Help with first integ. amp - Primaluna v. Rogue v. Line Magnetic v. McIntosh v. Naim

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by freesole, Oct 7, 2018.

  1. freesole

    freesole Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    Hi All,

    I've been doing quite a bit of reading and listening lately but what I am looking for is to really up my music listening experience.

    Current setup
    • 3.1 Speaker/Sub Setup - Ascend Acoustic Sierra Towers and Center with RAAL tweeters
    • Hsu Research Sub
    • Anthem MRX 510 AVR
    • Oppo 105D (Apple TV is connected to the Oppo via HDMI - Roon and Tidal play from the Apple TV)

    I'm looking for an integrated amp and I am looking for some thoughts and recommendations. I'd like the ability to have the flexibility to have a great 2.0/2.1 setup for music and then switch to 3.1 for movies and netflix. It would be nice to have a headphone amp but not a requirement. Based on my research, I boiled it down to the following:

    1. Primaluna Dialogue Premium HP ($4.4)
    2. Rogue Audio Cronus Magnum II ($2.5) or Pharaoh ($3.5)
    3. Line Magnetic 508ia (used for around $3.5-4)
    4. McIntosh MA5300 ($5)
    5. Naim XS 2 ($3.7) or Supernait 2 ($5.7)

    Any help here would be greatly appreciated.
     
    apesfan likes this.
  2. HiFi Guy

    HiFi Guy Forum Resident

    Location:
    Orlando, FL
    I purchased a PrimaLuna DiaLogue Premium HP a month ago. I couldn't be happier.

    The amp I had previously was the Rogue Pharoah.

    My speakers are Magnepan 1.7i.

    On paper, the Rogue is a better match for the Maggies. In real life, not so. What prompted me to move on from the Rogue was that it was pretty easy to make it go into protection if playing music with heavy bass at high volumes. The Maggies aren't efficient (84dB) and they dip to 2 ohms in the midrange and pretty much stay there all the way out beyond 20kHz. The Pharoah ran other speakers just fine, but I really love my Maggies.

    So going from 350 watts per channel to 70 (with EL34s) you'd think is a bad move, again on paper. Reality is it works and works really well. The PrimaLuna even drives the Maggies well in triode mode (40 watts).

    Sound quality even at low to moderate listening levels, the PrimaLuna easily bests the Rogue. Clarity- no contest.

    I did find that the PrimaLuna sounded a bit rough and unrefined out of the box. Even 10 hours makes a positive difference, but 100 hours in and it just astounds. Ultimately, I thought it was a bit midrange forward, and happened to have a matched pair of vintage Mullard CV4003 tubes that I rolled into the input tube positions. Perfection.

    The headphone amp isn't perfect. I've got sensitive headphones and I get a bit of hum, which isn't noticed once music is playing. The Rogue isn't perfect either- hiss, again masked by the music.

    Part of the reason I purchased PrimaLuna was adaptive auto bias. When an output tube goes bad (and it will) the amp will just go into protection. No drama, no blown resistors. Look online regarding the Cronos. Lots of complaints regarding this exact issue. And PrimaLuna has designed the amp to be very easy on the output tubes, so they should last longer.

    Look at Upscale Audio's used section- lots of Rogue tube trade ins. I found that telling.

    Build quality is fantastic. It's beautiful.

    One thing I did find to be a bit interesting: with other amps and other speakers I've always preferred triode mode. Not so with the PrimaLuna. There's a definite difference, and I prefer ultralinear with all types of music.

    No regrets at all, except that I wish I'd purchased one sooner.
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2018
  3. freesole

    freesole Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    Thanks @HiFi Guy Great to hear from someone who has listened to both the Rogue and the Primaluna. Between those two, I am edging more towards the Primaluna for the all-tube setup and the feature set available. HT Bypass and headphone amps being nice to have feature points for me.
     
    Socalguy and HiFi Guy like this.
  4. jhenry

    jhenry Forum Resident

    Location:
    United States
    In that price range, I’d check out the Accuphase E-270 as well if it’s available around you. I love mine. I auditioned the line Magnetic 805 as well as a few other tube amps using a Mytek dac as a pre and the Accuphase was easily the winner.
     
  5. jhenry

    jhenry Forum Resident

    Location:
    United States
    I also demoed the Rogue Cronos and it didn’t do anything for me.
     
  6. ls35a

    ls35a Forum Resident

    Location:
    Eagle, Idaho
    Exposure is one of my favorite integrateds. They just got picked up by Fidelis, the Harbeth Importer.

    The Belles Aria looks to be a great amp.
     
    WapatoWolf, Helom and G B Kuipers like this.
  7. RND4mGuy

    RND4mGuy Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Colorado, USA
    Not on your list but maybe audition the Parasound Halo Integrated 6 (HINT 6). It's in your price range, has bass management for your sub, and a home theater bypass for when you want to use the Anthem.
     
    sound chaser likes this.
  8. freesole

    freesole Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    The more I have looked, the more I am edging towards a tube amp or if solid state, a Naim or McIntosh. I did hear great things about the Hint 6 but think it may be more of a jack of all trades vs focused on musicality?
     
    displayname likes this.
  9. Drew769

    Drew769 Forum Resident

    Location:
    NJ
    The Belles amps do sound really good. I heard the Aria through Vandersteen Treos, and it was on the warmer side of solid state offerings. Plenty of power. Very nice.

    I also like the Rogue Cronus, though. The fact that many come up used is more a case of the production numbers - I think Mark O'Brien had said that this is their best selling product, and for good reason. It is a very good step into the tubed world for a relatively small sum of money. It is also not "tubey" in the negative ways, ie. there is no bloat. It delivers a full and rich sound, with that tonality that is hard to match in a SS combo. FWIW, I do not like their class D hybrids (Pharaoh, Sphinx, etc.)
     
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  10. Helom

    Helom I'll take the monkey coffins

    Location:
    U.S.
    Exposure is a great choice if your goal is neutrality. I've heard great things about the Naim Supernait2.

    The CMII is the best Rogue integrated by a country mile.

    Of your list, I'd probably choose the Line Magnetic.
     
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  11. ron325

    ron325 Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Brooklyn
    I had the predecessor to the Pharaoh (Tempest II); it was the first tube amp that I owned and I loved it. I liked that it was more powerful than similarly priced tube integrateds so I had more speaker options.
    Rogue support was great too, because I had a lot of tube swapping questions.
     
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  12. G B Kuipers

    G B Kuipers Forum Resident

    Location:
    Netherlands
    I think you really have to go out and listen. For example the difference in presentation between say a PrimaLuna and Naim integrated (both of which I am familiar with) is so dramatic, in ways that are not easy to describe in words, whereas that difference will determine the way all your music will sound in the future. In other words, make sure you like your integrated's sound before committing.
     
    WapatoWolf, Blank Frank and freesole like this.
  13. ls35a

    ls35a Forum Resident

    Location:
    Eagle, Idaho
    My problem with the Line Magnetic is the importer - I'm not a fan.
     
    freesole likes this.
  14. ls35a

    ls35a Forum Resident

    Location:
    Eagle, Idaho
    And the Exposure gear is built like a tank and reasonably priced for a 'high end' product.
     
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  15. Standingstones

    Standingstones Forum Resident

    Location:
    South Central PA
    I would choose Primluna if going for tubes and McIntosh for solid state.
     
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  16. Helom

    Helom I'll take the monkey coffins

    Location:
    U.S.
    I don't know who imports LM. Coincidentally, I happen to be a non-fan of Fidelis - experienced some very poor customer support. I'd still consider Exposure however, as their stuff seems pretty bullet proof.
     
  17. freesole

    freesole Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    What would you say are the differences in characteristics between the two? Curious to hear your thoughts on sound signature and fit within a music/home theatre system.

    Do you have a preference or a description for how you would differentiate the Primaluna vs the Naim? I heard both and I agree they are different as well. It wasn't on my own speakers, mind you but it gave me an idea. The Naim was quick and bass response was tight. The Primaluna had an edge in warmth but I actually found them to be closer than I expected.

    You're not the first person that has said the CMII is probably a better bet than the Pharaoh. Interesting. I'm getting the feeling that it is either all tubes or full solid state and not hybrids.
     
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  18. John Moschella

    John Moschella Forum Resident

    Location:
    Christiansburg, VA
    When you ask a question like that on this forum you're going to get everyone's favorite regardless of whether its on you list or not.

    You'd be hard pressed to beat the Unison Research Unico Primo

    [​IMG]

    Here is what Stereophile has to say Unison Research Unico Primo integrated amplifier
     
  19. Erocka2000

    Erocka2000 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    Tone Imports?
     
  20. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    I have three Rogue amps, including a pair of M-150 KT88 based monoblocks and the original CM, with KT-120's. I have a small KT88 based PrimaLuna Prologue Five, and a couple of Line Magnetic's, including the 845 based 518iA.

    None are bad, but they are different. Just for the purposes of this question, what would you say your power requirements are and why?
     
  21. bhazen

    bhazen Beatles Diehard

    Location:
    Newcastle, WA
    I love my Nait XS2. :)

    I'm a long-time Naimie though, I subscribe to the whole historic rhythmic ethos of the Linn/Naim/Rega axis. Sounds like you might be a valves guy though, based on the order of your list ...
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2018
  22. freesole

    freesole Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    Honestly I wouldn't say that I am a tube guy as I am new in the world of tubes and this is my first integrated that I am looking for. I am intrigued with the Naim XS 2 or the Supernait 2 however. Would love to hear your thoughts on Naim vs others that you have heard.
     
  23. freesole

    freesole Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    My speaker specs are:

    Typical In-Room Frequency Response 34Hz - 27kHz ± 3dB
    In-Room Sensitivity 92dB @ 2.83v / 1 meter
    Frequency Response (Anechoic) 41Hz - 28kHz ± 3dB
    Sensitivity (Anechoic) 89dB @ 2.83v / 1 meter
    Impedance Compatibility 8, 6, and 4 ohm rated amps and receivers
    Minimum Impedance 4 ohms
    Minimum Recommended Power 25 watts
    Maximum Continuous Power* 300 watts
    Maximum Short Term Peak Power* 500 watts

    I don't play my speakers at very high levels so I'm not worried about driving concert level volumes. I think my speakers are kind of in the middle in terms of efficiency so power amongst my considerations above should be met by all of them?
     
    SandAndGlass likes this.
  24. bhazen

    bhazen Beatles Diehard

    Location:
    Newcastle, WA
    The current Naim line is pretty solid. Still great with sorting out rhythms so, easy to listen to; but better than (say) the more "Flat Earth" Naim gear of 20-30 years ago in portrayal of tone colours and timbres.
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2018
    Blank Frank likes this.
  25. Standingstones

    Standingstones Forum Resident

    Location:
    South Central PA
    The bonus features of the Primaluna are the auto biasing, you can use triode or ultralinear and you can use virtually any power tube that exists. I believe the power rating is for 37 wpc ultralinear and slightly less for triode. If you are purchasing from Kevin Deal you will get top notch service.

    With McIntosh you have a company that has been around a long time. Their equipment is top notch. The power ratings are conservative. Those units are built like a tank with top quality components used. Plus you get those blue meters. The price is higher than others but so is the resale value.
     

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