Audio Celesta FRM-2

Several years ago, I experienced Mike Levy’s original loudspeaker design, the FRM-1s, at a well attended CES. The sound was wonderful but the design was hamstrung somewhat, needing four channels of amplification and DEQX room calibration.  Score one for the sound, but zero for the needs of everyday audiophiles. 

For more than a few years after the show, Levy received requests to modify the speaker to a standard two channel amplification design so the beautiful sound could be enjoyed by all. Well, maybe not all, at $15,000 (plus stands), but the thoughts were pure. 

Pass Labs XP-12 Preamplifier

Pass Labs XP-12 Preamplifier

When Pass Labs comes out with a new piece of gear the audio industry takes notice. Well known for the quality of its products, the longevity of its designs and the seriousness to which it addresses the ever evolving science and art of sound reproduction, the XP-12 Preamplifier arrives. The XP-12 is the replacement for the XP-10, which had been their entry level, reference, one-box line level preamp for nearly a decade. What have they done to improve performance?

The new XP-12 starts with a new power supply. It uses an efficient toroidal design with both an electrostatic and Mu metal shield along vacuum impregnating and epoxy fill. This makes a very quiet transformer both electrically and mechanically. The power supply circuitry is also quieter and has additional filtering. The XP-12 uses a single stage volume control borrowed from the XS line preamp. This gives one hundred 1 dB steps with lower noise and distortion while removing some signal path parts. This redesigned volume control results in greater precision with a more luxurious feel.