The Absolute Sound December Heavy Digital Reviews

In light of the Octave threads and discussions of closed and open systems, Absolute Sound had many reviews and in one they compare the PrimaLuna DAC to the PS Audio DSD. Although I didn’t agree with the review particularly, you’ll have to decide for yourself. There was strong praise for the DSD but more so for the PrimaLuna.

The PrimaLuna has a wonderful sound, and at a great price.

I enjoy the use of a tube to create the oscillation wave for its clock.

Strange stuff…all their gear point to point wired…my preamp is, too, but at nearly 10 times the price. Would be interesting to have a listen at a show.

Yes, all my amplification and pre-amplification gear (with the exception of my PS Audio NuWave Phono Preamp) is point to point wired, most with only parts leads due to careful layout, and only one has a circuit board, which is only for the remote. And priced more along the Iine of the Prima Luna.

Using that tube in the clock is intriguing! Curious how that might sound but not in the market for a DAC (and without an audio budget at all for a while!)

Doesn’t surprise me that the PL dac is getting great reviews. If it is half as good as their Dialogue Premium preamp…then PL has a world beater on their hands.

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It sounded great at axpona withe the monoblocks on goldenear Triton refs.

This is rather intriguing.

The SuperTubeClock™

This is where the magic happens… the SuperTubeClock™ replaces the solid state oscillator normally found in a DAC with a mini triode vacuum tube. By using a tube, we have significantly lowered the amount of jitter and noise, resulting in superior detail retrieval. This in turn yields superior detail and dynamics from top to bottom, and improved overall musicality.

Do you know if the DSD they used to make the comparison had the latest firmware update, Windom?

I was amused about the explanation of the choice and performance of the tube. PL says that it removes jitter. Um OK, but tubes aren’t without their own contributions. IE some distortion and non linear performance. It’s an amusing implementation. If it was a panacea, we would see these everywhere. I would be concerned about longevity and serviceability, as the tube is hardwired and needs to be sent to a service center for a replacement.

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It did not. I assume it was Snowmass.

I’m moving away from tubes, because they require frequent replacement and because they degrade over time. I’m sure those are not common/big problems for the small signals that tube handles, but I just couldn’t handle listening to my gear degrade over time. I’m already too uptight about audio, why add to it?

I’m reading the review now. He confirms it was Snowmass.

The review suggests that the PrimaLuna has a more “forward” presentation than the DirectStream. That reads to me like it is a bit brighter, more detail-oriented, with a bring-the-performance-to-your-room sound (as opposed to bringing you to the performance). I very much prefer the laid-back, behind-the-speakers presentation that I got from the DirectStream. I don’t want my stereo tugging at my ear. If I was still running Aerial Acoustics speakers, I might be more interested in the PrimaLuna (if it weren’t for those rotting tubes).


Prima Luna made a very sensible decision about 7 or 8 years ago to keep design in the Netherlands and move production to China, supervised by their own management. This was on the premise that a Chinese person can solder just as well as a Dutchman, or anyone else for that matter, but at a much lower cost. It has been a great success for them and their customers - as long as you are OK with valves.