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Known for their superbly-made and superior-sounding pure tube electronics, PrimaLuna has recently released its first hybrid integrated amplifier, the EVO 300 Hybrid at $7295. This product employs an all-tube preamplifier stage taken from their flagship preamplifier, the EVO 400 Preamp, and combines it with a MOSFET power output stage that delivers 100 watts/channel into an 8 Ohm load. It represents the best of tubes and the best of solid-state in a fully-dual-mono design with top-shelf components and sophisticated power supplies.
The input stages of the EVO 300 Hybrid use two 12AU7 tubes in the gain stages, and four 12AU7 driver tubes. The doubled driver tubes ensure a lower impedance on the output stages, allowing for large dynamics, a huge soundstage, and lots of beautiful harmonics and texture.
The solid-state output stages use cascading JFETs from Linear Systems and each channel boasts two complementary pairs of MOSFETs from Exicon. These MOSFETS are exotic and custom-designed and built and are not available to anyone else. The setup is calibrated to offer the lowest impedance, and the 100 W into 8 ohms (160 W into 4 ohms) power sounds massive, allowing this amp to preserve tube glory while offering the excellent grip, low-bass power and control that MOSFETs are known for. The most crucial capacitors, the ones in the signal path, are extremely expensive tin-foil caps that are made in Europe. Elsewhere, even the caps outside the signal path are top-quality models.
The power supply in the EVO 300 Hybrid is extremely complex. Increasingly, manufacturers are realizing that there's more to power supplies than was ever thought before and that their design has a huge effect on the sound of the amp. For example, a power supply inductor can work as a second-order harmonic filter, so every part has to be carefully considered for its sonic qualities.
The amplifier uses a custom-wound set of potted toroidal transformers for true dual mono. It also has a pair of PrimaLuna's custom-designed AC offset killers that the company has championed in its other products. There is also extensive shielding in various parts of the amplifier to block any noise from the main power supply getting into the delicate preamplifier circuitry. The power supply circuits use high-performance LEDs at critical points, providing a supply of low-noise electrical power to various circuits in the extremely sophisticated power supply.
The built-in transformer-coupled headphone amplifier is designed using the same knowledge and expertise as the very high-quality headphone amplifier stages of their all-tube integrated amplifiers. Now you don't have to pay for a separate state-of-the-art headphone amplifier.
When designing a hybrid amplifier, it's essential to choose solid-state components that behave similarly to tubes. The MOSFETs used in the power stages do, in fact, have similar characteristics to tubes. These MOSFETs are specifically designed to pair with their preamplifier stages, matched for the best sound quality possible, and then mounted in one chassis to create the EVO 300 Hybrid.
Power transformers generate two types of noise, magnetic and acoustic. Compared to standard transformers, toroids radiate about one tenth of the magnetic fields that pollute music and obscure detail. Additionally, the absence of an air gap typically means toroids have an 8:1 reduction of acoustic noise. That's why all PrimaLuna products use massive, potted toroidal transformers. PrimaLuna transformers are enclosed in a metal housing and then potted in a non-microphonic resin to further reduce noise and to protect the windings from moisture and deterioration forever. The EVO 300 Hybrid employs three custom, potted toroidal power transformers.
We could go on and on describing many of the superior design features shared with other products that make all PrimaLuna offerings sound so terrific and perform well above what you'd expect in their respective price ranges. Suffice it to say that if you want the kind of performance quality for which this company has become famous and you want it coupled with the kind of bass power and control of the finest solid-state gear, this could be the integrated amplifier for you.
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