I've known Kevin Deal for many years, he's a stand up guy. I've bought NOS tubes and talked with him on the phone countless times and sent large amounts of cash for specialty products. He is an honest person.
Take that and balance with today's market, where there is so much high priced audio I don't see how a product as competitively prices as PrimaLuna can rightfully be referred to as crap.
Everyone is entitled to an opinion but the times I sat in front of PrimaLuna at CES I heard much to be admired and fit and finish are good too. As for better in this category? Another Audiogon member will have to fill in the blanks here.
I've listened to several PrimaLuna products and find all of them to be excellent in build quality and top notch performers for the price. I also agree with Albert's comment about Kevin Deal. I have had many dealings with Kevin through the years and he has always been wonderful.
I own the Prologue One and it is an outstanding integrated amp with dynamic, musical sound. It is built like a tank and has point to point wiring. You can tube roll it to your heart's delight because it is self-biaing. It received a high recommendation from Absolute Sound, no sliuches when it comes to rating equipment. I listen to mine every day. Anyone who says PrimaLuna is crap hasn't heard one.
I've been using PrimaLuna products (PL One, Three, and Five)for over three years. They are far from CRAP! and at least competitive in their price range. Well built, very flexible tone wise with tube selection, and hassle free with either the units themselves or their distributor Kevin Deal.
However, I have found that there is far more synergy between PL units than used seperately with other amps/pre-amps, at least with the Three and Five amp/pre-amp. As I read reviews this caveat seems to extend to some of their high end amps as well. I have not liked the Three with other amps (except a Mesa Baron) as the upper frequencies seem a bit rolled, nor the Five with other pre-amps, as the bass really thins out. But that is just my experience.
When I find myself with an extra $10K or so I'll start exploring some better stuff.
My sense is that those who say that they are crap are just painting them with the same brush as every other product made in China and this pushes hot buttons for some people. But the Primaluna amps that I have heard, are well made and sound good. There are some nice American made alternatives. The Rogue integrateds are nice and include phono stages as well. If you are looking for seperates, Quicksilver makes some nice monos starting at a grand a pair. If country of origin is not of issue, ASL and Jolida get mixed reviews but make some interesting products.
I am not sure how well my Prologue Two will match with differ speakers, but when I auditioned Prima, for the first time, Sonus Faber Auditor M monitors sounded simply wonderful, CD player was Ayre CX7E. Then I paired my Canton CD100 with it and was blown away, never thought such sound can be produced from speakers like this. I already rolled pre amp section tubes and the sound become less lush/tuby, but more open, airy and detailed without loosing the musicality. Right now looking for some KT88 upgrade, which possible, bring this baby to the next level. Speaking of power tubes rolling, its endless: KT88,6550, KT90, EL-34, KT77, 6CA7, 6L6GC, KT66, 7581, EL37, and any of their equivalents. Means, you can tune the sound to your liking. Of course, the most influence comes from pre amp tubes, but the choice over there is more than enough to satisfy any needs. So, if someone says that all this are CRAP, their ego is just hanging on their ears. Just go and audition one.
I have the Prologue 2 and have had zero problems with it in almost two years . I can't compare it to a great many other pieces but what I have heard does not better it by much if at all . With different tubes , I would/have , put it up against Cayin and Cary pieces of the same circuit topology ie. PP integrateds using the Kt88 , El34 etc. tube family. It is a bit of a cameleon , as you can obtain many different sounds with numerous tube combinations .
Is it the best ? That is subjective . Is it a good value ? I think so . If you don't like it , you can turn it over rather easily .
Thanks for all the replies! In the near future i may have the possibility from a dealer to audition at my house an Arcam, PS audio, Primaluna and a tentlabs hybrid, which looks the buissines but isn't a heavy marketed and known brand... http://www.tentlabs.com/index.html It can als be bought as an easy DIY job.
I own the PL model 7 mono amps. Because the speakers in my current (pardon the pun) rotation need more juice than these provide, I'm generally running an ARC VT 130 SE. However, with appropriately matched speakers, the model 7s sound very much like (though certainly not identical to)the much more expensive ARC amp. They also auto-bias and allow oodles of tube rolling options. Fit n finish is top notch. IMHO, the PL 7 monos represent excellent value.
From Tentlabs i do know they have a magnificient cd player but i can't find any reviews of it's hybrid amp.
In the meantime i came across this page with very intresting products... www.sacthailand.com/Amplifier.... I has a 70 Watt Mono block SET amp and a very affordable Push pull using KT88. With the litte info i found it made me belief these amps are one of the finest in "High End" available and at affordable prices. Some review quotes... www.sacthailand.com/Amplifier.... Not sure, but maybe they are head and shoulders above PrimaLuna amps??
But i can' find any dealer to audition them in my country.