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PrimaLuna ProLogue 8 CD-Player
 
 

RM 7,850.00

All ProLogue Series components are available with a silver or black faceplate.

All PrimaLuna models come standard with a quick-release tube cage. The cage is held in place using banana plugs, so taking the cage on or off is a breeze. The finish of the amplifier is a fine charcoal color with a slight hint of metallic. The high gloss finish screams quality. The rear transformer cover is vented to allow heat dissipation.

The rear panel

Looking at the rear panel, you’ll note a pair of RCA outputs, along with both a coaxial and optical (toslink) digital outs. When using one of the digital outs, you are bypassing the tubes output stage, but the signal is still running through the SuperTubeClock™, so even in pure digital you’re still getting some of the benefits of tubes.

The SuperTubeClock

This is where the magic happens… the SuperTubeClock replaces the solid state oscillator normally found in a CD player’s digital clocking device with a mini triode vacuum tube. By using a tube, we have significantly lowered the amount of jitter and noise, resulting in superior detail retrieval. This in turn yields superior detail and dynamics from top to bottom, and improved overall musicality.

A note on the tube itself: the tube is a very rugged, long-life Russian military Triode specifically designed for oscillation purposes… which is its function here. It is running very conservatively so life expectancy is roughly 5 to 10 years. Keep in mind, it is a vacuum tube, and as with any tube equipment, premature failures can happen, but we have yet to encounter a failure. The small glass envelope guarantees very low microphonics.

Triode tubes are inherently low noise devices, and extremely linear when used properly. This means that the oscillation frequency wave it produces is very pure and clean. The noise in the sidebands, from 10Hz to 100kHz on either side of the oscillation frequency, is extremely low. This is the important spectrum for audio. Everything below and beyond that can be ignored.

When you reclock the cd-drive, any noise that is generated here appears unfiltered and unattenuated at the input of the decoder chip in the cd-player, and injects jitter, which from then on is an undistinguishable part of the digital audio stream. No amount of cleaning will ever be able to remove this noise once it reaches this point; it has become part of the audio signal. This noise “rides” on the audio signal, so you do not hear it as noise, but as smearing of notes and masking of detail. There is a distinctive loss of dynamics, tonal purity, intertransient silence, and sense of timing. We call this “noise modulation”.

This is why the low noise, especially in the 10Hz-100kHz sidebands of the oscillator, is so crucial. Again, below and beyond these frequency extremes is trivial, because it will not affect the audio, and will not reach the analog outputs.

When the clock is used to clock the DAc chip, a similar situation occurs as described above: the noise appears at the location where the digital audio stream is converted to successive steps in a staircase wave, which represents the analog audio signal. Each step has to be EXACTLY 1/441000th, 1/96000th, 1/76400th, or 1/192000th (depending on whether there’s oversampling or upsampling, CD or DVD). The injected noise introduces a deviation in time which is the exact replica of that noise. This means that the audio signal at the outputs of the DAC chip has the noise riding on it, again as an inherent part of the signal. No amount of filtering will remove the noise once it reaches this step. Again, we experience that smear and detail masking, with that distinctive loss of dynamics, tonal purity, intertransient silence, and sense of timing.

Here you see how much sense it makes to relock BOTH the drive AND the DAC. If there is an a-synchronous Sample Rate Converter, say from 44.1kHz to 192kHz, this is just as susceptible to clock jitter as the others, and will benefit greatly from a good clock signal (oversamplers are synchronous, and multiply the 44.1kHz with an integer, like 4x or 8x; these rely on the clock from the drive).

The oscillation frequency wave a tube produces is sine wave. That’s not good: it has to be converted to a square wave. This is a very delicate procedure: when the rising and falling edges are not steep enough, there exists a certain window during which the actual transition of the data bit is not exactly time-defined. It leaves room to be either too late or too early. This is a partly random process, and partly dependent on surrounding conditions; such as power supply voltage variations, ground noise, inherent CMOS or chip crosstalk in the decoder or DAC chip, etc. All these timing variations are noise, and are called Jitter from various sources. The steeper the edges, the more exactly defined the transition moment will be, resulting in less noise (jitter). When a clock produces a very stable frequency with such low jitter, there will be a more accurate reproduction of the original analog waveform of the music.

Here are a few real SuperTubeClock pictures of what it can do: experts will certainly like them. No other commercial clock on earth will produce a square wave as this one.

Each square wave seen below is measured on a Philips PM3295A analog 400MHz oscilloscope using LeCroy 10:1 probes. These probes attenuate the signal by a factor of 10 in order to not load the device under test with any load, resistive or capacitive. So, the vertical resolution on the scope image has to be multiplied by 10. For instance, when you see ~0.1V, then it is in reality measuring ~1V (AC).

The SuperTubeClock generating a square wave at 8.4672mHz. The vertical slope is measured at ~500mV (each black horizontal line represents 500mV counting from top to bottom). The vertical peak-to-peak travel of the square wave at this frequency is 3.5 Volts, which is excellent.

Each black vertical line going from left to right represents 10 nanoseconds. The faster a clock can go from peak to peak, the better.

Square waves presents themselves more and more like sine waves the higher you go in frequency. So an 8.4672mHz wave like the one above is still identifiable as a square wave, but as we approach 42.2mHz, typically a square wave will be almost fully rounded off and appear as a sine wave. As a square wave begins to round off, it means the timing of the digital transmissions has become more insecure, allowing for the introduction of more noise and jitter that is then presented to the DAC.

Here we see the square wave generated by the SuperTubeClock at 42.2.mHz. As you can see, the square wave still has a very discernable square shape. This means the clock is VERY fast, leaving very little time to introduce jitter and noise, which can interfere with sound quality as mentioned above. Look closely at the image on the left (click to enlarge). Each black vertical line running from left to right represents 5 nanoseconds. The time it takes the slope to go from the top bar to the bottom takes up roughly 1/3 of that black square, which is about 1.67 nanoseconds.

Think about it… that is 1.6 BILLIONTHS of a second. Each black horizontal line in this measurement represents ~1V from top to bottom. Just as in the first wave above, the peak-to-peak travel at 42.2mHz is about 3.6 Volts, which again is excellent.

This kind of speed is crucial to ensure accuracy in detail retrieval. This in turn introduces less noise and jitter, resulting in better transients, increased clarity, improved dynamics, and a pure, musical tonality

Sonic Nirvana sometimes comes from gentle nudges...

At PrimaLuna, we have the experience to know that there is no product that is "perfect" for everybody. That's why we have our exclusive Adaptive AutoBias that allows the customer to fine-tune the sound of any PrimaLuna amp by changing to a HUGE number of different tubes, with absolutely no need for the tubes to be matched, or biasing once you put them in.

Getting that last 10% of performance does not have to mean spending five or ten thousand dollars of upgrades. It can be a matter of a gentle nudge or a small tweak that can lead to sonic bliss and the feeling of "Ahhhh..this is right".

The PrimaLuna ProLogue Eight CD player already hit the home run. With reviews from around the world and statements like "Indeed their latest ProLogue Eight "hybrid" CD player drops a real bombshell on the traditional CD player competition." It is something special.

But every person and every system is different. With 99% of the CD players on the market you are stuck with what you bought. Not so with PrimaLuna. One, in a way you would expect from us, that is changing out a couple tubes and taking advantage of a huge color pallet available to you.

The bottom

Who shows you the bottom of a CD-player and has something to talk about? We do. Most products at this price point have no cooling vents, and the reason they don’t is because their bottom plates are about as thick as a Coke can, and very poorly finished. Our bottom plate is completely finished with no sharp edges, complete ventilation and stability, and the screws mount into brass inserts.

“…un réel plaisir musical.” Christian Izorce


Haute Fidelite
France
Issue 131 Mar 2008







Jimmy Award





Class A
Recommended
Product

 


 

HVT

 

 

 

The absolute sound

2008

“Chosen among the 12 best products of 2008”

Stereophile -
Runners-up

2008

 

 

 

"Anamazing value with a unique tube-based clock"
 

The Absolute Sound USA
September 2009

 

 

 

For more information : 

Contact : Dicky Ng 012-3308893

Email : dickyng@cmy.com.my

 

 

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