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In Reply to: RE: Primaluna Educational Series ( Fairy Dust) posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on May 26, 2017 at 11:29:37
I like what Kevin is trying to do here and I have been on the drumbeat for a decade about looking under the actual hood to see what in the hell you are getting. He is correct that everything gets a good review - he is correct that a lot of stuff is audio jewelry and in a LOT of cases companies buy something from China or elsewhere stick the entire machine inside their own box and upcharge for 10 times the money. (See Theta Data Universal)
Having said that - you still have to go by sound quality and it is possible that any given lesser quality part in one amplifier may still sound better than another amplifier using a better part. In speakers for example two drivers (woofer and tweeter) that are $20 each properly designed in a good cabinet and integrate very well can better a lesser design that isn't coherent using $100 drivers. And that goes for amplifiers or whatever else.
The problem IMO is that with PL it is a bit of self serving marketing here. I have seen Kevin put up some videos comparing some hopelessly cheap tube amp and then tout how great the parts are in Prima Luna - well okay I say - but your $3500 amp compared to a $700 Chinese amp isn't much of a fair test now is it? Of course the cheap amp has to make a lot of compromises and those compromises may very well mean it will fail in ten years as opposed to 20+ years. But then you can buy FIVE amplifiers for the same price and you might get 50 years out of the five amps.
How about comparing it to a $3k Melody Valve Audio amplifier also made in China but founded in Australia - these guys use premium parts and their finish is nicer than Prima Luna and IMO they sound better. Or to my Audio Note OTO integrated that also provides a full out tube phono stage inside. Perhaps one of the reasons that I usually prefer some other tube amps to PL is that PL uses cheaper torroid transformers than much more costly EI and C Core transformers. The best tube amplifier manufacturers in the world do not use toroids. And since the transformer is the heart and soul of the amplifier - well...
And while PL loves to ramble on about auto-bias - AN has all been autobias (including their PP amps) for 3 decades. I just submitted for review a PP amplifier that is autobias and not only that doesn't require matched pairs. It will sort them out on its own - the amp is $825 US including shipping and I think it sounds quite substantially better than any of the PL amps that I have heard (and the PP Line Magnetic amps). And it's a superb headphone amp as well! After 17 years with the HD600s I am finally hearing them sound the way I hoped they would sound when I bought them.
Like I said - I agree with PL in principle that it's the design and what's inside that counts - not a pretty box with a famous logo on the front. But it's not as if they're the only company putting in quality parts. Remember one man's high quality part is another man's entry level part. I asked Peter Qvortrup about certain parts - Alps - he used it for his most entry level equipment and generally thinks it's mediocre (to put it very diplomatically because his words to describe them was more colourful).
But I'll get off AN because I am seen as too much a fan so I'll switch to a more apples to apples power for power company.
The Melody KT88 is 50 watts per channel and IMO sounds better and is about $300 lower in price and has a nicer finish - they are indeed VERY nice in person the picture does it no justice. They use premium parts on the inside which you can look up.
The picture above is the $1500 point to point wired Line Magnetic 211IA The amp is less than HALF the price of the PL and looks every bit the quality. It comes with a very well made remote (steel) and has meter on board.
Of course you may like the PL much better in terms of sound but I am pointing out that some companies are better at marketing - LM's owner doesn't speak English so a bit of a disadvantage when it comes to tooting his own horn? It's like those quality movies that audiences eventually find and love versus the movies that are barraging you endlessly to see.
Here is the Melody - PS - it also auto biases! See manual.
It would be helpful if you mentioned the brand and model number of the $825 amp. Thanks.
Sorry - I have submitted the review but it's not up yet. And it's direct sales from Hong Kong so some will be put off by that. On the other hand you don't pay the importer and dealer markups that double or triple the price either.
The amplifier is the KingKo KA-101. The man who runs the company is King Ip and KO means friend or buddy in Cantonese).
I should add though that it may very well be more about the output tube preference as this is an EL84 versus the EL34/KT88 of other brands. I find he EL84 bridges the gap between push pull and SET better and brings some of the strengths of both.
Whats the price ..? BTW, Its only 12 watts at full high pop thd, on your current AN speakers that's a lot of clipping , what about the rest of us not into listening to clipping , do they have a 50 watt version ..?
I just got my July Stereophile. I didn't see any new educational ads from Prima Luna after the (Fairy dust) comment.
I will give John Atkinson a lot of credit for publishing a letter from Cliff Millward from the United Kingdom,( Music is better than piffle).
This letter sums up what I feel about Hi-fi and what Prima Luna meant by Fairy Dust. You all should read it. It's a feather in the cap for John Atkinson as I think he is trying to bridge the gap between the audiophile with deep pockets vs. the audiophile with just a few jingles in theirs.
I saw this happen in Absolute Sound too with Bob Hartleys review on the Schiit Audio Yggdrasil ranking it way above it's competitors that cost way way more that also advertise in his mag.
All in all I think this is a good move for the hobby by both head editors by bridging the money gap which is not helping the hobby. Music should be for everyone....not just the high brow...thanks Mark Korda.
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