Tone Audio magazine words
“This year, we ‘ve expanded our list slightly because we’ve reviewed more gear on a full eight-issue schedule than in years past, when we had only six issues. I would like to stress to those of you who have equipments that’s not on “the list” to not panic or feel like you have invested your hard-earned money on gear that is somehow less worthy.
We won’t even review a piece of gear in TONEaudio unless we think it is great. While that always sparks the debate about “negative reviews” we aren’t trying to be Consumer Reports (which isn’t always right on product assessments either, though they claim loftiness by not being tarnished with advertising), nor are we trying to stand on top of the audio mountain proclaiming the Holy Grall.
What we are trying to do is share equipement that we’ve experienced and feel very positive about, and describe why we feel that way. If we’ve described a product well enough that you’ve made the effort to seek it out, then we’ve done our job. If you actually reach for your checkbook and the product truly serves your needs, then we’ve hit a home run. We want you to have an audio system that you enjoy. That’s what perpetuates the audio industry, not reviewers blathering about the trendiest must have things that ultimately leaves you cold.
Ultimately, the awards are the handful of products that we feel either define the state of the art, in our Product of the Year category, or go above and beyond what we’ve experienced at a particular price point, in the Exceptional Value category. Publisher Choice Awards are my indulgence. These are products that I think are really damn cool and I don’t care what they cost, or how practical/impractical they might be.
So, prepare your arguments and rationalizations, here are our choices for 2010:
Exceptional Value 2010
I cannot believe another year has gone by already! The Rocky Mountain Audio Fest is anniversary time for us, and in addition to see all the great gear, it means that the awards are here again. The Exceptional Value Awards are the only ones we mention throughout the course of the year as we review the components that we feel are worthy of this award, so this part of our awards issue is not draped in secrecy.
Somewhat in keeping with the wacky economy this year, 10 of our 12 finalists have price tags under $2,500, as we sharpened the pencil as much as we could to find the things that we really felt represented the absolute best values. Ten of the 12 choices are from companies that have been around for quite some time, so it’s great to see legacy companies not ignoring the new recruits. Of the other two, Hegel has been in business for a while but new to the U.S. market and Virtue Audio is the new kid on the block. Here is to hoping at least one of these happen to be something you are looking for!
PrimaLuna ProLogue One Integrated Amplifier
MSRP: $ 1,279
Reviewed in Issue 31
PrimaLuna has become a household name in the past seven years and they’ve done it in the right way by building high-quality products that also offer high value. Kevin Deal and his partner, Herman van den Dungen, have brought legitimacy to the words “Made in China” when uttered in the same sentence as high-end audio; they’ve kept their standards high and field failure almost nonexistent with PrimaLuna brand. Today, the line has expanded quite a bit, but this was the amplifier that started it all. Staffers, families and friends have all bought them, and they’re all digging the tube sound.
The ProLogue One uses a pair of EL-34 tubes per channel, but thanks to PrimaLuna’s patented Adaptive Auto-Bias, you can use a handful of other compatible tubes without issue: 6550, KT88 and 6L6’s will work equally well. Another benefit of the Auto-Bias circuitry is that the care and feeling of vacuum tubes is a thing of the past. Power it up and go.
With 35 honest-to-godness tube watts per channel, the ProLogue One will drive all but the most inefficient speakers to rocking levels. With a sound somewhere between that of a vintage and modern tube gear, this amp oozes musicality.”
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