Do any of you already know somebody that knows what you want, even before you realize you want it? Kevin Deal of Upscale Audio and PrimaLuna US is that sort of guy.
Recognized the world over as a prime purveyor of vacuum tubes, he and Herman Van den Dungen started PrimaLuna about 13 years in the past with a humble built-in amplifier for $995 that modified what we might all anticipate from a small tube amplifier.
In contrast to the Dynaco’s of the 60s, the PrimaLuna ProLogue 1 was robustly built, superbly finished, and as I stated in The Absolute Sound, it sounded bitchin. The product line has grown from there, and PrimaLuna has added a better scale DiaLogue collection along aspect of the ever evolving ProLogue collection. A lot of the two output tube per channel PrimaLuna integrated amplifiers produce about 40 watts per channel.
And now for something utterly totally different
Kevin Deal knows that a whole lot of us love the luxurious, tonally saturated sound of the EL34 output tube and that’s what he despatched me for evaluate; the brand new DiaLogue HP Integrated with eight of them beneath the hood. Wow. Yes, you possibly can (and I did) run the HP with KT-88s and even KT-120s for a bit more energy and which will certainly be your cup of tea. Swapping the EL-34s for a set of KT-120s proves fascinating, driving my Quad 2812s, changing the vibe.
Listening to more bass heavy tracks, the KT-120 tubes supply slightly extra control down deep than the EL-34s. Swapping audio system from the Quads to the GamuT RS5is, which have more bass extension, that is extra noticeable than by means of the Quads. Tracking by means of Yo Gotti’s Art of the Hustle went from a polite presentation with the EL-34s to onerous hitting beats with the KT-120s in place.
A contact of midrange and higher excessive frequency delicacy is lost with the bigger tubes, however the additional power and management is hard to disregard. Again, it’ll depend on your audio system and listening tastes, nevertheless it’s so cool you could high quality tune this amplifier to this diploma; particularly considering how many of us fall in and out of love with sure speakers.
In response to the spec sheet, the HP produces 70 watts per channel in ultralinear mode with EL-34s and 85 per channel with KT-120s. Deal says that the HP will even produce 96 watts per channel with KT-150 tubes, making it one of many world’s strongest tube integrateds. Have in mind, KT -150s about $100 every, so this can add a couple of bucks to either the retail worth, or an off-the-cuff retube. The HP stands for “high power” and “headphones” but we’ll handle that later.
Deal advises me to “not even listen to the amp until it’s been on for at least five days,” however journalistic curiosity will get the perfect of me and I start listening proper after the photograph session. Proper out of the box it sounds critically good, however as the tube master advises, at concerning the hundred hour mark, the HP openes up in a serious approach. Starting each day’s listening session with the same monitor, Jean-Michel Jarre’s “Diva” from the Zoolook album. This monitor sounds huge and airy, with Laurie Anderson’s reverse tracked vocals bouncing forwards and backwards between the Quads as it ought to, however on the sixth day, it feels like she is sitting in my lap, whispering in one ear, then the opposite. The impact is cool, in a hallucogenic approach, but virtually scary at occasions. That’s what nice sound is all about! Do you have to purchase an HP on your room, take the advice; just let it play for every week and then put together to be impressed.
In contrast to the ProLogue Premium built-in, which only operates in ultralinear mode, the DiaLogue Premium HP can operate in each ultralinear and triode mode. Like a completely 80s dude’s mullet, the HP has two very distinct personalities. Choose triode to be mellow (enterprise within the front) and ultralinear to rock the home (celebration within the again).
Triode mode is obtainable at the flip of a change, delivering 40 wpc and 50 wpc, respectfully, relying in your tube selection. When you haven’t experimented with triode mode yet, you’re in for a surprise, hopefully a pleasing one. While the lower bass notes have barely much less grip, the midrange takes on more luster, and you’ll both be seduced by it or not. These loving smaller scale music, jazz and anything acoustic, might be in for a stunning experience in triode mode. It’s value noting that triode mode has barely less achieve, however considering the 2-Four volt output of most trendy DACs and phonostages, this won’t be a problem for 99.99% of all users.
The additional power offered by eight energy tubes is what really provides triode mode in the HP additional punch; 40-50 watts per channel is a lot extra useful than the 20-25 watts per channel that an amplifier with a single pair of output tubes per channel often delivers, again making the HP so versatile. On many levels, the higher output of the KT120 tubes in triode mode to be a close to good compromise, but the EL34s in triode mode are nearer to that classic Marantz/McIntosh tube sound many tube lovers grew up with, it’s robust to choose. Identical to all the opposite PrimaLuna amps I’ve used, should you actually need to head down the vintage path additional, you possibly can swap the facility tubes out for 6L6GTs. This provides the amp a good hotter sound, harking back to the Dynaco Stereo 70, so this won’t be for everybody.
Because of the newest model of PrimaLuna’s Adaptive Auto Bias, swapping power tubes is a snap, and you don’t need to fiddle with anything. They’ve included another useful options through the years, together with at “Bad Tube Circuit” that shuts the amp down within the occasion of tube failure, so no injury will come to the output transformers or different elements. A number of of my favorite amps from different manufacturers have required a service call as a result of a nasty tube. The two occasions I’ve had output tubes fail in my very own PrimaLuna amplifiers, the LED got here on without drama. A quick tube alternative and the music was again in action. There are two other levels of protection to protect the precious output transformers as properly, so these amplifiers simply don’t fail. Talking to quite a lot of PrimaLuna house owners through the years by no means turns to element failure. The solely facet of the corporate I can’t touch upon is their service division; I don’t know of one that’s ever wanted service!
Back to the listening chair
Dusty Springfield, Shelby Lynne and Ella Fitzgerald show beautiful by means of the Quads in Triode mode, coming by means of with a sultry, silkiness that embodies each romantic notion you would ever have about an amplifier filled with glowing bottles. Dim, the lights, queue up your most beloved tracks and add a little bit of whatever grownup beverage you take pleasure in; this is your ticket to audio nirvana. Within the context of a system using the Quads at $12okay/pair and the $3,000 Simaudio Neo 260D CD participant/DAC, the level of musicality the HP delivers is sort of unbelievable. Everyone unfamiliar with PrimaLuna thought this was a much more expensive amplifier.
Swapping the Sim for the $30,000 dCS Rossini DAC, (though in all probability counterintuitive for someone building a system round a $Four,300 built-in), the DiaLogue has the required resolution to allow this premium DAC to shine. Bottom line; the HP is both an amp you possibly can really develop with, or for many individuals a destination product. After swapping a number of, mega expensive amp/preamp mixtures, I never discovered myself feeling ignored with the HP in place.
As the amplifier finishes breaking in, the elements of its preliminary sound are solely further strengthened. There are not any compromises right here. Both ends of the frequency spectrum are reproduced with uncanny realism, and this amplifier has a number of the most practical decrease end control I’ve ever experienced with a tube amplifier, no matter pedigree. While we don’t take the time to put our check subjects on the check bench, a couple of different editors which have gone to this size have all remarked on the extremely correct sq. wave response of the HP, which illustrates it’s capability to breed transients with unimaginable accuracy.
Techie stuff apart, the HP strikes (for me anyway) an ideal stability of providing the airiness, further textural really feel and tonal saturation that you would anticipate out of a implausible tube amplifier, with none hint of coloration, transient smear or sluggishness. That’s a tall order certainly. This is an amplifier that begs to be listened to for hours on end.
The ins and outs of issues
Round back, the HP has five line degree RCA inputs, an entire house theater bypass and a variable degree mono output for these eager to combine a powered sub. This proved helpful when evaluating the newest Dominion sub from JLAudio (which was a perfect match for the Quads, btw) and can make this amplifier so much handier for someone pairing it up with audio system that would use a bit additional help on the lower finish.
Choosing ultralinear or triode mode couldn’t be easier, you merely push a button on the distant and it’s carried out. A pair of tiny LEDs on the front panel (inexperienced on the left, pink on the best) hold you posted. Once more, the fixed refinement at PrimaLuna is at work right here as nicely. Previous fashions had a slight click during mode change, encouraging having the quantity all the best way down. This can be a factor of the previous with the HP; now only the quantity modifications because of the achieve difference.
As talked about earlier, this amplifier is made for tube rolling; input and output. Optimizing the HP for numerous output tubes is facilitated by the useful change on the suitable aspect of the chassis. One setting for EL-34s, the opposite for the KT88/KT120 tubes. Proper subsequent to it’s the headphone/speaker change, again one other thoughtful circuit design; slightly than having headphone jack contacts oxidize and probably gather noise over time, a mild flip of the change is all that must be executed.
Awesome because the HP is as an integrated amplifier, it’s pretty superb as a headphone amplifier too. Quite than including the headphone amplifier as an afterthought to cash in on the current craze, PrimaLuna merely attenuates the output of the amplifier by way of the change, utilizing the entire amplifier to power your phones.
A quick throwback to the 70s with some Iron Butterfly and Pink Floyd along with the Flaming Lips to maintain it on this century, all by way of the Audeze LCD-2s proves breathtaking. Sampling about ten totally different telephones, it’s clear that the HP succeeds as a world class headphone amp as properly. Every part in our headphone arsenal was pushed with ease, so true head fi’ers might be assured that the HP will drive the complete vary of your can collection. That is grain free, tubey goodness at it’s greatest, providing a variety of very lengthy, non fatiguing headphone listening periods.
Revisiting familiar headphone tracks underlines the HPs capacity to color an enormous sonic panorama, that like a number of the world’s best headphone amplifiers merely makes the headphones disappear, getting you additional into the music. Even with the robust to drive HiFiMan phones, and all the planars in my collection, the HP has the identical bass grip that it did driving my reference loudspeakers. Highs are equally liquid and tonally right, with a very giant sonic area rendered between my ears. With the Audeze telephones, I virtually felt if I have been nonetheless listening to the Quads in my listening chair!
Extra to return
The PrimaLuna DiaLogue Premium HP integrated amplifier not only dishes up a few of the greatest sound we’ve heard at any worth, it’s superbly crafted and nicely thought out when it comes to functionality. For those who’ve ever been on the fence about making an attempt a tube amplifier, look no additional. PrimaLuna has eliminated any obstacles, making the HP a breeze to function.
Like a software launch, it’s a must to draw a line in the sand and get the release out the door. But the HP goes to be sticking round here some time, perhaps completely, so look ahead to some more feedback as I combine it with a wider vary of speakers, cables and perform a little extra tube rolling.
When you need an built-in amp, or also have a pair of separates you’ve been considering of upgrading, I can’t recommend the HP extremely enough. You would pay $Four,399 for a pair of interconnects to attach your amp and preamp collectively and you gained’t need it with the HP. This is likely one of the most unimaginable bargains in excessive end audio at present.
The PrimaLuna DiaLogue Premium HP Integrated Amplifier
Analog Source AVID Volvere SP desk/SME V/Kiseki Purple Coronary heart NS
Phonostage Simaudio MOON 610LP
Digital Supply dCS Rossini w/Rossini clock
Audio system GamuT RS5is, Quad 2812, Rogers LS5/9
Cable Cardas Clear