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". A smokin' review from The Absolute Sound's Dick Olsher which he ended by saying "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.
- Adaptive AutoBias. A PrimaLuna exclusive. If anybody tells you that they have auto bias, ask them precisely how. It's most likely not true. As with all PrimaLuna amps, you never have to worry about biasing your amp ever again, and the need for matched tubes is eliminated. Just plug in EL34, KT88, or KT120 (as well as many others) and 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%!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 a 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.
- 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.
- New front-end circuitry. The DiaLogue Premium Integrated 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 (hardly a "super tube" as they often called), are 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.
- Triode/Ultralinear switching. In ultralinear, the sound is just that. Ultra-linear. The flattest response. In triode mode you get the sound that people would compare to 300B single-ended amps. A warmer, more liquid presentation. Which is better? There is no answer. It depends on your tastes, the speakers, and what you are listening to. It's up to you. The best part is, that unlike other brands, you can change on the fly from your listening position with the remote control and you don't have to turn off the amp to do it!
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- +B relay. Replaces the plate fuse and works in conjunction with the OTP-circuit to protect the amp against tube failure. This method is less intrusive sonically and the relay resets itself once the faulty tube is replaced
- SmartWatts design. PrimaLuna's true-value, low stress design philosophy. Many manufacturers fudge on their power ratings, claiming power that is mathematically impossible. Every seasoned tube owners knows that 20 watts from a tube amp is a ton of power. What is really important is that PrimaLuna runs their power tubes up to 40% easier that other manufacturers. You can tell easily by putting your hand on top of a PrimaLuna amp. They run cooler than others. There is no reason to run tubes at their jagged edge. Why do manufactures do it?
- 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.
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.