DiaLogue Premium Integrated Amplifier - $3399

Don't buy good.  Buy perfect.  Iconic.  State of the art.  Something that will still be relevant ten years from now and that is built to last a lifetime. 

Thinking of buying an amp because of good reviews?  Every product, no matter what, gets good reviews.  So how do you know if it's simply good or world-class? 

Ask yourself is it so good would a magazine reviewer spend their own buy it for themselves?  Many reviewers have done just that because every PrimaLuna reviewed has a Stereophile Class A rating.  Class A is defined as  "Best attainable sound for a component of it's kind, almost without practical considerations" with practical considerations meaning at any price.  The Absolute Sound's Dick Olsher is possibly the most experienced and technically adept writer on staff when it comes to tube amplification. He declared "It is my current benchmark in integrated tube amplifiers."  resulting in a 2014 Editor'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.       

DiaLogue Premium features:

  • 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.

  • DiaLogue Class wide bandwidth output transformers.  Power means nothing.  You need bandwidth. DiaLogue Premium output transformers are our finest and most expensive for the most incredible bass into difficult low sensitivity speakers.

    Read more about the importance of output transformers here

    Output transformers are the absolute most important (and costly) ingredient in making a tube amplifier.  You can have 250 watts of power and have no extension on the top and bottom if the transformers don't have bandwidth.  We use lower power to extend tube life, and bandwidth to give you slam.  Almost every manufacturer buys their output transformers off the shelf; with varying degrees of success. 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.

    Magazines have for years have commented on how good our transformers measure. It's our secret sauce that makes PrimaLuna bass extension deep and tight, with a top end extended without even a hint of grain, and our famous PrimaLuna midrange.



  • DiaLogue Class toroidal power transformer. DiaLogue Class products will have our largest, massive toroidal power transformers, resulting in a tube amplifier with dynamic range that will shame even solid state amplifiers can't compare with and the lowest noise floor possible.

    Read more about our power transformers here

    Transformers are the single largest cost in making any amplifier, and it's where the bean-counters cast a suspicious eye in order to lower manufacturing costs.  The least expensive will be regular laminated EI or C-core transformers, because they can be made on automated machines that can make many at one time.  If you look at pictures of the inside of amplifiers you will see this is what almost every manufacturer uses.  And they use small ones. Which is why so many manufacturers had to make new models that allow you to use new, larger tubes like the KT120 and KT150.

    All PrimaLuna power transformers are potted, toroidal designs and wound in-house.  Toroidal transformers are preferred for use in critical circuits where noise needs to be kept at a minimum, because they don't radiate EMI outside of their core.  So why doesn't everybody just simply use them?  Price.  Toroids are wound one at a time so they take longer to make, and require more expensive materials.  The cost difference isn't small.  

    Our transformers are not just more expensive, they are better protected.  They are "potted" in a housing with epoxy to prevent them from being effected by moisture.  Transformers can actually fail from rust.  And we have an exclusive heat sensitive thermal switch that cuts off the power in the event of failures that can otherwise cause damage.



  • AC Offset Killer. A PrimaLuna exclusive. This is another PrimaLuna "magic bullet" design to make our products so quiet, you will get goose-bumps.  It's job is to keep the power transformer as quiet as possible.  Companies sell aftermarket products called "humbusters" for upwards of $399.  Our toroidal transformers are already low in hum. This circuit takes it a to a place no other manufacturer dreams of going.

  • 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. 

    Read why we chose the 12AU7 here

    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, you're stuck with it.  What if the 6H30 factory 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 world's greatest factories like Telefunken, Mullard, Amperex, Cifte, Siemens, and more. If you haven't "Tube Rolled," it's a simple way to get that last 10% of PERFECT tonal balance.



  • Remote controlled Triode/Ultra-linear Switching – With the push of a button on the remote control, you can go between the powerful authority of ultra-linear operation to the sweet warmth you can only get from triodes.  Your listening library will suddenly become larger.

    How can that happen?  Click here to learn more.

    Do you have some classic rock albums you used to love so much that have now ended up left on the shelf, un-played for years?  How about jazz or classical recordings from the 60’s? Every audiophile has albums that they used to play, but they stopped because they are harsh, brittle, or bright. There is a solution.

    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. 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!

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



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. Our exclusive design that keeps stray noise and signals from other sources out of the path of what you are listening to, while shortening the internal signal path to almost zero. It is so quiet you will absolutely hear things on your recordings you didn’t know exists.

    Click here to read how it works

    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. 

  • 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

 Reviews

 

DiaLogue Premium Integrated Specifications

Output Ultra-linear
(8 Ohms, 1% THD):
48 watts x 2 (KT150)
43 watts x 2 (KT120)
40 watts x 2 (KT88)
36 watts x 2 (EL34)
Output Triode
(8 Ohms, 1% THD):
24 watts x 2 (KT150)
22 watts x 2 (KT120)
20 watts x 2 (EL34 & KT88)
Freq. Response (+/- 1dB): 5Hz-69kHz (KT120)
5Hz-32kHz (KT88)
5Hz-30kHz (EL34) 
THD (1W/1kHz):

0.2% (KT120)
0.25% (KT88)
0.14% (EL34)

S/N Ratio: 81 dB (KT120 & KT88)
79 dB (EL34)
Input Sensitivity: 280mV (KT120)
240mV (KT88)
230mV (EL34)
Input Impedance: 100k Ohm
Power Consumption 255 watts
Dimensions: 15 " x 8.3 " x 14.2" (WxHxD)
Weight: 63.8 lbs
Inputs: 5 pair RCA / 1 pair HT bypass
Outputs: 4 & 8 Ohm output taps
RCA Subwoofer output
Standard
Tube Compliment:
6 - 12AU7, 4 - EL34