It takes a brave company to change a winning formula, but that’s exactly what Primare has done with the I32 integrated amp.
The last generation’s analogue circuitry has been replaced by a Class D design. This new digital layout is claimed to sound clean and agile while delivering plenty of dynamic headroom.
A power output of 120W per channel into 8ohms is impressive enough, but this rises to 230W as impedance halves. The result is an amp that drives difficult speaker loads with ease.
Connectivity is good thanks to balanced and unbalanced inputs, and Primare is developing a slot-in module with digital-to-analogue conversion and streaming capabilities, which will be handy when it arrives.
This is an analytical amp. Instruments and voices are rendered precisely with well-defined leading and trailing edges to notes.
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So, natural-sounding material such as Tracy Chapman’s Over in Love is crisp and detailed; there’s also a fine degree of separation that doesn’t disappear in complex material, too.
Plenty of scale, but clinical soundMove to something more dynamically demanding such as Beethoven’s Fifth and the Primare responds with plenty of scale and authority.
It’s easy to be impressed by the clarity and muscle on offer, but listen for longer periods and it’s apparent that it isn’t all perfection.
For all the detail available, this is a clinical sounding unit, lacking the cohesion, spaciousness and rhythmic talent of the best at this price level.
The treble doesn’t help by sounding a touch hard and unsubtle.
With rivals such as Roksan’s Caspian M2 available for £500 less, it’s hard to make a strong case for the I32. That’s a shame for such an adventurous product.