I’ve got the upgrade itch

Thinking about going back to separates.  My current setup is a Primaluna Dialogue Premium Integrated amp.  Since the Primaluna has an HT input, I can do the upgrade in two steps, upgrading the preamp first. I am thinking about a 6SN7 based preamp, such as Sachs, Supratek, or, an Atma-Sphere MP-3 (if I can stretch the budget).

Question, will the preamp switch make a big difference over the preamp stage in the Primaluna??


I would have to say yes just because preamps are so critical to the sound of a system and they can sound so different.  Is the pre section of the PL passive?

I would recommend it, and the Atma-spherica, if you would like to take your system to the next level. The preamp is the heart of a system. Prima Luna is great budget stuff, but Atma-spheric is audiophile stuff. It captures levels of greater nuance… and as you couple it with better associated equipment, it will sound better and better. 

Save up if required. Go for the MP-3. My systems are shown under my ID.

I’m a huge fan of Atmasphere too, but you really need to commit to going fully balanced to get what their gear is capable of.  Also, I’m not sure you should limit yourself to a certain tube type.  Rather, it might be better to just identify what sound characteristics are most important to you and what improvements you’re looking for and just let that be your guide.  That said, what are you looking for?

Stretch the budget a little and spend on the preamp.  It is a crucial component.  The amp is too, of course but a bad system match where the preamp is the weak point can make the rest of your system sound , dull, bright, recessed, too forward..... whatever bad nasties you can think of can be due to the preamp.  It is as important as your speaker choice, it influences the overall character of a system 

I recently posted a similar thread and got some really good advice. You can check out my threads to see the details. 

If you can demo separates in home that is a huge plus....  About 10 years ago I demo'd a preamp in stor e but in a $50k system (it was a $3000 pre) .  It sounded so good in that set up that I was fairly confident it was a good bang for the buck performance wise.  Turned out to be a great unit, I had it almost 10 years .

I have a Cary SLP-05. Love it. It has eight 6SN7 tubes. Two just for headphone out so they sound great. You can buy it direct with a 30 day audition. It is end game preamp. 


I own that same amp that the OP does. In my opinion, the preamp is the weak link in that integrated. I also use the home theater bypass to run amp direct from my Weiss 501, which controls the volume. A very nice feature of the PrimaLuna is the home theater bypass which totally cuts the preamp out of the signal chain. Running amp direct as opposed to preamp is a substantial sonic difference

@roxy54 I would have to imagine Atma-spherica is how a good Atma-sphere system makes your room sound. ;) And to the OP a good preamp should make a significant difference and your ideas are good ones.