There are not enough good phono preamps in this world. In the times of stabilized vinyl sales, the phono stages are a compulsory part of any serious manufacturer’s catalogue, as well as DACs. While to build an excellent DAC requires specific set of skills, the phono business may rely on solutions that has been tested by several generations of audiophiles. PrimaLuna knows how to implement them to the listener´s satisfaction.

100% reference

Function and form

Ease of use

The EVO 100 Tube Phono preamp exhibits old-school simplicity, although connectors, control knobs and switches occupy – quite unusually – all panels of the unit except the bottom plate. There are RCA inputs and RCA outputs around the back of the unit, plus a grounding post, and an IEC inlet. The mains rocker switch sits on one of the PrimaLuna’s side panel, the selector for MM capacitance (47/100pF) on the other. More functions are accessible from the front panel: the left knob is an MC load selector (50, 100, 200, 500, 1000 ohms), the right knob adjusts the MC gain (low 52dB, medium 56dB, high 60dB). For MM mode the gain is specified at 40dB. Output impedance is specified at 100 ohms.

The EVO 100 cannot be hidden – it is the size of a regular amplifier (and quite a heavy one with 13kg of weight), with a paint-coated steel chassis and a removable cage protecting 2x 5AR4s and 2x EL34 for power supply, 4x 12AX7 for the MM stage, and 2x 6922 double triodes for the MC (the MC tubes are hidden behind a glass cover). The front panel is black (or silver) anodized aluminium piece. As with other PrimaLuna gear, the internals stay away from printed boards and are using point-to-point soldering with a large cross-section shielded wires.

Bass management


The sound of the PrimaLuna can be ‘adjusted’ by replacing the tubes with the ones of your choice. Considering that such a job can transform the sound of the device into something not resembling the original sound (read Audiodrom’s article about 12AX7 tubes) makes me a bit nervous about describing ‘the sound’ of the EVO 100. I guess that the manufacturer spent some time by selecting, combining and biasing the tubes, and therefore the preamplifier is voiced as good as it can be. PrimaLuna uses Sovtek, Psvane and Elektro Harmonix. If this is not the voice of yours, you can search for better tube match. In fact, this is one of the things that scares me off from tubed gear, although I must acknowledge that the pleasure of listening to it can’t be easily replaced by solid-state designs. This said, this PrimaLuna phono preamp embodies all you want from a fully analog piece of electronics.

Clarity & delicacy


The phono preamplifier will be connected to a turntable. This way it does not really matter what comes next down to the audio chain, as the front end will be completely old-school: vinyl and tubes. Such a combination can only yield fantastic midrange, slightly rolled off treble, and rounded warm midbass. Still, the EVO 100 adds a good portion of resolution and speed to the mix, and the resulting sound is surprisingly agile and resolved.

Tonal accuracy

Temporal resolution

There is a certain fingerprint that the PrimaLuna leaves on the sound. The sound is kissed by golden dust, and it is flavoured by warm spices. But not too much. While I expected Rutter´s Requiem to become a cotton ball of voices, the EVO 100 made the choir distinct both as a choir and as individual voices. Still, the instrumental textures were very smooth and embracing, and left no doubt that I was listening to a tubed preamplifier. I would not say the sound was coloured, but certainly it was flavoured with a good taste of the PrimaLuna designers.

Spatial resolution

Soundstage width
Soundstage depth

During the ten days I spent with the EVO 100, I found myself enjoying the music more as a listener, than an audiophile. It was very entertaining to hear my Magico M3’s sound like that, with the extra dose of romantism that improved their otherwise drier colour spectra. Of course, when compared to other good phono stages that I had tested, the PrimaLuna did not stepped out from its price range. For example, while the harmonics of the tubes helped the soundstage bloom and I could bath in the sound, the way the instruments and voices were locked in the soundstage was less accomplished than with truly high-end phonos. Also, the bass was voiced for tunefulness, rather than for precision, and the top end could have a bit more spark for my taste. But again: in the domain of affordable products designers must make smart choices if they want the product stand out and provide a lot of value for the money asked. I think PrimaLuna succeeded to build a phono preamplifier that has no weaknesses and is worth every cent paid - and more.

Price as reviewed:98 000,- Kč

Recommended resellers

Kohut Audio, Košice, tel. +421 905 642 156

Associated components

  • Sources: CD/SACD/DVD-A Linn Unidisk 1.1, TW-Acustic Raven One, Graham Phantom tonearm, Transfiguration Orpheus cartridge
  • Amplifiers: Constellation Audio Pictor/Taurus, phono Gruensch Reference Phonostage MCS
  • Interconnects and speaker cables: MIT MA, MIT MA-X XLR, MIT V2.1 Oracle, Stealth Audio Hyperphono
  • Loudspeakers: Magico M3 MPod
  • Power conditioning: Shunyata Research Triton v2/Typhon, Shunyata Research Python Zi-Tron, Shunyata Research Sigma v2 XC a v2 NR



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