One of the best headphone amps in the world. And the only amp that lets you listen with either the warmth of Triode or the wide-bandwidth of Ultra-linear operation at the push of a button! 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 we do it. We simply took advantage of the fact that we make the best tube integrated amplifiers. Now you don't have to pay for a separate state of the art headphone amp. PrimaLuna integrateds are the favorite of owners who use everything from Audeze to Hifiman to Sennheiser!
Remote controlled Triode/Ultra-linear Switching
Do you have some classic rock albums you used to love so much that have now ended up left on the shelf, un-played for years? How about jazz or classical recordings from the 60’s? Every audiophile has albums that they used to play, but stopped because they are harsh, brittle, or bright. There is a solution.
Triode and Single Ended Triode (SET) amps are popular for their warmer, fuller, and easy to settle into sound. But triode amps have limitations! Ultra-linear has more extension on the top and bottom, not to mention greater power. They have greater “pop” with a bigger difference between light and dark, and loud and soft. Having triode only is VERY limiting.
The best option is to have both triode and ultra-linear. PrimaLuna engineers in Holland designed an ingenious circuit that lets you change from triode to ultra-linear with a push of a button on the supplied remote control. No need to get up and stop the music. Make an instant comparison while you listen and choose what you like best for that song or album.
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. Simply plug in another tube, and listen. No guesswork. No smoking amp. No getting out the soldering iron or dropping your amp off at UPS.
If you bought a lesser amplifier, you would pay hundreds to make this upgrade. Easy to identify through their pink color, these premium resistors from Japan are popular with those who rebuild and upgrade their gear. "Modders" love TAKMAN for their low noise, linearity, and musicality.
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. We use 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
AC Offset Killer - A PrimaLuna Exclusive
AC Offset Killer is about goose bumps. The ones you get when music comes out of a background so quiet, you may say to yourself “Just how is this possible?” PrimaLuna custom-winds our own massive toroidal power transformers that are low in hum and EMI. But we wanted more. Our engineers designed the AC Offset Killer to lower transformer noise to a place no other manufacturer dreams of going, regardless of how bad your electricity is. The result? Sense of space. Texture. The resonance of an acoustic guitar or violin string that seems to trail on forever. The AC Offset Killer will amaze you.
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.
Adaptive AutoBias also provides unparalleled flexibility by allowing use of almost any tube on the market today. It even has a fine-tuning switch for EL-34 and KT88/KT120/KT150 tube types.
Point To Point Wiring w/ Swiss Made Wire
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.
EVO 300 and EVO 400 models use Swiss-made, silver-plated, oxygen-free continuous crystal (OCC) copper with a Teflon dielectric in the critical signal path for superior signal speed and increased clarity. 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.
SuperQuiet Line Inputs
Input selector switches leak noise and signals from other sources, as they never turn off the other inputs completely. And, they deteriorate with age, requiring the use of cleaners. Many are mounted on the front panel requiring long runs of wires to the back panel inputs. These wires pick up stray noise from RF and EMI.
PrimaLuna has a better way. Instead of a switch, input selection is done using premium quality sealed relays mounted in the rear where you plug in your components. When an input is selected, that relay closes giving you the best connection possible. All the other relays are left open, so noise and signals from other sources can’t leak in. The signal path is now almost non-existent, so there are no wires to pick up noise.
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. We 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 we 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.
Our amps are perfect. But your system may not be
Ask any seasoned tube-head what the most musical output tube is and they will most certainly declare it the EL34. Other amp manufacturers would love to use it. Only PrimaLuna, through our proprietary output transformer designs, can give you EL34 midrange beauty with top-end air that goes on forever. And, bass extension with so much slam, our amps are used to power subwoofers.
However, every system is different. What if you bought a speaker with bass that overloads the room? Or, that is too dark? Or, too bright? What if you just want to have fun trying the different colors of sound from a vast pallet of tubes? With other manufacturers' products, you're stuck. They're a one-trick pony. How are you going to fine-tune your sound? Buy some different cables?!
With PrimaLuna, you get to choose. Go for it. 6L6G, 6L6GC, 7581A, EL34, EL37, 6550, KT66, KT77, KT88, KT90, KT120, even the monstrous KT150. A future-proof design, PrimaLuna is compatible with NEW tube types not even thought of today!