"... an almost instinctive ability to capture low-level immediacy, superbly tracking acoustic idiosyncrasies such as an errant footfall, the buzz off a guitar string, a piano’s sustain pedal releasing, or even providing a headcount of the voices in a chorus."
Like the INT-60, the INT-250 utilizes the synergies developed in the .8 series power amplifiers. Unlike the INT-60, however, it brings 250 watts per channel of listening pleasure. With higher power MOSFETs and more of them, the INT-250 drives large, demanding and relatively inefficient loudspeakers at higher volumes without batting an eyelash, singing beautifully. Just incredible music from one component.
When Pass Labs introduced its first-ever integrated amplifier, the INT-150 in 2009, the debut was hailed by many, myself included, as a watershed moment for a sector often derided as “down-market.” Reviewing the amp in Issue 184, I noted, “The Pass Labs INT-150 lays to rest the arguments and perceptions of the past about integrated amplifiers. It’s a musical force of nature and arguably about as good as it gets in the here and now.” In my view, it quickly became one of the handful of integrateds that could compete with high-end separates at all but the most extreme levels—and even then, it made for awfully close competition.
With the success of the INT-150 under its belt, Pass Labs has taken the next logical step by releasing not one but two new integrated offerings, the INT-60 and INT-250. Both are Class AB designs with heavy Class A bias based on Pass Labs’ latest Point 8 Series of amplifiers. The INT-250—the subject of this review—weighs in at 105 pounds and outputs 250Wpc into 8 ohms and a stump-pulling 500Wpc into 4 ohms. It was optimized for greater flexibility with grunt-worthy speaker loads of 86dB sensitivity or less. The INT-250 features high-voltage rails and output stages, along with the iconic glowing meter found on Pass Labs’ Point 8 amplifiers, direct-access buttons for the four inputs on the faceplate, and a blue LED output-level display. The volume control knob, which is about the size of a hockey puck, is solid aluminum and beautifully weighted—it’s an old-school joy to use.