Primare A35.2 Power Amplifier Review

Primare is a brand which has been building and designing HiFi and AV equipment for over 30 years now and in that time they have built up a well established name which when I hear it always makes me think high fidelity music systems, having heard many of them over the years at various shows and demos they have always impressed me with their beautiful minimalist design but more importantly great sound so this will be my first review of one of their products and having just used the A35.2 to review the stunning Perlisten Audio R7t speakers it powered them effortlessly but I wanted to review this amplifier with my own speakers in situ the ProAc D2Rs.

Built in Sweden this Scandinavian company have managed to excel with beautiful minimalistic designs offering whole system solutions to both HiFi and AV enthusiasts, with a high end look and feel to their products the company was founded by Bo Christensen an industrial designer but passionate audiophile and Bent Nielsen a very talented engineer, together they have been making Primare HiFi and AV products since the mid eighties.

Reading their philosophy page encapsulates perfectly what Primare as a company stands for and the way they think and feel about their products, it’s all about balance and proportions with their designs and not over complicating the look or usability of their products and ultimately a products overall performance, when you look at the A35.2 it’s sleek proportions and aesthetics certainly meet their high standards and philosophy to a tee.

I have owned and heard many Class D designed amplifiers over the years with some excellent results, I used Class D ICE amplification with my B&W 800 series that I owned and loved the performance, the benefits of Class D is that the amplifiers have huge output capability but run extremely cool and can be kept relatively compact when you compare similar Class A and Class A/B designed amplifiers and their associated power output, also the weight of the amplifiers is a kept low thanks to the class D design topology.

Build Quality and Features

From the moment the Primare A35.2 arrived and I unboxed it, it’s sleek brushed black metal finish impressed with the main power ON button incorporated into the Primare logo which is a nice feature and again shows how much thought has gone into the design and aesthetics of the amplifier, three silver feet set the unit off nicely and gives it a premium look, the Primare A35.2 writing adorns the front of the unit in a grey colour which does not draw too much attention to it, all of the the main functionality is on the rear of the amplifier and it has both balanced and unbalanced connectivity, two speaker binding posts and an array of dip switches which allow the unit to have different settings configured when used as a stereo amplifier or bridged so as to allow the unit to be used in a mono configuration pumping out a massive 800 watts into 8 ohms therefore you could have two A35.2s as monoblocks giving you some serious amplification and would easily power any speakers should you choose. In the stereo configuration this amplifier still has a very healthy 200 watts into 8 ohms which doubles as the impedance halves allowing 400 watts into 4 ohms, the power output and delivery was clear for me to hear when I was reviewing the larger floor standing Perlisten Audio R7t speakers as it powered them effortlessly.

The A35.2  has trigger in and out connectivity on the rear for connecting other Primare products such as preamp, CD player and network player, the dip switches allow for auto sensing of an input signal so as to turn the unit on when it senses audio coming into the amplifier, an RS232 connection and power finishes off all the inputs on the rear.

Primare has refined Class D amplification with their Ultra Fast Power Device (UFPD) design which is now in its second iteration using UFD2, they have realised the benefits and full potential of Class D amplification with UFD2 and managed to get huge amounts of power output across the entire frequency range with little or no distortion without all the negative results that Class A or A/B designs have like the heat that they dissipate and the larger heat sinks and the extra weight associated with all the extra cooling that is required to offer the same sort of power output that the Primare can manage.

Looking under the hood of the amplifier and it is a very tidy affair with an array of circuit boards and power boards and transformers but thanks to the Class D design very minimal with much smaller heat sinks as can be seen below, this all equates to a relatively light 11.7Kg weight for the A35.2 power amplifier.

For this review as I mentioned earlier I am using my ProAc D2R speakers connected to the Primare and using my Cyrus Audio electronics for preamp duties and CD playback, Chord Electronics Hugo2 DAC and Bluesound Node streamer for streaming, I am using my Denon DP400 turntable for vinyl playback and all of this is connected with Chord Company cables.

For choice of music I am listening to high resolution music streamed via Quobuz and some music stored on my various NAS HDD also some vinyl and CDs which I have a lot of and love.

Performance and Sound Quality

For my first album I am listening to a new album released from the AMC Trio Following the Light on the Jazzline label, this is a new album from this Slovakian jazz group and also features Randy Brecker on trumpet in high resolution 24bit 48kHz, this is great release and features some brilliant Jazz from this Slovakian trio.

Track three Ray Of Hope is an excellent piece of music, to the left of the stage the electric guitar starts off and then to the right of the soundstage the violin comes in until the full band with Randy Brecker on trumpet gets into full swing, the trumpet is projected centre stage with power and conviction, notes are perfectly portrayed, the Primare’s power and delivery is clean with each instrument having its own space within the soundstage, the percussion is hard hitting and piano notes are beautifully rendered with each strike. Track four Dawn of Chorus is a fast paced piece of music with some incredible sounding string instruments playing with the double bass sounding so natural and the drums starting and stopping on a dime, huge swings in dynamics which are handled beautifully and shows how well the Primare can handle such fast and complex music with superb timing and musicality projected through my ProAc’s. Track 6 Oblivion is more relaxed piece with a beautifully captured piano intro, cymbals shimmering in the background, before the trumpet is introduced and the double bass comes in with rich tuneful full bodied bass, the trumpet is very natural sounding and again each of the instruments have their own space on the stage, the Primare manages to create a large scale soundstage with my ProAc's loving the huge power it has to offer and how it delivers it. Track 7 Following the Light steps it up again and shows how well these Slovakian Jazz artists can jam when in full flow, the Primare A35.2 amplifier does this music complete justice allowing my ProAc’s to sound wonderfully composed with this large scale performance, bass is full of texture and especially string instruments having an extremely natural feel to the sound, on this track the saxophone sounds absolutely epic centre stage with the trumpet following suit and then the piano and drums having real impact with each strike, which is sheer musical bliss.

For my next album I am playing the brilliant album Brothers In Arms by Dire Straits on CD on the Mercury record label, It is actually the 5.1 SACD version that I own but I am just listening to the stereo CD audio layer for this review. If there is one song that would define my earlier teenage years it would be Dire Straits Money for Nothing as it was the era of MTV so track 2 Money For Nothing always feels like a blast from the past and a classic piece of music from this legendary band, from the very opening of the track and the synthesised melody to the fierce drumming intro and then the brilliant guitar riff from Mark Knopfler, the Primare manages to capture and project perfectly the size and scale that this track was recorded in, the drum intro has stunning impact and power, the guitar riff comes in centre stage and sounds impressive with the drums set off behind and almost enveloping the soundstage when Knopfler's vocals come in and while the instruments are impressive vocals are equally as impressive sounding, what makes it for me though is Sting's vocals " I want my MTV & Money for Nothing " which makes this track stand out as one of the best and most synonymous of the 1980s, beautifully written and sounding the Primare and ProAc pairing seem to gel so well with a sublime sound.

Track 5 Why Worry was not a title that I really listened to but hearing it with the Primare and ProAc combination it sounds glorious presented with a delicacy in the vocals but such rhythmic snap in the drums and percussion, the power that this amplifier hides under its sleek looks is undeniable and this was something that I really discovered while reviewing the Perlisten R7t speakers and now with my ProAc’s, they don’t have the same slam and depth in the bass department but they uncover so much in this track that makes it such an enjoyable listen.

Track 7 Brothers in Arms I recently heard at the unveiling of new speakers from Magico albeit this was a live recording taken from the Royal Albert Hall which sounded superb and left a long lasting impression, this was my benchmark for me of this epic track, but to put it into perspective just the amplification alone cost upwards of £250,000 and so it should of sounded good for that sort of money, the Primare amplifier is a mere fraction of this cost and yet it still manages to hold its own with plenty of power in reserve and will play to totally unsociable levels of loudness which my ProAc’s just seem to lap up yet always sounding composed with lots of the finer details intact, as the intro starts the synthesiser sounds and thunder breaks in the background and then Knopfler’s guitar emerges while the thunder continues, with the gently sung lyrics which builds into what is one of their classic tracks of this album and title, the kick drum and drums have real power which the Primare and ProAc combination manage to capture perfectly, you can really feel the emotion in Mark Knopfler's vocals as it is such a stirring performance.

On to my final album and again on CD this is by another legendary band and one of my favourite groups, Pink Floyd and Dark Side of the Moon on the EMI record label, this is probably their most Iconic album title, well I could say that about The Wall but DSOM resonates more deeply over the time that I have listened to their music. Track 4 Time has my room filled with a cacophony of ticking clocks and their alarms and chimes ringing out in chorus, from left to right the percussion instruments bounce around my room with an echo effect before the main drums come in hitting hard with incredible impact and the organised madness starts, the guitar solo sounds so good centre stage with the layers of instruments and vocals, the Primare amplifies this recording brilliantly as it has so much going on but keeps it under complete control and my ProAcs manage to separate the musical genius that is Pink Floyd. Track 7 Us and Them has the beautiful Saxophone playing it is projected with such a delicacy with Gilmores hypnotic vocals side by side, rolling into the psychedelic track 8 Any Colour You Like and Richard Wright's genius keyboard skills as the synthesised sounds of the 1970’s which epitomises this era of music, Nick Mason's drumming is also on another level and the Primare manages to deliver it with all the impact and power that was intended for this track, this is an iconic album and I always love playing it and thankfully the Primare has faithfully recreated it showing how musically adept this amplifier is.

Conclusions and final Thoughts

Musically the Primare A35.2 Power Amplifier is a formidable performer and copes well with all types of music, from the subtle nuances in Jazz to full on rock with hard hitting power and conviction, tested with the Perlisten Audio R7t speakers and now with my ProAc D2Rs it does not have to be in an all Primare system to show how well it can perform although I can imagine with its partnering PRE35 connected via the balanced inputs its performance and synergy will elevate its performance even further, factor in the sleek proportions and stylish looks and cool running it's hard not to like the A35.2 amplifier, with a clear upgrade path to bridge the A35.2 and use two of these in mono configuration you end up with some serious hardware to power any speaker system should you choose, considering the price it really is quite the bargain.

The Speaker Shack awards the Primare A35.2 with the Five stars Highly Recommended award !

Price at the time of review £2,900

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