ProLogue Premium Pre Amplifier
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If you want the award-winning , giant-killing, heart-pumping, music-making DiaLogue Premium Preamplifier, but can’t afford $4,199, there’s no reason to feel sad.
Yes, the DiaLogue Premium gets all the reviews, but only because we can only send a magazine one model to review, so we send the most expensive one. This is what you need to know: The ProLogue Premium preamp is almost an exact DNA match with its big brother. It would take a real expert to tell them apart; either from reading the schematics and build sheet or from the incredible performance.
We say this with calm assurance: The ProLogue Premium is built better and will sound better than $5000 offerings from any of the big name brands.
How can we do that? First of all, we don't overcharge our customers. Don’t buy into the hype. Have you noticed that most companies making preamps for $3000-$5000 will tell you it’s a "miniature version" or it’s "inspired by" their $10-20K flagship model? Look inside, the designs are nothing alike. Listen to us when we tell you this: In the last 10-15 years manufacturers have decided to double their profit margins by putting fewer, less expensive parts in the box. Just a little bit cheaper made every year, so you don't notice it. The product will still sound good because making a preamp is easy, but is NOT worth what they want to charge you. We’re calling them out on this.
There has not been a new design in tube preamps for decades. There have been improvements in some areas, but they are all built in the following ways: Preamps with one or two tubes are either hybrid (cheap to make) or use a lot of feedback. If they have four or more tubes, they use one of several designs, many of which have been around since the 1940's.
The top-tier, most expensive preamps selling for $10,000 or more will have tube rectification so they are "pure tube." Many of these "flagship" preamps will also be dual-mono, so they don’t share parts between channels, yielding better separation. They will have point to point wiring instead of thin printed circuit boards to carry the signal (though even some flagship preamps still use circuit boards). Then, they will use a high-quality analogue potentiometer volume control instead of a $2.50 volume “chip”.
PrimaLuna uses TWO 5AR4 rectifier tubes, one for each channel in a true dual-mono circuit that is all point-to-point wired using the highest quality parts including the awesome Alps Blue Velvet volume control. All things included in this incredible preamp weighing in at an amazing 37.5 pounds.
PrimaLuna buyers are typically well-seasoned tube-heads, and they know all this stuff. If you are new to tube preamps, you can help yourself by doing two simple things: Take the name and model of the product you are considering, and put it into Google. Then, get the weight and click on “Images” so you can see exactly what you are getting inside. Funny, we do that type of investigation in most everything we buy, but only in high-end audio do we get influenced by fairy dust.
We don’t offer fairy dust. We offer world-class European engineering, the finest name-brand parts, and workmanship that’s been declared over and over by experts to be untouchable. Here’s what’s inside:
New front-end circuitry. The ProLogue Premium uses two 12AU7 tubes per channel. The result is even lower distortion and increased bandwidth. The change in dynamic range is stunning! Distortion levels in the first stage have dropped by a factor of five at low levels, and at least 20 at higher levels, above one volt.
We chose 12AU7 tubes because there are more factories around the world making great ones today than any other tube, so you can try them and see if you prefer their "color." By contrast, a tube like the 6H30 tube is well-known for thin mids, and they are only made in one factory in Russia. If your equipment uses that tube, there is no way to fine-tune the tonal balance of your system trying different brands; you'd better like it as-is. What if that 6H30 factory has a problem, closes, or just decides to stop making them? In addition, because 12AU7's have always been a popular tube, there are tens of thousands of vintage new-old-stock 12AU7's available everywhere from the greatest factories like Telefunken, Mullard, Amperex, Cifte, Siemens, and more. Tons of them. If you haven't "Tube Rolled," it's a gas, and how you get that last 10% of PERFECT tonal balance to YOUR tastes.
Perfect compatibility with most any amplifier. With a low output impedance of 2800 ohms, it will mate perfectly with 95% of the amplifiers on the market, whether it’s tube or solid state. Learn more here.
Two toroidal power transformers for the lowest noise. The #1 reason for having an outboard power supply on a preamp is to isolate sensitive small signals from EMI and hum radiated from the typical EI transformers used by many companies. The best cure for this problem is to use toroidal transformers, as they don't radiate EMI outside the core. Transformers are the single most expensive part in audio equipment, and that usually means cutting corners. Toroidal transformers cost much much more than typical EI core, because they take a long time to wind. Instead of a machine making many at the same time, the best quality ones like we use at PrimaLuna are made one at a time in-house. No off the shelf hamburger stuff. Click on the red boxes below to see one. They are massive resulting in a preamp weighing a substantial 37.5 pounds.
Tube rectified, dual mono design. In the world of preamps, PrimaLuna believes that tube rectification offers the most natural, textured, vibrant presentation. But it's expensive to incorporate. Finding a preamp using one rectifier tube is sweet. But PrimaLuna uses two 5AR4 rectifier tubes in their dual-mono design. Look at the interior pictures, and you will see that all PrimaLuna preamps are actually two preamps in one chassis. The result is obvious. Better imaging...like no other. That's where the weight comes from. And weight costs money because it means more and (in our case) better parts. Please look carefully at our interior pictures.
ALPS Blue Velvet motorized volume control tracks better so a defined stereo image is established and doesn't collapse as you raise and lower volume. And it will stay quiet, adhering to PrimaLuna's guiding principle of "Built to last a lifetime". This part costs 10 times more than the typical volume chip used by many manufacturers. But it is ANALOGUE and won't sound like a chip. You're buying a tube preamp to get away from silicon devices, so why would you run the music through a $2.50 silicon volume control? Click on the red boxes below to see the real deal.
SuperQuiet Line Inputs. Selector switches mounted on the front panel have two problems: First, there are often long wires that run from the switch in the front to the rear RCA jacks, and they invite stray noise like RF and EMI. Second, switches don’t make the best contact when new, and the quality degrades as the switch gets dirty and worn. Then, selector switches have crosstalk between the inputs. You’ve probably heard it yourself; you’re listening to a CD and the music ends, and you can hear a faint signal from your tuner. Or a slight hiss, hum, or buzz coming in to through inputs you aren’t using. The noise can be obvious, or so small that you can’t really identify it. The negative effect is the same: It obscures micro details in the music that allow you to make out things like the body of a guitar or the sense of space in a hall.
PrimaLuna has a better way. Instead of a switch, input selection is done using premium quality sealed relays made by Fujitsu in Japan, 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. Relays open and close, so there is no wiper to get dirty, noisy, or wear out. The signal path is much shorter. In fact it’s almost non-existent, so there are no long wires to pick up noise. Click on the red boxes below to see them.
One last technical feature: Each input has a circuit designed to present a perfect 100K ohm input impedance to the components you are plugging in, assuring you that every piece of gear you listen to will sound its best.
SmartGain Design - Read carefully. A preamplifier is usually not required to add any gain to your system when you are using it. It is usually lowering gain from the scource you are listening to. The number one complaint from audiophiles about preamp performance is noise. So why is it that so many manufacturers design preamps with 20 to 27dB of gain? And you wonder why there is hiss, and why tubes go noisy or microphonic? PrimaLuna preamps use SmartGain. With a gain specification of only 10dB, you will find your PrimaLuna preamp is as quiet as a church mouse. If tubes are less than perfect, you may never know it because they are not amplifying as "loud". High efficiency speaker owner's rejoice!
Panel mounted ceramic tube sockets and RCA jacks. Some brands will mount tube sockets or RCA jacks to a printed circuit board. As the product ages, these boards can crack by simply changing tubes or interconnects. All PrimaLuna products mount ceramic tube sockets to a stand off, and the rear panel jacks are secured directly the the chassis.
Home theater pass-thru. Straight from the critically-acclaimed DiaLogue Series, this direct-line circuitry means less noise and coloration over unity gain circuits.
PTP-circuit. If the power transformer should overheat, this innovative "Power Transformer Protection" circuit cuts primary power, allows the preamp to cool down, then resets itself.
- Full-function remote. Slim, anodized aluminum remote, controls volume, mute, and source selection, as well as Play/pause and Stop/eject functions of the new ProLogue Premium CD Player.