DiaLogue Premium Preamplifier
An incredible feat
Why would people sell their $10,000 preamps, taking a loss selling them, just to buy a preamp for $3199? Because it’s better.
If you look at the finest cost-no-object tube preamps, ones costing $10,000, $20,000, even $30,000, you will see a several things in common: The best tube preamps will be dual mono, meaning discreet circuits for the left and right channel with no shared parts. They will be tube rectified; meaning pure tube throughout. They will have point to point wiring; no printed circuit boards. They will use an analogue volume control, not a chip. They will have multiple tubes in each channel instead of resorting to negative feedback or cheaper hybrid designs. And finally, they will weigh something instead of being an empty box.
Preamps have become a high-profit center for manufacturers. It's not like the old days. They won’t like that we tell you this, but it’s true. Power amps are expensive because they are expensive to make. They require big power and output transformers, which are the single biggest cost in building anything. A preamp, however, is easy to do on the cheap. First, make sure it's got a pretty faceplate so it looks expensive. But what's inside? A little single transformer (not even toroidal!) that costs a few bucks, a tube or two mounted on a printed circuit board, a $2.50 chip as a volume control. Next, make up some lofty story about the design that has nothing to do with substance, and you’re done. How does anybody justify charging $5000 for box of average parts that weighs 13lbs? Ask yourself these questions, and don’t be impressed by name brands. They count on that. You're best friend is Google images. Use it to look inside and compare.
As you learn more and select something you won't have to replace later, remember this: There are industry titans using the DiaLogue Premium Preamplifier as their personal reference; writing reviews, personal listening, even making the records you buy. The price is not an issue to them. It’s their work, And in fact, they usually get to borrow one for free from any manufacturer, send it back, and get something else in a couple years. When you are a big name, any manufacturer wants to be in that position.
Every preamp gets great reviews. But they don’t get comments like the DiaLogue Premium got from Dick Olsher, who is by far one of the most experienced and respected journalists in the world. He said this: "The [DiaLogue] Premium version is now able to swim with and compete effectively against high-end's cost-no-object heavyweights. And that, my fellow audiophiles, is a rarity.”
DiaLogue Premium Preamplifier Features:
- New front-end circuitry. The DiaLogue Premium Preamp uses three 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. The four 12AU7’s on the outside are driver tubes. By using four instead of two, we can swing more voltage. The two tubes in the center are the input tubes, and that’s where you want to have fun later if you wish by experimenting with different tube brands.
- 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 (hardly a "super tube" as they often called), are 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 any amplifier. With a super-low output impedance of 256 ohms, it will mate perfectly with virtually any power amplifier on the market, whether it’s tube or solid state. Learn more here.
- Tube rectified, dual mono design. In the world of preamps, experts agree that tube rectification offers the most natural, textured, vibrant presentation. That's why you find it in the best, top of the line models. 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.
- Point to point wired with Swiss made cable. It's obvious that point to point wiring sounds better and lasts longer than wave-soldered thin printed circuit boards. It's what sets PrimaLuna apart and is part of our credo. In the new DiaLogue Premium we went a step further by using 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.
- 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 alone costs ten times more than a simple "chip" that we could have used.
- TAKMAN Resistors. If you bought a lesser preamp, you would pay hudreds to make this upgrade. Easy to identify through there pink color, these premium resistors made in Japan are popular with those who rebuild and upgrade their gear. "Modders" love TAKMAN for their low noise, linearity, and musicality.
- SCR Tinfoil Caps. Made in France, these capacitors are used in the critical signal paths and while they are expensive, the PrimaLuna team they could not be left out after careful listening comparisons with many different types.
- AC Offset Killer. A PrimaLuna exclusive. This is another PrimaLuna "magic bullet" design to make our products so quiet, you will get goose-bumps. PrimaLuna's parent company Durob Audio B.V. sells this as a standalone item under the “Ah!” brand name. The fabulous company P.S. Audio sold something similar as a "Humbuster". Its job is to keep the main AC power transformer as quiet as possible. PrimaLuna custom-winds superb AC toroidal transformers that are low in hum. This circuit takes it to a place no other manufacturer dreams of going. Adding this to your stereo would cost hundreds.
- 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.
- 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!
- The DiaLogue Premium Preamplifier also comes equipped with all these standard features: five pair RCA line level inputs for maximum versatility, one pair RCA tape out and two pair RCA preamp outs. A home theater pass-thru circuit that promises to keep everyone in the family happy. Finally, it comes with a stunning, heavy-gauge, anodized aluminium remote that controls all functions of the preamp.
DiaLogue Premium Preamplifier Specifications:
- Gain: 9.7 dB (4x)
- Frequency Response: 9Hz - 95kHz +/- 1dB
- THD + N: <0.5% at 2V output level
- S/N Ratio: 93dB
- Input Impedance: 220 kOhm
- Input Sensitivity: 650mV rated power at maximum power setting
- Output Impedance: 256 Ohm
- Power Consumption: 61 Watts
- Net Weight: 52.9 lbs / 24 kg
- Dimensions: 15.9" x 15.2" x 8.3" / 405 mm x 385 mm 210 mm (L x W x H)
- Inputs: 5 pairs Stereo RCA, 1 pair Home Theater Input
- Outputs: 2 pairs Stereo RCA (main); 1 pair RCA (tape)
- Tube Complement: 2 x 5AR4, 6 x 12AU7
- Remote Control: Heavy Metal Remote Control