|In my review last February of the Pass Aleph P preamplifier, I mentioned
that it would soon be available in a remote-controlled version. It's here, though it looks
slightly different from its older manual brother. No longer are the words
"Input," "Left," "Right," and "Level" deeply
incised in the faceplatesee the cover of the February '96 Stereophilebut
merely printed on. The light in the center of the front panel has been replaced by a small
circular sensor. Blue lights replace the four etched input dots and ring the level knob.
Only one of the wagon-train of lights around the level knob is on at any one time,
supplying an immediate visual reference of current volume level. Yes, the new Pass Aleph
layout is a bit flashier than the original arrangement but it's still quite sedate
compared to anything but a VPI Brick.
The Pass remote control is similarly austere.
This 6" long by 2 1/2" wide by 3/4" deep black-anodized box has exactly
four buttons, arranged in a diamond pattern. The top button raises the volume, the bottom
one lowers it, the right and left buttons change the input source. That's it. Balance
adjustments can be made only from the front panel. While there's no mute button, choosing
an inactive input will accomplish the same thing.
During day-to-day operations I had no complaints about the Pass Aleph P's ergonomics.
Volume changes are accompanied by very slight ticks that alert you to its progress. It's
not the swiftest volume changer in the world, but hey, where are you going? You are, after
all, already sitting down.
Sonically, the remote-control version of the Pass Aleph P is identical to the manual
version still the best-performing active solid-state preamp I've heard. If you buy a
current-production manual model, it can be upgraded to a remote version at any time; all
you need is the remote control. All you chair-carbohydrates can now go from a whisper to a
scream while barely moving an appendage. Jack LaLanne won't be pleased. The Aleph P remote
preamplifier costs $4000; the manual model now costs $3400.