Separates will be quieter and better in most cases.
Tube Integrated vs Tube Seperates
I’m looking into buying a tube setup. Thinking it will be Primaluna because I find tube amps a bit intimidating and I will be putting lots of hours on it. Because these factors Primaluna seems like at least a good place to start for me. Thanks to all who gave me there impressions in my previous post about Primaluna. Anyway, looking for people’s take on tube integrated vs tube seperates. Really what I’m looking for in the move is more holographic soundstage, bloom, air, and an over all more lifelike presentation. Will I get more of these qualities by going Dialogue preamp into Dialogue amp, or with the Dialogue HP integrated, or will it be very similar? Any thoughts are much appreciated
Separates is going to in most cases get you better power supplies optimized for the job at hand. I would MUCH rather have monoblock amplifiers located within 12”-24” of the speakers and an XLR balanced connection to the preamp. Depending on length of run and RF environment, you might be ok single ended RCA. You could get very close to this with Quicksilver amps and a pre at top end of your budget. What speakers are you running, how big is the room, how loud do you listen ?
I had a PL Dialogue Premium integrated, then the preamp and amp separately, and yes the separates were much better - a lot more clarity and detail. I now have 2 Evo 300 monos that I use a Benchmark LA4 (solid state) preamp with, running Harbeth M30.2 and second Runwell’s comments above regarding Line Magnetic. If you can audition, depending on what speakers you have, the LM is awesome (I have the 845ia) which is only 22 w/ch. For classical and jazz I enjoy this integrated more than any of the above. And it does not have less clarity than the very neutral and detailed LA4 running the PL monos, which to me was amazing. The PL are very nice though also and you can’t go wrong with them. The LM is just more realistic sounding and musical, to my ears. Actually has more ‘snap’ and punch than the PL.
Sorry, but I think you’d be misguided to ignore the Line Magnetic suggestion. And I’ll add the Octave V40 SE, which I think will also stomp it in terms of imaging and holography. Pretty sure I saw a review where Octave stomped PL, but I’m not gonna search for it and I could be wrong. Im not saying the PrimaLuna is bad at all — they’re excellent. But, for what you’re looking for in terms of imaging holography, I think both LM and Octave would be superior. But, that’s up to you. FWIW, and Best of luck. .
Speakers are Harbeth C7es3 xd. Room is 12x24 open on the back left half. I listen typically in the 80db range but at times peaks are well into the 90db range.
octave is a company m don’t know much about, but I appreciate their look, and they seem well built. I will read up on them a bit more
Line Magnetic I find fascinating but I worry they aren’t a great amp to run for as many hours as I’d be using them. I could be wrong though.
I used Tubes for 50 years . There are no really good ones made or used ,
2 small d's are it ,
He used tubes for 50 years then swapped to small class d amps, that's a silver with gold trim and really big FEET. It also says English is not his native language and actually he is a she.. She has a dog named Spot.
There you go a complete translation. :-)
I think you are very close to making the wrong choice.
Prima Luna goes out the front door and Cayin goes out
the back. Same Chinese factory or so I have read.
If you plan high usage then a US based service option
will be important. ARC I-50, $5k new. Made in MN.
Rogue Audio-made back east for even less.
If I was going overseas to save money, the LM
line has great SQ. The Wilsenton ?? $2,500
has great reviews too.
The Harbeth like power and current. Do some more
homework before you buy.
Always go separates if you can swing the purchase. That gives you flexibility down the road to switch to solid state on either pre-amp or amp if you want to change something up. I heard a Primaluna EVO 300 a year ago when looking to upgrade. Really nice integrated amp. Great soundstage and clarity. I ultimately went with full tube separates and a different manufacturer, but the Primaluna stuff was the runner up for me.
Run 2x class-D monoblocks.
I have PL amp, and a different tube pre. So I kinda agree that a Tube Pre and come class-D Purifi or similar could be a sensible approach.
(Or sensible to me)
“D”s should never be small… and double-Ds should be move the cones around.
@brylandgoodman you had commented that "Line Magnetic I find fascinating but I worry they aren’t a great amp to run for as many hours as I’d be using them. I could be wrong though."
I've had some interest in Line Magnetic for a while, but never had the impression that there would be an issue with how many hours you could put on them. Was your impression in reference to how long the tubes would last or the actual amp failing after extended usage?
I was in your situation (same budget) and went with the PL EVO 300 and for the money, I personally think it’s a great value. Upgraded to KT-88s and NOS preamp tubes and it never looked back.
For those who bash the made in China and potential service issues, I’m not sure where the logic is to that argument. These are well designed and well assembled and not sure why a non-Chinese worker would do such a superior job! And I have found Upscale Audio to be excellent with their service.
The 'idea' of separates makes sense, except when it comes to well made integrated from high quality makers which surround us these many years.
IMO you can give up a lot: convenience of unified features, reduced cost, size/weight/heat/placement issues for an 'idea' that will yield no actual perceptible difference if it is a high quality maker.
Power supplies: everything comes from separate circuit first to my Furman's capacitors, then to unit's capacitors. Everything goes thru the tiny wire in the tiny fuse, so thin hard to see. Meters typically show .01 w all the way up to a few watts most of the time, an occasional needed spurt from ...
I just bought a nice (get ready for the formerly dreaded word) Receiver, a Yamaha CR-1040, what a beauty, beautifully made, not tubes but sounds terrific, what convenience for that system!
Did you ask Prima what difference they think you will actually perceive?
I've moved between integrated and separates a number of times throughout my 30+ years in this wonderful hobby. At your price point there are many excellent options. I owned a PrimaLuna HP and rolled power tubes up to KT 150. I really enjoyed the sound quality until I committed to streaming at which time I wanted to play with preamps. Anyway today I own separates and would suggest you strongly consider the same if for no other reason the flexibility they offer. Just my 2 cents.
Thanks for all the input. I’m leaning towards seperates right now. I do like that it gives me more flexibility. My main concern going tubes is power. I’ve used high power solid state for a long time. If I go seperates I can easily keep the preamp and move back to solid state for the power if I think that’s needed. I do have a little concern over 30-40 watts being enough, but I think I’m going to give it a shot and see how it works out. The hp Primaluna is really only a 3db difference. When I look at it from that perspective doubling the tubes for 3db doesn’t make much sense to me.
You're overthinking your curiosity about trying tubes
All the mag/user reviews established the brand for a 18 years now as a go to for tube curious.
There are a few good PL listings to check out. Escospecially the Dialogue monoblocks.
Happy user since 2010. Sure there are nearly endless choices with another brand having "X" feature, but PL will likely match it with overall value for what you get. Build quality is second to none.
There is always something "better" with ALL audio gear, so get that out of your decision process.
Forget about SET if worried 30-40 WPC not being enough. Heat will be of some concern, usually more heat with more power. I'd stick to push pull amps, fairly low power. Still like your PL inclinations as you can switch out a variety of power tubes with minimal fuss.
I owned my PL Dialogue Four (self modded with latest PL models Takman resistors and a few other extra mods) at same time as many multiples of price SET amps, I didn't feel deprived with PL. Don't let naysayers of PL throw you off. Not saying there's not other good choices, I've also owned Cary and Conrad Johnson push pulls, its just in same price range your comparing apples to apples.
I'm going to change my mind about an integrated and suggest a tube preamp and a solid state amp. If you are burning lots of hours you'll be changing power tubes often. The tubes in a tube pre-amp last a long time. That will get you everything you want.
My Primaluna Evo 400 power amp is so reliable and well made that it is a little bit boring. I sometimes wish I had gotten something I could manually bias every now and then. I’m being totally serious. I made my decision based entirely on the first time fear of tubes and favorable user feedback.
If anything, the Primaluna’s preamp weak point is the Alps volume knob. It’s actually a good part but you want something better at that price point. A high quality stepped attenuator would have been better.
I feed my Evo 400 amp via a Don Sachs preamp. This is a good setup up for sure.
If you’re going all Primaluna then go separates.
What’s truly great about starting with this brand is that you can try just about any tube you want and that’s a huge advantage.
The Evo line is a level step higher than the Dialogue Premium line. I have demo’d both.
Knowing what I know now, I would have gotten a Line Magnetic or a Luxman class A integrated.
Primaluna is something I should have tried much earlier in my journey.
Also, I got Primaluna because I thought I would eventually trade up to a better amp as my knowledge and comfort level of tube gear grows and that the tube rolling would have helped expedite this process.
Unfortunately, in a way, the ownership experience has been so good that I’ve become torn about upgrading. The power tubes are now 7581As and this sounds great. More efficient Tannoy speakers were also a great match...so this isn’t helping either, lol. I’m staying a bit too long with the Primaluna and may paradoxically just end up not trading up. All good problems to have I suppose.
well you should go for a mid 90s to 2010 vintage audio research tube amp
you will experience the excitement of tube biasing with multi meters, probes and j clips in tight quarters 😂
.... and of course, wonderful wonderful sound too!
If an amp designer/tweaker messed around enough with the PL's auto bias setup, there likely is a work around to bump up the bias- like an auto tuner fiddling with a motor.
Otherwise, those of us who are content with PL gear may know the rest of the puzzle-speaker/source and room are equally important.
Think I am going to pick up a Primaluna Dialogue preamp and power amp. The seller has a set of kt150s as well as el34s, and kt88s. I’m going to buy at least the el34s and kt150s. He is also local so he said I could bring my speakers and make sure the amp can drive them sufficiently. That I’m super grateful for. Pretty excited to hear my first full tube setup. Hopefully it’s all that I’m hoping it will be.
How about the PL preamp with some Kinki Sudio mono blocks. The KS are $3500 for the pair. You get tube sound with great power and all separate. Short speaker runs are better.
"Separates will be quieter and better in most cases." and why would that be the case? less interconnects with intergated hardware, less circuit less everything....
@canibefrank The most weakness of the integragted amplifier is that the pre and power inside used the some electric source, and then splite energy inside,so the pre affect the power, and power affect the pre, which suppose to be independent.
Pre has very important job to do and the job is quite different from amplifier.
The name pre is not suitable at all, it is called magnifier. so the siginal from the CD or streamer should first go magnify and then amplify and then go to speaker.
That is the procedure, but in integrated, they merge the step 1 and step 2 into one step. That is the reason.
The preamp section of tube integrated amps is usually pretty weak - like a 12au7 or 2, ugh. The volume control quality is also crucial, and often compromised here compared to what you’d get in a standalone pre.
In some ways it seems like a good idea - eliminate an interconnect w/ contact connections, and the preamp stage can be designed exactly for a known load. But the reality is it takes away real estate and budget from making the power section as great as it could be. A high end integrated could be done better with a larger budget but that’s not usually the target market, and so integrated amps usually file in towards a line’s entry level offerings, compromises and all.
Try a tube preamp like a Reference 6 and see what the fuss is all about for having a dedicated tube preamp with lots of tubes, real estate, and engineering to get this stage right.
Then there will always be an argument from the passive pre guys, saying you don’t need the gain from an active stage and it's all unnecessary coloration. Or that you only need a few dB at most from a very simple circuit, buffer, or transformer. I dunno - maybe that’s ok for a digitally sourced system. I only run vinyl and I need the extra gain available, and love what a good dedicated active pre does sonically.
" Knowing what I know now,I would have gotten a Line Magnetic or a Luxman Class A integrated.
"Primaluna is something I should have tried much earlier in my journey"
Very good words! You talk about the true story! The tube world is very large,and Luxman Class A,even it is SS,can win a lot of tube amplifier. BUT some people do not aware of.
I went to the dealer to listen to the Luxman 595 with Harbeth and walked out with a LM 845ia…which I had not planned to audition or even consider. And yes, they do run a bit hot. You’d be surprised how far 20 watts goes. I generally listen lower though in the 80s at the most and don’t listen to rock. I agree with all the comments about integrateds being compromised in the volume control, etc. That’s why I mentioned in my previous post that I was amazed that I felt no lack in the clarity of the LM. When I owned the PL integrated it was compromised IME in that way in comparison to the PL separates.