Parasound vs Primaluna vs Alternatives


I realize this is comparing two different types of amps, but thats kinda the idea here.

I currently own a Parasound A31 which powers my front left, center, and front right channels. 


However I am only currently concerned and focused on 2 channel stereo listening when it comes to this decision. 

Basically, I would love to delve into the tube world (tube rolling appeals to me) and I have read nothing but good reviews on Primaluna products.

I do a lot of listening of both vinyl via my soon-to-be-replaced Project debut carbon with AT440MLa MM cartridge, as well as digital via Audirvana, Tidal, and tons of DSD files from my Mac Mini.

Everything runs from either a Mac Mini or turntable into a Brooklyn DAC which outputs to Marantz 7702 in Pure Direct mode to current Parasound A31. 

Current Loudspeakers are Tekton Double Impacts. 


Basically, I am very curious about what would really change by switching the Parasound for something like a well respected tube amp like the Primaluna Dialogue HP? Ideally I would love something that would increase my sound stage and provide as holographic and precise an image as possible. Absolutely love closing my eyes and feeling the exact space of the recording. 


Thoughts and suggestions all appreciated. 

Thanks

whacky
Um, dude, the Brooklyn's preamp capabilities are superb. Have you tried running it direct to your amps? :)

Best,

E
I guess I initially convinced myself I needed to run it out from the Brooklyn to the marantz to keep that as the center hub for everything from stereo listening to home theater use with downloaded Dolby digital or DTS movies with encoded sound via optical or hdmi. 

But now that you've said that, I could just bypass the marantz for stereo listening. Easy enough. I'll Give it a whirl.  Only lost feature would be the volume control via the marantz. 

Little bonus....can now run balanced out from the Brooklyn to the  Parasound. 


Still doesnt necessarily give me a good idea of the difference between the Parasound and a solid Tube amp like the Primaluna with my setup, which is the burning curiosity. 
It would be very different, and the only way to know if you will like the difference is to try it. If you don't, it's a popular brand that you can turn over easily.
Whacky,

I'm assuming you have never heard a tube amp,I started with a Mac 275 and Khorns 31yrs ago when I was 21 and have lots of gear in between to now.

Going to sound diff. Than a parasound and the only way to know for sure is to try.

Like Roxy said if you don't like it the primaluna brand is a popular brand and resale is good.

Kenny.
Raven Audio gets good reviews on its tube gear.

Depending upon your budget I'll recommend Line Magnetic 518IA I drive my Deadalus Argos V2s with it. Other Agon members recommend LM's 508IA (in the Tekton DI thread you'll see at least one member using the 508IA with the DIs so you can get direct feedback contacting the persons using the 2 ). The 518 is $4500; the 518IA is $5000
Hegel 360
Since you have Tekton Double Impacts, why don't you ask on that thread. Many are driving their DIs with tubed components.

One that has not been mentioned yet in this thread would be Rouge Audio. Something like the Stereo 100 would likely be in the power and price range.
Hi Whacky,
Given your stated sonic objective I suspect that a high quality tube amplifier will be a fine move for you. Based on considerable testimony from numerous Tekton DI owners this is a very easy to drive speaker. You have much flexibility, SET/SEP, push pull and low power or moderate power. Many excellent options to consider in the tube amplifier genre. Just be sure to put emphasis on the "quality " of the amplifier. This means especially the output transformers and power supplies, don’t cut corners there.

Again,  you have truly tremendous options at your disposal,  take your time. Based on owner feedback tubes will make your Double Impacts sing gloriously. 
Charles
Appreciate the input. 

I'll have to delve in the Double Impact thread. See what I can see. 

So far I am loving these loudspeakers. They've opened up a world of new musical interest for me. But now that voice in the back of my head is definitely telling me the tube route is the way based on my experience with the speakers.  

I definitely like the appeal of an easy to own and modify amp like the an autobiasing Primaluna. Try different tubes with ease. But anything in the ~$4K range will be strongly considered as well. 


Also, side note from above. Connected the Brooklyn DAC directly to the parasound via balanced connection, hence bypassing my Marantz, and the sound appreciably improved. Noticeable improvement in clarity and air. Love it.  


Whacky,

I also own DI's and with the exception of using a tube preamp I mainly use solid state amps.Even though prima Luna makes a good amp they mostly use Kt88 or el34 in a push pull topology and in my opinion they will never sound like a true single ended triode such as the 300b,2a3,or the 45.

Pass Labs and or first watt makes amps that give most of the good qualities of tube amps,something to check into the good thing is the DI's are easy to drive giving lots of amp options.

My other system has Zu audio definitions and I use a Yamamoto A09s which is a 300b set.

Modwright kwa-100 is another good choice for solid state also having similar qualities to tubes.

I don't mean to confuse you with more choices but realistically the majority of amps listed are going to better the parasound in the sound qualities you may desire.

Take your time and do some reading and I hope you find what you are looking for.


Kenny.

Why would you go from a amp with good measured characteristics, like Parasound, to something like Primaluna? Have you seen any Primaluna reviews? Have you looked at their distortion numbers??
Hi,

Since you have the efficient speakers, you might want to consider Line Magnetic integrated amplifiers like LM 518ia or even LM 219ia. I owned Primaluna Dialogue Premium Integrated amp for over two years and enjoyed it very much. However, I switched to LM 218ia with very little hesitation once I got a chance to audition their products. 

The Dialogue Premium is a great amp but LM 518ia is a beast. LM products also have the LM 211ia and LM 216ia which use EL34 tubes and KT88 tubes like the Dialogue. You might want to read some reviews on the LM products.

Again, I am only giving you my opinion for your consideration. I hope you find a match amp for your system.

Binh
I second the Line Magnetics 508IA. I have been through several amps including a Prima Luna and the LM is the best sounding amp that I have ever used. Of course, this is to my ears,and in my system.
I have both Parasound and Primaluna units...The PL is the current Dialogue Premium HP configuration--Well built and for sale ...
Less than 65 hours use use....
I recently acquired a PrimaLuna Dialogue 1. Had been using a Peachtree Nova 220se which i love and still have. That being said there's things the PL can do that the PT can't. I've tried KT120 and KT88 tubes, plus the stock EL34s. So far I prefer the KT88s. I also have a system of mostly emotiva stuff including an XPA-2 and XMC-1. I'm going to move the PL into that system just to see how it compares to the emo stuff. I recommend picking up a PL amp or integrated. They have good resale and you can sometimes find something used. I'm loving my PL right now. 
@whacky:  In your initial post you stated this:

"Ideally I would love something that would increase my sound stage and provide as holographic and precise an image as possible. Absolutely love closing my eyes and feeling the exact space of the recording."

I just re-read your thread to re-familiarize myself.

Your statement above makes me wonder if a Tubed Preamp might be a better fit? Just a thought. Curious if others might agree.

Or a Tubed Amplifier driven direct by your Mytek Brooklyn DAC?



Many good stuff out there, but not Primaluna or Parasound for me.

Tubes:
1- Coincident 211PP Dragon MKII for the fullest and most incredible      sound with lots of power
2- Coincident 300B Frankenstein MKII with Psvane WE300B tubes, if you dont have to play very loud.

Solid State:
1- Benchmark AHB2 for power, resolution, and most amazing attack and dynamics, or
2 - Passlab XA-60.8 (and up..100.8 etc) for good transistor with some tube sound, but not as performant as the Benchmark in overall.
I find the Primaluna Dialogue HP integrated to be phenomenal.  It was already the best I'd heard in my system, and then I swapped in some NOS tubes...WOW!  
So I found a solid deal on a Primaluna Dialogue HP integrated. 
Currently is loaded up with all stock tubes. Although I ordered some Cifte 12au7 tubes to play with as well.

Picking it up tomorrow. 

Very much looking forward to performing some A/B comparisons between that and the Parasound A31 on my Double Impact speakers.  

Will report back after I spend some serious time playing around and listening. 
Congratulations! Let us know how it works out and post your impressions, etc. as well as over on the Double Impact thread. 
I've been using that amp (PL Dialog HP integrated) for some time with Zu Soul Supremes in a small room, and while every tube in it was great (I went from EL34s to KT88s then KT120s then finally KT150s), the 150s are an almost mandatory investment in my opinion.  I've had the 150s for over a year and they are totally worth it even though it's an expensive change for 8 of them. Despite the really high efficiency speakers and small room, the Zus sound phenomenal with the extra power, but I suspect the 150s are just a better sounding tube all around that just happen to produce more power too (than the other KT family, at least).

I will, however, say that when ready, putting a good pre-amp in front of it can improve the sound even further (bypass its pre-stage through the home theater inputs).  It's going to have to be a $5k preamp or greater to get much improvement, I suspect.  I demoed an Audio Research LS-28 that was a good improvement in resolution over the built-in, but is almost $8k new.  I settled on a bespoke pre-amp instead which bettered the LS-28, but have kept the PL as the amp because it's so good.  And to be clear, it's fantastic as an integrated, so don't take my comments as criticism of this piece...I love it as an integrated.

Even more impressively, this amp has a phenomenal headphone amp section, btw...which got even more awesome with the tube upgrades.  Also a great way to critically listen to tube changes or the effects (good and bad) of putting a pre-amp in line.  It's better than 3 other multi-thousand-$ headphone amps I own.

I'm hoping to try some $5k-15k 300b set amps to compare, but I'm very very happy with this amp for the time being and I think you will too.
Also, to help others who may read this thread later, I also have a Nelson Pass First Watt SIT-2, since First Watt was mentioned earlier (as it should be).  I have the stereo version (not the SIT-1 monoblocks).

It is an excellent sounding amp in systems that can make the most of its low(er) power, and for someone who prefers solid state over a tubed amp.  I bought it based on the recommendations of many, without the chance to demo it personally.  It was a great experiment.

However, for me, it has never been a totally "convincing" solid state replacement for my PL HP, in my systems anyway.  Here's why...while the micro-dynamics and detail are phenomenal, and the soundstage is so dead quiet and black to let all those details shine through (the best I've heard, in retrospect), to me there is a slight over-emphasis of the leading edges, and the decay seemed just the slightest bit short, and ultimately I found myself listening the details rather than hearing the music and the tone of the instruments, and ironically finding the whole sonic image to have less coherence and realism.  The result was, again to me, just slightly less emotionally enjoyable, and even ultimately a little distracting.  I later (much later) read similar comments from other owners, so I would recommend you demo one before you buy it.  People also rave about the mono versions but at 2x the cost, it wasn't an experiment I was willing to try.

BTW, it smoked the 2 different Transcendent OTL tube amps I'd been using on my various vintage Altecs and three different sets of Zu speakers (all of which I still own in various systems)... a little in detail, but a lot in timing and immediacy (the OTLs both were relatively slow, in spite of sounding detailed and musical).  So the SIT-2 is great at many things, but to me never ultimately beat the PL HP.  That's how good I've found this PrimaLuna to be, at least with KT-150s.

The SIT-2 is one of a couple $5k-ish level amps I've kept around, hoping to find the right system for, but still waiting unfortunately.
@parsons  Thanks for your very informative posts. Regarding the SIT-2, which Preamps did you pair it with? From what you describe, I wonder if a more synergistic pairing could have pushed the overall system performance (with the SIT at the end of the chain), more to your liking?
How's the low end (bass) on the PrimaLuna's? Especially with kt88's
David, fair question...I tried a few different pre-amps in the combos, all with the same results to me.  I settled on a little known bespoke pre-amp called the Truth from the Horn Shoppe...an insane steal at like $1200.  It has no amplification (so low-output phono pre's may struggle--mine is good), but is powered and is buffered (so not a passive either).  I was skeptical when I bought it a few years ago, but it's easily bested both the Audio Research LS-28 I demoed for a few days a couple of months ago, and also beat my Marantz SC-7S2 reference pre-amp (no longer made, but $6500 when new--since sold).  The Truth and Marantz are solid state, and the LS-28 is hybrid, I guess technically.  So to your question, I never got my hands on a fully-tubed pre-amp of any quality--it's possible that may have made a better pairing with the SIT-2 for my tastes.  The Zu guys reportedly love the SIT-1s, so I'm being super nit-picky when I say that I didn't prefer the SIT-2 over the PL HP with any of those pre-amps.  It's very, very close.

To be sure I was being fair, after posting above, I actually immediately put the SIT-2 back into the system for a day and listened for about 2-3 hours with it.  I confirmed my feelings one more time.
@parsons  I wish more posts would offer the clarity and detail and focus that yours does. 

Very Helpful! Thank you.
Agree with David. Parsons your posts are well written, clarity is indeed a desirable asset. Arthur Salvatore is extremely enthusiastic about the Truth line stage ánd has reviewed it extensively. .
Charles