Primaluna Dialog Two Integrated Amp vs Cayin A-88T

I am going to put together a tube system around one of these integrated amps. I'm wondering if anyone here has compared the two amps. They are about the same price, the Primaluna is rated at 38 watts per channel, the Cayin is at 45 watts. They both use KT-88 tubes. I haven't selected speakers yet, but I am leaning towards Harbeth 7es-3. Any comments/opinions would be appreciated.
I tried Harbeth C7's with kt-88 tubes and didn't like the sound at all. Harbeth's work much better with el34's - they are leaner and more musical. The fuller/more powerful kt-88's don't blend well with the warm Harbeth midband.

You might look at Mastersound dueventi, Primaluna dialogue 1, AudioSpace el34s. Any of these would sound very good with Harbeths.

20wpc is fine for a smaller room, 30wpc for a bigger one.
I find it interesting that there is a stigma regarding Japanese stereo products, but the crap coming out of China is ok. Did you know you can by a used amplifier made in USA for the same price?
Check out a Jolida...often more watts for your money, and they sound great.
The Primaluna can take a range of power tubes from KT88 to EL 34. Don't worry about the power if you get decent speakers.

At 86db are the Harbeths that easy to drive? Maybe look for a speaker in the 90db+ range.
Agree with Grinnell, My personal opinion is as follows:

Speaker efficiency / Amplifier choice
82-88dB/ solid state
89-94/ solid state or tube
95 upwards/ tubes

Of course above is just a guideline and not the last word. Personal preference plays a very big role and synergy of the system in the end is what we all strive for.

A friend of mine used to listen to his Maggies with a Cary 5 watt set amp and he seemed to enjoy the sound so go figure.
Thanks for your responses.
This system is going in a fairly small room, about 12' x 15'.
Thanks for the info on the differences between the el34 and kt-88s. Is there general agreement on this point?

Prog,can you recommend some used tube integrateds?

I have been a little concerned about the 86db sensitivity of the Harbeth speakers. I may consider the Paradigm studio 40's or 60's, but I've heard they can sound a little "bright".

De capos are great with tubes, Focal Chorus? Single Driver for your space might work.

Abbys? Zu? Triangle

Even consider a nice EL84 amp. I got a 12wpc Vista Audio I84 and it sounded great with my De Capos almost too good that i may swap it with my Primaluna

I owned the Paradigm Studio 40 at one time and all I can say is they were excellent speakers for the money. Yes they can sound bright with an amp mismatch but with the right kind of amp they really do great in every department. I even did a review on them so if you like you may check it out and see if you can relate to it.

In my opinion they can sound very detailed with the tubes with enough low end grunt to satisfy rock fans.
Audio Research or Manley Stingray
Cayin wins my vote. When I was looking for a tube amp I tried the Prima and Cayin, and many others. Cayin won the day, cleaner sound, better value. In over five years I have not had a problem. The amp is used with ProAc speakers, 140's and 1SC's.
All Chinese components are`nt "crap" just a cliche.Go out and listen to various amplifiers and judge them. Nationality and brand name does`nt equate to better sound(believe me).Probably more important than speaker sensitivity in the load impedance(tube amps mate well with higher ohm load generally) and the phase angle(the lower it is the easier to drive). Sensitivity has more to do with potential volume levels as opposed to easier to drive.

Good quality transformers and a stiff power supply are crucial for tube amplifiers.You have good choices available, just take your time and do research.
The Chinese Bada hybrid SE triode tube headphone amp has sound to die for. I know. I have one.

For the record, PrimaLuna is a Dutch company, though the product is made in China. The US distributor is Kevin Deal, who is in LA. Their customer service is excellent. I have had a Dialouge 2 for a few years now and have been very happy with it. Have not had a Cayin in my own system, but my uncle, who has a very similar system to mine, did not like the Cayin he tried - it was much brighter, he said.
Or you could buy a new Rogue Cronus Magnum with KT120's and 90W power. Plus it is made in America.

A used Cary SLI 80 would be another alternative that is made in America.
Buconero, have you stayed with the KT-88's that came with your Cayin or have you experimented with el34's?

Learsfool, I guess same question for you.


Ericsh, this is not exactly on point, but I do have a Primaluna Prologue One and a Cayin T100, close to your request but no cigar.

So FWIW, I use the One with EL34's (in preference to a Prologue Three & Five combo, which I also own, with KT88's - the One has a slightly warmer balance and concurrently less definition than the 3/5).

The Cayin T100 with stock tubes was cool in tone, you could call it bright but I think the problem was not in the highs, more an absence in the lower mids/upper bass. I changed out ALL of the stock tubes! With those changes I now have speed, resolution, and some warmth. I highly prefer the Cayin as presently tubed. I went thru a raft of tubes with the PL and I'm presently using stock (EH) small tubes and SED EL34's.

My stereo is on all day so I use the PL when I'm not sitting in the sweat spot - its a lot cheaper, and frankly not that bad.

Both units have been in the house over 4 years and there have been no reliability issues. I did have some with the 3/5 and found the dealer/distributor flawless in providing fast and effective service.

Hope that helps a bit.
Thanks, Newbee. Maybe I missed something, I'm new to tubes. But what did you use for replacements when you changed the Cayin "stock tubes"?
I used re-issue Tung-Sol 6550s for power tubes, EI 6CG7's, EH12AX7, and JJ/Tesla 12AU7's. The Tung-Sols have solid bass with a bit of warmth in the upper bass. They are not additive in the higher frequencies as are many of the KT88's, just right I think. FWIW, they were somewhat dark in the PL 3/5 and the One.
What about customer service? I know Rogue is fantastic being located in Pennsylvania.

Rhljazz. Can I put KT120's in my Cronus Magnum? What might I expect to hear as opposed to KT90's?
If you are asking about Cayin I have had several contacts with the distributor and found him to be very responsive, i.e. return calls same day, and he provided usful information. He services the product and I have no reason to suspect he is less efficient. As I said, so far I've not needed him. :-)
Maybe not exactly what your original post was asking but...
I have had the same Cayin that you asked about and I now have the Prologue 2 from Primaluna . Two different sounding pieces . The Cayin A88T is much warmer than the
Prologue 2 , in stock form . When I auditioned the Cayin I put it against a Cary SLi-80 and had a hard time discerning any difference . The Prologue 2 , in stock form , is more like a good SS amp than a tube amp . All of this comparing was done on the same speakers , Reference 3a
Di Capo i's .
Now , I have completely retubed the Prologue 2 and it now has all of the warmth of the Cayin but with much better top end extension and a little more on the bottom as well .
I sold the Cayin as it was rather difficult and involved to bias , for me . Where as the Primaluna's are auto biasing . I have read that the Primaluna company has a fulltime 'overseer' at the plant keeping tabs on the assembly process and only allowing the use of authorized parts . The Cayin side of the factory ( they are both made in the same facility ) supposedly is allowed to use any replacement parts that they can find when they run out of supplies . This would lead me to think that there could possibly be a difference in the final product . Read on here how people like and dislike different brands of things like diodes , capacitors , resisters , wire and etc.
One more thing , the Di Capo i speakers are an honest , uncolored and efficient speaker . They will allow you to here what your equipment sounds like down to the difference in interconnects and power chords . While auditioning amps , I tried other brands of speakers that made hearing these differences difficult to impossible .
In this regard you should decide where you want your desired sound to come from , mainly . Those Harbeths will give you much more of a warmer sound than say the Refence 3a's and be harder to drive .

Good luck and enjoy the hunt !
Saki, thanks, lots of good info.
I found that in my Primaluna Dialogue One, like Saki70, that changing tubes from stock was necessary to get the sound I wanted. The great thing about these amps is the auto bias feature making changing tubes a snap; and they will take just about any EL34 or KT88 equivalent, 6L6, KT66, and so on...I like best 6n3ce NOS stock Russian 6L6. Don't forget about the driver and input tubes, they make a huge difference. Hence, I went with Sylvania 5751in place of 12ax7 and Amperex Bugle Boys 12au7. My sound stage is huge, wall to wall and well-layered deep if the recording is good. Extended highs without any of the bad stuff, sweet, warm, detailed. Male and female vocals right there, excellent timbre and musical flow. I pair this amp mostly with Tekton Lore.
Hi Erisch - yes, I did switch out the KT88's for some EL34's, and did like the sound better.
Erisch ;
One more thing...don't go out and pick the best of everything , that is in your price range . Look at this system build as a picture puzzle . The individual pieces should fit together to achieve the complete picture . System synergy will take you further down the road to Nirvana than money .

Happy Tunes
Don't have the Dialogue amp, but I own a Prologue One and a Cayin A88T. The Cayin is a superb integrated with marvelous sound. And, it has a remote and the ability to switch from triode to ultralinear on the fly. If those features are important to you, go with the Cayin. Otherwise I think it's a toss up soundwise.
The Dialogue also has the switch from triode to ultralinear on the fly - I thought the Prologue did too, but I guess not from what you say, Catama.
Hiya, Learsfool!

Didn't know about the Dialogue Two. Yes, the Prologue One does not have that feature. It's very useful. Does the Dialogue have a remote? I don't remember any PrimaLuna products having one.
Hi Catama, yes, the Dialogue has a remote. I just assumed all of the PrimaLuna products did!