ALL TUBE OUTPUT TRANSFORMER-COUPLED HEADPHONE AMPLIFIER
One of the best headphone amps in the world. Most tube integrated amps and preamps use a solid-state op-amp chip for running headphones. Stand-alone tube headphone amps will vary in quality like any other tube amp. Headphones are simply small speakers that require less power. Some amps will use smaller output tubes that groan to have enough dissipation to run power-hungry planar headphones. Other brands, including those costing $5,000 or more like Mal Valve, will use larger output tubes, then use a voltage divider network to drop the power down to an acceptable level for headphones. This is how they do it. They simply took advantage of the fact that they make the best tube integrated amplifiers. Now you don’t have to pay for a separate state-of-the-art headphone amp. PrimaLuna integrated are the favorite of owners who use everything from Audeze to Hifiman to Sennheiser!
BAD TUBE INDICATOR
PrimaLuna engineers wanted to make owning a tube amp so simple you would have no excuse not to have your tube dreams come true.
If a tube fails, Adaptive AutoBias will instantly put the amplifier into protection mode so no parts can get damaged. A red LED will light up in front of the tube that needs replacing. (ProLogue Classic illuminates an LED on the front panel.) Simply plug in another tube, and listen. No guesswork. No smoking amp. No getting out the soldering iron.
CUSTOM TOROIDAL POWER TRANSFORMER
Power transformers generate two types of noise, magnetic and acoustic. That’s why toroidal power transformers are used in the very best audio products. Compared to standard transformers, toroids radiate about 1/10 the magnetic field that pollutes music and obscures detail. Additionally, the absence of an air gap typically means toroids have an 8:1 reduction of acoustic noise. As transformers are the most expensive components in any audio product, manufacturers will even house cheaper C-core and EI-core transformers in an outboard power supply box with an umbilical cable rather than upgrade to an expensive toroid. The increased cost is significant, but PrimaLuna doesn’t cut corners. All PrimaLuna products use massive, potted toroidal transformers. PrimaLuna transformers are enclosed in a metal housing and then potted in a non-microphonic resin to further reduce noise and to protect the windings from moisture and deterioration forever.
CUSTOM SUPER-WIDE-BANDWIDTH OUTPUT TRANSFORMERS
Output transformers are the most important part of any tube amp. They determine how low the bass will reach and how high the top end goes. 250 watts of power will have no top and bottom extension if the output transformers don’t have the bandwidth. Primaluna uses lower power to extend tube life, and bandwidth to give you slam. Transformers are the most expensive components in an amplifier, so manufacturers save money by using ‘off the shelf’ units available on the market. PrimaLuna output transformers are custom-designed, wound in-house, and massive. One reason why no other brand sounds like a PrimaLuna. “The flat tops and bottoms of these squarewaves correlate with the amplifier’s extended low-frequency response; PrimaLuna’s output transformers are of excellent quality.” -John Atkinson, Stereophile Magazine
What most companies call Auto Bias is actually “Cathode Bias”- A commonly used method that is cheap to make, and often found in guitar amps, but also $20,000 high end audio amps. It reduces the available power of the amp and runs the tubes hard, meaning shorter tube life and failures via “shorts”.
PrimaLuna’s Adaptive AutoBias is a true, smart technology employing an array of sensors to monitor tubes and make adjustments seamlessly in real time. More important, it is the ONLY circuit of its kind that is truly “adaptive” by addressing “tube pinch off” at higher volumes, therefore reducing distortion by over 50% and greatly extending tube life. Adaptive AutoBias is completely passive and NOT in the signal path. The result is low to no maintenance, long tube life, and the lowest possible distortion for amazing sound.
POINT TO POINT WIRING
You spend a lot of money on interconnects. So why have the signal go right from the RCA jacks or speaker terminals into circuit boards with copper traces so thin you can hardly see them? What’s high-end about that
PrimaLuna employs Point to Point Wiring on all products. The entire signal path, including resistors and capacitors, is painstakingly hand wired with heavy-gauge cable by craftsman.
NO INTERNAL DAC / NO INTERNAL PHONOSTAGE
Never buy an integrated amp with an internal DAC. Why? Because digital changes, and history shows that integrated amps with “old” digital become unwanted and have almost no resale value.
Built in phonostages are “throw in” and are rarely good quality because manufacturers assume 90% of buyers won’t use them. The external phonostage market is very competitive. You can get something much better for as little as $200, and buy one that actually meets your cartridges needs and YOUR budget.
SMARTWATTS – EXTENDED TUBE LIFE
Tube life is simply a matter of how hard you run the tubes. That’s it. The only way to extend tube life is to run them as close to zero as you possible can, making sure it is not so low you go into crossover distortion. The life of a tube will depend on two things: Plate and screen voltage.
If the plate and screen voltage is high, you are more likely to get tube shorts when you turn the amp on and you get cathode stripping which greatly effects the cathodes ability to spit out electrons. Manufacturers that run the hell out of tubes to pump up their power ratings will never tell you what voltages they use. They’ll say it’s “proprietary” as if it’s some secret sauce. There is no such thing. But if they told you that they used 575, 600, or even 625 volts you probably wouldn’t buy. they proudly tell you our tubes run at just about 417 volts for the plates and screens.
PrimaLuna runs their output tubes at a minimum dissipation without going into crossover distortion. When you look at our amps, they provide less power from each tube. With KT-120’s as an example, a PrimaLuna will give you only 21 watts per tube. So running a pair of them you get 42 watts. That’s a lot of power, but the demands per tube are a fraction of some manufacturers that give you 100 watts from a pair of KT-120’s. It’s a cheap way to get big power, and it’s cheap. In fact, free. To get more power the right way is expensive. It requires bigger transformers, sockets, wiring, resistors, capacitors, and the tubes to do it. Which is exactly what PrimaLuna did. But they didn’t stop there.
Read this carefully: Power has nothing to do with sound quality. Or bass slam. You can buy a 200 watt receiver for $299, and it will even have surround sound. Do you think for a minute it will sound better than a 50 or 100 watts high end amp costing $10,000? Of course not. Only first-time buyers think that way. Experienced audiophiles know that for the majority of listening sessions, you use maybe 10 watts of power.