A couple months ago I found myself in a local hifi store with some time to kill. The store had recently opened and I was the only one there along with the owner. I had been there before a couple years earlier and he remembered me. We started a conversation and he was very gracious in letting me listen to a couple of systems. First was a set up of the Sonus Faber Venere S with a Rega turntable and Rega intergrated amp. It sounded great. We listened to some acoustic guitar and some acoustic folk. The midrange was sweet and organic. It was very impressive for a pretty simple system and relatively inexpensive components. He then took me into the big sound room full of McIntosh, Magico, and various high end speakers and gear. He hooked up the MC275 tube amp to a McIntosh tube preamp (forgot the model but it was big, beautiful and $$$$$$). He had recently received the new Dynaudio Contour 20 standmount speakers, so he hooked them up. The first track he played was Pat Metheny's cover of And I Love Her from his album What's It All About. OMG. We had just listened to this on the SF Venere S's, but this was something else. Listening on the SF/Rega system, the sound was great and appeared right in front of you. It was like sitting in the 5th row of a concert in a small venue. On the Mc/Dyn system it was like sitting in a cloud where the sound was all around you. It was like sitting in the guitar. It gave me goosebumps. We listened to music for an hour, most of the time with my jaw agape at how delicate, detailed and emotional the sound was, before a couple of other customers came in and I graciously thanked my host. It was an the best demo I had heard and I left changed - it was an audiophile epiphany. I decided why I could likely never afford the system I was lucky enough to listen to I wanted to try a tube based system at home. My first thought was to look for a modestly priced tube amp and use it to connect to either my Peachtree Nova220se which would function as the preamp/dac, or I could hook it up to my XMC-1/Emo system downstairs for a hybrid system and use it when I want to listen to 2-channel. After copious research and almost pulling the trigger a couple time on some amps by Cary and Rogue I came across Primaluna. I found Upscale Audio and they had a demo Dialogue One Integrated. I decided to go for it and ordered it. I received it less than a week ago and I've only had a few hours of listening. However, I am loving it. Unfortunately, I ordered a recertified DAC at the same time (not from Upscale), but the DAC was defective. It has been sent back and replacement arrives today. So I've primarily been listening using my Dragonfly Dac hooked up to my iphone with usb camera adaptor. Still, while its not quite the Mc/Dyn system, it does deliver the tube experience. My speakers are Totem Hawks. I was concerned that the PL wouldn't have enough grunt to drive these like my Peachtree Nova220 did as these aren't the most efficient speakers. So far its not an issue at all, and I also ordered a matching set of KT-120 tubes that I just put in yesterday to give the PL even more oomph. However, even using the stock EL34 tubes the PL didn't seem to break a sweat, so it will be interesting to see what the KT-120s deliver. How does it compare to the Peachtree? That's tough. I love Peachtree and have had many of their products. Its hard to say that the PL is better at this point, but it is different. The sound on the PL is more holographic and natural. The sound, similar to the Mc/Dyn system, appears more as a cloud of sound in the soundstage whereas with the PT everything is detailed, defined and neatly put in its place. They both sound great, but I'm mesmerized by the PL right now. Sorry for the long write up. I'll probably start a new thread on a review and comparison more once I get my dac running and spend more time with the PL. I'll also want to hook it up to the XMC-1 and see how it sounds in my downstairs HT system compared to the XPA-2. Should be interesting.
2 Channel "Man Nook"
Peachtree Nova 220se/Totem Acoustic Hawks
Home Theater Room/Kids Lounge
Emotiva XMC-1, XPA-2, XPA-100, BasX A-500
Aperion Verus Grand Towers & Center/Paradigm Cinema Surrounds