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.

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

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?


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.

Hello There.
Has anyone tried Primaluna Dialogue HP with KT150 tubes. Is it better than kt120 or mentioned kt 88 Gold Lion?
Now i have Audio Physic Virgo V and wondering if PL Dialogue HP can run those speakers ?
I am also thinking about new speakers, custom based 3 way on scan speak illuminator which may be even more demanding  from amp.
Best Regards from Poland
Definitely go with KT150s. I went from 88s to 120s and while that was a great improvement, I had some of the artifacts mentioned in previous posts about the 120s (it’s been awhile so I don’t remember exactly what I didn’t 100% love about them, even though they were a good upgrade from the 88s). About 6 months later I had read all the write-ups on 150s, and while 8 of them is an expensive upgrade-gamble, it was totally worth it. Noticeable right off the bat, and with some burn in even better. A much bigger jump than from 88s to 120s. I would always have 150s in a component that could take them (until they make 175s or whatever!).

If you’re PL can take 150s and you don’t mind leaving the cage off (it doesn’t fit any longer), I haven’t read a single post anywhere where someone upgraded and regretted it.

Just for clarity’s sake, I own super efficient Zu Soul Supreme speakers (the combo is killer), so the 150 upgrade for me was NOT about power increase but to get better bass and top end (which they gave me in spades).

Also, if you’re debating HP or not (vs. the "normal" Dialogue Premium), the headphone amp is truly outstanding as mentioned. I have HiFIMan HE1000s and it drives them superbly--probably as well or better than the $4200 McIntosh HP amp I also own (because of the rave reviews with the HE1000s). I love the McIntosh, but it’s not better and I’m probably going to move that whole rig to another system to simplify my main listening rig.
Hi all, 

My apologies if I am highjacking the thread, but does anyone have experience with a Dialogue 4?

I have an opportunity to get a good deal on a Dialogue 4 amp. 
Its in good condition, and sounds good to me (my current integrated is a Musical Fidelity M3Si, this will also be the pre-amp for now). 

There is also an opportunity to buy a Dialogue Premium amp, also a good deal, but its over double the price of the Dialogue 4. 

Do any of you have experience with these two? Is the extra $$$ worth it? would the Premium be that much better than the older 4?

Any and all thoughts and opinions are welcome. 

I love my ProLogue 3 and Prologue 5. Just a fantastic combo and work well with my KEF R900.

I'm wondering... Can I upgrade the KT88s in the Prologue 5 to KT120 or KT 150? I've replaced all the gain tubes already.
You can definitely go to KT120. Not sure about 150, but there is information about this on the PL web site. Or call Kevin Deal. 

If I may ask any owners of Dialogue Premium power amps / mono:  

I presently own the Prologue 6 monoblocks with Dialogue Premium Preamp, and love every bit about them.  After plunk in some money for Focal Sopra 2 to replace the KEF R700 speakers, soundstage and dynamics improvements are significant.  On the hind side I should have spent more on great sets of loudspeakers, but am glad to have made the decision eventually with great results.

To take this to next level, I intend to upgrade the Prologue 6 power amps to Dialogue Premium monoblock, with HP and non-HP versions to be considered.  Any owners may feedback on these HP vs non-HP monos?  There were a few online rave reviews (HFA, Dagogo, Stereophile) about these amps, but none really pit against their weaknesses, costs of ownership, etc.  The HP will undoubtedly give more headroom in terms of power, but am quite conscious about sound / distortion / power delivery.  My humble Prologue 6 mono delivers about 70w and have done so nicely.

Your feedbacks / ownership experience these Dialogue Premium mono HP vs non-HP are much appreciated!

I can't help with your comparison.  However, as to cost of ownership, the thing you may want to consider is the number of tubes.  I upgraded my HP integrated to KT150 and I'm very happy with it.  Extra power for larger, hungrier speakers, and it sounds wonderful.  I think you'd be very happy with the upgrade from the Prologues.  

But, remember that the HPs have 8 power tubes each. I've read that the non HP version is a little bit smoother (albeit a marginal difference) than the HP versions (more powerful), but haven't experienced that myself.  Point is, if you have two mono power amps and want to upgrade the power tubes, you need 16 tubes in the HP version.  KT150s are about $100 each, so $1600 for tubes.  Ouch.

Other than that, I've been a happy Primaluna owner for about 8 years.  Not looking back!  Not interested in an upgrade!  Never had a problem.  
Soundermn - Thanks for your feedbacks.  Indeed you’re spot on about the number of tubes on the HP, more so for monoblocks.  My initial cheapskate way of thinking was to start with all stock EL34. When time comes, I will then swap 1 or 2 different KT tubes so as to mix+match them to the sound of my liking!  After all, adaptive autobiase should take care of everything, right? 😅

At any rate, swapping all 8 tubes for non-HP vs 16 on HP monos is indeed costlier.  I also read the non-HP mono would only output 36w if using EL34 triode mode (my speakers min requirement is 40w).  Going straight to KT 120 or 150 would probably bump up the price close to the HP version with EL34.  That’s why I am weighing against these two, both are great amps.

What made you decided with KT150 instead of 120 or 88?

Hi interesting thread, I got a question, is the dialogue premium any good with power hungry speakers like magnepans or is the hp more realistic for speakers like that?
I used the EL34 for a while, and liked them.  I also tried KT120 but I found they had a bit of "glare" to them.  I tried a lot of things to make it better, and they sounded good, but not as sweet as the EL34.  Moving to the KT150 is the best of both worlds.  Sweet mids, clean highs, nice bass, good power, and good balance.  

Don't underestimate tube power.  Unless your speakers are really inefficient, like 85db or less, you should be fine, even with the EL34s.

soundermn - I see you’re very experienced in tube rolling and taking your hifi to next level.  Could you please describe “glare” on KT120 and the type of music exhibit this?  

Reason being is that I found whenever I listen to orchestra type of music, with multiple instruments such as piano, cymbals, drums, violins, etc., I do often find the highs or trebles were a bit harsh and no clear sound separation.  The only time I heard a clear separation (non-harsh) was auditioning a pair of B&W 800 D3 by listening to the same music.  The rest of B&W range (e.g. 802, 803, 804) couldn’t attain the same performance.  The 800D3 was paired with Classe’ amps retailed around 50k+, which is probably inline with price / expectations.  Considering the fact that I enjoy tubes sound and tube rolling flexibility, I may experiment with the PL amps to attain closer to my ideal sound.

barruch86 - there seems to be a consensus that HP would be well-suited in driving power hungry speakers.  Perhaps you can check with the owner named bluesy41 in this forum (also owns Magne and happy with HP).  Bluesy41 can be seen in a thread posted here (rare occasion reported PL destroyed speakers):

I think the best way I could describe it is that it sounded like there was "fuzz" around the vocals.  The highs were there, and could be crispy and nice... but sometimes it would sound a little biting or harsh such that it made you turn it down a little.  That was more noticeable to my GF than to me, but I heard it too.  But, the most noticeable to me was the fuzzy sound around mids, especially vocals.

What you are describing sounds like something else.  More like a system mismatch or a problem with the listening space.
Oh, and you asked about musical preference.  We listen to classic rock, blues.  I could always hear this fuzzy sound with Mark Knopfler, or Rickie Lee Jones, for example.