DiaLogue Premium Integrated Amplifier - $3399


When a replacement for the awe-inspiring DiaLogue One and DiaLogue Two integrated amplifiers were being penned by the PrimaLuna engineers in The Netherlands, it was already known that there was a difficult job ahead.  They had to exceed the performance of two products that were some of the best reviewed in the industry.  Both models had won more accolades and awards than anyone could even hope for.  Look at the review section. 

What was required was a complete analysis of what customers might expect if the rule book was torn up.  Push the envelope.  Use the finest exotic parts.  Even if they are so expensive you won't find them even in $8000 integrateds.  Incorporate new circuits never before seen anywhere at any price.  It was a challenge that the Dutch team took to heart.   

The result has been an explosion that could never be predicted.  Immediately, there was a rave review Stereophile's Sam Tellig resulting in a Stereophile Class A rating, which means "the best without regard to cost".  In a review from The Absolute Sound's Dick Olsher which he stated "It is my current benchmark in integrated tube amplifiers."  Dick Olsher knows his way around a tube amp.  To be the best he has ever reviewed is an honor.  The Absolute Sound followed up by awarding a 2014 Editor's Choice Award.  And don't forget about Positive Feedback's Dean Seislove.  You have to read his review and the associated Positive Feedback Writer's Choice Award

Sure it looks good.  But that should never be a reason to buy.  Don't be fooled by overpriced name brands and lofty descriptions that cover up mediocre build quality.  Any audiophile who is also an electrical engineer would see it instantly.  $8000 integrated amp weighing 36lbs with one printed circuit board and no-name parts inside and a push button chip volume control or a $3399 integrated weighing 64lbs hand made with Swiss point to point wiring and chock full of the finest exotic parts, with engineered features that mean something.       

Let's look at what makes it different.  The more you study, the more you will agree with the experts. 

  • Point to point wired with Swiss made cable. It's obvious that point to point wiring sounds better and lasts longer than wave-soldered thin printed circuit boards. It's what sets PrimaLuna apart and is part of our credo. In the new DiaLogue Premium we went a step further by using Swiss-made, silver-plated, oxygen-free continuous crystal (OCC) copper with a Teflon dielectric in the critical signal path for superior signal speed and increased clarity.

  • TAKMAN Resistors. If you bought a lesser preamp, you would pay hudreds to make this upgrade. Easy to identify through there pink color, these premium resistors made in Japan are popular with those who rebuild and upgrade there gear. "Modders" love TAKMAN for their low noise, linearity, and musicality.

  • SCR Tinfoil Caps. Made in France, these capacitors are used in the critical signal paths and while they are expensive, the PrimaLuna team they could not be left out after careful listening comparisons with many different types.

  • AC Offset Killer. A PrimaLuna exclusive. This is another PrimaLuna "magic bullet" design to make our products so quiet, you will get goose-bumps. PrimaLuna's parent company Durob Audio B.V. sells this as a stand alone item under the Ah! brand name. The fabulous company P.S. Audio sold something similar as a "Humbuster". It's job is to keep the main AC power transformer as quiet as possible. PrimaLuna custom-winds superb AC toroidal transformers that are low in hum. This circuit takes it a to a place no other manufacturer dreams of going. Adding this to your stereo would cost hundreds.

  • New front-end circuitry. The DiaLogue Premium uses three 12AU7 tubes per channel. The result is even lower distortion and increased bandwidth. The change in dynamic range is stunning! Distortion levels in the first stage have dropped by a factor of five at low levels, and at least 20 at higher levels, above one volt. The four 12AU7’s on the outside are driver tubes. By using four instead of two, we can swing more voltage. The two tubes in the center are the input tubes, and that’s where you want to have fun later if you wish by experimenting with different tube brands.

    We chose 12AU7 tubes because there are more factories around the world making great ones today than any other tube, so you can try them and see if you prefer their "color." By contrast, a tube like the 6H30 tube is well-known for thin mids, and they are only made in one factory in Russia. If your equipment uses that tube, there is no way to fine-tune the tonal balance of your system trying different brands; you'd better like it as-is. What if that 6H30 factory has a problem, closes, or just decides to stop making them? In addition, because 12AU7's have always been a popular tube, there are tens of thousands of vintage new-old-stock 12AU7's available everywhere from the greatest factories like Telefunken, Mullard, Amperex, Cifte, Siemens, and more. Tons of them. If you haven't "Tube Rolled," it's a gas, and how you get that last 10% of PERFECT tonal balance to YOUR tastes.

  • Remote controlled Triode/Ultra-linear Switching – Did you use to love listening to classic rock like the Stones, Neil Young, Hendrix, or The Doors, and some of it now ends up left on the shelf? How about jazz or classical recordings from the 60’s? Every audiophile has songs or albums that they used to love to listen to, but they stopped. Not because the music was bad; it was the best! The problem is, some older recordings sound harsh, brittle, or bright. It’s a shame that we buy a system that is designed to make music listening more enjoyable, and then the higher resolution stops us from playing the albums we love most. There is a solution.

    Click Here to Read More

    Triode and Single Ended Triode (SET) amps are popular for their warmer, fuller, and easy to settle into sound. But triode amps have limitations! Ultra-linear has more extension on the top and bottom, not to mention greater power. They have greater “pop” with a bigger difference between light and dark, and loud and soft. Having triode only is VERY limiting. (To learn more about what the terms "triode" and "ultra-linear" mean, click here)

    The best option is to have both triode and ultra-linear. There are a handful of amplifiers that allow switching from one mode to another, but they require you to get up and flip switches, and in some cases power down the amp to change modes, then turn it back on. PrimaLuna engineers in Holland designed an ingenious circuit that lets you change from triode to ultra-linear with a push of a button on the supplied remote control. No need to get up and stop the music. Make an instant comparison while you listen and choose what you like best for that song or album.

  • Dedicated subwoofer output. If you're favorite sub only uses line-level inputs, such as the JL Audio subwoofers, the DiaLogue Premium Integrated makes it simple to use!

The DiaLogue Premium Series also includes the same innovative circuits found in the ProLogue Premium series, that protect the amp and improve sound at every level:

      • Primaluna's exclusive Adaptive AutoBias. Bias is very important, and before you buy anything you need the click that link (it's in red) to learn the basics. If anybody tells you that they have auto bias, ask them precisely how. It's 99% likely to be untrue. As with all PrimaLuna amps, you never have to worry about biasing your amp ever again, and the need for matched tubes is eliminated. You can run EL34, KT88, KT120, even KT150 tubes, as well as many others. AAB does the rest while improving sound quality. Tubes are constantly monitored and kept in their best operating range, reducing distortion by up to 50%!

      • BTI-circuit. BTI stands for "Bad Tube Indicator." On the chassis’ deck in front of each power tube, is a small LED that lights up if the tube goes bad. The circuit then puts the amp into protection mode. With other brands, this may be when you have to break out the soldering iron to replace a plate resistor, and replace two or four tubes because your amp requires matched sets. With PrimaLuna, you just replace the tube it tells you to (no matched tubes required), and turn the amp back on. No hassles, no headaches.

      • KT150 Compatible and designed for the future – In 2006 PrimaLuna introduced the original DiaLogue series; the first amplifiers designed to be as close to being future proof as humanly possible. Back then nobody imagined a tube like the KT120, let alone the KT150, which combines the sweetness of a 300B with bass and control never seen before. Now other companies are scrambling to make a product built to handle the demands of this incredible tube.

        All PrimaLuna DiaLogue Premium and ProLogue Premium amplifiers and integrated amplifiers are built with huge power transformers and filaments supplies needed to run KT150 tubes. And the ingenious design of our exclusive Adaptive AutoBias circuit means that PrimaLuna buyers from ten years ago don’t have to sell off their system to enjoy new tube developments.

        No planned obsolesce. Isn’t that a refreshing concept? And while we can’t guarantee being future-proof, we seem to have done a good job thus far.

      • SmartWatts design with a tube life of up to ten years. When you buy any tube product, you need to think about the operational costs to own it. Many brands quote changing power tubes after 2000 hours. Not PrimaLuna. If an amp runs the tubes hard, its sound quality can start to degrade in 9 months and need to be re-tubed in a year. What’s fun about that? Understanding tube life is easy when you understand this.

        Click Here to Read More About SuperWatts

        Tube life is simply a matter of how hard you run the tubes. That’s it. The only way to extend tube life is to run them as close to zero as you possible can, making sure it is not so low you go into crossover distortion. The life of a tube will depend on two things:

        1. Plate and screen voltage. If the plate and screen voltage is high, you are more likely to get tube shorts when you turn the amp on and you get cathode stripping which greatly effects the cathodes ability to spit out electrons. Manufacturers that run the hell out of tubes to pump up their power ratings will never tell you what voltages they use. They’ll say it’s “proprietary” as if it’s some secret sauce. There is no such thing. But if they told you that they used 575, 600, or even 625 volts you probably wouldn’t buy.

          No secrets here. We proudly tell you our tubes run at just about 417 volts for the plates and screens. This greatly reducing the chance of a shorted tube sending your amp off on a trip to the shop (Remember, PrimaLuna’s Adaptive AutoBias has a circuit that protects against tube shorts, not seen anywhere by any manufacturer). Cathode stripping is reduced because the plate and screen voltage is low, and because our SoftStart circuitry ramps up voltage slowly.

        2. Bias setting of the tubes. Bias is like setting the idle on a carburettor. The higher the tube is idling, the hotter it is and the shorter the life. Tubes can be run all the way to “Class A” which by definition means hot. We bias our tubes cool. You can sense it when you hold your hands over a PrimaLuna and compare it to a competitor. The PrimaLuna generates less heat.

        PrimaLuna runs their output tubes at a minimum dissipation without going into crossover distortion. When you look at our amps, they provide less power from each tube. With KT-120’s as an example, a PrimaLuna will give you only 21 watts per tube. So running a pair of them you get 42 watts. That’s a lot of power, but the demands per tube are a fraction of some manufacturers that give you 100 watts from a pair of KT-120’s. It’s a cheap way to get big power, and it’s cheap. In fact, free. That’s why it’s something that’s common in guitar amps, and sadly adopted in high end audio somehow. The birth of PrimaLuna HP. To get more power the right way is expensive. It requires bigger transformers, sockets, wiring, resistors, capacitors, and the tubes to do it. Which is exactly what PrimaLuna did. But we didn’t stop there. We added a second Adaptive AutoBias board.

        Read this carefully: Power has nothing to do with sound quality. Or bass slam. You can buy a 200 watt receiver for $299, and it will even have surround sound. Do you think for a minute it will sound better than a 50 or 100 watts high end amp costing $10,000? Of course not. Only first-time buyers think that way. Experienced audiophiles know that for the majority of listening sessions, you use maybe 10 watts of power.

        So are we exaggerating when we say up to a ten year tube life? Absolutely not. We have customers with PrimaLuna’s that have been getting regular use for well over ten years, with their original tubes, all the time. What’s ironic is our design philosophy had never been done in high end before, so we really didn’t know how far the improvement in life could go.

        This is what we found:

        A customer from Los Angeles, California named Les, bought an entire PrimaLuna system with pre-amp and monoblock amps, and had a home theatre installer wire it into his home. The installer knew nothing about tubes, and told Les that the system would sound better if he never turned it off and let it run 24 hours a day. Les did just that for over SIX MONTHS before calling us to ask if it was OK. We told him firmly “NO, and by doing the math found he had over 5000 hours on his tubes. He bought a new set and we offered to test his tubes to see if anything was worth salvaging. What happened shocked even us: With over 5000 hours, the power tubes tested at 90% of their original measurements!

        We recently had a customer get over 12,000 hours from a set of tubes. Even the power tubes! Using the factory figures from other brands who quote an average power tube lifespan of 2,000 hours, that same customer would have re-tubed six times!

        This is exactly why people rarely sell a used PrimaLuna. After such a great experience, they may buy another one, but it’s hard to let go of something that works so perfectly, gives so much joy, and asks for so little in return.

      • SuperQuiet Line Inputs. Selector switches mounted on the front panel have two problems: First, there are often long wires that run from the switch in the front to the rear RCA jacks, and they invite stray noise like RF and EMI. Second, switches don’t make the best contact when new, and the quality degrades as the switch gets dirty and worn. Then, selector switches have crosstalk between the inputs. You’ve probably heard it yourself; you’re listening to a CD and the music ends, and you can hear a faint signal from your tuner. Or a slight hiss, hum, or buzz coming in to through inputs you aren’t using. The noise can be obvious, or so small that you can’t really identify it. The negative effect is the same: It obscures micro details in the music that allow you to make out things like the body of a guitar or the sense of space in a hall.

        PrimaLuna has a better way. Instead of a switch, input selection is done using premium quality sealed relays made by Fujitsu in Japan, mounted in the rear where you plug in your components. When an input is selected, that relay closes giving you the best connection possible. All the other relays are left open, so noise and signals from other sources can’t leak in. Relays open and close, so there is no wiper to get dirty, noisy, or wear out. The signal path is much shorter. In fact it’s almost non-existent, so there are no long wires to pick up noise.

        One last technical feature: Each input has a circuit designed to present a perfect 100K ohm input impedance to the components you are plugging in, assuring you that every piece of gear you listen to will sound its best.

      • ALPS Blue Velvet motorized volume control tracks better so a defined stereo image is established and doesn't collapse as you raise and lower volume. And it will stay quiet, adhering to PrimaLuna's guiding principle of "Built to last a lifetime". This part alone costs ten times more than a simple "chip" that we could have used.

      • Custom wide bandwidth output transformers No other brand can copy the PrimaLuna sound for one simple reason: PrimaLuna output transformers. Almost every manufacturer buys their output transformers off the shelf; with varying degrees of success. Transformers are the most important (and most expensive) ingredient in making an amplifier. Our output transformers are custom wound in-house. The designs are the result of collaboration between engineers in the Netherlands and the United States, and built to the same standards that you come to expect from the world’s authority on tube amplifier manufacturing.
        That’s why PrimaLuna bass extension is deep and tight, the top end extended but without even a hint of grain, and that famous PrimaLuna midrange, which creates a sense of space and shape you won’t get anywhere else.

      • PTP-circuit. If the power transformer should overheat, this "Power Transformer Protection" circuit cuts primary power, allows the amp to cool down, then resets itself.

      • OTP-circuit. The "Output Transformer Protection" circuit protects the output transformers in the event of a user error crossing speaker wires.

As with all PrimaLuna components, the DiaLogue Premium Integrated is made by hand with the finest point-to-point wiring and quality equal to—or better than—any product you can buy at any price. All packaged in a high-gloss, hand-rubbed finish.

Please look closely at the pictures that show you just how PrimaLuna products are made.  Try to find interior pictures of other brands to compare.  

Also available with optional MM phonostage. Price: $249. Click here for info.

Owner's manual


To Get a Closer Look Inside, Click on the Red Boxes