The PrimaLuna team took a long-term, deliberate, methodical approach with the guiding principle that the product had to be perfect. They spent close to three years developing and producing the introductory ProLogue Series and what became of that time and effort is the stuff that makes audio legend. The first PrimaLuna products, the ProLogue One and Two integrated amplifiers, were released in 2003 in Europe and immediately captured superlatives from the continent’s most influential reviewers. In 2004, their release in the U.S. was met with equal, unbridled enthusiasm. PrimaLuna had produced what no one thought possible: exquisitely-sounding, reasonably-priced, highly-reliable components with features found in gear costing three to five times as much. For example, the PrimaLuna design team took Deal’s demand for an auto-bias circuit and went a step further—designing the Adaptive AutoBias, an exclusive circuit that continuously monitors and instantaneously adjusts tube bias. Consider what else the critics found in the ProLogue One integrated amplifier:
SoftStart circuitry that powers the amp up gently and extends tube life.
Point-to-point wiring, ceramic tube sockets, Alps potentiometers, Nichicon and Realcap capacitors, WBT style speaker terminals, and gold-plated input jacks.
Custom-designed output transformers.
Toroidal power transformers.
Quick-release tube cage.
Fully-vented chassis finished with a five-step, automotive-quality, high-gloss, hand-rubbed finish.
This incomparable array of standard features can be found on all components within the series—the ProLogue Three preamplifier, the Four and Five power amplifiers and the Six and Seven monoblocs. The release of those components, completed in 2006, was again met with rave reviews and an armful of awards, but does not conclude the ProLogue Series. Staying a step or two ahead of the curve, Herman and his team are planning a mid-2007 debut of the ProLogue Eight, an all-tube CD player that will revolutionize the audio industry by introducing the world’s first tube-based data clocking device.
The driving force behind PrimaLuna is one of high-end audio’s most astute and colorful figures, Herman van den Dungen. It’s been said that many successful, creative people “march to the beat of a different drummer,” but it’s the ability to get others to hear your tune and march with you that distinguishes the most accomplished. Van den Dungen is undoubtedly one of them. With a reputation of gathering the best talent for his projects, the widely-known, Dutch-born entrepreneur in 1998 launched the well-valued AH! Njoe Tjoeb CD player to critical acclaim in Europe. A year later, seeking to expand sales in the United States, he forged a relationship with Kevin Deal. A dynamic, high-end dealer with sufficient capital to import the product, Deal also possessed a characteristic Herman found invaluable—decades of experience in tubes with an intimate knowledge of their ups and downs as they relate to the consumer. The two immediately hit it off, sharing the philosophy of providing an exceptional, reliable product at a great price and delivering incomparable after-sales service.
Turning his attentions, Herman had for some time recognized a growing interest in affordable tube components; however, he also noted that existing gear on the market often faced reliability problems and consumers hesitated or refused to buy. In 2000, he set out to rectify the dilemma and assembled a top-flight, world-renown team of European audio designers. For U.S. distribution and sales advice, he once again turned to “tube guru” and friend, Kevin Deal.
Initially, Deal declined to take part. As the largest retailer of tube components in the United States, he was acutely familiar with the pitfalls in manufacturing reasonably-priced gear. Further, he understood the U.S. market in terms of sales and what it would take to be successful. These two elements merged into one overriding conviction: the product would have to be extraordinarily reliable. Deal agreed to climb aboard contingent upon the promise of rigorous production oversight and the inclusion of an auto-bias and other self-protection features that would make the components not only dependable but easy to use.