Primare says the advantages of UFPD include “instant and sustained delivery of immense power” with “lightning-fast rise times over a wide bandwidth” and precise control with a flat frequency response, independent of the speaker load, in part due to the amp’s low output impedance. Moreover, with the A34.2, Primare aims for very low harmonic distortion as well as low noise, and virtually no heat.
That last feature alone will make the A34.2 a strong contender for the consumer wishing to place an amplifier in an enclosed cabinet, where conventional designs are generally not happy. But as desirable as this design’s practical advantages are, at the end of the day what counts is how good a conduit it (or any component) is for the musical signals flowing through it. And as I’ve already hinted at what the Primare sound has to offer, let’s listen to a few more records.
Some months ago I heard the talented young cellist Alisa Weilerstein give a recital at a small, acoustically gorgeous church in San Francisco. She plays with a lot of drive and youthful passion, which for my taste doesn’t particularly lend itself to the likes of Bach but does beautifully serve something like the Kodály Sonata Op. 8, which she played that night as well as on her latest Decca CD, Solo.
Playing the recording of that or any piece is, of course, not like hearing it live. However, the Decca engineers did a nice job of capturing Weilerstein’s large, warmly robust, mahogany tone, as well as her sharpness of attack and the singing, almost Hendrix-like top notes she unfurls with muscular gusto. And the A34.2 delivered those qualities very nicely, indeed, bringing home her pedal-to-the-metal reading of the Kodály Sonata with impressive speed and dynamic attack, and a real physical sense of her bow work. There was a natural feeling of the instrument’s body, too.
What you might not get on a recording is the complexity of harmonic color and dynamic shading you do in life—or frankly, from the twice-as-expensive VTL ST-150 (though, it naturally ain’t the real deal, either).
On Mario Davidovsky’s terrific-sounding Synchronism No. 6 for piano and recorded sounds [Group for Contemporary Music, Turnabout LP], the Primare was stellar at delivering the bullet-speed transient plinks, plonks, and blips of this delightful music, all from a deeply silent background that convincingly recreated the sensation of the music emanating from a space of energized air. Impressive.
Playing Coltrane’s A Love Supreme [Analogue Productions/Impulse 45rpm LP] was also impressive, as the Primare brought out the near-hypnotic spiritual pull of this music. Timbre was again spot-on; brass was breathy, cymbals shimmery, bass and drums full of weight and texture. The Primare’s few audible shortcomings are also evident here: The final degrees of transparency are missing—meaning specifically there is a sense of a slight electronic haze veiling the music—and, though mostly quite neutral, the A34.2 leans slightly toward a darker tonal balance.
But these are relative imperfections. Overall, I would say that the A34.2 handsomely meets Primare’s design goals for a powerful, ultra-fast, almost noise-free, and pretty neutral amplifier that can easily slip into essentially any stereo or multichannel application. I know my Maggie 1.7s would agree.
SPECS & PRICING
Power output: 150Wpc into 8 ohms stereo mode, 550W into 8 ohms bridged mono mode
Inputs: Two pairs single-ended RCA, two pairs balanced XLR, RS232, 12 V trigger
Dimensions: 16.9" x 4/13" x 15.15"
Weight: 23.15 lbs.
728 Third Street, Unit C
Mukilteo, WA 98275
Rega RP10 turntable and Apheta MC cartridge; Sutherland Engineering N1 & VTL TL-5.5 Series II Signature preamps; VTL ST-150 power amplifier; TEAC HC-501CD/SACD Player; Magnepan MG 1.7 loudspeakers, Tara Labs Zero interconnects, Omega speaker cables, The One power cords, and BP-10 Power Screen; Finite Elemente Spider equipment racks.