PrimaLuna EVO400 integrated amplifier Associated Equipment

Sidebar 2: Associated Equipment

Digital sources: 16" MacBook Pro M1 Max running Roon 1.8. Roon ROCK (Lenovo ThinkCentre). Bluesound Node 2i streamer. Naim Uniti Atom, controlled through iPad Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max. PureAudio Lotus DAC5, Benchmark DAC3 B, RME ADI-2 DAC FS, Auralic Vega, Musical Fidelity V90.
Preamplifiers: Benchmark HPA4, Naim Uniti Atom, Apt Holman (overhauled and returned to factory specs 2020).
Power amplifiers: Krell FPB 200c (recapped 2020), PrimaLuna DiaLogue Premium HP, Schiit Ragnarok, McIntosh HPA-100.
Loudspeakers: Tekton Moab, MartinLogan Odyssey, on IsoAcoustics Aperta aluminum stands. Subwoofers: Hsu VTF-2 Mk5, Canton 12.3.
Headphones: Audeze LCD-4, HiFiMan HE1000se, Focal Clear, Sennheiser HD600, Oppo PM-3, Monolith M1060.
Cables: AudioQuest, Tara Labs, Kimber, WAudio, Monoprice.
Accessories: Core Power Technologies Equi-Core 1800 MkII and Deep-Core 1800 power conditioners on a dedicated 20-amp circuit. Townshend seismic isolation podiums for speakers and power amplifiers.
Listening room: 22' × 14' 6" with 9' 8" lath-and-plaster ceiling. Hardwood floor over reinforced joists. Moderately damped by large, medium-thick rugs, furniture, and a tall bookcase. Wooden stairs on rear wall lead to an open second-floor landing of about 16' × 10'.—Rogier van Bakel

Durob Audio BV
US distributor: PrimaLuna USA
1712 Corrigan Ct.
La Verne, CA 91750
(909) 310-8540

philipjohnwright's picture

It flowed for me in much the same way I think the Evo 400 did for you.

RvB's picture

Thanks for that kindness — glad you enjoyed the review!

Glotz's picture

Or I assume it was more complex than that..?

RvB's picture

...I wouldn't say the amp is in any way hamstrung with the stock EL34s. It sounds lovely either way. With the KT150 valves, I get marginally better control of the lower bass, and a more expansive soundstage. It's not night and day though. If you do decide to try the KT150s, I'd wait a while until prices stabilize. The tube market's kinda crazy right now. I have a feeling that tube costs will be lower in the fall, or whenever Russia decides to end its ill-advised invasion and sanctions are lifted.

windansea's picture

Enjoyed the mentions of Mesa Baron and Jolida. A Jolida was the first tube amp I heard, back in college. And I still use Mesa, but for my flying V not for hifi.

I don't find tubes to be that tricky, but it's true that some work better for some purposes than others (echoing Kevin Deal's comment). For 12AU7s in my preamp I have NOS Telefunken and a bugle boy, and for unknown reasons, the music sounds more alive with the bugle boy in the gain stage and the tele as cathode follower. I have Psvanes in a smaller setup, but my ears prefer the NOS tubes from reputable sellers (not ebay), especially for line-stage amplification.

imbruceleroy's picture

Thanks for the thoughtful review Rogier. I'm just getting into the HiFi universe and am, naturally, tube-curious. Question to all: Can anyone speak to the differences in sound of the 400 as compared to the other PM integrated amps down the food chain? 300, 200, etc.? I prioritize sound-stage and transparency and never play loud. Wondering if the same sound signature that Rogier described can be had by stepping down the line. Thank you in advance!

RvB's picture

...there's no significant change in sound signature when you go from the 400 to the 300. I've never heard the 200 or 100 so I can't really speak to that. The folks at Upscale Audio should be able to help. My guess is that as long as your speakers are easy to drive, you'll get nearly identical sonics from the "lower" models. Inefficient speakers will do better with increased amplifier power though.

There's also a PrimaLuna owners group on Facebook where everyday users are probably happy to answer your question:

bhkat's picture

I thought that the size of the compact disc was chosen so that it was possible to fit Beethoven's 9th symphony on one disc.

Barry Michael Okun's picture

He said the HOLE in the center of the disc, not the disc itself.

PS -- Love this amp. LOVE LOVE LOVE it. My balm during The Lockdown.

Oldsport's picture

Got one from Upscale for the livingroom. The sound is inviting, relaxed and PRaTful. I prefer 4 ohms. Made a very friendly pairing with Spendor Classic 1/2's.

Jack L's picture


Why not? Anything made in China will cost much less than made-in-original-country. "World-class" or not is another story.

China is a popular OEM for audios nowadays. So tempting for good profit in selling more quantities for lower pricing due to low cost built offshore. Business is business, no charity !

Jack L

Kevin Deal's picture

[[Edit: In case there are people reading this who don't know it: Kevin Deal (who wrote this comment) is CEO of Upscale Audio and Upscale Distribution; the former sells and the latter distributes PrimaLuna.--Jim Austin]]

PrimaLuna has been called things much greater than "World Class" The late, great Art Dudley said "I've never seen a better-built amp" with no qualification as to price.

We always tell people don't buy a damn thing without looking inside to make sure you are getting what you paid for and not fairy dust.

PrimaLuna is happy to compare side by side with any product at any price.

hootyboo's picture

Did the PrimaLuna have any difficulty driving the Martin Logans to realistic volume levels? After all, they are not the most efficient speakers, especially with the cone drivers below. I am asking because I drive mine with a Krell amp, which is fine, but I am curious to try tubes.

Kevin Deal's picture

[[Edit: In case there are people reading this who don't know it: Kevin Deal (who wrote this comment) is CEO of Upscale Audio and Upscale Distribution; the former sells and the latter distributes PrimaLuna.--Jim Austin]]

Rogier can comment, but I thought I might mention there is a guy named Pete Soderberg that worked for MartinLogan for something like 15 years, and he works at Upscale Audio now. Give him a call. Also Sean Smollen. He was a MartinLogan product trainer. They both work at Upscale now.

Jack L's picture

Hi Rogier

I fully agreed to what you heard about PL in triode mode. This sorta 'smoothing' effect has been the typical sonic downside of trioding pentode/tetriode in so many brandname triode-pentode power amps since day one decades back.

This is the historic conventional simple trioding topology employed by most most, if not all, brandname tube amps manufacturers worldwide. It is done by striping the screen grid (G2) to the anode of the pentode/tetrode in the power output stage, directly or indirectly using a serie low-ohm resistor.

Such simple trioding connection puts the screen grid operating the SAME voltage of the plate. This simple & no-cost triode-pentode mode serves a good selling feature for those triode fan lovers, like your truly.

Yet, sonically it makes the orginal punchy forceful sonics of pentode power amp sounds slow, dull like a leaking tire. That's exactly what you called "it takes the edge off" smoothing effect.

That being the case, why install this trioding feature onto the PrimaLuna amp then ? As a sales feature ignoring/without knowing such bad sounding triode effect ?????

Triode power tube always sounds much better than any pentode/tetrode: fast, transparent, silky & melodic. This is due to the signal transfer curves of a triode being linear vs kinked non-linear transfer curves of a pentode/tetrode, e.g. EL-34 etc. This is physics !!!! That's why so many music lovers like true triode music, including me, needless to say.

Despite your pre-review sales pitch for the Dutch designer, it does not change the sonic pitfall the conventional historic trioding pentrode topology he employed. Either he did not do auditioning of his PrimaLuna triode mode prototype enough or he simply took it for granted.

FYI, since I love true triode sound, I spent enough time to experiment the right topology for good triode sound out of a pentode/tetrode, e,g, EL-34 etc. Mainly for economy reason, as triodes, like 300E, 2A3 are very expensive to own , not-that-durable as pentodes & require much more costly complex circuitry.

Instead of the no-cost conventional 'no-brainer' trioding the pentode, the screen grid G2 is connected to the plate of the pentode, e.g. EL-34 etc, BUT with a stabilized potential difference betwen the screen grid & the plate of certain 'optimum' value.

So the trioded pentode is working like a triode BUT with a stablized potential difference between the plate & the screen grid G2.

The sonic improvement is realy rewarding: the pentode now sound like a true triode: silky, elegant & melodic like a true triode, yet retaining the transient, punchy & forceful sonic of a pentode. A sonic combination of both a triode & pentode !!!

My vintage Dynaco ST-70 has been ungraded to switchable triode/ultra-linear mode, using such "plate-G2 split potential' topology for many years now. No sweat! Yet I always set it to triode mode as it sounds soo much better than its factory orginal UL mode.

Listening is believing

Jack L

Kevin Deal's picture

Testify brother. But it's not for every person or every situation. That's why the Triode / Ultralinear switch is on the remote. I use triode at night because of what you said. The house becomes relaxed.

And by the way, females often prefer triode because they have more sensitive hearing than men do.