PRIMARE I32

MJ17.10.2011

Integrated amplifiers

Scandinavian brands often use very austere and functional aesthetics to the best effect. The sound is not discussed, it is taken for granted. There is no need for exotic materials as well as there is no need for promotional poetry. Take Lyngdorf, Copland, Dynaudio, Dali or Hegel – all these rely upon hard-hitting functionalism in appropriate form – so does Primare.

100% reference

Function and form

100%
Ease of use
64%
Sound
92%
Appearance

The Primare I32 is not a slouch – it is a slim unit that weighs only 11kg, however, it can send 2x120W (into 8 ohms) or 2x230W (into 4 ohms) of power to a pair of speakers. The trick is in its class D mode; the I32 does not need a massive and heavy transformer neither it is armed with oversized heatsinks as the voltage conversion is efficient and produces minimum losses. Therefore the I32 is not really sensitive to placement and saves quite money from your pocket on electricity bills. The Class D amplifiers are for the aforementioned reasons (efficiency and size) used extensively in subwoofers and multichannel AV receivers, however, in highend applications there used to be issues associated with their instability at high frequencies due to insufficient feedback in their switching mode, resulting into typical artifacts like distortion, grain and harshness. Some developers use outsourced modules to tackle this (we reviewed Rotel’s RB-1091 that utilizes Bang & Olufsen’s IcePower circuitry), others, like Primare, developed their own solution. Primare uses ultrafast UFPD technology to monitor and control the feedback across the entire audio band so that the amplifier would be insensitive to impedance changes. On top of that it employs proprietary PFC (Power Factor Control) circuitry to synchronize sine waves of the power source with the mains voltage. As a result the I32 should be able to drive basically any speaker on the planet plus it should be less prone to EMI generated noise.

Bass management

Weight
81
Slam
78
Articulation
79

Well, what is the sound of the I32 then? It definitely and significantly improves on the sound of the I30. Primare somehow managed to preserve the assets of the former model and eliminated all its drawbacks, especially the aforementioned emotional flatness and uninspiring presentation. The new I32 is one of the most detailed and lively amplifiers I have heard, with the ability to captivate and entertain the listener. At moments I felt like it was asking: Have you ever heard your music like this? Indeed, I haven’t.

Clarity & delicacy

Detail
68
Air
69
Transparency
72

Turning the volume knob up does not cause the I32 to lose its breath, quite opposite, it injects further dose of adrenalin in your blood. The Primare I32 explodes with clean and extended dynamic (it has over 100dB signal to noise ratio on paper) already at normal listening levels, and even when listening at really high volumes, I did not hear any sign of congestion, distortion or strain. Louder you get the more you appreciate punchy and deep lows that are harmonically rich and rock solid on top of that. The musical orgies of Herbie Hancock’s piano and Stanley Clark’s double bass were injected with adrenaline through the Primare combo. I could not believe it is possible at the price level of €2400.

Tonal accuracy

Timbre
65
Dynamics
72
Temporal resolution
70

The duo of the Primare CD32 and the I32 can inject the adrenaline into your listening experience for it is very musical, very refined and very enthusiastic about music. This is not to say that the Primare cannot distinguish between diamonds and rust: otherwise brilliant Playing The Angel SACD (CDSTUMM260) of Depeche Mode became boring very soon due to messy and dynamically flat mastering of Sarah Register and Emily Lazar (can anybody stop these two ladies please?).

Spatial resolution

Holography
78
Soundstage width
76
Soundstage depth
78

For example, Herbie Hancock’s piano (The Gods of Jazz, Airto Moreira, Stereophile Test CD3) was unbelievable resonant with deep fundament and almost perfect three-dimensionality. Complemented with the Audio Physic Virgo V the Primare I32 was able to throw the picture that was almost holographic in its quality and I could easily follow the player’s hand moving along the piano’s keyboard. Also, when Herbie Hancock released the pedal, the piano string’s resonance was stopped with the realism that bordered a live jazz club performance.

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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