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Primare I30 review

If Carlsberg made amps, would this bad boy be running off the production line?

This amplifier has a lot to live up to. Its predecessor, the A30.1, was a multiple award-winner with a breadth of appeal that few rivals could match.

But the designers at Primare have again proved themselves to be up to the task: the I30’s performance means once again that the company has a product on its books to challenge the very best. Let the games begin…

A class act

Place this elegant integrated amp next to opposition from the likes of AVI, Myryad or even Naim and it’s hard not to be impressed by the I30’s extra sense of class: it feels as solid as it looks stylish, and all the controls work with an air of precision rare even at higher price-levels.

And although this is very much an audiophile design with a fully balanced symmetrical circuit layout and the two channels kept separate from input to 100w-per-channel output stage, it’s not short of convenience features to make it flexible and easy to use.

Control freak

You get balanced inputs, a preamp output for biamping, and remote operation of source select, volume and muting – as well as control of other Primare units.

Sounds good

But what really sets this amp apart is its sound. The I30 is one of the cleanest, most informative amps available below £3000 or so. Its output may not seem particularly impressive, but the I30 still delivers.

What’s more, the sound doesn’t harden up at even high volume levels: the amp carries on delivering crescendo after crescendo with no sign of buckling under the pressure.

Crisp and focused

And the good news doesn’t stop there: timing is crisp, so the hard-charging rhythms of Massive Attack get treated with the respect they deserve, and stereo imaging is both superbly layered and focused with precision.

The old A30.1 was great, but this current version is in another league. It’s far more open sounding and shows gains in resolution, dynamics and timing over its predecessor. The Primare I30 is one exceptional product.

Stuff Says…

Score: 5/5

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