Primare R32 Phono Stage

I've been feeling for a while that I could be getting more out of my vinyl replay and thought that the little Music Fidelity X-LP that I have been using could be holding things back.  Having spoken to my dealer a while ago, he suggested tying the Primare R32, which was not a make I had ever heard of.  

As I happened to be passing the shop the other day I popped in to get some more inner sleeves for stuff that I have been cleaning with the RCM.  I asked again about the Primare and ended up bringing one home with me for a trial.  It took a few days to warm up and initially I was not too sure I liked what it was doing .  Sounded bright and too fast if that makes any sense, but it has really grown on me since with record after record getting spun.  Just wondered if any of you guys are using one of these and what your thoughts were.  Seems pretty good value and a one box plug and play option.  Any advice regarding the more obvious Linn or Naim equivalent kit or any other makes for that matter?

Regards

Nic

Original Post

Adam,

The Urika would be lovely, but also involves the Radikal.  Quite a pricey option.  The Superline is another two box solution that I'm sure would be lovely if funds allowed.  The Rega Aira is about the same price as the Primare and I suspect my dealer stocks that as well so I may be able to get a loan of one of those.  Not been wowed by Cyrus stuff that I've heard in the past, but thanks for your thoughts.  Having a home demonstration over a period of time is a luxury, but tends to focus the ears better than going by expectation alone.

Regards

Nic 

Hi Nicnaim,
There are a large number of phono stages out there, many of them with 5 star reviews (including the Primare R32)

Judging by the price of the Primare R32, you have a budget of around £900 and need it to work well with the Goldring Eroica cartridge.

I too have just tried a number of phono stages before selecting a new one.  There does seem to be a particularly sensitive synergy between a cartridge and its matching phono stage; sometimes a good cartridge and a good phono stage can sound okayish and another pairing can sound fabulous.  The Rega Aria is amazing with a Rega cartridge, a Dynavector P75 punches far above its weight (only) when paired with a Dynavector moving coil cartridge, while a Trilogy 907 is even more amazing with a Kiseki Blueheart.  

Perhaps we should not be too surprised by this.  At normal listening volumes in our house, the phono stage amplifies the cartridge's voltage by a factor of 2,000.  The Naim pre-amp & power amp together amplify the output voltage of the phono stage by a factor of only 2-4 times.  Little wonder that the interaction between the cartridge & the phono stage is so critical.

So, if your budget is around £900, I would ignore the Superline, Ulrika, Trilogy 907, Aurorasound Vida, the Allnic range etc. as they are all beyond the budget.

At the £900 price point, the following are all highly regarded: Primare R32, Rega Aria, Lehmann Black Cube, Dynavector P75 mark 3, Trilogy 906, Naim Stageline (with a used Hicap).  There are a number of others. 

If your dealer has personal experience of what works with the Goldring Eroika, recommends it and you like the combination, then go for it.  By all means try any of the well reviewed alternatives to satisfy your curiosity but don't be surprised if that magical synergy thing is missing for most of them.  I have just auditioned 8 highly rated phono stages to go with the Dynavector XX-2 and ended up with ... the one my dealer recommended.

Happy hunting!  FT

Hi Nicnaim,

I am using Primare R32 (black) too for about 4 years plus now. I have not make any phonostage comparision and since it is not the critical component for me to upgrade, I have made my mind to stick to it. Of course, if I do I would go for either Uphorik or Superline. Otherwise, I think it is worthwhile to consider Christopher's suggestion.

Cheers, Nasa.

I to am using a Primare R32 phono stage between my Funk Firm TT and  Supernait2, previously I've had Rega Aira, Whest Two , Trichord Dino and Dino+ and for me it is massive improvement over those. 

My brother visited and listened to it and he has since then replaced his phono stage with a R32 but also replace hi Supernait1 with the Primare i32 integrated and very nice it is to. 

Nic, you have an LP12 so how about a s/h Prefix - it fits inside the plinth - and with what's left of your budget, a secondhand Supercap?  A Prefix with Supercap is very special in a way that's almost impossible to find these days with most recent phono stages; it's earthy and ballsy - to borrow a phrase from The Who, it's meaty, beaty, big and bouncy.

Gents,

Thank you for all your responses.  You have given me quite a lot to think about.  I quite like the number of setting options on the Primare, because while I currently have the Eroica Cartridge, it would be good to have the flexibility to switch to between MM and MC in the future.  Budget is a factor but not critical, and you seem to get a lot of bang for your buck with the Primare, and this would be easier to get past SHMBO.  Also good to hear favourable reports from those already using the Primare and the Aria.  

Christopher-M, I do have a set of phono boards for the 52 somewhere, but I took them out following some advice about doing so if I was using a separate phono stage.  I could stick them back in and have a listen again, but from memory you had to really crank up the wick to get anything out of it.  This usually results in knocking yourself out of the chair when switching to another source.  As Foot Tapper says the output from the Primare means that I am listening at about 7-8 o'clock rather than 10-11, and when doing a comparison between the CDS3 and the LP12 with the same album/cd I actually had to turn the CD up to get the same volume rather than the other way around.

Adam, I love the description of the Prefix/Supercap option and it would effectively be just one more box.  I would need to understand how flexible the prefix is with possible changes of cartridge.  It would also maintain that synergy between the Naim kit.

Some further thinking to be done.  Thanks again

Regards

Nic 

Now auditioning the Aria. Playing right out of the box, unlike the Primare that took several days to warm up. Initial impressions are good. Half the size and a fraction of the weight of the Primare box.

Turns out the phono card from my 52 is for MM not MC so that is not an option. 

Christopher_M I've had the X-LP for a number of years, it was a cast off from one of my brothers, so owned only by two members of the same family from new.  I've no idea what is inside them and whether they can be re-capped like Naim gear, but it is simply just is not cutting the mustard any more and miles away from the sound of the Primare, albeit it a considerably cheaper piece of kit so it is not exactly apples with apples.  

Yes, the LP12 was upgraded  with Cirkus and trampolin a couple of years ago.  The Lingo 3 was added last year along with a new Eroica.  As far as I am aware Goldring do not have any suggestions regarding phono stages.  I imagine they leave that up to the users.

Foot Tapper and Adam, I had a good listen tonight, but hoping for further improvements in the coming days and it is only fair to give the Aria time to warm up and show me what it has got.  Different presentation to the Primare so far.  Slightly warmer, but less detailed.  The Primare was very slow to come on song and I was not at all sure about it until several days in.  The Aria sounded ok straight from cold, but not startling or obviously better than the Primare.  

Regards

Nic      

Christopher_M posted:

A new pair of 523S boards went for £132.19 on a popular auction site on 27th July. (But you want MM too, so keep the ones you've got as well).

And then either trouser the rest, or buy a Kore, in the knowledge that the phonostage is nothing compared with the up-together-ness of the record player.

C.

k90tour2 posted:

I have a Leema Agena.  Brilliant, detailed but not too bright and can be configured to suit.  Quiet expensive.  I bought mine used for about £1500.

You did well there on the headline price!  £2k discount.  Which system are you using it with?  Not in your profile.  What does it bring to the party?

Christopher_M posted:
Christopher_M posted:

A new pair of 523S boards went for £132.19 on a popular auction site on 27th July. (But you want MM too, so keep the ones you've got as well).

And then either trouser the rest, or buy a Kore, in the knowledge that the phonostage is nothing compared with the up-together-ness of the record player.

C.

Christopher,

One of my other dealers (Sorry I am a bit of a tart and spread my favours around, but the one who sold me the Lingo 3) asked me whether I was interested in a Kore.  I know nothing about it , but assume it is a less expensive version of the Keel.  What would that give me in your view?  If you have read any of my previous posts you will have gleaned that I know very little about how any of this stuff works, I just listen to it and tinker as the opportunity or money allows and where I can hear a worthwhile improvement.  The level of incremental improvement gets smaller the higher up the food chain you go, but I am still some way off that  so the improvements are generally very worthwhile in terms of listening enjoyment.

Regards

Nic 

nicnaim posted:
k90tour2 posted:

I have a Leema Agena.  Brilliant, detailed but not too bright and can be configured to suit.  Quiet expensive.  I bought mine used for about £1500.

You did well there on the headline price!  £2k discount.  Which system are you using it with?  Not in your profile.  What does it bring to the party?

Bought from a nice chap on the Fishy Forum.  It's currently hooked up to an Audio Research Reference 3 and Reference 75 Poweramp.  Just got the Ref 3 so I don't know yet.  Previously I was using an Audio Research SP20 as a preamp with the intention of streamlining the kit as the SP20 has both a phono and a headphone amp.  It was amazing on digital but I found I was listening to less and less vinyl.  I hooked up the Leema and instantly the body of the music that I was missing was restored.  I think the SP20 is cartridge fussy.  Loads of detail but thin with my Audio Technica OC9iii catridge.  The Leema + SP20 line input into Reference 75 was the best thing I've ever heard. There are lots of phono stages I could try but I think the Leema has enough potential for the time being.  Maybe an Audio Research Ref2 phono stage one day.  To be honest, I don't have a track record with these things, bit I think I know a good sound when I hear it, especially as I've has the SP20, and a 52/135 before that.

nicnaim posted:
Christopher_M posted:
Christopher_M posted:

A new pair of 523S boards went for £132.19 on a popular auction site on 27th July. (But you want MM too, so keep the ones you've got as well).

And then either trouser the rest, or buy a Kore, in the knowledge that the phonostage is nothing compared with the up-together-ness of the record player.

C.

Christopher,

One of my other dealers (Sorry I am a bit of a tart and spread my favours around, but the one who sold me the Lingo 3) asked me whether I was interested in a Kore.  I know nothing about it , but assume it is a less expensive version of the Keel.  What would that give me in your view?  If you have read any of my previous posts you will have gleaned that I know very little about how any of this stuff works, I just listen to it and tinker as the opportunity or money allows and where I can hear a worthwhile improvement.  The level of incremental improvement gets smaller the higher up the food chain you go, but I am still some way off that  so the improvements are generally very worthwhile in terms of listening enjoyment.

Regards

Nic 

Nic, I'm promiscuous too, and non techie. You've dealt with the motor speed with your Lingo3. You've an MC. You've partly dealt with the deck's inherent structural weaknesses with a Cirkus. All the latest sub-chassis (plural??) (of which the Kore is mid-price of three) improve on the original, a variant of which you have at the moment.

I've not heard a Linn with Kore. My dealer only keeps Keel which was very, very good. But I'm told Kore give a decent % of Keel performance for a lot less wedge. This I like, and will go for one day.

So I wouldn't faff too much with phonostage beyond 523S boards, Stageline S or Prefix S. I'd get the best sub-chassis I could afford so that the relatively modest phonostage (compared with what's out there) is fed with the best signal possible. Without the Kore etc., no amount of phonostage will be able to recreate what's already missing. All imo.

Best, Chris

Christopher,

Noted.  All points well made.  More to ponder.  Just been to see the Lovely Eggs tonight.  Now listening to their latest album on vinyl through the Aria.  Nothing compares to the visceral effect of a live performance for excitement, despite the better sound quality.  Worth seeking out live.  Funny as well as talented.

Regards

Nic 

k90tour2 posted:
nicnaim posted:
k90tour2 posted:

I have a Leema Agena.  Brilliant, detailed but not too bright and can be configured to suit.  Quiet expensive.  I bought mine used for about £1500.

You did well there on the headline price!  £2k discount.  Which system are you using it with?  Not in your profile.  What does it bring to the party?

Bought from a nice chap on the Fishy Forum.  It's currently hooked up to an Audio Research Reference 3 and Reference 75 Poweramp.  Just got the Ref 3 so I don't know yet.  Previously I was using an Audio Research SP20 as a preamp with the intention of streamlining the kit as the SP20 has both a phono and a headphone amp.  It was amazing on digital but I found I was listening to less and less vinyl.  I hooked up the Leema and instantly the body of the music that I was missing was restored.  I think the SP20 is cartridge fussy.  Loads of detail but thin with my Audio Technica OC9iii catridge.  The Leema + SP20 line input into Reference 75 was the best thing I've ever heard. There are lots of phono stages I could try but I think the Leema has enough potential for the time being.  Maybe an Audio Research Ref2 phono stage one day.  To be honest, I don't have a track record with these things, bit I think I know a good sound when I hear it, especially as I've has the SP20, and a 52/135 before that.

k90tor2,

All sounds good.  The most obvious benefit being that you are enjoying your vinyl.  Thanks for your feedback.

Regards

Nic

Ok gents, some feedback.  After extended demos of the Primare, Aria, Stageline, and Cyrus Signature, I eventually ordered the Primare.

My thoughts individually were:

Primare - Took a while to come on song, but really got my feet tapping when it did.  Built like a brick outhouse and no nonsense.  Mitrovitch rather than Gayle in football terms.

Aria - Sounded good straight out of the box, nice sound, but ultimately  a bit too polite.

Stageline - No real improvement over the XLP although not heard with separate power supply, just fed from 52.

Cyrus Signature - Really like what this did with some musical styles particularly vocals and acoustic instruments, but I was less impressed with the more full on rock/jazz stuff.  Seemed to lack a bit of grunt and muscle in the bass area.  I'm told I could probably get around this by adjusting the capacitance and resistance settings for individual records, but that seem way too much of a faff.  Sorely tempted by it, but ultimately I did not feel it was worth the extra £400 given the things that I thought let it down.

Time will tell if I have made the right choice, and who knows what will come further down the line.  Prefix/Supercap was not something I was able to listen as not readily available, and Uphorik/Superline/Ulrika/Radikal/Kore/New arm etc will just have to wait until a few more beer tokens have been saved.  

Thanks for all your input.

Regards

Nic

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