A Sublime Sense of Reality
Jeff Dorgay and Chris Harr of TONE review the PrimaLuna phonostage
"It’s here and it’s fantastic," writes Jeff Dorgay in his in-depth review.
Back in 2005, a new audio reviewer at The Absolute Sound received his first assignment. He was to cover an NAD integrated amp, but that fell through, so he got to write about the new PrimaLuna ProLogue One tube integrated amp.
"The review was a success," wrote Jeff Dorgay 20 years later, "cementing the PrimaLuna brand and my audio reviewing career – though I didn’t know it quite yet."
Jeff, the newbie reviewer, went on to found TONE Publications, raising the bar for hi-fi journalism with its exquisitely photographed products, in-depth reviews, and lifestyle coverage. He bought his review sample of the ProLogue One, which has famously stayed with him for nearly 20 years. As the founder of TONE, Jeff can get his hands on pretty much any audio gear he wants to, whether for long-term loans or at industry pricing and yet he has held onto his PrimaLuna amp, noting how even in 2005 and at $1,905, it was "insanely inexpensive" for an amp of its quality.
As good as they were, PrimaLuna amps have become ever better, and Jeff now uses a pair of PrimaLuna EVO 400 monoblocks as reference amplifiers. All this is to say when Jeff gets his hands on something new from PrimaLuna, he has extremely high expectations because he's never been let down.
"A Master of Rendering Three-Dimensional Space"
Jeff Dorgay and Chris Harr put the PrimaLuna EVO 100 Phonostage through a mind-boggling variety of phono situations, finding out how far they could push the unit.
They praise its warm, organic sound and note how it remains unflustered even during complex pieces. As Jeff points out, while $4,000 is no longer crazy money for a phonostage, it's still a considerable outlay, and yet, he considers the EVO Phono "more than worthy of an Exceptional Value Award for 2023."
Between Jeff and Chris, they are sure to have covered a table, cartridge, and amp combination that will give you a good idea of how the EVO 100 will work for you. Read the review here.
Come Embrace 'The Bundle'
AudioQuest's Niagara 1200 bundle is one of our most successful offers, and with good reason.
With the Niagara 1200 + NRG-Y3 bundle, you get a $1,595 power conditioner plus a $190 power cable for $995 instead of $1,785. That's an incredible savings of $790. This is why it's known around Upscale simply as The Bundle.
We've sold a lot of The Bundle, and the reviews have come pouring in. We have 75 reviews on the product page alone, with an average of 4.84 stars. (Note that our review system is independent, and we have no control over the content posted by verified buyers.)
Not Just Good Sound
Before we get to the sonic benefits of The Bundle, here are some other advantages our customers have reported. The first is the "peace of mind" and "cheap insurance" that comes with deploying a product with AudioQuest's Non-Sacrificial Surge Protection. This system withstands multiple AC surges and spikes up to 6,000 V/3,000 A. There is also an over-voltage shutdown with automatic reset.
Another well-reviewed aspect is both the build and physical design of the 1200. "It's huge and heavy and built like a tank," writes one customer. Another writes, "The weight, fit, and finish are very satisfying."
Several customers are pleased with the different ways the 1200 can be oriented. You can place it flat on a shelf like any other audio component, with its solid grey front fitting in with even the nicest looking amps. Or you can position it face down on the floor, with the outlets on top, making it easy to connect when hidden down behind furniture. Another option, with a tiny footprint, is to stand it tall on its side, effectively having it disappear between the audio rack and the wall.
And finally, out of the "other" advantages, there's the customer who wrote that even the picture of his Sony OLED Master Series TV had less noise. Many users have reported "blacker blacks" and smoother images when a Niagara is deployed on the home cinema.
Most Bang for Buck
Most buyers of The Bundle report audio improvements far in excess of what they expected. "The improvement of sound quality with this unit is exponential," writes one customer. "It’s almost black magic and wizardry. It is that good. Highly recommend it."
AudioQuest's NRG-Y3 power cable is a 16-gauge, semi-solid concentric long-grain copper cable with ZERO Tech, which offers zero chracteristic impedance.
"Of all the things I've done to upgrade my system, this may have been one of the best," writes another customer. Other reports include "Not blowing smoke, made my system sound like a different system", "This is not a subtle change in sound. I really understand what 'black backgrounds' are now", and "Hard to imagine getting this much improvement for so little of an investment."
We were particularly interested in the review from a customer with an older high-end conditioner from a different company that needed repairs. So he bought a Niagara 1200 as a basic replacement but found that it actually sounded better than his original giant power plant. "I guess power conditioning has improved some in the last 20 years. More detail, depth, separation, control, and finesse at high and low frequencies," he wrote.
Takeaways from The Bundle's 75 Reviews
Going over the reviews and thinking about our customer conversations, here are some takeaways to consider if you are considering getting The Bundle.
1) Like every audio product, the Niagara 1200 and the cable need to break in. This is undisputed at Upscale Audio, as we have the opportunity to run identical products with differing hours all the time. As many customers report, you will instantly hear the lower noise floor, but getting that extra bass extension and ease to the music will take a little more time. You will see a massive improvement after 24 hours and continuing improvements for up to 100 hours, maybe more.
2) Be careful about combining The Bundle with other power products and unusual amp designs. Niagaras use high-bandwidth, active designs that may not play well with surge protectors (as one reviewer who left a two-star review admitted to having), filters, and other power-related tweaks.
3) The 1200 is impressive, but remember, it's the entry-level Niagara. It does not have AudioQuest's Transient Power Correction, which, in the Niagara 3000, 5000, and 7000, holds power in large capacitors to give big amps a low-impedance high-current source for those sudden peaks. The Niagara 1200 is made for smaller systems whose amps aren't dimming the lights as they pull power.
4) In almost all cases, the effect of this bundle is undeniable, as evidenced by all of the positive reviews it's receiving from so many Upscale customers. Hop over to the product page and scroll down to read the reviews for yourself. Give The Bundle a try, and remember, if it doesn't work out, you can return it within 60 days for a full refund.
Top Sales and Deals!
Here are the noteworthy sales and offers we have going right now. Note: there are further terms and conditions; this is just a summary. To get all the details, contact our sales crew on website chat, via email (email@example.com), or call 909-931-9686.
Going On Right Now: For Upscale Audio's 4th of July Sale, we take an additional 10% off all used, blemished, open-box, and refurbished products. The savings you find could be massive. We're adding more products to this massively discounted collection daily, so keep checking back in!
Until August 15: GoldenEar's 'Two Subs Are Better than One' offer. Buy a pair of subs at a significant discount.
Until August 31 JBL L100 on sale.
Until September 4:Wharfedale Lintons stands are included with the purchase of the speakers.
Until September 4: JBL L82 on sale.
Until September 21: Arcam summer sale. 20% and more off the SA10, SA20, SA30, and PA410.
Until September 30: Balanced Audio Technology is offering a full original retail price trade-in on your old stereo electronics for any new BAT product.