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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!