BHK Pre + XA-25 or INT-25 or XA-30.8

My current system is:
First Watt F8 Amplifier

  • PS Audio DS DAC
  • BHK Pre
    => Klipsch Cornwall IV.

Inputs are:

  • PS SACD Player or the Jay’s Audio Redbook player via i2s
  • Computer USB to a Matrix and XLR out to my DS DAC.

I have been wanting to try out the XA-25 with its much higher damping factor but have also always been curious about the INT-25 for its simplicity (and also helps me downsize).

Any reason I should consider the INT-25 over the BHK Pre + XA-25 combo?

You already have the BHK Pre, if you go with the INT you won’t have the same chance to try the XA. If you don’t like the XA, you can still go the integrated route.

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I guess either way, I probably won’t have the opportunity to have both systems in my space at the same time unless I demo (rent) equipment.

Whatever you do it’s gonna be fun.

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Lots of fun ahead! I was recently auditioning both the models you discuss and I will say that I thought the XA25 not as “rich and meaty” as the XA30.8 I also heard (both driven from a DAC/pre). The XA25 was remarkably transparent though. I imagine the BHK Pre with its extra body would be a wonderful companion if you like a meat on the bones kind of sound.
The INT-25 was also more transparent than my oldish INT-30A, and also less obviously “warm” and “powerful”.

BUT!!! (there’s always a but, right?)

The INT-25 had me riveted. There was so much internal motion to every strand of music! Micro dynamics without any sense of clouding at all. A quite remarkable soundstage and also heaps of detail and texture compared to my INT-30A.

I hope that helps say that I like the XA25 a LOT and adored the INT-25. In the end I held onto my INT-30A for its extra intensity, but every now and then I wonder what if…

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The preamp of the Pass integrateds is very simple and not much more than a volume control.
His Integrateds sound great. I had an INT-250. It had all the characteristics of his .8 amps, with a very “modern” sound. Lots of dynamics.
I’m currently using an XA-25 to drive 88db, 4 ohm speakers and it does an amazing job.
I’m using it with an XP-32 preamp. The sound is silent, lightening fast and refined.
I like his Int amps and I could be happy forever with most of them. My favorite is the INT-60.
The one downside IMO, is there are no power amp inputs. It would have been nice to bypass the internal preamp.
The benefits of integrateds are obvious in the savings on cables, space, separate preamp.


Now you got me curious about the XA-30.8 which is in the same price range of the INT-25… haha

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It’s a different kind of beast

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I had to add the 30.8 to the title… it has peaked my interest.
The XA-30.8 is said to have more of a bass/mid-bass centric sound while the XA-25 is midrange centric.

I guess “dampening factor” is not that important. My F8 is 40, XA-25 is listed as 500, and the XA-30.8 listed as 150.

More fun! I am looking forward to following your journey.

My journey into poverty? :sweat_smile:

It’s a well established club around here. You won’t be lonely.


I’d agree with that assessment of XA25 vs 30.8 sound. You know that midbass coupling you get when you move your speakers closer together? It’s a bit like that.

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Thank you for all the input. I decided to try the XA-25 for now. Should be here Monday!


Will be interesting to hear how Nelson Pass stacks up against Nelson Pass (First Watt vs Pass Labs)

So far, in terms of Nelson Pass amps… I’ve tried:

  1. The Amp Camp Amp (ACA 1.8) x 1 in stereo RCA
  2. ACA x 2 in Dual Mono (XLR)
  3. First Watt F8 (RCA)

Each time it was an improvement (not so much from 1 & 2, but definitely going from 1 & 2 to 3. Everything just got bigger… figuratively and literally.

The speakers were Klipsch RP600M at the beginning, but the bulk of the testing was with the Cornwall IVs. With the extreme price difference between these 2 speakers, it really made me appreciate how good the RP600Ms are for the money. If I could only be content, I would have so much more money.


Fantastic! I hope you have a wonderful experience on every level!

So where did you end up?

I ended up with the XA-25 and a couple months later my Decware SE84UFO2 showed up so I’ve been going back and forth between those 2. Everything has sounded great, but they all sound slightly different… I think I just like to hear a variety of sounds. I’m trying to stop buying or building stuff and just enjoy it for a bit… but we’ll see =)


I went through the same scenario, the Decware SE84UFO with anniversary mod, followed by the Decware SE84UFO25. The arrival of my Pass Labs XA-25 resulted in displacement of both Decware amplifiers. Each having their own sound, but the Pass XA-25, offered more detail, better low end performance, and significant improvement in conveying complex musical passages than either Decware amplifier. By going with the Pass Labs XA-25 I traded a bit of the Decware midrange magic, but honestly my current speakers provide that, with an overall organic (grain free non-etched) presentation. IME the Decware SE84UFO is the shining star of the Decware line in terms of price to performance ratio. With the class A Pass I was able to retain and improve upon the Decware’s ability to convey a certain coherence within the music. Adding Iconoclast Ohno ICs improved on this capability tremendously. The key is amplifier to speaker pairing.