X5 + PrimaLuna EVO Series = ?

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DBT AUDIO

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X5 + PrimaLuna EVO Series = ?
« on: 17 Oct 2021, 05:43 am »
Greetings,

Any X5 or X3 owners using a PrimaLuna EVO 400 preamp and power amp combo or heard a system with the same setup?  I’m currently using the setup mentioned above and I wanted to know how the PrimaLuna EVO Series compares to LTA or any other vacuum tube manufacturers?  My treble can be a bit forward with some tunes and I’m curious if it’s just my X5’s or my electronics?  I have room treatments, etc., and my KEF LS50 treble does not sound anywhere near as harsh as my X5’s can be when used in the same room, same electronics, with some tunes in question.  I swapped out the two inner 12AU7 tubes with Brimar 12AU7 tubes and they didn’t help much.

Sapphire owners that own or heard PrimaLuna EVO gear with Spatial Audio speakers are welcome to share their experience as well.

Thanks in advance!

abomwell

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Re: X5 + PrimaLuna EVO Series = ?
« Reply #1 on: 17 Oct 2021, 02:08 pm »
I've been using my new X5's with a Carver Crimson 275 and an LTA ZOTL10 MK-II. I don't hear harshness or stridency unless it's on the recording. For those recordings I have several EQ presets programmed into my preamp/processor (DSPeaker Anti-mode X4) that attenuates the 2-3 kHz frequencies which helps. I assume you already tried toeing the speakers outwards more?

Mr. Big

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Re: X5 + PrimaLuna EVO Series = ?
« Reply #2 on: 17 Oct 2021, 02:39 pm »
It starts with the recordings, if tip-up highs, and forward upper midrange and lower treble, well the better the speaker the more it will expose the poor recordings. Most recordings are not made for high-end systems, that is the sad fact, 99.5% of buyers don't have high-end systems, so there is no demand for well-recorded music. You will found better recordings from the 50's early 60's and today some Jazz and classical recordings.

forky

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Re: X5 + PrimaLuna EVO Series = ?
« Reply #3 on: 17 Oct 2021, 03:23 pm »
The two most significant changes I made to my system (besides the actual components including my M3s although my entire system is new to me so I haven't made that many changes yet anyway) were buying a high-end cart for my TT and buying Radiotechnique 12 AU7s for the front 2 preamp tubes for my Primaluna Evo 300. Also, buying KT-150s for the power tubes was also a big step forward....so 3 changes. :)

I tried NOS Mazda /Cliftes first and also tried the NOS Mullards and both distorted the higher-mids and into the highs and the Radios calmed them down and still sounds phenomenal.

Upscale had them but I don't see that they do anymore. Just did a search and found these so I bought 2 more sets (I now have 4 sets, will keep 3 in reserve, btw I run 2 sets of Mazda Cliftes on the outside preamp inputs) https://www.ebay.ca/itm/384360220956?hash=item597da7891c:g:EskAAOSwbA9gqltx , no affiliation.

I recommend trying a set of these. They worked for my M3s w/ my Evo 300.

bbybaudio

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Re: X5 + PrimaLuna EVO Series = ?
« Reply #4 on: 17 Oct 2021, 09:06 pm »
My PL Dialogue HP Premium Int has NOS Mullards (Blackburn mid-60s) then two Brimars then two PL tubes. For Power running KT150 or GT EL34bs. Best overall sound with KT150s. Even when I had the Brimars in the first two tubes I did not notice any harshness, especially compared with the PL tubes which were bright. Based on comments here ordered the same La Radiotechnique tubes and will get back to you with comparisons with the Mullards and the Brimars in the first two preamp slots.

DBT AUDIO

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Re: X5 + PrimaLuna EVO Series = ?
« Reply #5 on: 18 Oct 2021, 06:20 am »
I appreciate all the excellent information from you guys!  It all makes sense, from accepting the fact that Spatial Audio speakers are very revealing and they give you the facts on all recordings to the idea of tube rolling to get the slight change in sound that you want.  A guy in another forum mentioned he found magic when he used a mix of Brimar and Millard tubes in his PrimaLuna EVO.  So after reading his experience and what I’ve heard from you guys, I plan to try my current pair of Brimars with Mullards or Radiotechniques.  I will report back when I get these tubes in place.

Thanks all!

DBT AUDIO

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Re: X5 + PrimaLuna EVO Series = ?
« Reply #6 on: 18 Oct 2021, 09:36 am »
I forgot to ask if anyone compared the SQ differences between the PrimaLuna EVO power amps 4 ohm and 8 ohm speaker outputs?  If so, can you share your experience with each speaker tap and which one did you decide to use permanently?

Thanks all!

Mr. Big

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Re: X5 + PrimaLuna EVO Series = ?
« Reply #7 on: 18 Oct 2021, 12:39 pm »
The tap that gives you the most bass and dynamics is the right one to use, you can hear it for yourself. Each amp is different. Try them and listen.

Tangram

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Re: X5 + PrimaLuna EVO Series = ?
« Reply #8 on: 18 Oct 2021, 12:54 pm »
Make sure that you are level matching when comparing the Spatials to the LS50s. The Spatials are higher sensitivity and will play louder at the same volume setting. Depending on the music, treble transient highs can sound just as you describe if played at high volume in my room. If you have a decent SPL meter (not a phone app) use it while listening to see if those treble highs are spiking the SPLs. That may cause the harshness. The Spatials do bass so well that I listen at 5 db louder with them, without the bass getting muddy. But some trumpet blasts can blast your ears at higher volumes. Again, in my room. The experience of others may differ.

Tyson

Re: X5 + PrimaLuna EVO Series = ?
« Reply #9 on: 18 Oct 2021, 01:46 pm »
The tweeter in the X series has an order of magnitude less distortion than the tweeter in the KEF speakers.  It's also FAR more efficient.  So it's very clean and very revealing.  Before, you had your system tuned so that it sounded good with the (duller) KEF's, which are also way lower sensitivity overall (85db, really low).  So it's no surprise that a system tuned to a duller, lower efficiency speaker is going to sound too hot with a more lively, higher efficiency speaker. 

Brimar's and Mullards are a good place to start.  You might look at your other equipment and cabling as well. 

genjamon

Re: X5 + PrimaLuna EVO Series = ?
« Reply #10 on: 18 Oct 2021, 02:27 pm »
Right, no info yet on your source electronics. Source of harshness could just as easily be found there.

DBT AUDIO

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Re: X5 + PrimaLuna EVO Series = ?
« Reply #11 on: 19 Oct 2021, 05:23 am »
I should have given some clarity on my setup.  I have two (2) separate systems;

Main system: Spatial Audio X5
Mac mini (Roon Labs w/Qobuz)
Intona USB Isolator w/Intona Reference USB cables
Holo Audio Spring 2 KTE DAC (just sold and ordered Spring 3 KTE DAC) - Audioquest Blizzard PC
PrimaLuna EVO 400 preamp w/2 Brimar tubes & factory tubes - Audioquest Blizzard PC
PrimaLuna EVO 400 power amp w/factory tubes - Audioquest Thunder PC
Cardas Clear XLR interconnects
Cardas Clear speaker cables - Shunyata DFSS cable lifters
Audioquest Niagara 3000 w/Audioquest Thunder PC
Audioquest Niagara 1200 for (X5 subwoofers & surround sound equip.)
Spatial Audio X5 - Audioquest Monsoon PC for subwoofers w/Audioquest cable lifters

Second system: KEF LS50
Mac mini (Roon Labs w/Qobuz)
Audioquest Jitterbug w/Audioquest Carbon USB cable
PS Audio Gain Cell DAC - Shunyata Venom PC
PS Audio S300 power amp - Shunyata Venom PC
Audioquest XLR King Cobra interconnects
Audioquest Rockefeller speaker cables
Audioquest PowerQuest 3

I didn’t do any volume level matching because I wanted to keep it simple by turning up the volume to my desired listening level to see if the KEF’s treble would bite on certain songs like the X5s, using the PrimaLuna gear.  Plus I only have the SPL meter app on my cellphone.  As long as I could hear the desired SQ at my preferred listening levels, volume level matching wasn’t a priority for me.  My approach could be wrong on this? The KEFs allow me to turn up the volume on songs that have a little treble bite, but I can’t do that with the X5s.  When I turn the volume down with the X5s to ease the treble bite, I sacrifice the immersive sound I like to hear at my desired listening levels.  That takes away from my musical enjoyment.  I paired the X5s with my 2nd system and the treble still had some bite on the songs in question.  Bottom line is, it’s the X5s revealing character because the speakers were swapped in both systems and I experienced the same with the KEFs and X5s.

I never tuned my main system for the “duller” KEF speakers because they were always in my second system, so the main system was designed for the Spatial Audio speakers.  As I’ve mentioned in other posts, I purchased just about everything new in the main system within a short length of time, so all the gear and cables have been breaking in at the same time.  Not a good way to build a system because it’s hard to determine the weak link when everything is new, but we get excited and want to buy everything for instant gratification.  Most of the gear is broke in and sounds the best since I’ve had everything, but the treble bite still bothers me at times, so that’s when I decided to swap the KEFs in place of the X5s to see how the same songs would sound in the high frequency and it wasn’t an issue with KEF.  BUT, the KEFs do not come close to the overall presentation of the X5s because they literally veil the beautiful highs and creepy/crawling details the Holo Audio DAC and X5s deliver.  So, the suggestion on tube rolling is an inexpensive tweak that may turn my listening sessions into a magic show!

Thanks all and I appreciate your feedback and suggestions!




abomwell

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Re: X5 + PrimaLuna EVO Series = ?
« Reply #12 on: 19 Oct 2021, 06:02 am »
Since you have Roon, using it's DSP, you could try a psycho-acoustical dip centered at 3kHz, extending down to 1kHz of about -2 or -3 dB? That should do wonders to attenuate treble harshness

DBT AUDIO

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Re: X5 + PrimaLuna EVO Series = ?
« Reply #13 on: 19 Oct 2021, 06:37 am »
Since you have Roon, using it's DSP, you could try a psycho-acoustical dip centered at 3kHz, extending down to 1kHz of about -2 or -3 dB? That should do wonders to attenuate treble harshness
Ahhhh….  I have played with Roon upsampling, but I was a little nervous about adjusting frequency levels.  I have to see if I can navigate that feature because it doesn’t cost a penny to play with Roon DSP.

Thanks,

Tyson

Re: X5 + PrimaLuna EVO Series = ?
« Reply #14 on: 19 Oct 2021, 03:08 pm »
Wait, so all your gear is still new?  How many hours do you have on each one?  For example, the X5's won't settle in till after 250 to 300 hours, so treble in particular will be fairly rough until then. 

How much time do you have on your other gear?  I know from my tube amps they also take about 300 hours to fully settle in.  Tubes settle in first (about 100 hours), then caps (about 200 hours) and finally the transformers (about 300 hours).  You can't really make any judgements on your system until you've got some time on your gear. 

In the meantime, I suggest turning up the bass a little, in order to balance out the sound until the treble calms down.

morganc

Re: X5 + PrimaLuna EVO Series = ?
« Reply #15 on: 19 Oct 2021, 03:15 pm »
Wait, so all your gear is still new?  How many hours do you have on each one?  For example, the X5's won't settle in till after 250 to 300 hours, so treble in particular will be fairly rough until then. 

How much time do you have on your other gear?  I know from my tube amps they also take about 300 hours to fully settle in.  Tubes settle in first (about 100 hours), then caps (about 200 hours) and finally the transformers (about 300 hours).  You can't really make any judgements on your system until you've got some time on your gear. 

In the meantime, I suggest turning up the bass a little, in order to balance out the sound until the treble calms down.

IME break in with a low wattage tube amp takes even longer than 250 hours!  If you haven’t already crank it up for a few days straight. Borrow a SS amp if you don’t wanna burn your tubes. 

DBT AUDIO

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Re: X5 + PrimaLuna EVO Series = ?
« Reply #16 on: 20 Oct 2021, 04:55 am »
IME break in with a low wattage tube amp takes even longer than 250 hours!  If you haven’t already crank it up for a few days straight. Borrow a SS amp if you don’t wanna burn your tubes. 
Wait, so all your gear is still new?  How many hours do you have on each one?  For example, the X5's won't settle in till after 250 to 300 hours, so treble in particular will be fairly rough until then. 

How much time do you have on your other gear?  I know from my tube amps they also take about 300 hours to fully settle in.  Tubes settle in first (about 100 hours), then caps (about 200 hours) and finally the transformers (about 300 hours).  You can't really make any judgements on your system until you've got some time on your gear. 

In the meantime, I suggest turning up the bass a little, in order to balance out the sound until the treble calms down.
My X5s have about 250 hours and I've had my subwoofer turned up from day one and the speaker has definitely turned the corner with much better SQ.  The PrimaLuna gear has about 200 hours and my speaker cables and interconnects have about 75 hours.  The Holo Audio DAC requires about 500 hours of break-in before it performs at its full potential, per the Kitsune HiFi USA Distributor, and it was not close to 500 hours of break-in before I sold it about a week ago.

UPDATE: Today, I spoke to my sales rep. at Upscale Audio where I bought the PrimaLuna gear and he advised he'd get back to me on tube recommendations after he spoke with a tube guru who worked in their service center.  He also reminded me to try the different speaker taps on the power amp, which I planned to do anyway after I asked you guys for your experience on this.  So, I decided to use the PrimaLuna EVO 400 power amp's 4 ohm speaker taps to compare with the 8 ohm taps I'd been using since I bought it.  I tried it when I first bought it, but the unit was so new and I don't recall hearing a difference, so I never bothered to try it again.  Anyway, I played (2) songs that I know really well using the 4 ohm taps and I begin to laugh in excitement because I don't recall hearing the tunes sound at such a high level in my current system.  Later this afternoon, I switched back to the 8 ohm taps and the shimmering cymbals were not as rich and full sounding as it did with the 4 ohm taps.  The second tune was from the newly released album by Pat Metheny titled, "Better Days Ahead" and his guitar sounded loud and distorted, played at my desired listening level.  This was an example of how I've been experiencing some guitars, pianos and brass sounding bright/distorted, causing me to lower the volume and the music is not as exciting when the volume is too low with "some" tunes.  So, I soaked up the tunes in my auditory memory and switched back to the 4 ohm taps just to make sure I wasn't overreacting.  Well, well, well, it was confirmation that the 4 ohm taps were clearly outperforming the 8 ohm taps.  I am serious, for example, I cannot honestly say tweaks like cable elevators actually made a noticeable difference in my system, but this swap to the 4 ohm taps were downright shocking in my system.  I listened to the Pat Metheny tune again, at the same volume level, and his guitar was CLEAN and the shimmering cymbals were ridiculous.  The location of the instruments/musicians were so clearly defined, it just seemed like you could reach out and touch them.  The X5s have always been accurate with the location of musicians, but this was clearly more distinct/refined with no audible distortion to be heard.  This is definitely the best I have heard my system sound!  Keep in mind, in my equipment roster, I indicated that I sold my Holo Audio Spring 2 KTE DAC and awaiting delivery of the Spring 3 KTE model, so my current DAC is the Audioquest Dragonfly Red.  My system was smoking with this little DAC that cannot compete with the Holo Audio DAC.

I still plan to purchase a few more input tubes to see how it sounds, but I am really happy with what I heard today and it didn't cost any additional coin!

Thanks all!

franSSS

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Re: X5 + PrimaLuna EVO Series = ?
« Reply #17 on: 20 Oct 2021, 06:50 am »
Sounds like you just tapped into audio nirvana :-)

DBT AUDIO

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Re: X5 + PrimaLuna EVO Series = ?
« Reply #18 on: 20 Oct 2021, 10:23 am »
Sounds like you just tapped into audio nirvana :-)
Indeed…. Indeed!

genjamon

Re: X5 + PrimaLuna EVO Series = ?
« Reply #19 on: 20 Oct 2021, 01:00 pm »
Congrats on figuring it out!