This review page is supported in part by the sponsors whose ad banners are displayed below

This review first appeared in the August 2011 issue of hi-end hifi magazine of Germany. You can also read this review of the Primare I32 in its original German version. We publish its English translation in a mutual syndication arrangement with the publishers. As is customary for our own reviews, the writer's signature at review's end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of fairaudio or Primare - Ed.

Martin Mertens
Sources: Thorens TD 160 HD w. TP250 arm & Benz Micro MC Gold pickup; Creek CD 43 Mk II, Logitech Transporter
Amplification: Lehmann Black Cube SE II, Jadis Orchestra blacksilver, Exposure 2010 S
Loudspeaker: Gaithain ME150
Cables: Vampire CC, Fast Audio Compact 6M biwire
Review component retail: €2.450,-

I anticipated the arrival of Primare’s I32 with a bit of fever. It represents the currently most modern amplification type available, i.e. an analog switching amplifier with switch-mode power supply. Class D and SMPS per se weren’t new to me. The combination was. I’d previously hosted Onkyo’s €399 integrated class D challenger called A-9366. But that ran a conventional power supply. Chord’s €5.400 CPM 2650 Integra had been a linear class A/B design with SMPS. Both amps left a lasting impression. Now I was curious what an amp with switching output stage and switching PSU would bring to the table. At ca €2.500 it even occupied the golden middle between the former two.

Another reason for my curiosity was being a conceptual antichrist to my cherished Jadis Orchestra. That runs a conventional power supply and a maximally minimized class A/B push/pull valve amplification stage. True, a SET like Mastersound’s 300B SE would have been more polarized yet. Still, I looked forward to this clash of two opposing amplifier approaches. At €3.000 the Jadis is admittedly a bit more expensive.
Already externally the Primare is quite the antithesis. The exposed transformers, valves and capacitors of the Jadis are terribly retro, the chromed chassis with acrylic front and lacquered cheeks plus chromed controls are luxurious but on fit ‘n’ finish more … er,  artisanally charming as likely enforced by French manufacture and chosen sell price.

Not the Swede. Its sheet-metal steel, matte Titanium-anodized aluminium front (or black), perfectly contoured knobs, expertly shaped and recessed display with a few additional controls exude such perfection that one reflexively assumes a higher price class.

The main controls seem turned from solid stock and run on ball bearings. While the luxurious optics somewhat overshadow the tactile inspection—the controls could turn a bit more stately—the Primare seems to come from an altogether different world than the Jadis though the fat ‘Designed in Sweden’ in the back indicates that whilst being engineered in Sweden, final fabrication does happen offshore.