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Old 04-18-2016, 11:52 AM
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esteban esteban is offline
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Default PrimaLuna (original) Dialogue vs. Dialogue HP

Wanted to share a recent experience...

I have owned a PrimaLuna DiaLogue One for more than 6 years at this point, and absolutely love it. It was the bargain of the century and a real gem of an integrated. It is, in theory, an EL-34-based amp, but many other power tube types are compatible and tube-rolling is more than encouraged by both the manufacturer and the actual design of the unit. I have tried many different choices with it, but have settled with a quad of the new re-issue Gold Lion KT-88's, which after many a back-and-forth, I find offer the best possible balance between finesse/midrange magic and dynamics/control. I am actually using the DiaLogue One with Sonus faber Elipsa SE's (or "Red"), and, amazingly enough (and after a rocky start as the speakers were breaking in), the synergy is pretty great! Plus, I have a small room, so dynamics and slam are more than sufficient.

At one point I was concerned about headroom and efficiency, specially as the speakers were breaking-in and sound was a little uncontrolled. Sonus fabers are also famously difficult to drive and have a tricky impedance curve in the lower registries. Just to see if I was missing anything, I even tried a McIntosh integrated (retail $6K) and a Hegel H-160, both with FAR MORE theoretical and quoted power than the PrimaLuna, and, plain and simply, it wasn't even close. The DiaLogue One blew them all out of the water. No contest. I was in awe. I shared this experience here: http://www.audioaficionado.org/sonus...lish-room.html


Cut to a few weeks ago. I have been curious about the DiaLogue HP Integrated, which is getting rave reviews, and my dealer was kind enough to loan me one. This one came with EL-34's. I do not have 8 KT-88's to spare, so this was not an apples-to-apples comparison. Keep that in mind. I had all the intentions of buying the HP, and I could get a really good deal on it if I sell my DiaLogue One (they hold their value fairly well), so money was not really a concern here. I REALLY wanted to love the HP.

I will cut to the point: the DiaLogue One is staying. In fact, I preferred it BY FAR. For some reason, the HP was not as open, not as detailed, not as delicate, and not as "ripe" as the DiaLogue One. Amazingly enough, the difference when it came to dynamics and bass grip and control was minimal at best. Yes, it did have SLIGHTLY more control, but at the expense of everything else. The DiaLogue One, I would say, was a 7.9 in that department. The HP was an 8.5. Not worth the trade-off.

Of course, my DiaLogue One is more than broken-in. The HP was not. Also, I'm sure that if I were to use 8 KT-88's things may be different, but I frankly was not convinced that I needed to "upgrade". When I went back to the DiaLogue One, the soundstage was wider, and the midrange was just right. Bass was more than enough. Frankly, I was in shock.

Another thing to keep in mind: more tubes, more problems! More things that can go wrong. More heat (this was evident REALLY quickly in my small room here in South FL, where winter equals 75 degrees at night). More $$$ when it comes time to re-tube (after a few times, you can pretty much buy a new DiaLogue One with the amount it would cost to re-tube an HP with 14 (!) quality tubes).

I did notice one HUGE improvement in the HP, however, and that was the volume control and potentiometer. Dramatically more accurate, precise and smooth when using the remote. I was impressed by that.

But my DiaLogue One is staying. I love that thing more every day. Plus, my OCD tells me that it looks way cooler than the slightly-too-much-of-a-good-thing HP.

Figured I would share this with all of you!
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Old 04-18-2016, 12:40 PM
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Esteban.......That is an interesting review/comparison. I think the results may have been skewed somewhat for a couple of reasons. The most obvious one is the Dialogue HP was not broken in. I think after 100 hours or more of break-in the amplifier would present a different sonic signature than you experienced. In particular, PrimaLuna uses high-end caps that often require several hundred hours to achieve their best results. Second, if I read your review correctly, each amp had different tubes . That will always impact the sonic nature of an amplifier, even more so since the Dialogue HP tubes weren't broken in. And finally, it is apparent you have a long term love affair going with your DiaLogue. There's nothing wrong with that, but the rose colored glasses can make you more critical of the competition. You love your Dialogue and that can have a strong effect on your judgement when assessing the new kid on the block.

I am not trying to influence your judgement or decision. I only want to point out my initial impressions when I read your review. I have had some experience with PrimaLuna components and find them well designed and built to an excellent level of craftsmanship. I suspect if you to kept the HP around long enough to log 100+ hours on it your opinion might be different, not withstanding the additional heat you mentioned. That is something a small change in the air conditioning thermostat can solve easy enough. I enjoyed your reading your review.
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STUDIO - McIntosh C1000C/P, MC2301 (2), MR88, Aurender N10, Esoteric K-01X, Shunyata Sigma spdif digital cable, Sonos Connect, PurePower 2000, Stillpoints, Furutech Flux 50, Michell Gyro SE, Michell HR Power Supply, SME 309, Ortofon Cadenza Black, Wireworld, Sonus faber Amati Anniversario
LIVING ROOM - McIntosh C2300, MC75 (2), MR85, Magnum Dynalab 205, Simaudio MOON Neo 260D-T, Schiit Audio Yggdrasil, Aurender N100H, Shunyata Sigma USB cable, Micro Seiki DD40, Ortofon Cadenza Blue, Nakamichi BX-300, Sony 60ES DAT, PS Audio P10, Furutech Flux 50, Sonos Connect, Stillpoints, Wireworld, Kimber, PMC EB1i, JL Audio f113
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Old 04-18-2016, 12:50 PM
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Hi Dan. Thanks for your feedback! All points well taken. I did mention at the beginning of the review that it was not an apples-to-apples, and specified the tube differences and lack of break-in, as you commented. Having said that, even Kevin Deal (PrimaLuna US distributor) commented (in a different forum) that the differences between both units are really not earth-shattering. His words:

"The HP is the exact same amp as the DiaLogue Premium in every way, with these additions:

Larger power transformer, additional circuitry to add four more power tubes including an additional Adaptive AutoBias board, and the headphone amp which I will comment on later. The benefit is more power and a lower output impedance which will give it a little more slam and control. Not a ton more. But more.... The 36 watts that the DiaLogue Premium has is huge because we concern ourselves with bandwidth in the output transformers, not power... I'm really happy that (Esteban) loves his DiaLogue One so much after so many years. While other companies certainly want you on the merry go round burning cash, our desire is to create amps that are iconic and relevant 10, 20, or even 50 years from now. It makes me smile when I get calls from people ten years later that they are still happy.

Having said that, the new series DiaLogue have the exact same output transformers which is where the magic happens, but with a myriad of improvements that for sure will increase performance. In a side by side with the same tubes it will become apparent, but I'm going to tell you the original DiaLogue One, Two, ect were so good I thought we had painted ourselves into a corner. "
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Old 04-18-2016, 01:09 PM
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Esteban.......I know one thing. You have a very nice sound system, especially since you upgraded to the SF Elipsa Red. I am positive the PrimaLuna Dialogue One makes them sing their heart out. It has been nearly three years since I had the PrimaLuna ProLogue Premium integrated amplifier here for review. I still remember the experience and how impressed I was with it driving my Amati Anniversario's. Your PrimaLuna Dialog One is a step up from that integrated amp. It just may turn out that you are one of those PrimaLuna customers who will keep their amp for a quarter of a century or more. Here's to many hours of enjoyable listening.
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STUDIO - McIntosh C1000C/P, MC2301 (2), MR88, Aurender N10, Esoteric K-01X, Shunyata Sigma spdif digital cable, Sonos Connect, PurePower 2000, Stillpoints, Furutech Flux 50, Michell Gyro SE, Michell HR Power Supply, SME 309, Ortofon Cadenza Black, Wireworld, Sonus faber Amati Anniversario
LIVING ROOM - McIntosh C2300, MC75 (2), MR85, Magnum Dynalab 205, Simaudio MOON Neo 260D-T, Schiit Audio Yggdrasil, Aurender N100H, Shunyata Sigma USB cable, Micro Seiki DD40, Ortofon Cadenza Blue, Nakamichi BX-300, Sony 60ES DAT, PS Audio P10, Furutech Flux 50, Sonos Connect, Stillpoints, Wireworld, Kimber, PMC EB1i, JL Audio f113
VINTAGE - McIntosh MA230, Tandberg 3011A tuner, Olive 04HD, Sony DTC-59ES DAT, McIntosh 4300V, JBL 4312A

Last edited by jdandy; 04-18-2016 at 01:55 PM.
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Old 04-18-2016, 01:11 PM
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Thank you, Dan! Trust me, I really wanted to buy the HP model, but I simply could not justify it after what I described in my post above. If it ain't broken...
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Old 04-20-2016, 08:24 PM
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Hey guys. At some point I will be using my Martin Logan odysseys in a second system and will need a second amp. Do you think the dialogue series could be used for a second system with the stats given their impedance curve at 20khz. ?
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Old 04-20-2016, 08:32 PM
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Tim.......Are you speaking of a very low impedance at 20KHz? I saw the impedance curve for the Martin Logan Prodogy in a Stereophile review. The impedance was 2 ohms at 12KHz and dropped from there to 1 ohm at 20KHz. Is the impedance curve for the Odyssey similar?
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STUDIO - McIntosh C1000C/P, MC2301 (2), MR88, Aurender N10, Esoteric K-01X, Shunyata Sigma spdif digital cable, Sonos Connect, PurePower 2000, Stillpoints, Furutech Flux 50, Michell Gyro SE, Michell HR Power Supply, SME 309, Ortofon Cadenza Black, Wireworld, Sonus faber Amati Anniversario
LIVING ROOM - McIntosh C2300, MC75 (2), MR85, Magnum Dynalab 205, Simaudio MOON Neo 260D-T, Schiit Audio Yggdrasil, Aurender N100H, Shunyata Sigma USB cable, Micro Seiki DD40, Ortofon Cadenza Blue, Nakamichi BX-300, Sony 60ES DAT, PS Audio P10, Furutech Flux 50, Sonos Connect, Stillpoints, Wireworld, Kimber, PMC EB1i, JL Audio f113
VINTAGE - McIntosh MA230, Tandberg 3011A tuner, Olive 04HD, Sony DTC-59ES DAT, McIntosh 4300V, JBL 4312A
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Old 04-20-2016, 08:47 PM
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Yes Dan. The odyssey is the little brother of the prodigy. I can't say for sure if it is identical but it is the same series and one step below the prodigy. I currently drive ithemwith a Sunfire signature bi-amped And to be clear in not looking for that type of horsepower on a second system but wonder if the dialogue could keep it together and do the system justice

Last edited by timm; 04-20-2016 at 08:50 PM.
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Old 04-20-2016, 09:38 PM
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Tim.......Here is an interesting review of the PrimaLuna Dialogue One.

primaluna dialogue one
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STUDIO - McIntosh C1000C/P, MC2301 (2), MR88, Aurender N10, Esoteric K-01X, Shunyata Sigma spdif digital cable, Sonos Connect, PurePower 2000, Stillpoints, Furutech Flux 50, Michell Gyro SE, Michell HR Power Supply, SME 309, Ortofon Cadenza Black, Wireworld, Sonus faber Amati Anniversario
LIVING ROOM - McIntosh C2300, MC75 (2), MR85, Magnum Dynalab 205, Simaudio MOON Neo 260D-T, Schiit Audio Yggdrasil, Aurender N100H, Shunyata Sigma USB cable, Micro Seiki DD40, Ortofon Cadenza Blue, Nakamichi BX-300, Sony 60ES DAT, PS Audio P10, Furutech Flux 50, Sonos Connect, Stillpoints, Wireworld, Kimber, PMC EB1i, JL Audio f113
VINTAGE - McIntosh MA230, Tandberg 3011A tuner, Olive 04HD, Sony DTC-59ES DAT, McIntosh 4300V, JBL 4312A
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Old 04-20-2016, 10:13 PM
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I like that review Dan. . I have been ogling the prima luna gear for awhile and when I make my next move want an affordable quality amp preferably of different characteristics than my solid state amp. It looks like this little integrated could fill that.
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