Talk about a heavyweight clash! This Pass Labs Int-250 and Luxman L-509X showdown is truly epic and something I am pretty excited about diving into today. Full disclosure here, I do not own either the Pass Labs Int-250 or the Luxman L-509X. However, I was able to play around with them both and I had a blast doing so. That is why I wanted to put these two in the ring… forget that, we are putting them in the cage as we see which one is best. These are two very expensive amplifiers, way too expensive for my budget, but as these are two amps that are held in very high regard, I really wanted to see just how great these things really were.
I hope you are all caught up on Ducktales as you will need some tips on being rich from Scrooge McDuck as the price category in our Pass Labs Int-250 and Luxman L-509X is one heck of an eye opener!
Pass Labs Int-250:
There is no denying that the Pass Labs Int-250 is one hell of an expensive amp. You are looking at $12,000 if you were to buy this thing brand-new. This is pretty much what you have to do as in the few times I have written about this, I have not seen any of these pop up on eBay. To be fair, I would not be comfortable spending this kind of money on an amp on eBay! Anyway, this is a very expensive amp, a couple of grand more than what the Luxman is going for! With this being such a high-end premium product, you will probably find that it is only really specialized dealers that seem to carry this.
Before you get excited about me telling you that the Luxman L-509X is cheaper than the Pass Labs Int-205, it is still very, very expensive. You are looking at the $10,000 mark if you want to bring this thing home. While that is a lot of money, at the end of the day it is two grand less than what Pass Labs are asking for theirs, and that two grand could go a very long way. You could get a new record player, speakers or even treat yourself to a vacation! Much like the offering from Pass Labs we are looking at today, I have not actually seen one of these on eBay yet.
The Verdict: I just do not see why the Pass Labs Int-205 is worth two grand more if I am being honest. I am sure some real hardcore tech head audiophile will tell me why. However, for me, I have to give this round to the Luxman L-509X as I feel that two thousand dollars is just way too much money to ignore.
The design category in our Pass Labs Int-250 and Luxman L-509X is pretty interesting as both of these have a kind of retro vibe about them, but they go about it in a very different way. I actually like the design of both of these products and think that they would both look amazing sitting in your entertainment center.
Pass Labs Int-250: This whole range from Pass Labs is amazing and I would probably say that the Pass Labs Int-250 is the crown jewel. It has a very unique kind of style to it that I love and if you check out this Sound Demo: Pass Labs INT-250 and Dynaudio Heritage Special. video you can get a good look at it. This is pretty damn large as the dimensions are 19” x 21.25” x 9.1” this is going to need a decent amount of space, but I also think it is so large that it stands out very well too which is actually something I like.
The retro charm that this thing has is very cool and I love that circular display right in the middle of the amp, it makes it look like something that should be on a submarine and I mean that in a very complimentary way. On one side of this, we have a volume dial and on the other, we have a small LCD that shows what input is activated. Under the LCD, we have your input selection buttons. The way the amp has these angular sides is pretty cool and as I have said before when I talked about this, it gives it a muscle car engine kind of look.
The back of the Pass Labs Int-205 is pretty well designed. Here you will find your four analog inputs (this is analog only) and they are spaced out perfectly and each one is labeled so you know which number which device is. Pass Labs have just done a really good job with the way things are laid out on the back of this amp. This does also come with a tremendous remote control. It has the same kind of silver style as the actual amp and it gives you plenty of control over the amp. Plus, this is the kind of remote that is just a lot of fun to hold and flip around while you are listening to your music.
Luxman L-509X: I am a huge fan of the way that the Luxman L-509X looks. This thing looks like it should be helping land a space shuttle. The silver design gives it a kind of 70s style if you ask me. Luxman makes great looking amps and I like how they have a pretty uniform design. This is a little smaller than the Pass Labs Int-250, but it still comes in at 17.3” x 7.5” x 18.2” so you will still need a decent amount of space to have this thing in your entertainment center. The first thing that captures your attention here is the large dual display right in the middle of the amp. I love this thing and when it is lit up, it looks even cooler. On one side of this display, you have your input selection dial and on the other, you have your volume dial. Below this, you have a variety of dials to mess around with so that you can tinker with the sound and get it just the way you want. I like the casing of the amp and the air vents that are on the top help give the amp that extra little bit of personality.
On the back, you have a vast amount of input selections that you can make use of. Like the Pass Labs, the Luxman L-509X is analog only so that is something to keep in mind. I like how they have sectioned off the various ports on the back of here. It not only makes plugging stuff in much easier, but it also gives the back of the amplifier a very uniform and clean look that I really do like. They make sure that each port is clearly labeled so there is no confusion here. Oh, this also comes with a very cool remote control that looks like something my grandparents had back in the 70s, only this one is way more advanced. It has a very premium feel to it and gives you full control over the amp.
The Verdict: These are two amazing looking amps and I love the design of both of them. Truth be told though, for me, the Luxman L-509X just ticks more of the boxes of what I am personally looking for. Both look great and I could certainly see why some people would prefer the design of the Pass Labs Int-250. However, I do prefer the look that the Luxman has just that little bit more.
As is the case whenever we do one of these battles, sound is the main event of this Pass Labs Int-250 and Luxman L-509X fight to the death. I am going, to be honest with you right up front, I noticed very, very little difference between these two when it came to the sound department.
Pass Labs Int-250: The Pass Labs Int-250 is a tremendous amplifier! The step up from your standard 100 to 200 buck’s amplifier to this is like night and day, I just do not see how anyone could say that they do not notice a difference in the sound quality this is helping you achieve. I listened to the whole Stranger Things 3 Fireworks Splatter via the Pass Labs Int-250 and it sounded epic. I am patiently awaiting the vinyl for season four, but until then I have the others to have fun with. I am more of a fan of movie soundtracks than scores, but Stranger Things is the exception. Anyway, what I noticed was just how rich the sound was, it was like movie theatre quality sound that I was hearing. It is the kind of thing that words really do not do justice to. Can it really be that much better than my Sony amp? This was what I was thinking before I got the chance to try this thing out and as much as I love that amp, this is a step up from that.
I am mainly a rocker when it comes to music, but I do dabble in other genres such as rap and I fired up Jurassic 5 which was their first album, and went straight to Concrete Schoolyard, and holy crap!!! It is 100 percent the best that I have ever experienced this song. Of course, you can tinker with the sound directly via the amp, but in playing around with your turntable settings as well, you can truly get a sound out of this that is going to feel like it is tailored exactly to your ears.
Luxman L-509X: I do have to tell you that I played around with the Luxman L-509X before I did the Pass Labs Int-250 so that may sway my opinion a tad. However, this gives you some truly epic sound from your records. Have a watch of this Luxman L-509x Integrated Amplifier Overview and Features video and you will get a great idea of what this thing is capable of.
I checked out some of my favorite albums with this thing and as I played with this just after I watched season 4 of Stranger Things, Master of Puppets by Metallica was an album that I not only listened to, I cranked the volume all the way up and that was what made me say wow. No matter how loud I had this thing, the clarity was mind-blowing. I would wager that you could throw anything at this amp and it would play it in arguably the best sound quality that you have ever experienced.
What I think made me really take notice of this thing was once I started playing around with those dials (and also the remote) I think out of the box, the Luxman L-509X is phenomenal. However, once you really get into it and start tinkering with the different settings, you can get this thing just the way you want and I am not sure there would be any way you could go back to a cheaper amp. The Iron Man 2 AC/Dc album is truly epic stuff and me and my buddy had an awesome time rocking out in his store listening to it thanks to this incredible amp.
The Verdict: Out of the box, I think most people even if they claim to be the most refined audiophile with the most sophisticated ears would be hard pressed to tell you the difference between how these make your music sound. These are two of the best amplifiers that I have ever had the pleasure to have some fun with. However, if I had to pick a winner as far as the sound goes, it would have to be the Luxman L-509X. I think that once I started tweaking the settings, it did sound a tad better to me, plus the price tag is also a factor here I am not going to lie!
Which Is The Better Amplifier?
This Pass Labs Int-250 and Luxman L-509X article was a lot of fun to put together. While I could never afford either the Pass Labs Int-250 or the Luxman L-509X. I still had a lot of fun getting the chance to mess around with these. These are two incredible amplifiers and they are two of the best on the market right now. However, I have to pick a winner, and while they are both great, it is actually very easy for me to pick a winner here and that is the Luxman L-509X. I like the design of that amplifier better, I think it sounded just a bit better, but it is also considerably cheaper (although it is still expensive as hell!) than the Pass Labs Int-250.