Digital sources

What we have here is a brand new Primare that can be characterized as a highly detailed device - almost studio-like - that can play back music with enthusiasm and passion. With an elegant nonchalance the player extract the information from silver dics bit by bit as if it was asking 'Have you ever heard this?'

Function and form

Ease of use

The Primare CD32 is a step up from the CD31. Unlike a multi-format CD/DVD ROM transport that are popular among many producers today, the CD32 uses a dedicated CD transport with Sanyo optics and Toshiba processing. The reading circuits incorporate a five seconds buffer memory to minimize jitter and enhance transport’s shock and vibration resistance. A listener may choose whether or not resample data to 48kHz or 96KHz before dual Burr-Brown PCM1704 DACs are fed with the signal. For processors the CD32 uses a switch mode power supply, its digital and analogue circuits are supplied from a transformer with separate windings for each. The player sports both symmetric (XLR) and single-ended (RCA) pairs of outputs as well as a complete array of digital connections – coaxial, optical Toslink and AES/EBU. On top of that there is a USB-standard input plus ins & outs for IR and Primare system trigger.

Bass management


I liked the way the Primare CD32 player drew the background of the music. The CD32 could find balance between pitch black nothingness (a bad thing) and electronic noise (another bad thing). It just projected a very natural and clean canvas for the music playback and therefore I enjoyed the fine embroidery of dynamic micro-contrasts, like those in the excellent recording of Tiger Okoshi’s On Green Dolphin Street (Tiger Okoshi, Two Sides to Every Story). The Tiger’s trumpet was like a laser whiplash that was exploding in fiery bursts and outshining DeJohnette – Goldstein – Holland – Stern quartet. The Primare was easily able to follow both huge dynamic shifts and the parts where instruments were just smoldering before another attack left me completely mesmerized.

Clarity & delicacy


With the Primare in control, the crystalline voice of Maggie Reilly also effortlessly hovered over tapestries of Oldfield’s guitars (Mike Oldfield, To France – Platinum). The track exhibited a great degree of cohesiveness with zero lumpiness across the whole audioband and this fluidity proved itself to be very addictive. Few months ago TR reviewed the belt-driven C.E.C. TL-51 XR CD player (he still uses it in his home system on a long-term loan) that has received his warm recommendation. The TL-51XR and the CD32 are in a similar price category so I was tempted to make a direct comparison.

Tonal accuracy

Temporal resolution

The C.E.C. is indeed a good performer: it is more relaxed than the Primare, the voice of Maggie is very fluid and caresses my ears. Still, I clearly preferred the CD32 over the TL-51 XR. The former was more authoritative and cymbal hits were sound and ringing with clarity and textures whereas the latter did not get over its digital origin (its highs were not grainy at all but still audibly grainier than those of the Primare). The C.E.C. is excellent in mids, the Primare is even better, and the same extends to the lows. I have to openly say that it is been ages since I had a chance to listen to such a good CD player in the sub 3000 Euros category.

Spatial resolution

Soundstage width
Soundstage depth

Primare is of a fully modular design: one can basically configure the the Primare amps like the I32 according to his or her needs, not unlike Lego blocks. Thus you can extend your Primare system capabilities with digital coaxial or optical inputs, coaxial outputs, USB inputs or iPod and iPhone interface, WiFi and FM antenna and many more. The modules are easily replaceable like ordinary cartridges, and should you need a software upgrade Primare is ready to help.

Both the I32 integrated and CD32 use a simple steel chassis with a front subpanel with all buttons and knobs perfectly immersed in it. Primare typically uses only 3 feet instead of four which provides more effective decoupling as well as better stability on a shelf. The reviewed components were in black finish that nicely complements Primare’s austere aesthetic, however, you can have titanium finish if you wish.

Primare incorporates white modern OLED displays so the displayed characters can boast of high contrast and perfect legibility from a distance and from a wide angle. The level of brightness is adjustable or can be switched off, as well as the display will auto-dim during playback – all these contribute to listening comfort at night.

The displays are the only means how to reach and adjust most Primare’s functions. You can either use a remote controller or to kneel down in front of the components to be able to scroll through different menus. It is quite intuitive and easy task, however. After one minute you would get accustomed to it and after five minutes you already feel at home. Sometimes the developers who program such units are a bit distracted from reality and a user gets lost within the menu soon - it is therefore more than nice to find the user friendliness in the Primare.

Price as reviewed:60 000,- Kč

Recommended resellers

Platan Audio, Hlohovec / Bratislava, tel. +421 905 409 802

Associated components

  • Sources: C.E.C. TL-51 XR
  • Amplifiers: Primare I32
  • Loudspeakers: Audio Physic Virgo V, Velodyne SPL-1000 Ultra
  • Interconnects and speaker cables: Krautwire Fractal, Homegrown Audio DNA a Van den Hul The Orchid, Audioquest CV-4, Nordost Purple Flare, Rapport and VDH The Revolution
  • Power conditioning: Isotek Multiway



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