Primaluna Dialogue Premium or Premium HP?


I am hoping for some feedback from anyone who has experience with the PL Premium or HP.  I have a Dialogue One now, that I really love!  I have B&W 803N speakers, which are notorious for being hard to drive.  However, this Dialogue drives them wonderfully.  Now, the bug has got me, and I'm thinking to upgrade, to get clearer, cleaner (still tubes) sound, and a bit more power for bass control and power.

That said, I'm considering either the Dialogue Premium or the Dialogue Premium HP integrated amp.  I am able to get a good deal on the HP, making the cost difference unimportant.  Any thoughts on the difference in the two?  Only once, I read that the HP has more power but less finesse.  Anyone have experience with both who could comment on this?  Or other considerations?  Which would you choose if cost weren't the object?  Of course, saying that... going to separates would be cost prohibitive.  I know I'd see even more improvement with separates, but don't want to spend that cash now.

And, there isn't an option for me to audition them next to each other.  I'm going on faith and my current PL experience... and hopefully the collective knowledge of this forum.

Thanks!
soundermn
Funny I found this thread, since I am actually facing the exact same dilemma. I have owned a DiaLogue One for more than 6 years at this point, and absolutely love it. It was the bargain of the century and a real gem of an integrated. I have tried many different tubes with it, but have settled with a quad of the new re-issue Gold Lion KT-88's, which after many a back-and-forth, I find offer the best possible balance between finesse/midrange magic and dynamics/control. I am actually using the DiaLogue One with Sonus faber Elipsa SE's (or "Red"), and, amazingly enough, the synergy is incredible. Plus, I have a small room, so dynamics and slam are more than sufficient. At one point I was concerned about headroom and efficiency, specially as the speakers were breaking-in and sound was a little uncontrolled. Sonus fabers are also famously difficult to drive and have a tricky impedance curve in the lower registries. Just to see if I was missing anything, I even tried a McIntosh integrated (retail $6K) and a Hegel H-160, both with FAR MORE theoretical and quoted power than the PrimaLuna, and, plain and simply, it wasn't even close. The DiaLogue One blew them all out of the water. No contest. I was in awe. 

Cut to a few days ago. I have been curious about the DiaLogue HP Integrated, which is getting rave reviews, and my dealer was kind enough to loan me one. This one came with EL-34's. I do not have 8 KT-88's to spare, so this was not an apples-to-apples. I had all the intentions of buying the HP, and I could get a really good deal on it, specially if I sell my DiaLogue One (they hold their value fairly well), so money was not really a concern here. I REALLY wanted to love the HP. 

I will cut to the point: the DiaLogue One is staying. In fact, I preferred it BY FAR. For some reason, the HP was not as open, not as detailed, not as delicate, and not as "ripe" as the DiaLogue One. Amazingly enough, the difference when it came to dynamics and bass grip and control was minimal at best. Yes, it did have SLIGHTLY more control, but at the expense of everything else. The DiaLogue One, I would say, was a 7.9 in that department. The HP was an 8.5. Not worth the trade-off. 

I'm sure that if I were to use 8 KT-88's things may be different, but I frankly was not convinced that I needed to "upgrade". When I went back to the DiaLogue One, the soundstage was wider, and the midrange was just right. Bass was more than enough. Frankly, I was in shock.

Another thing to keep in mind: more tubes, more problems! More things that can go wrong. More heat (this was evident REALLY quickly in my small room). More $$$ when it comes time to re-tube (after a few times, you can pretty much buy a new DiaLogue One with the amount it would cost to re-tube an HP with 14 (!) quality tubes). 

Where did you read about the HP having less finesse? Curious to read that as well (I fully agree), since reviews seem to unanimously praise the HP.

I did notice one HUGE improvement in the HP, however, and that was the volume control and potentiometer. Dramatically more accurate, precise and smooth when using the remote. I was impressed by that. 

But my DiaLogue One is staying. I love that thing more every day. Plus, my OCD tells me that it looks way cooler than the slightly-too-much-of-a-good-thing HP. 
I have been listening to my PL HP  for over a year. I upgraded from the PL Prologue  2.

Clearly an upgrade in every sense from the Prologue.
IMO however, the improvements while noticeable and worth the $ investment,are such that it makes you aware the PL line regardless of model, is a solid value.
With that said, the Dialogue series is nicer, so don't expect earth shattering gains across the board.
You may hear a little better control(tighter bass, clearer  mods/ highs )of a busy passage in favorite tune. Definetly more headroom as you push the volume control up.
The headphone jack is nice , even though I don't use cans.

Your amp is firmly in the territory of "good sound" and ANYTHING from here becomes terribly subjective. I do agree with Art Dudley's(Stereophile) review stating the HP performs like a VERY GOOD separate line stage/ amp. The HP will present your source in its best light. Another plus is any future source/ speaker upgrade won't be underserved by the HP

FWIW, I use a VPI Classic/Audio Technica ART9, Fosgate V.2 tubed phono, Opera Seconda floorstanders, REL B3. All gear plugged into a PS Audio Power Plant and plumbed with Nordost V2 Frey/ Heimdall,from PP to speakers.Table,speakers,sub -Mapleshade planked and spiked. Fabulous sound and not ridiculously priced. I've noticed the MSRP creep up considerably in a sort period of time, though.
My HP II's powered by some early 50's RCA coke bottle 6l6G's- very realistic,believable
presentation.

Well, I did end up getting the HP.  Sorry, I don't recall where I read that it may have a little less finesse than the Dialogue Premium, and don't have a way to compare.

I will say that compared to the Dialogue One, it is a step up for sure.  It has much more clarity, and better sound stage.  It has the power handling I was hoping for and seems to have a smoother overall sound.  I like it, and will definitely be keeping it.  I opted to put KT120s in it after only a short time with the standard EL34s, and I think this was a good move for the kind of music I listen to... mostly classic rock.

But, the real question is whether it's the major step forward you'd hope, based on its cost.  I would say it is a step forward, but probably not the major leap you'd expect.  If I was to go back, I'd opt for the Dialogue Premium instead and spend the extra $1k on music.  I don't think the extra power makes a substantial difference.  Even the Dialogue One handled my B&W speakers quite well.  

At some point in a year or two, I'll probably put the KT150s in.  But, I'm very happy with it at this point and don't feel a real need to upgrade to the higher power tubes.  Perhaps the KT150s would have a touch more power behind them, and may sound a little sweeter than the 120s.  It would be a fun experiment, but spendy.

If you are facing this decision too, and the cost is a stretch, I think you'd be just as happy with the Dialogue Premium as with the HP.  Frankly, even the Dialogue One or Two are awesome as well, and I think anyone would be happy with any of the PL integrated amps.  If you are in Minneapolis, bring a beverage of your choice, and I'd be happy to give you a demo!
Also, FWIW, I have the HP powering B&W 803Ns, a Pro-Ject RM5.1, a Jolida JD9 (heavily modded) phono stage, and for the occasional CDs, an Azur 650C. I think it’s all a good match for each other.

I will also mention that I changed the input tubes to RCA Clear Top 12AU7 and found that it made the sound more open and improved the sound stage quite a bit. The stock tubes are very good, but I do prefer the RCAs for the overall tonal balance... just a little more alive.  They are a little shy on bass compared to the stock input tubes, but overall a better sound. I’ve just ordered a set of Cite 12AU7s for the input stage to see how they work out. I’ll report back when they arrive and break in for a while.
But, the real question is whether it's the major step forward you'd hope, based on its cost.  I would say it is a step forward, but probably not the major leap you'd expect.  If I was to go back, I'd opt for the Dialogue Premium instead and spend the extra $1k on music.  I don't think the extra power makes a substantial difference.  Even the Dialogue One handled my B&W speakers quite well.

I agree with the above. I felt the same way, and decided to keep the DiaLogue One, since I felt that the DiaLogue Premium would have been a move sideways at best. They are all fantastic integrated amps. However, I did feel that the HP was considerably less open than the One. But this may have been a combination of the EL-34's compared to my KT-88's, as well as the low hours on all the tubes. 

As an aside, you may tire quickly of the KT-120's. I know I have been down that road. Great at first, shrill and with a hint of glare after a while. I always end up getting back to the Gold Lion KT-88's, for some reason, and love it. 

For the record, my system is not so dissimilar from yours (and I also listen mostly to rock and classical):

- Prima Luna DiaLogue One
- Sonus faber Elipsa SE
- Oppo 105 + hard drive
- Pro-Ject RM 5.1
- Nordost Brahma power cord on the amp, straight to the wall
- PS Audio Duet on the digital front
- Nordost Heimdall 1 on interconnects and Heimdall 2 speakers
Sounderman, congratulations on your acquisition.

As your hearing detects, the sonic upgrade is there, but not in a way which your jaw drops. 
I  found the more you listen, the impression of "upgrade" increases!
RCA black plates along with the same Mazda Cifte's are in my HP. 

You may have to squint your eyes to hear the differences swapping preamp tubes, but a subtle "sparkle" is present with the Cifte. I have also compared the RCA's in the preamp slots.Of course, YMMV.
I personally hear the 6L6G as a nice compromise of the 88 vs 34 sound. The 88 family definitely has more bass, yet the 34's mids just seem more realistic. My REL makes up for any low end missing.

Hi folks

Hope you don't mind me piping in here.  The HP is the exact same amp as the DiaLogue Premium in every way, with these additions:

Larger power transformer, additional circuitry to add four more power tubes including an additional Adaptive AutoBias board, and the headphone amp which I will comment on later.  The benefit is more power and a lower output impedance which will give it a little more slam and control.  Not a ton more.  But more.  So the HP is an all-out attempt to make an integrated that truly will smoke the most expensive separates.   We could have increased power for a cost of maybe $2 by simply raising the plate and screen voltage of the tubes and bias them hard like the rest of the world, but our mission is to try to eliminate tube maintenance by running the tubes at minimum dissipation without going into crossover distortion. 

The 36 watts that the DiaLogue Premium has is huge because we concern ourselves with bandwidth in the output transformers, not power.  As evidenced by John Atkinson's review of the YG Acoustics Carmel 2 loudspeaker where he preferred our amp's bass performance (and sound overall) over 400 watt Parasound Halo monoblocks and $25,000 MBL Coronas.   You can read his comments on the PrimaLuna website. 

The headphone amp of the HP is amongst the best I've ever heard.  As good as my German Malvalve which costs so much more.  In fact better, except if the headphones are super high impedance.  The implementation is unique the way we did it. 

I'm really happy that beyondarkness loves his DiaLogue One so much after so many years.  While other companies certainly want you on the merry go round burning cash, our desire is to create amps that are iconic and relevant 10, 20, or even 50 years from now.  It makes me smile when I get calls from people ten years later that they are still happy. 

Having said that, the new series DiaLogue have the exact same output transformers which is where the magic happens, but with a myriad of improvements that for sure will increase performance.  In a side by side with the same tubes it will become apparent, but I'm going to tell you the original DiaLogue One, Two, ect were so good I thought we had painted ourselves into a corner.    

 


      

 

Thanks for your input, Kevin. I actually bought my DiaLogue One from you back in the day. Your post really says it all. 
Thank you, Kevin for your input!  I also agree that the Dialogue One I had was a great piece!  I enjoyed it for several years, and decided early on that if I were to upgrade, it would be along the Primaluna path.  I do feel the HP is an improvement in all ways.  I have recently added a pair of Cifte 12AU7s to the input signal path, and this seems to be a match made in heaven.  Even though they aren't yet broken in, we noticed they seem to have the clarity of the Clear Tops with the smooth range of the stock tubes and the bass I was really looking for.  Even the GF said that while she thought it was really good all along, it still seems to get better and better.  To me, that's a truly great testimonial.  

I'm very happy with it, and plan to keep it for many years to come!
I am very close to purchasing a 
Primaluna Dialogue Premium Intergrated amp, but my only hesitation is if it would output enough power for my Martin Logan Adavntage speakers. Does anyone have this combo? Is the 36 watts enough power for electrostats?

Thanks,


Matt00-Give Kevin@Upscale Audio a call, he's the authority on the PL line.

My guess is yes, as I've heard ML's driven by PL gear.