PRIMA LUNA PROLOGUE THREE PREAMP - PRIMA LUNA DIALOGUE PREMIUM POWER AMP

MY HISTORY OF VALVES

 

My experiences with Hi-Fi started in 1979 whilst recovering from a serious motorcycle accident. This very first system replaced a little ITT audio unit bought for me by my mother around 1974

Within two years I had replaced the original cheap Garrard deck with a Thorens TD160 BC/Mayware Formula Four/Lentek Entre 1 and replaced the original Trio amplifier with a Naim NAC42 - NAP110 pre/power combo with mc phono boards. Loudspeakers were then IMF Super Compacts

The next change was to a Logic DM101 turntable with a Syrinx PU2 arm, and the same Lentek Entre 1 mc cartridge. Speakers became QLN Mk1's

During the early/mid nineties I changed amplifier for a Musical Fidelity A100 integrated which was a class A biased type. I also changed speakers for a pair of Rogers LS3/5a's. The A100 produced the biggest most expansive stereo image I had ever encountered helped by the speakers of course but these speakers produced a very tizzy/fizzy treble that I just could not live with ultimately

At this time though I developed a longing for a valve amplifier which would not go away

So I ordered and paid for a World Audio Design 300B PP and matching KLP1 preamp that I had built by the company themselves at extra cost. The first thing that struck me when they arrived was the sheer weight of these things. Sound wise I was knocked out. Masses of 'space' and 'air' and delicacy but that fabulous stereo image had gone. There was no three dimensionality to the sound anymore leaving me very disappointed and the amplifier produced quite a distinct hum. Three years later I went back to solid state and a huge gutsy slam of a sound

Next, and with the help of Audio Note AZ-2's, Audion appeared on the scene in the shape of a Sterling ETSE integrated and a 300B SEL integrated. The Sterling was an EL34 amp and had the finest midrange I had ever heard, the 300B SEL producing the most delicate sound I had ever heard. It became apparent to me though that this 'sound' only really suited acoustic music or 'simple' music. It was a truly breathy delicate sound though and not wrong in any way other than to my ears at that time

Along came Arcana Avreavox monoblocks with matching pre, and away they went. EL84 valve and seriously not very impressive

I also managed to listen to an Arion Elektra using 5881 valves and was impressed

I owned a  Yarland Pro200 SE imported from China which lasted about two years. 300B and single ended. Seriously delicate sound as expected from 300B single ended but unfortunately not intended for UK mains and therefore quite dangerous

Here was I at 2011 buying an Icon Audio Stereo 20 PP integrated, a short arse midi sized unit with EL84 valves. I swapped out the pre and driver valves with Gold Lion gold pinned types for a huge difference in sound quality. Then the EL84 valves with Gold Lion gold pinned types for negligable difference in sound. I just don't find the EL84 valve even remotely exciting

At this time I also tried valve/MOSFET hybrid pre/power amps by Croft Acoustics which gave the most phenomenal resolution of detail but quite a lot of money for very lightweight construction to which a friend of mine commented "They'll be nice when they're finished"

So 2017 and I bought a Prima Luna Prologue Three preamp with built in mm phono stage. Beautiful sound and beautiful construction. I then bought a Prima Luna Dialogue Premium power amp with my favourite EL34 valves. Once again beautiful sound and beautiful construction

Sound..? Well, one thing this journey had taught me was that I definitely do not want that old warm wooly valve sound. I want a clean, clinical modern sound that has precision. I want though those classic valve characteristics that set them apart from solid state

This current setup has a very sharply etched treble in the same that my old Audiolab 8000M monoblocks had

The current setup has a gutsy sound that suits music with energy and if I want it the old wooly way then I just flick it to triode mode

The current setup produces a massive three dimensional stereo image with sounds appearing everywhere including right alongside the listener

The current setup essentially produces that classic 'liquid purity' in the midrange that sets it apart from solid state

 

Cambride Audio CXC CD transport - Audiolab M-DAC

Prima Luna Prologue Three preamp

Prima Luna Dialogue Premium power amp

Spendor S3/5R2 loudspeakers

Atlas Hyper interconnects

Tellurium Q Blue speaker cables

 

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