PrimaLuna Dialogue Premium


Hi,

First and foremost let me say I’m not trying to start any war of words, bash any manufacturers products or any HiFi dealers. I’m just stating my humble opinion. In the words of Denzel Washington in the movie Malcom X we’ve been hoodwinked and led astray when it comes to the whole audiophile phenomenom. I recently owned a ARC REF 5SE, REF 110 and ARC solid state DS450M mono-block amps. They were driving my Magnepan 20.7’s and my Meridian music streamer. I just switched all of it out for a PrimaLuna Dialogue Premium HP amplifier with KT150 tubes and a PL Dialogue Premium preamplifier and two these ears my Maggie’s have never sounded so good. I’m going to add another PL Dialogue Premium HP next week and then I can honestly say I am done with my search for high fidelity sound. People please don’t let other dealers and manufacturers tell you, you need to spend $$$$ to achieve musical nirvana it’s all hype. I fell for that crap and I’m really embarrassed to say it. PrimaLuna is a superior musical instrument that honestly should cost 4 to 5 times more for their Dialogue Premium line. The build and features are second to none. Please please don’t let these dealers tell you other wise. It’s all about the benjamins and they want you to invest your hard earned money in there over priced crap. I invite anyone to listen to my system and tell me this isn’t as good as it gets and that this is not how music should sound. I live in Seattle and I  reached out to Upscale Audio’s Kevin Deal after 1 1/2 weeks of watching his videos and banging my head against the wall over my inferior lifeless musical experience. I took a leap of faith after reading several reviews and seriously doing some home work and made decision. Wow PL and KD thank you for not making me look like and absolute fool. I honestly feel like I stole from PL and Upscale Audio. Can’t stop tapping my feet and shaking my head. Bye for now and if one person listens to PRimaLuna after reading this thread my mission is complete. Peace,  Miles and Dizzy are on stage with Stevie Ray riding shotgun!
bluesy41
Yea taking that red pill really opens a whole new world...IMO we are truly living in a golden age of absolute reference level sound at beer budget prices...

The PL is good no doubt, but synergy is everything. Speakers in particular and also the fact that we all listen for and hear things differently. I bought a brand new PL Dialogue Premium HP Integrated and found that in the long run, with my speakers the Bryston 4B3 is superior in all the ways I care about. Initially I was floored with the PL but as I adjusted to the sound, I realized that the single great thing it did for the music (midrange on female vocals in particular was wonderful) did not make up for the things it didn't do so well; overall I did not like its signature. I ran the PL stock as I did not want to mess around with power tube swapping. I read a ton about the various tube rolling but in the end I sold the PL. The Bryston 4B3 is sublime and sounds better to me than my Pass X250.5. The sound is simply beautiful in all the ways important to me; I never quite got there with prior attempts-- solid state or tubed (had an ARC VT100MKII).


I'm really happy for you that you found your missing piece. It makes the whole thing that much more fun.


Cheers!



 

@dpac996 

You're correct system synergy is so important. I purchased mine and I couldn't be happier. I have been to many live venues across this country and I wanted to bring that type of reproduction to my home. I fell in love years ago with the sound from a VTL-85 stereo amp, Vandersteen 3A Signatures and VTL's 2.5 preamplifier. Brand new all cost less than 10k and now for a sound equal to that you have to pay a ridiculous amount of money. So I tried ARC, Ayre, Linn and VTL to name and few and have auditioned many more and I just found the PrimaLuna Dialogue separates to just be amazing with my 20.7's and it's not even dialed in. I believe after about 50 hours of use and some minor tube rolling I will have something very special.

Cheers and keep the love of music alive!

Bluesy41 ,
I agree , Primaluna makes some great sounding tube amps , preamps and integrated amps. Great value for the money! 
That's great you are getting so much enjoyment out of your new gear.   I had my doubts about the brand not having seen them before and during the course of auditioning speakers I listened to their EL 34 integrated amp.   It really sounded great.  Really nice build quality too. Good luck and enjoy.
Another really happy PL owner. I also did a lot of listening and research moving back from SS to tubes. Did watch Kevin on youtube and actually spoke to him for quite a while when I was thinking about buying some high end used equipment from him. Wound up with a Dialogue Preamp and two amps to use as mono blocs. I'm driving Martin Logan Summit X's. The sonics are awesome. I did roll some Gold Lion KT88s in. I like them much better than the EL34s. I almost always run them in triode mode. All the power I'll ever need.
One thing I can say most other font know having nodded equipment for years,and owning Audio shop in the ZUK
Rule of thumb less then 25% actually hoes into the build the rest overhead, and dealer markup.
Premium products do much better .the prima Luna  top product s
Have decent parts but not great parts by any means. You can easily make it sound at least 10% + at bare minimum just by buying premium capaciyors, resistors,  regulators  and a Bunch of other stuff for $1k or less in parts, plus labor it would be a $8k + in musicality  even the volume controlled leaves a Lot to be desired 
All signal goes through them  even tube sockets the Teflon Copper Gold ones I have been using truly open up the tube night and day less resistance copper vs brass ,yes the is what  the Di has gold plated brass.  Think about it you have st most $1100:in casework and parts to box  that is why modding of Anything Audio to Auto
Is do popular .your money is going directly into the heart of the 
Build. If anyone says different they are full of crap. I have been found mods for over 20 year. Almost everything I buy I look for weaknesses before even playing a song .I just bought a excellrnt Canary Triode Quad 300b amp. Sent it off to replace all coupling caps and circuit upgrades to my Master tech  of 40 years .
I go to the extreme, many guys won't bother ,even your Blue fuses add to the clarity.
Glad you are happy

enjoy the music

@audioman58 
I have no ideal what you’re saying but ok I guess you mean well 😬 and yes I love my PrimaLuna’s. 
bluesy41 OP
audioman is saying he hasn’t read the specs on the primaluna. 
Glad you like the purchase. I got the Dialogue premium HP integrated last year  and it sounds fantastic! 
I speak through Vast technical experience .all I am stating is you can get the Prima Lunato play on an even higher level .if you want to buy top quality parts ,which most companies doNotdo.  Why do you think Modwright and other modding agencies have been so successful. On the comment on not reading the specs can be misleading,for there is no  standard .This means little  being around engineering there are tons of ways to make any piece of electronics look good at certain frequencies like 20hz -20 kHz,That being said the Prima Luna is pretty respectable in its  price class.
I don't know what audioman is saying either.  I think he's saying it can always be better.  Maybe, maybe not.  

But, I had a PL Dialogue One for four years, then moved up the link to the Dialogue Premium HP Integrated.  It's great with the standard EL34 tubes, but it is a step better with KT150s.  I rolled input tubes for a while.  Eventually I went back to the factory input tubes and I was reminded that PL puts things together the right way.  The factory input tubes are a great match for this amp.

I'm happy with mine, two years now, and see no reason to ever get anything else.  

@soundermn 

What is the rest of your system comprised of?

I have Revel Performa3 F208 speakers (recently replaced my B&W 803N), JVC VL8 Turntable, Project PhonoBox RS phono preamp.  I also have a Cambridge 650C CD player, but rarely use it.  And, my room is acoustically treated, which helps a lot.  I'm sure I could improve slightly with a more expensive integrated, but really I see no reason to do so.  
What audioman58 is saying is if you get the capacitors and a number of the resistors replaced in you PL amp with higher quality parts there is a very decent sized improvement in sound quality and he is totally correct. I will be having the caps in my HP integrated replaced with Jupitor caps in the next two weeks, can’t wait.

I have read on a number of occassions comments by people saying they sold their PL amp for various reasons, like they got bored with the el34 sound, yet they never bothered to try tube rolling. Their loss I reckon these amps were made for tube rolling, a PL amp with KT120’s or better still KT150’s has a completely different sound to one with either el34’s or KT88’s.
The big 150 tubes make the PL very dynamic and open without loosing to much of that smoothness you get with el34’s.
Also once you change the two centre 12au7’s for some NOS tubes, depending on brand and model, you can totally dial in your amp to sound the way you like it best for each genre of music and then change it again in less than a minute if for example you switch from heavy rock to jazz.

Rolling the main tubes in a PL amp has the same effect as buying and plugging in a totally different amp and changing the centre two 12au7’s is like changing to a different DAC in a SS system.

For those who have a Pl amp and don’t try tube rolling seriously you don’t know what you are missing.

... cheers.
@terryo - I got the KT150 and they are amazing. I’m up to about 20 hours on the Dialogue Premium Preamp and HP amp and will look to roll the tubes on the preamp after about 80 hrs of listening. Adding a second HP so I can take advantage of having mono-blocks. Not that I’m not digging the sound already but I know my 20.7’s would benefit from the separate power supply. 

Cheers
Mr. Blusey

You speak the truth.  The law of diminishing returns is quite real, perhaps more now than ever in audio.  There is excellent equipment at a very good prices in 2018 that pulls down the britches on some silly over priced gear. I'll take an overachiever any day.

@corelli 

I agree 100% with you. Give me the overachiever any day as well! 
Hi Bluesy41,

If I had realised how good these PL amps are before buying the Integrated then I would have definitely gone down the same path as you with a Dialogue Pre and a pair of HP mono's. I am looking forward to reading your report on how your system sounds once you have the second power amp. 

.... Cheers


I second a few thoughts above, 

. Soundman is correct about the low cost of parts compared to retail prices, for PL or any other manufacturers. Since PL has less advertising costs, they can focus more in R and D, and sell at a lower cost, so we consumers get more bang for buck

. I have the HP Integrated, and IMO, the 6 stock PL preAmp are crap, and I did not realize this until I swapped them out.
. Also, I tried the stock PL EL34s, and it’s not that they were bad, but not my cup of tea. I replaced them with 8 mid-level KT88s (Gold Lion). And with some 12AU7 Brimars, IT IS A DIFFERENT AMP.

IMO, the true value of the PL Integrated is that it provides a quality blueprint for which to add on to and customize for your own speakers with tubes, while all the while having those fat, heavy transistors that can drive down to 2 ohms (eg, hello Maggie’s, hello Dynaudio, etc). 

So so in the end, I spent about $4k for the HP Integrated, and another $800 on KT88s and and 2 NOS 12au7s. I would bump up my game to 8 KT120s for increased dynamics, but I will be using a sub for the low end, and this allows me to retain mid range glory of the 88s.

1graber save money for the KT150s. Much better than 120s. The GL 88s are a great tube so enjoy. I loved them. 
Question I was thinking about changing out the 6 12AU7 tubes in my Dialogue Premium Preamp with the Brimar tubes and replacing the rectifier tube with the Phillips. Should I also replace the set of 12AU7’s in the Dialogue HP amps? 


I would start with the Preamp and proceed one step at a time.   The front 2 slots or middle are the 2 tubes to replace 1st. Don't worry with the amp right now.  
Bluesy, 
hope you read my post above. Tubes matter.

i know there tends to be hyperbole on forums, but I’m telling you, replacing the stock PL tubes, whether for preAmp or Amp, creates a much better sound in terms of timbres/tones, soundstage, ambiance, and just sounding more fleshed out, real, and natural. 

So yes, try the Brimars or any of the similarly priced 12AU7s from Upscale will up your game significantly.

Or maybe look at it this way: How many thousands of dollars have you already spent on your Audio electronics and KT150s? So trying out a couple Brimars for $160 is a low risk compared the audio benefit that you will receive. 

As as you probably know, call Jarrod at Upscale, and he can recommend types of 12AU7s, and the number of 12au7s that you will need. E.g.  for me, I have the integrated HP with 6 12AU7s, but only the middle two 12au7s (input tubes) need to be replaced to impact the sound. The other 4 are driver tubes, and replacing them would be higher cost at diminished returns.  I can replace all six tubes if I want, but that is expensive and unnecessary per Jared. And in my experience that is true. 

Your dedicated PL preAmp may have more than 2 input tubes to replace, I’m not sure. But I can also say that I greatly prefer tube rectification, and that is one reason I would exchange my PL Integrated for separates. So again, “tubes matter” lol. Buy a quality rectifier tube. 

Last, and sorry for the essay, but I love this stuff: you have the Maggie’s driven by KT150s. The Brimars would be good for your mix of gear,  but consider the NOS MULLARDS. The KT150s give you the top to bottom dynamics, as it spreads more energy to driving the high and low end frequencies, but at the cost of less energy for mid frequencies. The NOS MULLARDS will help fill that gap in the mids, at a small cost to the hi/low dynamics you have. 

But out whatever you decide, know that adding the Brimars or MULLARDS will be a game-changer. Especially in the soundstage, compared to the stock PL tubes..
good luck, let us know what you decide ....

agree with 1graber2, replace those stock tubes with NOS US or Euro tubes for a nice sonic jump. The other big improvement is replacing the stock coupling caps with Jensen or V-Cap Copper foil caps. tremendous hold your rear in the listening chair power....
@johnss, Regarding coupling caps, are you referring to all of the Poly caps (white ones in the photo) or just the Solen ones?https://ibb.co/mrEjrH .
Thanks
mdr
@johnss , the more info you can provide on the cap replacement the better. I’ve built some amp kits and if I know exactly which to replace I can do it. 

@1graber2 

I spoke with Jared yesterday and we decided I should go with the Brimar 12AU7 and the Phillips 5R4GYS Rectifiers. I'm no different then the rest of you and truly love my music and although its sounds great now I can't wait for them to arrive.

Great ,  it only gets better from here. 
And waiting for those new tubes to arrive in the mail, I know the anticipation, it’s the hardest wait…
Are you voiding your warranty replacing this or that?

@jetter 

That's the beauty of PrimaLuna components. They want you to roll tubes and create the perfect sound for system and listening preference.

@1graber2 

Right!

@1graber2 ,  If you like the Brimar 12au7, it's worth watching the used market for Brimar CV491.  There was a guy on eBay who had a pile of them in the Fall of 2016 and it looks like he's almost out now. I bought multiple matched pairs for good prices. 

On the power tube end, there's one tube Kevin Deal doesn't carry and I don't know why:   Tung-Sol 7581A. 

This is an EL34 variant and I just loooove it.  I liken it to halfway between an EL34 and a KT88. I'm not sure if that makes sense, but that's how my mind sees it.  

@johnss , I've noticed you've commented on the improvements that can be had by changing out electrolytic caps in the PL products.  I've asked for a bit more information and just then you're gone!  Can you jump back in and give us more information? 
Thx JB re: the tubes,
im maxed out on tubes now, but will keep for reference.

And I agree, would be good maybe to have a sticky of summary of PL upgrade options and reliable shops that will modify, or DIY even better.
If needed where can you have PL serviced?
jetter, I think that changing capacitors or any other part except tubes would void the warranty.
Bluses41 & tomcy6, agree, if I purchased a beautiful unit like the PrimaLuna, I'd give it a chance to strut its stuff before meddling into non warranty land.

@jetter 


I'm not meddling into non warranty land bro, I'm just going with tubes that fit my system better and my taste. Didn't mean to mislead anyone with any other modifications. That's not me I buy a product because I like and believe in it, but based on my listening preference I purchased some Mullard and Brimar tubes.

Cheers

Still waiting on tubes to arrive. I ended up changing my order at the last minutes and going with the Mullard’s and the Phillips rectifier. I’m honestly being greedy because each day the PL’s continue to impress me more and more. I know the Mullard’s and Phillips will be a great improvement and eliminate the mid and high brightness but damn last night I was listening to Hugh Masekela live and nearly cried. The sound was amazing. I have a dedicated listening room and I kept having to turn the lights on just to see if I was dreaming. My music listening enjoyment  is at an all time high. Don’t be fooled by the marketing of high cost gear, we can truly have our cake and eat it to. I personally have kissed a lot of electronic toads but I’m happy to have found my Cinderella in the form of PrimaLuna.

Cheers 
Love..love..love my PL dialogue premium preamp. What it adds to my system is beyond reproach.

@aolmrd1241 

It's truly awesome! I can't believe how much time I've spent listening to music since I switched out my components. I've probably gained 3-5lbs since bringing the PL's into my home.LOL!

I installed the Mullard's and Phillips yesterday and I immediately could tell the difference in detail and texture. Bass is not deeper but more impactful and articulate. Can't wait for the second PL Dialogue Premium HP amp to arrive.

Cheers

would replace both. there are 6 or 8 caps in the amp.

four are coupling, two are added B+ filtering for the front end tubes. and 1 or 2 are bypasses on the main filters.