Upgrading from Primaluna

Recently went down the front end upgrade path and am running a nice table and phono now. I'm curious as to what the weaker link in my system is between my Primaluna Dialogue Premium Preamp and my Dialogue Premium Hp Power Amp. I'm considering swapping out the amp to a Ps Audio BHK250 for the summer to avoid heat, but am curious if I would be better off dealing with the heat and moving up to say an Allnic L-7000/Arc Ref 3 for the Pre. I'm happy with tubes on the front end, but curious if I'm running out of gas with 88DB efficient speakers and a single chassis tube amp. Which amp would you upgrade first and what benefits would you expect?


I'm considering swapping out the amp to a Ps Audio BHK250

I have not heard a BHK250 but you can expect more punch, power, and perhaps some clarity. Worth a try.

Based on the profile pics, your speaker setup and room are far from ideal to hear what your setup can do.

After that, get a "better" table/ phono amp. It starts at the source. 

Your Focals/PL gear will support far "better" table/ phono amp.

When your wallet recovers, revisit the "should I upgrade the amp" idea and double what you paid for the PL stuff.

@tablejockey my table is now a Clearaudio Ovation with the Hana ML and my phonostage is an Allnic H-3000. Also, a BHK would be double what I paid so Im guessing the 250 should outperform sound and headroom wise what the PL is putting out from the amp.

I have to agree with @russ69. I would work with what you have until it is optimized. Judging by only one photo. The speakers look too close together, the system should be moved from between the speakers. The front wall needs dampening. You might have a look at my main system to get a feel for a set up. But I bet you can very significantly improve your system by setting it up. 

I would also try out any ss amp you may be thinking about… it can be a problematic trade off.. My history has been to move towards tubes not away. I highly recommend Audio Research as upgrades… Preamp, Phonostage, amp, or DAC.


looks like you have the gear handled.

Room/speaker setup looks compromised-diffusion/damping and giving those Sopras room to breath in that small room appears to be the challenge.

Don't forget the ceiling-often neglected-diffuse/damp with panels.



@ghdprentice my room is small so I'm dealing with 10ft width and 15ft length so 6ft between speakers and 2 ft from side walls is all I've really got. I do have custom made acoustic panels next to the speakers on each side (4ft tall and 3ft wide with rock wool). I guess moving my gear could benefit, but with such limited space is it really a starting point rather than an ending point? Looking at ASC tube traps for the corners, but also upgrading power amp for more control. Any other advice?

I'd agree with most of the above, work on room, the Hana could be improved upon. Moving away from tubes may not be what you want, I had modded PL Dialogue Four, tried moving away from tubes to SS for summer listening, didn't work for me. In my case went to 300B monoblocks, although that solution wouldn't work for you with 88db speakers. I do agree you'd have to spend much more to substantially improve upon PL.

I"d also try diffusion as well as absorption at first reflection points. The 10' width really does limit you. With that small of size of room I don't see how amp power is a concern, unless you have severe impedance curve and amp has trouble coping. Quality of those watts of more importance if impedance not an issue.


Re speaker width try moving you speakers about one foot each toward the side walls and then cant (toe in) the speakers until the axis of your speakers cross in front of your listening position. Obviously it helps like hell if you can deaden the first reflection points but it is not as critical with the severe toe in. Also, I don't recall seeing you comment about the location of your listening chair, but it would probably be best located about 8 to 9 feet from the plane of the speakers (if aesthetics allow :-).

I have Sopra 2 running off BHK 250. I had a Krell KAV2250. Both are rated for 250x2 but believe it or not the PS Audio has way more power and slam for big hits. I bought used for 4000. Have not tried rolling tubes yet for sound changes but looking into that once the tube market settles down 



Thanks for the additional info. Photos would help also. From what you say of your room… even more the reason to work on room treatments, definitely. You want dampening behind you speakers… dampening along the side wall at reflection points, tube traps in the corner. You have tremendous opportunity to improve what you have.


If you post some more photos, we can perhaps be more helpful. Corner diffusers are really cheap… could also help.

How much heat can it possibly make? Is it appreciable enough to even worry about or to make much of a difference in room temp? I own a class A Amp that gets quite hot, but I mean I'm not sitting on top of it or near it. I use it year round...no idea why some make this an actual issue..it isn't. 

" 10ft width and 15ft length so 6ft between speakers and 2 ft from side walls is all I've really got."

With not much to work with other than it is a dedicated space, it suggests almost nearfield setup and those Sopras need to be pushed out 4.5ft away from the front wall, and your already sidewall is near "right"(depending how your measuring)it's actually CLOSER together.


Using the 1/3  it would be around  5' or Cardas calculation above. You should have your chair distanced accordingly.

Rack needs to go either behind you or somewhere on the side.

Depending how those speakers react THEN, is what you're faced with. The DSP thing with a mic to "tell you" what your ears are "missing."  wouldn't invest in anything until you compare results and consult with the room acoustics companies.

You have a Sopra 1 and subs room perhaps to some. IMO, you still will  get the Sopra 2's to "work."

How loud do you like it playing?
If you are not playing it loudly and clipping, then more amp is not going to do a lot.

You might have less distortion. Whether than matters or not is a different question.

Ignore any of the posts that are off topic. Your question was about maybe trying a bhk essentially, I say maybe build a short list of more powerful amps both ss and tubed and find a way to try a couple. Those other posts are full of assumptions.

I think you could benefit from moving your speaker outwards and revisit your front end components. Maybe even going to a speaker that fits your room better. 

…Those other posts are full of assumptions

respectfully I would submit that determining the SPL and maximum power the OP is using currently, would be germane as to whether more power is needed.

Like the OP, I too have a Dialogue Premium HP. It seems to pump out 90 dB(A) as measured with an iPad NIOSH app, at ~9’ in a room that is big in spatial volume… and it sounds “o’roight” doing so.
And my speakers are perhaps a bit less efficient than the OP’s??


There are 2 problems with those Sopra 2 speakers:

  1. The load is a bit difficult to drive as. It is low impedance and also the phase angle gets high.
  2. The distortion is low, which is good. So they tend have a bit of a quiet sound, and to me they begged for the volume to be turned up.

(When I heard them, they did sound great.)
Hence - with the combo of 1 & 2, I would probably upgrade the amp first.


I assume that the OP is using the 4 ohm tap?
They may also benefit from a set of KT120s if they wanted to keep the PL amp.
Maybe that would allow them to punch a bit harder?

You could consider upgrading to a newer PL setup.  I bought EVO400 separates last fall, and I fall more in love with the whole rig every day.  Hoo whee!

2 ft from the side walls sound correct. However, that measurement should be from the tweeter or center of the speaker...not taken from the outside edge of the speaker. 

And yes, do add diffusion/absorption on the front wall and look at the ceiling as well. These will make the speakers 'see' your room as bigger.

Think of the front 1/3 of the space as the highest priority to 'soften' and diffuse.


I had my Evo 400 running my old 88db 6ohm Salk speakers on the 4ohm taps for years before I tried the 8ohm taps for kicks. Upper treble and mids were much better with 8ohm taps with no adverse response from the bass. I could have kicked myself. I assumed because the Salks dip to 3ohms that the 4ohm taps were the way to go.

If you run the numbers, the DPHP should have enough power to push your speakers to ear damaging volume cleanly. I used mine with 87dB Dynaudios until I moved on to more efficient speakers. Having options is good though. A solid state amp could be a nice complement to the DPHP, even if it’s more of a lateral move than a clear upgrade. Sorry I don’t have any recommendations though. I went for low power Class A which wouldn’t have enough grunt for your situation. 

I had a HP in a smaller room with power needy speakers and went to a more powerful integrated. For my setup it was just the ticket. More punch and a fuller sound at low volumes too. KT120/150’s would be cheaper than other options despite current tube costs. 

Toe in those bad boys. 

I would advise a consultation with Jeff at HD Acoustics. He specializes in small room acoustics. He designed my new listening room and it would be well worth it to have him take a look at your room. Good luck!



About room acoustics, with a room only 15' deep, you need some corner bass traps and a lot of diffusers in the back third of the room since you likely have very little space behind your listening position. I agree 100% with the posters emphasizing the need to work with your room and equipment placement first. A sure way to waste less money down the road in fruitless equipment upgrades. Take a look at my room setup. Enjoy the journey.

I went down the high power road for a while.  I had my own personal room heater with 4x 6c33c tubes.  Now with my efficient speakers I'm running 6 wpc of decware and much better sound, my amp makes less heat than my TV, and I can listen or use it for my 2 front channels of AV all day long.  Highly recommend Decware.


For 2k more I would get 2 PL Evo 400 amps and mono block. If the El34 tubes aren't enough power you can always get KT150 tubes. Don't give up the tubes because of a little heat. I run them in my basement system. 

Your speakers look too close together.  I wish I knew why some like tube amplifiers over solid state?  Seems to me, people with tube amplifiers are always buying tubes.  I also prefer to put my gear into an enclosed entertainment cabinet so it looks nice in a nicely furnished living room.

@larry5729. Sound quality… the way music comes through… more technically midrange bloom as well as rhythm and pace.

With your 88db speakers you'll be hard pushed to get a decent upgrade over PL Dialogue HP. With tube amps you need to spend at least double if not triple the amount to hear real improvement with those speakers. SS amps at similar price class are almost all dry and sterile sounding in comparison in my experience - don't get me wrong, they are perfect, but they just do not excite nor provoke you to listen as the tube PL does. There's an extra level and dimension in that tube sound, SS amps just don't hit that spot, at least in this price range.


I also have 85db sensitive speakers so I share the dilemma. Thus I'd recommend another option not covered here (albeit a controversial one but I'll exmplain this below): modify your Dialogue Premium HP.

PLs are indeed well designed amps for the money, for 98% of the cases I wouldn't touch it and wouldn't recommend touching it. But for those those 2% who look for the very perfecrtion there are certain weaknesses that you can exploit to max out their design to fuller potential. With customized tubes you can do a lot improvements, but internally PLs main weakness are the coupling and power tube caps. I recapped mine with coupling V-Caps TFTF. Not cheap, mind. And takes ages to run-in (V-Cap measurements say around 1000 hours to full burn-in , but I noticed considerable improvement around 200-300 hour mark already).

If you have the dosh, consider also the powertube caps converted to V-Caps. There's enough room to fit those lardy caps. Those will be considerable improvement over stock DuRoch caps. I didn't have enough and went for Jupiter Copper Foil caps for power tubes instead.

Those Jupiter Copper Foil & Wax caps are controversial since some people rave about their sound, yet those who have measured them in detail tend to be dissapointed (small distortions measured). IMHO Jupiter cap stands where psychoacoustic hearing preference is set above measurements, hence they have their subtle speciefic sound character, you may like or may not. After nearly a year living with them, I got to say I love their sonics to bits!

After this recap mod and burn-in my HP Integrated took another sonic level and IMHO rivalling amps at a much higher price class. The sonic finesse really impresses me the more I listen and the more I adore the sound. Now I have no plan to sell it, at least within 10 year perspective, unless I find something staggeringly better at this price class among tube amps, which I doubt. So my HP  now is probably a lifetime keeper.


So maybe this HP mod route is worth considering for you as well.


Just me 2c,


Keep the PL absolutely. Try the KT150 tubes. Another world. More punch, more bass and delicious High. 

@j-wall Very nice system!

Changing the amps will change the sound, you can definitely try that! Audio Research Ref line is top notch stuff and the odds are there will be a good improvement sonically by switching to ARC Ref series components.

But…the room acoustics and speaker placement is something you will run into no matter what preamp or amp you are using.
I don’t know what what you mean by acoustic panels next to the speakers. What I would recommend is trying the following:

1. Spread the speakers further apart to about 1.5ft or even 1ft from side wall

2. Move the acoustics panels to treat the first reflection points (have panels on the side walls approximately midpoint between you and speakers)

3. Adjust the toe in to get the imaging to your liking. Adjust distance between listening chair to speakers.

4. I would also add bass traps behind the speakers

Suggestions above to move the rack are valid but I would focus on acoustic treatments before making any other changes.


@tablejockey @ghdprentice @audphile1 I've uploaded pictures of my acoustic panels I made, that are in the room. I'm unable to hang them on the walls due to renting. If I move the speakers closer to the wall wouldn't it be detrimental having a speaker inches away from the panel? Also, see the storage box on the ground in the one photo? I was attempting not to cause problems with the bass pumping right into that, so that's also why I've moved the speakers out 2 feet from each wall. 

Ok…exactly what I thought it would look like. 
my recommendation was to pull the panels more into the room leaning them again the wall. Position them so the one on the left is leaning on the wall and the one on the right is standing on the storage box. Midpoint between where you sit and the speakers. 
Then move the speakers further apart to about 1-1.5ft from side walls. Now you’re treating your first reflection point. The way you have the panels now they don’t do much. 

To add…don’t worry too much about the storage box as I don’t think it will interfere or impact the presentation a lot (woofers aren’t as directional as mid or tweeter drivers). The speaker toe in will be important to achieve the best imaging.

All this takes minutes to do but should make the sound more coherent.

Not trying to derail your original ask about the equipment change…just thinking this will help lay the foundation. 

j-wall, FWIW, as you can tell from my previous post I pretty much agree with audphile but, FWIW when I had my speakers too close together relative to the listening position the mid-range was very muddy and did not really clear up until my set up was much closer to an equilateral triangle. For an experiment your speakers are 6ft (+/-) apart - try moving your chair so that it is 6 to 7 feet back from the plane of your speakers and see what happens. I'm NOT suggesting this as an ultimate set up, just as an illustration of what occurs, sound wise, when your speakers are further apart relative to your listening position. BTW, I agree with moving your panels forward to help kill side wall reflections. And DO try some substantial toe in as well. As this advise, bear in mind it is free, only takes a short while to try, and might save you the expense and time involved in upgrading your components.

Good luck.

Good gear vs expectations vs small room and that buildout on the right side.

You've got challenges. Don't expect demo room performance.

I would try the 1/3 concept.  It's free and most certainly, Sopras WILL sound more "airy" 4-5' out. Your seat will be approximately same from rear wall. Embrace(almost) nearfield listening. Less room interaction.

Now tapping out. I have no qualifications in room acoustics/physics.

You're doing haphazard room treatment without the mic/computer exercise to verify what you think you are or are not missing.


I have the PL300 and the 400, running in mono block with Tannoy Kensington and Avant grade DUO XD; if I were to do it again I would buy the 300.

The 400’s offer so little more than the 300s, at a huge expense if you change tubes.

I listen to your speakers with a Diablo 300, just magic combination; I also listened them with a Pathos Heritage, great combo but not as good as with the Diablo 300, the Heritage had a little trouble driving them at low volumes so they did not sound big and relaxed. I auditioned your speakers vs the Tannoy at Upscale with a 300 and 400, the PLs just do not have the drive these speakers need. For the PLs you need 90+ efficiency especially if you listen at normal levels then you can get the best out of the amps. to my ears the 300 drove the Focal better than the 400, but that is my ears, which did not know if it was a 400 or a 300.

If you want to add some tube color get a tube preamp, your speakers are not easy to drive, especially at lower volumes, they need the power to open up and then they are very nice speakers.

Pardon my English, not native :)

Definitely get the speakers farther apart and toed in more.  It costs nothing.  Move your listening seat forward to create an equilateral triangle, you can move it back a bit, =10%, later.  Don't know how the PL sounds with your speakers, you could ask that crazy guy on the West coast for advise.  PS audio gives you a free trial period so no risk to order.  That SS amp will sound very different than the PL.  This may not work... but, can you move the speakers to the long wall?  May be a real improvement if it can be done.

Have fun!

Also, want a cool running amp?  Try PS Audio's Class D mono blocks. My Wilson dealer tells me he's got some customers with big Wilson's running them and they sold pretty good.  A reasonable endorsement.

I own a PS Audio 250 amp and matching pre amp and I am very happy with the sound. My speakers are floor standing SF

I had the PrimaLuna EVO400 preamp and power amp combo.  I wanted SS as well and replaced the PL combo with a Luxman L-509X integrated amp.  I like it better than the PL I had, although the PL was very nice.  The Gryphon Diablo 120 or 300 is the only other integrated amps I would like to hear in my setup in the future. It sounds like you want to stick with separates, but the integrated amps I mentioned are well respected pieces.  The new Luxman M-10X power amp will have more juice than my L-509X integrated amp since more power is your goal.

I modded a PL Dialogue HP before.  I found the two coupling caps (as shown in Margu's photo they are the black VCaps) make the most improvement and are coincidentally the easiest to swap out.  These are directly in the signal path. 

While I ended up doing a full recap, (even more than Margus did), I found the others didn't make a significant difference.  Before doing the caps on the power tubes, I'd even try the two films linked on the massive Nichicon electrolytic that smooth out the power supply. 

All that said, modifying the Primaluna did make it sound better but it didn't make me love it more so I sold it. 


My first Allnic pre was a used L3000 MKII and I thought it was great, it cost about the same as your Dialogue new.  When I sold it for a used L7000SE I was very happy I did.  It was night and day improvement.  I recently sold it for a new L8000.  The L8000 is better but the L7000SE was excellent at half the cost.   I would never go back to the L3000MKII but could easily live with the L7000SE.

I think you will be very pleased with the improvement with the L7000.

@newbee @audphile1 @coppy777 you all were right. Speakers were moved to 16" from the side walls and sound so much better. Still 48" from front Wall. Panels pulled and more able to capture highs instead of bouncing around the room before coming back to the speakers to be trapped. An awesome and definitely free upgrade. ASC Tube Traps and preamp still in consideration as most think the PL Dialogue Premium HP is fine for now (possibly moving up later). Still eyeing the Allnic L7000 @anzaanimalclinic ​​​​​​

Honestly I would keep your front end and go with some more efficient speakers. For years I dealt with power hungry speakers, Infinity IRS Betas, Gammas. Now I have 2 pairs of speakers I rotate into my system. Tekton Moab’s and Jbl 4435’s and couldn’t be happier. The Primaluna gear is great. I had the same setup and regretfully sold it. One huge improvement when I had mine was to use Brimar tubes for the gain tubes and I had Kt-150’s.

@j-wall Awesome!!! Glad to hear it helped. Thanks for circling back to us to let us know!

Now you can better assess the needs in your amp chain.

Stick with tubes. It’s always a challenge in a small room because you’re forced to put your gear exactly where it shouldn’t be placed. I agree with the consensus suggestions that you should address your room and maximize its possibilities. Is it possible to set up your room to where your gear is on the long wall, and not the short wall? I have a similar room, and that’s what I did. I’ve 9 feet between the edge of speakers, and have 4’ on the right wall, and 7’ on the left wall. My sound stage is much better and wider. Anyway, explore different options for your room. 


While I am a Audio Research fan, if I were you I would definitely go for the Allnic L7000. Looks like a great preamp. I read a couple reviews (I’m good at reading reviews and getting out what was intended). I would be shocked if the preamp didn’t completely upgrade your system a couple levels.

Not sure why Primaluna is not good enough? I have an EVO 100 integrared running on 89db speakers. It will bring the house down just past half volume. This is with the original EL34s. I just installed JJ KT77s and wow! Better of everything, amazing. They will get louder too. Have you tried KT 77s?  Also, the room is likely more of an issue than the electronics would be,  my guess. Also,   Enjoy!