Upscale Audio and Primaluna

spoke to aggresive salesperson who pushed prima luna integrated amps and other primaluna gear.

this was after i called to buy another component.  Anyone know about primaluna stuff.

all this guy did was tear into my system saying how deficient it is and that i should buy primaluna.

He maybe right what do you have?

upscale Audio is the US Distributor for Pathos and Primaluna and they may own part of the latter.

Both are top shelf gear. Never had any bad experience with Upscale and I have purchased a couple of things from them, Pathos Inpol 2 and a Felkis HP amp. 
Absolutely not! If i ask him what he thinks of my gear and then get critiqued, fine.  He asked me what i had and then was harsh, all for purposes of selling me his stuff.  I called about another item and was steered to his preference.

it was exceptionally rude, and some of what he said was inaccurate.

"...He asked me what i had and then was harsh..."

Not to be harsh..but what do you have? It sounds like you might have talked to Kevin. He doesn’t sugar coat it, just tells you the way it is. That is too much reality for some. So what were you originally looking for?

P.S. I'm a long time customer, and Kevin has really good ears, I trust him 100%, he has never steered me wrong. On the other hand, I tell him EXACTLY what I am looking for and he knows what I am talking about. 
If you want to buy a different brand of gear, just go to another dealer.

As russ69 said, Kevin Deal, owner of Upscale Audio can grate on some people.  Posts like yours turn up here from time to time.  Personally, I like Kevin's frankness.  I may not agree with everything he says, but at least I know exactly what he thinks.
Pass on Kevin Deal and Prmaluna any dealer that says your stuff is junk is NOT the dealer I would ever buy from.I once tried to buy some tubes and got a nasty rap from Kevin Deal plus he pushes Tannoy that is ancient history.
It’s called qualifying the customer. it’s a time thing. Time left in life, times spent selling, time spent on the phone, etc. the minutes tick by until none are left on the clock.

Always be ballsy enough to get in the question, in some shape or form, ’are you buying today?’

I’m not sure I like it, but, it seems like Kevin’s got it worked down to a science.

Each customer is gauged by the give and take of the opening moments of the conversation, and then the knife of the question is slipped in in whatever way it is slipped in best, for that particular scenario.

Sometimes the kill is a hair sloppy, sometimes a bit off, but mostly it works out well, re the salesmen giving up their time (life clock) vs the customers in audio who invariably want nothing less than to waste ALL of a salesman’s life.

This is not a  knock on this scenario and thread, it is just a open note or relvation of how sales works in a busy environment. 
From what I've read and learned, Primaluna is good but "top shelf"? Um, can't see that. 
@hilde45   Yep.  I think it offers decent value for money, but it is not "top shelf".  I've had a Dialogue One driving my second system for over 10 years now, and it just hums along sounding pretty darned good.  It does not compete in the same tier as my D'Agostino stuff.

If the OP can get over Kevin, he just might be getting correct advice for his particular circumstances.  Kevin does come on too strong for me, though, too.

Comparing Prima Luna to D'Agostino, is a very lop sided comparison.  The most expensive Prima Luna is maybe $7500.00 compared to D'Agostino which start at well over $10,000.00.
I agree with the OP.  I'm turned off by any dealer who feels the need to badmouth someone's current gear in order to hype their own.  I contacted Upscale a couple years back to get a tube recommendation for my Vincent PHO-701 phono pre.  Got some long-winded response how they couldn't recommend a tube for a product they don't sell, and implied it wasn't the kind of product they carried.  Problem is, they DID (and still do) sell the Vincent PHO-701.  Contrast that with Music Direct who spent 20 minutes talking to me about the different levels of AudioQuest XLR interconnects, and never once tried to sell me a thing, or felt the need to criticize my modest system.
ABC - always be closing

Never ask a yes or no question when selling. No ends the conversation.

And for god sake, don’t alienate the customer. 
All it takes is watching one of Kevin's YouTube videos to get an idea of how he approaches the products he sells.  You can either love his honesty and enthusiasm or hate it; your attitude matters less to him than it does to you.  That being said, would I buy stuff from Upscale?  Absolutely!
Id like to know who you talked to over there.
I own Primaluna and other brands that they sell.

If your looking for any thing TT related speak with Kat or Ken.
They are Aces. Cables, tubes, amps, Joel is a great guy to deal with.

Speaking of Deal..... Kevin can be about as moody as a middle aged woman during menopause.

Dont take it personal. Watch his videos, he is a bit of a..... lets say character.

If it pissed you off that much just remember that your money is good everywhere.
all this guy did was tear into my system saying how deficient it is and that i should buy primaluna.

More than likely
Your current amp will not stand up to PL,
I can not claim I know PL very well, 
ONly can say PL is made in the Spark Lab /China
Spark makes Cayin in same lab, 
Cayin is one of the best tube amps made today, Very close to jadis at wayyyy less than 1/2 the price as Jadis, No brainer. 
I had a  PL older model preamp, didn't like it, shiped back to ebay seller with a  $200 restock fee, my generosity.
You will see alot of PL used for sale, not sure why,
You  rarely see any used Cayin for sale
I would highly recommend PL based on the fact its very well made and made in same lab as  Cayin. 
IMHO cayin is most likely the best amp made in china today, 2nd to none. And right there with Jadis. Which is saying alot, as Jadis makes the worlds  finest amplifiers, 
2nd to none.
Hope that helps.
Dont take it personal

~~~~Yes, do not take it personal, Seems like a  old style stereo shop sales crew, Salesmen we've all run into over  the years as audiophiles.
Kevin might bea  bit ticked due to so many PL  on the used market and he's havinga  rough time selling new. These are very hard times in new audio sales. The fallout from this latest economic crunch has dampened the audio market. 
This is most likely the frustration comming across the phone from Upscale. 
So don't take it serious at all. 
But as i say, your current amp will not stand up to PL's line of amplifiers. 
But I just prefer Cayin, huge Cayin fan here. 
From what I've read and learned, Primaluna is good but "top shelf"? Um, can't see that

I can 
JUst based on the fact that PL is made in Spark's lab, Same lab as Cayin, Cayin is only 2nd to Jadis, Jadis is #1. So thats saying alot  for cayin and MOST LIKELY Prima  Luna. AS Top Dawg Amplifiers
He maybe right what do you have?

More than likely Kevin is correct, 
Most tube amplifiers are colored =  add distortion. 
Cayin made in same lab as PL, have zero coloration,  zero distortion. 
So my guess is PL are neutral amps, can't say for sure as i have not personally heard  a  PL, only a  Cayin amplifierr, The lil baby EL34
I’ve had 2 dealings with Upscale. The first I called to enquire about a CJ ET3se preamp. I talked to Kevin who then educated me on the difference between PL preamp & the CJ. Though I understand his logic, I don’t necessarily use the weight & the amount of stuff in the piece as the only criteria. Yes the CJ looks very sparse under the hood while the PL is packed full. CJ has a simplicity is better while PL packs it full. OK. I didn’t really get upset but thought his demeanor out of line. And I have no PC in my blood whatsoever. But I am aware that I can be abrasive to some & try to find workarounds to make the customer comfortable. Kevin doesn’t seem to know of his abrasive nature or doesn’t care. Not a good business practice IMO.

The 2nd time I called to get info and buy a PL Dialogue amp. I talked to Kat & she answered my questions fine. I was looking a 2 different amps and wanted time to weigh my decision. I called back the next day to purchase and she wasn’t in so I left a message to call me back. 2or 3 days later I had not heard from her. Forty + years of business has taught me that sometimes messages don’t get to their proper place so I called again and left another message for her. That was a year or so ago. Still haven’t heard from her or anyone. I bought another amp from someone else. Lesson learned
@mozartfan I've heard from a longtime experienced speaker maker that Cayin is the real deal and very similar to PL. He thinks they're a great deal.

I had a lovely conversation with John Rutan at Audio Connection. Why not work with someone with both expertise and sympathy for the customer. You want tubes? Quicksilver and/or Rogue would be great. QS is made in CA. Rogue in PA.  My two cents.
"plus he pushes Tannoy that is ancient history"
Lmao, you have no idea what you are talking about.....
mozartfan, pick up the current issue of Stereophile , it has an article titled Hi-Fi in the Age of Covid -19 , it will give you a different perspective of the current state of the audio industry then your " These are very hard times in new audio sales". Plus, while I’m not a fan of Upscale Audio from a couple of prior interactions, it doesn’t seem like Kevin Deal and Upscale are having a hard time (" he’s having a rough time selling new."), again take a look in each of the last few months of Stereophile, he has personnel recruiting ads for his business expansion.

As is typical in many of these threads, the OP starts a rant ant then disappears, not bothering to answer a simple question.... what is your system? If you don’t like the way you were treated ,shop elsewhere. Im sure at some point being on the phone with tire kickers can be tiring and seen as a waste of time. Kevin runs a business that is successful enough that he can avoid kissing ass. He is also very knowledgeable,but if his business model offends you, shop with your feet. That simple.
I skip over a dealer here in the Bay just to deal with Upscale. That same bad experience with this dealer is what drove me to Upscale. I haven't once ever had Kevin answer the phone, which I doubt he even does. Also, all his people I've dealt with are all great. 
Evan at Upscale provided great customer service when I felt the need for a high-end streamer and amicable outboard DAC -- even tho he turned out wrong about some details. My search quickly narrowed to Lumin and Aurender, and Evan talked me through the models and their suitability for my particular needs. When he championed Musical Fidelity M6s DAC, I remembered an unused trade credit from another merchant and obtained the DAC there. Well, turned out the Lumin worked only on the micro-USB input: frankly unlistenable on coax or optical; defective. Plus the MF had no AES input as Evan had thought. Those limitations, plus the fact I found the Lumin app rather maddening, led to an exchange (though I must say the LUMIN sound was incomparably pure, best streaming audio in my experience).

No trouble at all exchanging Lumin for Aurender, which outputs ONLY USB. For this connection you obviously want the best cable you can get. Evan had the mistaken impression that AQ's top-end USB 3.0 micro terminals were backward compatible with 2.0 in the MF, but nope. Anyhow, easy return. Now in the market for a more contemporary DAC, so I asked about the PrimaLuna tube version. Needless to say, Evan was a major advocate (though I found several unrelated reasons to rule it out). 

Well, hyping your own gear is all part of the job description, so grain of salt on that. Customer service was first-rate, and the Aurender is staying indefinitely, so ++ there. Return customer discounts are available on SOME DACS sold by Upscale, but none of those ring my chimes. When time allows I'll audition Bricasti and such. Still, Upscale will stay on my "reasonable candidates" list, albeit in the "proceed with caution" section like 99% of other merchants.

Any time you find a dealer or manufacturer who talks smack about competitors and/or what you own, you can't walk away fast enough.

There was a dealer nearby to me who had all manner of bad things to say about my then magnepan speakers while diligently trying to steer me to Focal. I never went into that store again.


I auditioned the primaluna dialog premium from upscale and was thoroughly impressed. They are built like a T34 tank and are underrated or under recognized for overall warmth and quality. After auditioning several amps I ultimately went with Atmasphere M60s due to their superior resolution. 
I have a feeling this amp and say a Cornwall are a match made in heaven.

Check out some of Kevin Deals video reviews. He is quite the character. Not surprised he can be a salesman as well;-).
Thus far the OP has not yet stated what products he currently owns nor did he say whom he spoke with at Upscale though bashing them for being rude and pushy.  Yet, there are plenty of convictions stated above that it must be Kevin.  Full stop...

I have known Kevin for many years and have been a customer of Upscale for the majority of my present system.  Kevin is a first rate human being who is as honest as the day is long.  That includes his business ethics as well as his recommendations.  We all have personalities and if you don't like his than so be it.  He is quite the character but, frankly, I quite enjoy it.  Everyone who works at Upscale lives up to the name "upscale".  They are as friendly as they are knowledgeable and treat their customers very well.  There will always be some folks who are dissatisfied with a service and/or a product, no matter what.  I can certainly understand that can be the case with Upscale, just like any other business.  Kevin runs a fabulously successful business and is on a growth trajectory that is enviable of nearly any business, let alone businesses in the audio industry.  If anyone is not satisfied with one business then simply move on to another, or another, until you are individually satisfied.  It's a very simple and painless process.

The OP can do as he wishes.  For me, I'll stick with Upscale Audio.  They are first rate in my book.
Upscale sells great procts, albeit at full price.

however, all brands are at the mercy of their unrelenting push from Prima luna gear.  Heavily biased. 
When i spoke to them, a macintosh amp was criticized vs being told a prima luna integrated amp would be better.  And saying a nucleus was inferior to nucleus plus due to it being pcm vs getting full resolution with a nucleus plus, etc.

once these guys mention primaluna, i lose interest.  Its ugly and not high end quality.  Good value but not as good as high end stuff. 
"...When i spoke to them, a macintosh amp was criticized vs being told a prima luna integrated amp would be better..."

I sold my Mac MC402, kept my PrimaLuna. YMMV

IMO you are wrong on most every count. Prima Luna is High End regardless weather you like it or not. Still waiting to see what you have now? Many have asked, yet you say nothing. I have bought from Upscale many times and Kevin was a joy to work with, he has never steered me wrong yet.   He knows more about tubes than most of us and Upscale has always shipped my orders on the day I ordered, or the very next day at most. 
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As far as the Nucleus is concerned I wouldn’t get either of them. As I have described before on other threads I sold my Innuos Zenith Mk3 and replaced it with a fanless Azulle Inspire i5 mini PC running ROCK. Yes I do have a LPS powering it and an AQ Diamond Ethernet cable connecting it to an SOtM switch. But those were about the same with the Innuos. Roon Remote runs way better on the Azulle and SQ is at least as good as on the Innuos. Definitely no worse. Possibly better. All at a fraction of the cost of a Nucleus, Innuos or any other marketed Roon core server. 
Upscale sells great procts, albeit at full price.

however, all brands are at the mercy of their unrelenting push from Prima luna gear.  Heavily biased."

Why wouldn't they push PL? He is the distributor of PL USA.

"Its ugly and not high end quality.  Good value but not as good as high end stuff."

PL wouldn't have 18 years of positive writeups if all reviwers/end users  felt the same way. You had a bad experience with whomever at Upscale, just move on. There isn't one establishment that fits all customers.

10+ year customer/PL user.

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I had one dealing with Upscale and it was Kevin I dealt with, I was seeking a specific tube he had in stock and asked his opinion of it in my system. He told me he did not give opinions and then proceeded to give me his opinion on everything but what I had asked him his opinion on. Bought the tube in spite of that scenario but will never deal with them again. Enjoy the music
Once I bought a rectifier Kevin advertised as a Holland-made Amperex. He was hyping these tubes at the time as the greatest ever. When I got it I checked the etched factory code on the bottle and guess what, it said it was from Barcelona. So I emailed him to ask why, if it was made in Barcelona, was he was advertising it as Holland-made? I quickly got an aggressive phone call telling me the factory code didn’t matter--he knew it was from Holland. I asked how; he said he met an old man in Holland who had worked at the Heerlen plant, and this man told him so. I asked, so I should believe the second-hand claim of an old Dutch fellow instead of the factory code? He said yes. Maybe he was right, but I have never heard another tube seller say factory codes lie.
Life is too short to have to deal with these types of attitudes. Find another dealer to give your $$$ to.
I have no idea when I bought my Primaluna Prologue One from Upscale, but I'm pretty sure Kevin was a one man shop working out of his house. As I remember it, his wife was not happy at having nerdy guys show up and having to listen to stereo being blasted all day. Kevin was/is every bit the high pressure guy, but it was obvious he had a great set of ears.

In any event, my audition with the Prologue One went great. Lovely, immersive sound quality, with a midrange to revel in. It didn't matter to me whether Primaluna was a house brand or not...and I got to tell you I never bothered to explore the issue further.  The integrated has also been surprisingly reliable. (I've posted a list in another discussion topic that tells of the sorry parade of components that has marched through my listening room.)  I've already mentioned the resister(capacitor?) problem I had, which Upscale fixed there and then when I hauled it in. I was still living nearby.

When the integrated's tubes would inevitably lose their luster I'd phone Upscale up and a salesman (hey, not Kevin anymore!) would ask me questions about my tastes and suggest a tube that might serve me better.  I'd show up at their now shiny offices and take them home. I'd put them in their sockets. They'd sound great.  No biasing required. Nowadays I gotta mail order.

To be sure, the Integrated's looks are utilitarian at best. It's hard for me to read where the input knob is positioned so I've taken to writing my input choices on bits of white adhesive tape and sticking them to the Integrated's front. What me worry?
I have bought from Upscale many times. They were always helpful and never pushy or agressive. My PL Integrated works well for me and I am satisfied. 
There are dealers who are knowledgeable, experienced, honest, and treat their customers with courtesy. They get my💰. 
I forgot to mention, above, about my Prima Luna experience.  I was very interested in a new PL Evo 400 amp.  Kevin told me that he didn't think it was a good match for my very inefficient speakers.  Hmm, even though I was interested in PL Kevin advised otherwise.  Now that is contrary to much of what is cited above.  However, he did say that if I wanted to try the amp with my speakers, that I could.  I gave him a deposit in the amount we agreed upon and took home the floor sample unit.  Kevin was right, it did not do well with my speakers.  The mids and highs sounded great, but there was not much in the way of bass slam.  When I took back the amp we discussed a solid state amp from Balanced Audio Technology as the best choice for the sound quality I was seeking along with very solid driving capabilities for my speakers.  Kevin gave me a killer price on a new, factory sealed unit.  It worked fantastic with those speakers.  Since then I sold those speakers and now I have new speakers that are much more efficient. I spoke with Kevin and he worked another killer price for me on a Balanced Audio Technology tube amp.
Like I said above, Upscale Audio is first rate in my book.  They have steered me right to what is best for my needs and provided excellent prices to go along with excellent service.  Awesome sauce!
It depends on your current system and your speakers but the prima luna stuff is good if you have very efficient high impedance speakers other than that it would only be good for background music on most low impedance speakers tube electronics are very sensitive to many kinds of speakers so be careful with tube gear in general but if you mate the tubes with the right kind of speaker magic can happen and frequently does.
I'd walk away.  Can't imagine the service would be any better if you actually had an issue with a product that you bought from them.  
Prima Luna, Upscale Audio and Kevin Deal are all terrific partners. The gear is wonderful and a terrific value. I dont presently own any but I could live happily ever after with a system from Upscale and Kevin. Over the past 20 years I have pirchased alot of tubes, accessories and gear from Kevin. He has always been honest and square and made things right whenever it was required. Jared is as well.

Buy from him or dont but he is a straight shooter. Ive heard through the years that he might be short if someone is looking for a conversation or a debate rather than advice or gear. YMMV
there was an extensive, sometimes flame filled thread on primaluna not long ago... went on for many many pages

lots has been hashed out there
The way I see it half day he is good and the other half say he is bad. Kevin, you are a genius for getting people to talk about you and your company for so long. There is no such thing as bad publicity because it ends up being free advertising!
he is like the Madonna of the audio world. Maybe Prima Luna Madonna. He’s a smart guy. 
I bought a used EVO 100, not from Upscale, and had a couple of very minor concerns and questions.  Kevin could not have been kinder or more helpful, despite zero potential for making a dime from me, at least in that moment.  I'd have no concerns about doing business with them.  Just my $.02/YMMV.
A couple of people have pointed out that the Prima Luna amps are made by Cayin/Spark but did not mention that Cayin/Spark is owned by the Chinese government as part of the large CATIC group. Quite simply, every dollar of profit from your purchase  of a Cayin amp goes directly to a government that runs vast re-education camps, oppresses dissent in Tibet and Hong Kong and promotes the use of slave and forced labor in the country's workforce.  Personally, this is more off putting than Mr. Deal's communication skills.
There’s a lot  of BS in the adverts C core transformers are far better like the world class Lundahl you see in Ayon for example , Torroid are better in solid state gear
look at-any top quality tube amp C cores only .
and the auto bias system nothing to tag about bunches of resistors in the auto bias. Ayon night and day more reliable and high tech ,it doesnot average all the tubes like in auto bias , the Ayon has a micro  processor and monitors each tube 
for optimum Ma voltage , and when a tube goes the amp will go into standby and a led will come on , you reset the bias and the processor readjusts it .
far better and a machined aluminum  case for vibration ,not cheap sheet metal.