Interview with Cedric Courcelle in Japan, owner of a PrimaLuna EVO 400 Pre and EVO 400 Poweramplifier!

Since when are you involved in the Music & Audio hobby?

I have been into music since I was a kid, but I really became interested in audio and sound reproduction after moving from France to Japan more than 20 years ago. I realized the drastic impact of audio gears and placement importance at that time, something I never really thought about. Then a long journey began …

Which brands have you been using till now?

A lot ! (lol) From Power Amps to DACs, from streamers to power regenerators, from turntables to headphones amp or speakers, here are a few (in no particular order): Accuphase, Luxman, Denon, Marantz, Onkyo, Yamaha, Pioneer, Diatone, Trio, Sansui, Coral, Technics, PS Audio, Mytek, McIntosh, B&W, KEF, Harbeth, Stirling Broadcast, TOR Audio, ZMF, Musical Fidelity, Rega, Jay’s Audio, Sennheiser, Audio Technica, Classe, … etc.

I also built a few Elekit tube pre-amps and amps. These are excellent products for the price, especially if you know how to upgrade the right parts. I like home-made cables (interconnects, speaker cables and power cables). My brand of choice for cables building has been Furutech for more than ten years now.

When and how did you come in contact with PrimaLuna?

Two years ago, I realized that I had spent almost two decades buying and reselling audio gear, sometimes buying and reselling a product to rebuy the same product a year later … This happened with a few Diatone speakers … (lol). Changing and testing gears was fun and very insightful, but I listened to gear, not enjoying the music anymore. I then decided :

1- Time had come to build my final (main) audio system over the next few years, based not only on the gears but mainly on the musical experience …

2- I would spare more time on room treatment and placement than before …

I really love vintage gears (Diatone speakers and Trio amps especially). Still, I decided to keep these for my secondary system and build my new system with huge quality, more recent products. Then I searched online for a great tube pre-amp/tube power amp combo, and many times PrimaLuna was mentioned as the best quality you can get at this price range in forums and YouTube videos.

What made you decide to buy PrimaLuna amplifiers?

Kevin Deal YouTube videos! I love his passion for PrimaLuna products! I did at least 12 months of intensive research online before contacting a few resellers. Unfortunately, PrimaLuna is not distributed anymore in Japan, so I contacted resellers outside Japan.One of my pain points for products not distributed in Japan has always been the power supply (100V 50Hz in Tokyo). Most brands wouldn’t accomodate my power environment, and I didn’t want to use an external power transformer.

I contacted 2 PrimaLuna authorized dealers in Australia and Canada, and they both put me in contact with Herman van den Dungen, the PrimaLuna founder. After a few emails, I knew PrimaLuna was the brand I was looking for, and I decided to purchase an EVO400 Pre-amp and the matching EVO 400 power amp without even listening to them…

Herman was really helping, and he proposed building a power supply that could match my environment and make it future-proof if I decided to move back to Europe. He also kindly arranged shipping directly from the factory. This was a big risk, but I don’t regret it!

What is your experience with the PrimaLuna amplifiers up to now?

Fantastic experience! PrimaLuna modified the pre-amp and the amp to work in Tokyo (100V-50hz), and they delivered the promise. The products are built like tanks, heavy and super high quality from the delivery package to the products themselves; everything is perfect.

Sound is very detailed for a tube system, not muddy at all as sometimes Tube amps can be. Much more detailed than some of my previous tube amps. However, it still has this warm accent of tubes. I particularly like the possibility of switching from ultra-linear to triode at the push of a button. And the adaptive auto-bias is a lifesaver!

I would also like to mention the dedication of the PrimaLuna team to answer all my questions about the settings. Top-notch consumer experience!

What advice would you give to others interested in a PrimaLuna product?

If you have the chance to have an authorized dealer in your country, contact them and organize a listening session. Always good to have an opportunity to test before buying.

I didn’t have this chance, and luckily, I am super happy with how the combo sounds in my system. 🙂 If there is no authorized dealer in your country, contact PrimaLuna directly. They may be able to help you.

The dedication and kindness of the PrimaLuna entire team are second to none from my experience.

Do you have any advice for interested parties who live somewhere without a PrimaLuna dealer?

Try to contact PrimaLuna. They may be able to inform you and even get you the product directly delivered to your home.

However, you need to keep in mind that you may have to do troubleshooting (if any) by yourself without an authorized dealer. I had some ground issues due to another component in my system severely impacting the rest of the gears, including the PrimaLuna products. It took me a few weeks and many tests to figure out the problem was coming from another power supply, and once I removed it totally from the system, the issue was suddenly fixed! Another issue I had to face is that Japanese outlets are not grounded as a common practice, except for kitchen and bathroom outlets. I had to replace the power cables with non-grounded ones, and the system became then fully stable and quiet.

Again, depending on your environment, you need some knowledge and time to troubleshoot if anything happens.

For reader comments: Read on below the pictures

About beheerder

45 years of being with and in the world of high-end audio equipment. As distributor of Krell, Sonus Faber, Cello, Conrad-Johnson and many more, initiator of brands like Kiseki, Cogelco, AH!, PrimaLuna, Mystère and maybe more to follow.
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5 Responses to Interview with Cedric Courcelle in Japan, owner of a PrimaLuna EVO 400 Pre and EVO 400 Poweramplifier!

  1. Skip Gordon says:

    Thanks for sharing. I live in Vietnam and bought my EVO 400 pre and power amp in Hong Kong and about 6 months later got another power amp. The EVO 400 is great in stereo but mono is definitely another level. Enjoy your system. It will get better with time and eventually you will get to try new tubes. I suggest Tung-sol or Telefunken.

    • beheerder says:

      Thanks, Skip! Great to hear from you. Hope all is well. Best regards, Herman

    • soundfreakwp says:

      Thanks for the insight Skip ! I was wondering if a second EVO 400 in the system and using both power amps in monoblock mode would be worth the investment. I think you convinced me… 🙂

  2. Michael Borg says:

    I bought my first ever tube amp ,the Prologue Two about 13 years ago.I was on holiday in Antwerp Belgium.Since then we still have no dealers in MALTA where I live.I managed to bring it over in my hand luggage into the plane without any trouble.I still am very happy with it and have spread the word around about its great attributes in the local facebook circles . I also suggest Tung Sol EL34B as power tubes if a replacement is necessary or just for the fun of tube rolling.
    I also got a lot of help from the boss when I inquired about a little crackle in one channel.It turned out it was a loose connector in one of the driver tube sockets ,a result of pulling and inserting countless tubes over the years!!I would have taken it back to the service station in Holland had it been a more serious fault!
    I am now retired and soon settling in Belgium where I intend to build a new Hifi System based on the new PrimaLuna amps!
    As to my beloved Prologue amp,it’s a keeper for life!

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