Primaluna DiaLogue Premium preamp

Hello all.

I just wanted to drop a quick note to the forums stating that I purchased a Primaluna DiaLogue Premium preamplifier about a month ago from Upscale Audio.. (thanks Kevin for your help).. and wanted to convey in some way how pleased I am with my purchase. I was using a solid state unit for a lot of years [at nearly three times the cost] and as much as I enjoyed that unit, the Primaluna is in another league compared to quality of sound,which of course, would be the reason why any of us look to upgrade our systems.

This preamp has a fantastic way of causing the natural sound of the music to ebb and flow that only a well made tube pre can do. As expected, the mid's on this unit are glorious and just plain sound like real music, communicating to my ears what tubes do so well,that is...a naturally organic and there.. musical presentation.

Also,as much as the mid's impress, the highs and lows are just as good as the mid's. The bass on this pre just plain rocks. This thing digs deep and does so without any reservation. I never would have thought that a tube preamp could have better bass performance than my solid state unit..but for me,in my system, without a doubt, it most certainly does. I'm guessing the high build quality and the massive transformers used in this design are the reasons why it digs so deep, and does so without apologies.

The highs are yet another fantastic area where the Primaluna grabs your attention, and I mean so in a most positive way.The highs are very natural and revealing at the same time, without any added fatigue or brightness in presentation.That in and of itself is a rare combo for any piece of kit...let alone one that is so reasonably priced,that is.. by high end standards.

The reviews of this preamp online by some of the better rags out there are a fair and truthful assessment of the virtues of this preamp. I can also give the Primaluna my highest recommendation to anyone looking for a musical component that really does deliver the goods in a smart and beautiful package.

I would like to thank Primaluna for a great job in the design, build, and sound quality of this DiaLogue Premium Preamplifier. And to do so at a fair asking price is the icing on the cake.....

Kudos Primaluna!!
Curious What the rest of your system is, that you are using the Premaluna preamp with?
Hello Jriggy. I am feeding the Primaluna pre to Merrill Audio Veritas mono amps which in turn drive my Sonus faber Olympica 3's...
Why do they use those 5ar4 tubes? I look at the CJ ET3SE and VTL 2.5i and ARC preamps and they don't use them. Why not?

I just looked up Cary and they don't either except on the SLP-05 but that's like $9k or something.

Sorry to be a pain.
Tube rectification is the preferred way to do it in preamps as well as source components (like the Modwright Oppo). It means the circuit path is really tube. It costs a lot more to do it this way which is why you typically see it in very expensive products. The preamp in this thread like all PrimaLuna preamps uses two 5AR4 rectifier tubes. They have to as they are dual mono with discreet parts for both channels.

But you won't see it much in power amps and integrated amps because when the amp is pushed you can get voltage sag. Some guitar amps have it, but they LIKE the sag and the way that music compresses. But in high end audio, it's really not desirable. Cary has 5U4 rectifier tubes in the SLI-80, but it's not purely tube as it's also got some solid state elements.

I'm glad the publisher of the thread likes the preamp. I use one myself and it's the best I've ever had. And I have a very large collection of the best tube gear in my personal stash (It's a big passion for me)
I've been intrigued by PL for a while now, and especially by the Dialogue preamp. My current preamp is a ARC LS27, how would the Dialogue compare to it, any opinions? I'll have to find a local dealer.

My system consists of
VPI Classic 3, Ortofon Cadenza
Zesto Andros
Classe CA-M300
Sonus Faber Cremonas
Well I finally pulled the trigger and bought a PrimaLuna Dialogue Premium preamp and matching HP power amp. I would have been happy with the integrated but I wanted to get something that I would not have to replace ever and I contacted many owners here privately to see if they are happy after the newness where's off. I may end up getting some Magicos or Wilsons later and being able to mono bloc the amps, as well at being able to run KT150's seemed to be a good idea.

As to the preamp: I spent a lot of time with different preamps. What's important to me is a natural organic midrange. I use high Rez downloads but have also started streaming using the higher quality Pandora and more recently Tidal. We're it not for tubes streaming would not be listenable. If anyone out there streams I would encourage having a a tube preamp as a minimum and better yet also an amp.

I tried an ARC LS17SE. It was just a no go. I felt it held things back. So I went to the LS27. Now we're talking. Better in every way in comparison, BUT I then tried a Cary SLP05 and the mids were fuller. The LS27 uses the 6h30 tube so there was no way to use a different brand of tube to get the midrange liquidity I wanted. The Cary has 6SN7's and you CAN roll them, but they are expensive and it seemed like using different types may not be great. But still the Cary was my fav.

I also tried a VTL 2.5i. It was less money than the Cary, and uses 12AU7 tubes which is where I wanted to be for tube rolling. I liked it OK.

I also looked into the Conrad Johnson but after seeing the complaints from owners about noise and microphony problems I passed.

So now I was pretty satisfied and looked into the PrimaLuna. The Cary has a 5AR4 rectifier tube in it, and I feel that had an influence on the liquidity in the mids. But I did a side by side with the Primaluna (doing ANY side by side was almost impossible) and BANG there it was. The liquidity I wanted, but more important the noise floor dropped. I didn't realize that there was any noise before until I heard it removed. That's something I have to stress. There is, with many preamps, a very low level hash not even perceptible if you look for it. The only way you know it's there is to have it gone.

The Primaluna uses 12au7 tubes and that's great. I've looked and there are so many types of new old stock its dizzying . The build is impeccable. From another planet compared to the VTL and lower priced ARC.

The store I bought it from put the full court press on me to buy the ARC. They pushed. But after I bought the Primaluna from them the store owner said something funny "I wished they charged more for it". I stinks that they were motivated by higher dollars so much.

But I also wanted a matching amp that is world class and not a hassle to own. Even he admitted Audio Research amps require more hand holding that I'm not willing to do.

If anyone has suggestions about tubes and the Primaluna I would like to hear about it if you can post please. I don't feel a single urge to change a thing but people tell me it's a lot of fun.
Congrats on completing your journey! Amperex tubes from the Heerlen plant in Holland are known for their nice midrange. There is a variety of their 12au7 designated 7316 that is supposed to be one of the great 12au7 varieties.

I would talk to Kevin Deal at Upscale Audio. He has a post above. He is very knowledgeable about tubes and PrimaLuna gear. He could probably help you find the right tubes with less trouble than most.
I will wholeheartedly second Tomcy6's recommendation of the Amperex 7316's . I have tried most all of the 12AU7 iterations (thanks Bigshutterbug) and found these to be the best throughout the frequency spectrum and musicality .
When used with the Shuguang Black Treasure 6CA7 power tubes I am done rolling tubes ! I have tried various EL-34's , 6L6 , KT-88 and KT-120 power tubes .
A caveat , I am using the Dialogue Premium Integrated , not separates .

Happy Tunes
I purchased a Primaluna Dialogue Premium preamp about six months ago.

I ran into a bit of trouble with it early on and Kevin Deal took care of it. He spent a lot of time on the phone with me and arranged a local inspection and repair. It turned out to be a bad capacitor, which was replaced, and it is running just fine now.

The Dialogue Premium replaced a W4S Preamp. Both are very resolving but the Primaluna has more life to it and you can see deeper into the music. I had a Prologue One in my system earlier and the Dialogue Premium is much more resolving than the less expensive unit.

The rest of my digital system is Cullen cables, a Ric Schultz modified Oppo 105, W4S ST1000 amp, and Maggie 3.6 speakers with one DWM woofer (I am looking for another used DWM).

The old adage is true that some recordings sound good and others sound bad. The Dialogue Premium will let you hear vocal syllibance if a recording is a little bit too "hot".

My system tends towards the lean side of neutral and I installed two GE 1950's 12au7's, which added the bloom and substance that I wanted to hear.

The Dialogue Premium is a tank at 50 pounds with separate power supplies and tube rectification. For what it is worth, the technician that worked on it said that it was very cleanly laid out and the workmanship was of high quality.

I am happy with it and would think that my next upgrade would be some thing other than the preamp.
Thanks. I'm buying speakers and will most likely do tubes to fine tune. I called Upscale and Kevin was terrific and though people came up to him saying someone else was calling for him he said he's call them back and stayed with me to talk about not where I'm at now but where I'm trying to go and that was refreshing. Dealers don't do that. They just blurt out "this is the best" without asking anything about me.

He has some 7316's he said but would have to find them and if I want some he would try. He said that they are the same thing as an Amperex 12AU7 but they were designed for early computer use and read some stuff from an Amperex book. At that point it was over my head.

He said that I could use most any tubes I want. But the speakers I'm looking at are slightly demanding so he mentioned KT150. I'm going to investigate.

I am extremely happy with my choice in PrimaLuna. I like fine mechanical things like cars and watches.

I'm trying to think about how I would compare PrimaLuna. Maybe like a BMW M3. Incredibly fast and as quick as Italian exotics on a track but not priced like one. And you can drive it every day. Had I spent more it would have been for ego.
I have found the 7316's to be the best of many different 12AU7 iterations that I have tried . I don't think that you will be disappointed with them .
I have found that using only 2 on each side in the 2 front most sockets with a Primaluna 12AU7 in the last position on each side to be enough of a good thing . When I tried 7316's in all of the positions , I could not discern any difference than the above combination of 4 7316's and 2 PL 12AU7's . The PL's are quite neutral in their presentation .

Good Luck
Brent Jesse's website indicates he has Amperex 7316s; the Tubestore indicates Matsushita 7316s, a couple of others have them as well
I know there's a lot discussed already but boy do i wish they would have made a balanced version.
Isn't tube or SS rectification technically not part of the signal path? I use a couple of well designed (Dennis Kager and Bob Burriss) tube guitar amps with both options and my stereo tube hifi amp is SS rectified, so the score around here is currently 2 to 1 (not counting SS pro amps and my class D bass amp).
I asked that question before I bought my PrimaLuna. The top of the line preamps from Audio Research, BAT, and a number of others use tube rectification or regulation, and so my assumption would be it is better if it is possible $$$ wise.

I had looked at the Cary SLP05 preamp, and it uses a single 5AR4 rectifier tube. The PrimaLuna uses one for each channel.

I have to say I took mine off the rack and removed the bottom panel and it is incredible. I am amazed by the insides and even the finish of the chassis. It's a rich gloss paint. Very nice and a far cry from flat black that others use.

I am also thinking about changing the rectifiers. I got the message from Kevin that using the Philips 5R4GYS isn't automatically an upgrade. It is warmer. The preamp is so perfect stock I don't know if I want to take a chance. I suppose I could keep them for a rainy day.
Not an answer to my question, but makes me continue to wonder why an item converting AC to DC outside of the signal path would make anything "warmer" or otherwise, although tubes do get physically warmer by nature. The wonder of wondering.
"I am also thinking about changing the rectifiers. I got the message from Kevin that using the Philips 5R4GYS isn't automatically an upgrade. It is warmer. The preamp is so perfect stock I don't know if I want to take a chance. I suppose I could keep them for a rainy day."[quote/] Therealist

I understand your hesitancy to make any changes, I initially had the same thught. However, I am using the Philips 5R4GYS and feel the warmth they add is of significant benefit. For me, this takes the sound of the PrimaLuna, in my system, up another meaningful notch.
Great thread. I’m think of buying the Dialogue PreAmp. Good information here. 
Many users with 2+ years on their Preamps want to tell us their experience over time? 
Tube rolling? Etc. 
Rumor has it that Prima Luna is going balanced on their top tier product line... I don't know if there will be an across the board reworking of parts quality or not. Would be nice to see a PL Dialogue 'SE' preamp..if so..I would be all in.
aolmrd1241, congrats on your purchase.

If you want to surprise yourself, buy a pair of Shuguang coke bottle 5U4Gs and use them in the rectifier sockets. imaging will open up, you'll get a bit more air....really nice improvement.

Great thread—you all helped me cross the line and I’ve purchased the PL Dialogue preamplifier. It is a nice looking unit with good weight to it. 
The sound is very wide and taller than ever soundstage! So far it seems quiet and good on tonality—not too lush or warm, I thought it might be warmer than it is, but tube rolling could fix this if necessary. 
Bass seems good and balanced. 
I’ll write more as I get a weekend to listen critically, so far very enjoyable and the remote control volume is a first for me in nearly 20+ years—I may gain weight, lol!

Question, does the phase/polarity function work with this preamplifier? Or is that for the PL CD player?
Thanks for the heads up johnss...

kaufman...The pre does not have the phase inversion,cd player only.