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    Stereopal.com: Friday the 13th Amp Comparo  Date:  Sep 13, 1013








Lamm 1.2 vs McIntosh Vintage MC3500 vs Pass Labs XA200.5 vs VAC 200.1

Comments by a B.N

"Well, controversy or not but for my ears Lamm was awarded with the Blue ribbon, it was the liviest of the 4 amplifiers, and to my ears the best sound of the evening.  This is coming from my criteria of evaluation of course.  Raymond for instance preferred the Pass XA200.5.    The Lamm 1.2 - Solid state amp with tube voltage regulators (if I am not mistaken). I could live with them for a very long time and not thinking of upgrade...maybe ever.   The Lamm had the most open top end, as if a veil has been lifted.    Transient response was excellent, it is fast, nimble and with great dynamic contrast.

Pass XA2005. offered a distinctly different presentation, it obviously had the most power and sonically represented by a much weightier presention with powerful reserves.    ....nice, bold sound but sometimes with more muscles, which makes the presentation thick and weighty. Lots of potential and possible a hefty hydro bill.

Vac, not a fair comparison with the big boys. Not a mono block, 100w, all tubes.   Obviously not enough power on heavy passages.  Very interesting sounding amp, presented texture that others were shy but loosing stamina on Carmina Burana for example. The most pleasing for the eyes among all other big boxes. With less demanding music is on par with both Pass and Lamm. I wonder what the result would look if two were in mono configuration, my prediction is if we had two units it will came out on top of the four amps.   Yes, I could live with Vacs too.

The honorary mention goes to Mac, a 1969 production which as expected, offered a slow vintage nostalgic sound.   Bring out the fish tank platform shoes, and hippy shirts.   Very warm and pleasant sound for their own good, with plenty of Class AB1 power, but rolled of on both ends. Obviously doesn't match the newer amps in terms of ambience and transient response.   But just packing them and carrying them across the town for one night is commendable, to say the least.

At the end, let's not forget our host, who opened his home and organized this shoot-out. And again, without genuine friendship and smiling faces this test would not be the same. "


Comments by Rick

"It is without any doubt with my mind that if we had 2 units of the VAC 200.1 on hand that it would be my favorite.   It is difficult to argue with power, but if you take that out of the equation, the VAC offered more details, refinement, texture, ambience and musicality then all the other three.

This does not mean the other three are "inferior" by any means, it fact the comparo was such a close call that I would have a very difficult time deciding which is the amplifier of choice.  The MC3500 which I own, as a collector's vintage item.    It loses out on dynamics, details and frequency extension, but the ability of this vintage monster to compete is the equivalent of a 1967 MG doing a zero to sixty with a Porche 911, a Ferrari and an Aston Martin.    

The Lamm was the fastest sounding, with plenty of speed and dynamics.   The Pass was weighy and BIG sounding, yet slower than the Lamm.     

If I have to choose one, there would be no winner because I simply love all 4 !"















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