Wells Audio / AVA Synergy / PrimaLuna DiaLouge Premium HP


Hi all,

I am looking to upgrade my amplifier to power my Salk Audio HT2-TL’s. I’m hoping that with your help, I can decide between there potential options. Here’s a couple bullet points which may help your appreciated guidance:

  • My signal chain is Mac mini > Chord Hugo TT > Cambridge Audio 840A V2 > Salk HT2-TL]
  • I’m running the speakers without a subwoofer, so I would like something that doesn’t skimp on the low end.
  • I’m looking for the silk, buttery, in the room sound, with three dimensionality.
  • I listen at low level late night listening around 40% of the time, medium level 40% of the time, loud "reference" levels 20% of the time.
  • The speakers offer bi-wiring, but I have never taken advantage of it.

Right now I believe I’ve settled on three options:

  1. Wells Audio Majestic Intergraded w/ Internal Upgrades. The upgrades will make the unit sound like the Innamorata according to Jeff Wells.
  2. AVA Synergy 450 Power Amp w/ AVA Tube Preamp
  3. PrimaLuna DiaLouge Premium HP Intergraded

Does anyone have any experience or thoughts between these options?
avdweeb
I've owned Salk HT3, van Alstine big FET hybrid power amp (I think the prior version of your url) and a PL Dialogue One. I visited Frank van Alstine's house a few times to buy my stuff directly from him. He uses the HT3 himself. And he and Salk always show together. I think since you have Salks, you should roll with the AVA.
Yeah, that's one of my thoughts - but Wells Audio is now showing with Salk as well. People say they're one of the most natural amps, and even tube die hards have said its the only solid state they'd buy.

So I guess I'm lost on getting a true tube experience (PL), tube preamp / SS power (AVA, but how Many of the tube benefits would I really gain?) or a great solid state option (Wells).
The innamorata is all it's advertised to be. Most musical I've heard tube or solid state! 

AVA Synergy 450 sounds like a big modern(read not-"tubey") to me /
Fine amp, would hope the innamorata is better as it costs $ 5,000 more !
AVA Synergy 450 sounds like a big modern(read not-"tubey") to me /
Fine amp, would hope the innamorata is better as it costs $ 5,000 more!

Thanks for your response. I guess my question is, if I use a tube pre-amp, how much of the tube sound gets transferred to the power amp / speakers? Would I get more of the desired sound character by just getting a tube integrated, or does the tube pre / solid state power give you the best of both worlds?
I use an Eastern Electric Avant 8 tube  pre with  my Snergy 450 and find
it has more "air" and bigger soundstage than my Bryston BP-6 which is a well-reviewed SS pre . Not by all that much though. If I listened to rock I
would just use a SS . Modern tube gear does not sound as warm and tubey as vintage stuff which rolled off highs and lows to made the "ol
EL-34 sound .
Schubert of course you know that we all tend to loose ability to hear highest frequencies out to 20Khz or so like most can when younger, so the gap between old rolled off tube gear and more full range gear heard back then was larger than what we would hear now.

I used to hear test frequencies of test records in my system up to 20kzh when a young adult. Nowadays I’d be lucky to get too much past 12Khz (I’m 56). "Air" ain’t what it used to be. That’s pretty much all one hears with music at those frequencies.  Its a mixed blessing.   "Air" is great but noise common at higher frequencies unless managed always drove me out of the room.
True map, but current research shows brain can compensate .
current research shows brain can compensate

Interesting.  How?
I use an Eastern Electric Avant 8 tube pre with my Snergy 450 and find
it has more "air" and bigger soundstage than my Bryston BP-6 which is a well-reviewed SS pre . Not by all that much though. If I listened to rock I would just use a SS . Modern tube gear does not sound as warm and tubey as vintage stuff which rolled off highs and lows to made the "ol
EL-34 sound .

So from this it sounds like the tube pre-amp will certainly give some of the benefits, but it's not worthwhile as just getting a single better piece of integrated equipment.
YUP .
Well at this point I think it's going to be between the PrimaLuna and Wells Audio... This'll be tough!!
"Well[s] at this point." 

Good thinking! (;  
Hi all,

I’ve been thinking more about this, and since I’m really interested in trying tubes, I’m leaning towards the PL and a few of its competitors. Does anyone have any thoughts on:

  • Jolida 3502S w/ KT150’s (~$2,000 new)
  • PrimaLuna Dialouge Premium HP w/ EL34's (~$3500-3900 used)
  • Ayon Spirit III w/ KT-150’s ($3750-$4200 used)
Is the jump between these product’s pricing worth it, or if I did an upgrade to the Jolida adding the Bybee parts that contribute to making the Wells sing for $500, would that help close the gap ask still come on $1000+ cheaper?
I have the Jolida Fusion 3502 in silver. I bought it with EL34’s, but several months ago put KT150’s in it. It sounds way better than a $2K amp would suggest. I think it was around $1600 as delivered and I spent an additional $400 on the KT150’s. Biasing can be done with the built-in LED’s or with a voltmeter and a tiny screwdriver. It sounds wonderful. Open, airy, 3D, great vocals, slightly sweet in tone with a big soundstage and plenty of bass. This is truly a great amp to start with tubes. With the KT150’s, I think power is up to about 85wpc, but feels like more.

I do want to try the Primaluna HP series one day (mainly because of auto bias, bad tube indicator and long tube life), but I don’t plan on selling the Jolida.
Hi all,

I wanted to update everyone on how my amplifer search went, in hopes that I can help someone else who is in a similar situation to mine. To cut to the chase - I now have a Line Magnetic 518ia, have done some tube rolling, and I'm absolutely in love with the outcome. Here's a bit more color in to what helped land on this decision.

Living in San Jose, California, I had the luxury of trying out the Wells Audio equipment. Jeff Wells is by far one of the best people I have ever met in the audio industry, and he will go to extreme lengths to ensure his customers are able to experience his sound at whatever price point they can manage. The amplifier I was auditioning from him was basically an integrated Innamorata, and it sounded sublime. Jeff is able to create a sound that simply made both myself and my wife get goosebumps. Unfortunately, the amp came in at a significantly higher (and rightfully so!) price point, it wouldn't fit very well in my non-changeable entertainment stand (WAF), and the casing of the Magestic wasn't as clean as the Akasha / Innamorata (also WAF). So with these factors, I couldn't be completely sold on it. 

Having done an A/B test on the differences between the Wells Audio and my Cambridge 840A V2, and feeling like the Line Magnetic 518ia was in the running based on the recent product of the year finalist award, I did a side by side comparison of my amp and the 518 on another setup with similarly spec'd speakers, and I was simply floored. The 518 sounded so immersive and effortless that I bought it on the spot. Then trouble struck.

When I got the 518ia home, it just didn't have the same magic that it did in the previous listening environment. I was missing bass, depth, and overall synergy with the rest of my system. It didn't sound any better than my 840A V2... The seller was incredible at working with me, and when we looked over of the potential issues of my source, speaker placement, and even the stock tubes - it turns out the major problem was that the Hugo TT outputs at such high levels it can cause clipping. The 518ia really likes to use its preamp stage, so I had to really reduce the output volume of the TT. I drove the seller (and Jeff!) a bit batty because I wasn't getting the sound I anticipated out of the system, but ultimately decided that even though it wasn't quite providing the delta that I had previously experienced (which was also lower in quality to the Wells), for the price compared to the Wells, and upcoming financial obligations, sticking with the 518ia made the most sense. I then set my sights on improving the sound quality with tubes. 

At this point to improve the bass response I've outfitted the Line Magnetic 518ia with a pair of 1957 RCA black plate 12AX7's (also tried some ridge/smooth tele's, but they missed the mark), and a pair of Tungsol 6550's from Terry Kilgore. Overall I'm quite pleased with the system for low and moderate listening levels, and am excited to try additional tubes to improve imaging, depth, and bass (you know, all the good stuff!). I hope this helps someone else, and feel free to reach out with any questions!

Russ


Russ, thanks for the update, and congrats on the LM.  I am very interested in the Majestic - could you perhaps expand a little bit on its sonic qualities?  What speakers/gear/cable did you hear it with?  Would appreciate any input - relatively few people have heard the Majestic, and it's great to get feedback from someone who has. 

Thanks,
Scott
Hey Scott,

To be totally transparent, the Magestic I heard was not a stock Magestic. The unit had been upgraded with all of the components that are inside the Innomarata, so I couldn't give you my honest opinion. With that said, I trust Jeff Wells and his equipment and am sure that you will be thrilled with the Magestic based on other's opinions in this and other threads. Please let me know if there's anything else I can help answer!

Russ
Russ, thanks for the response.  That must have been one heck of an integrated you got to hear!