Words from the Editor:
Welcome to the 2014 edition of The Absolute Sound Buyer’s Guide to High-End Electronics. Electronics—amps, preamps, integrated amplifiers, phonostages, and headphone amps—are the workhorses of our high-end systems. In this Buyer’s Guide, you’ll discover which components stand out from the pack—which products are most likely to provide you with many thousands of hours of musical enjoyment from entry-level to reference-level.
With so many items to choose from on the Web and in the marketplace, it can be a daunting task to narrow down your next electronics purchase. The editorial staff and expert writers at The Absolute Sound have taken the guesswork and the tedium out of the process. We’ve culled through all the products we’ve reviewed over the past few years, and narrowed the list down to our consensus picks of the very best components for every budget. Perusing the 32 full-length reviews in this Buyer’s Guide will allow you to make an informed decision when it comes to your next high-end purchase, confident that we’ve done the heavy lifting for you. In addition to equipment reviews, you will also find familiar features from The Absolute Sound within the pages of this Buyer’s Guide, such as sneak previews of interesting new products in On The Horizon and an especially useful excerpt from Robert Harley’s The Complete Guide to High-End Audio (Fourth Edition), which explains how best to match your amplifier to your system and speakers. We hope you will consider this buyer’s guide exactly that—a guide to your next purchase that will help make this your best-sounding year yet. Happy listening! Spencer Holbert
The following Durob Audio products are listed by The Absolute Sound:
PrimaLuna DiaLogue Three Preamplifier
”This surprisingly hefty pre generates tremendous WOW factor—it’s difficult to believe that such engaging, gorgeous sound, coupled with a wonderfully expansive soundstage, can be had for such a relatively modest price. One of its most compelling virtues is that it lets music “breathe” and flow effortlessly. Admittedly, it may make many recordings sound better than they should by taking some of the upper midrange edge out of them (particularly on digital recordings). If you want to hear exactly what is on the mastertape or prefer an analytical presentation, the DiaLogue 3 may not be your cup of tea. But if you want to listen for hours without any aural fatigue and be transfixed by the musical performances and the gorgeous timbres of instruments and voices, you’ve come to the right place”
PrimaLuna ProLogue Premium Integrated Amplifier
”For PrimaLuna, the Premium Series is the tweener line, geared to bridge the gap between the performance/feature set of the entry-level ProLogue Series and that of the more advanced and costlier DiaLogue Series. Sonically, the 35Wpc ProLogue Premium does not have the rosy, euphonic colorations of traditional triode or SET tube varietals. True, there is a glimmer of romance in its palette, but tonally it’s a thoroughly contemporary tube amp that walks a mostly neutral line, yet still reproduces the lowest- level details of music with an almost tender delicacy and resolution that combine the best of the valve and solid- state worlds. There’s an inner light to images, plus a huge soundstage and cavernous dimensionality. The ProLogue Premium places the emphasis on ingredients that often elude more commonplace electronics—the liveliness and fluidity of the musical event”
PrimaLuna DiaLogue Premium Integrated Amplifier
”The Premium version of the DiaLogue incorporates select parts such as an ALPS volume control, Takman resistors, and SCR tin-foil coupling capacitors in critical signal-path locations. The front end is now all 12AU7- based. The amp ships with EL34 pentodes, but KT88 and even KT120 beam power tubes may be substituted, which nudges power output to 42Wpc. DO opines that the KT120 produces the best sonics in either ultra-linear or triode modes. Operation of the KT120 in triode mode is a potent option that can work miracles with some speaker loads, though output power is halved. You can hardly do any better when it comes to user- friendliness and operational flexibility. It is a tube roller’s delight as it dispenses with the bother of having to deal with biasing issues”
A fine example of the minimalist approach: a line preamp with an input selector (four line inputs) and a stepped- attenuator volume control. It can’t get any simpler than that, though some would certainly squawk at the omission of a balance control. It is built much like a power amp, featuring a massive power supply. Happily for DO it has also been “sprayed” with solid-state repellant. With the exception of rectifier bridges for the filament supplies and a handful of Zener diodes, this preamp is pure tube. Check out its sonic virtues: faithful to the original reverberant acoustic, a big-tone portrayal of cello and upright bass, edgeless presentation, and luxuriant harmonic textures devoid of gratuitous tube brightness or upper- midrange grain, especially when used with vintage 6SN7 substitutions. Where else can you find a budget preamp that performs at such a lofty level? A slightly closed-in treble highlights the midrange
The full The Absolute Sound Buyer’s guide to High-End Electronics you can find here!