Primare I32 review

The Primare I32 is a beautiful product, with top-quality materials and a lovely feel but does it deliver? Tested at £2200

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

We’re disappointed. The I32 promises much but fails to deliver


  • +

    Immaculate build

  • +

    elegant design

  • +

    plenty of power

  • +

    informative presentation


  • -

    Clinical sound fails to engage

  • -

    treble lacks subtlety

  • -

    stilted sense of rhythm

Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.

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The last generation’s analogue circuitry has been replaced by a Class D design.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.

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 sound
Move 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.

See all our stereo amp Best Buys

Follow on Twitter

Join on Facebook

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

Read more about how we test