Primare CD35/I35 Prisma Network/CD Player & Amp Page 2

What's more, the soundstage is expansive, with instruments in the mix being located with both confidence and clarity. Music is delivered in widescreen fashion, as if you're up in the circle of the concert hall rather than rammed right up in front of the orchestra pit. It's a measured, refined and sophisticated sound that belies the components' price.

Many systems at this price point have a slight edge to them, especially when it comes to the upper midband. This can perhaps best be described as a feeling that a recording has been chromium plated. Not so here, as the House Of Love track 'Shine On' [The House Of Love; PolyGram 842 293-2] showed. This is a classic slice of British indie rock from the early '90s, and has a dry feel to its production. The Primare duo carried the song very well, lending it a mature sound that in some ways revealed a sense of refinement to the performance.

519primare.remSinewy Bass Sound
One aspect of the presentation that stood out was the way in which it was even from bottom to top. On 'Shine On' I enjoyed the taut, sinewy bass guitar sound and how it was devoid of overhang and the manner in which it integrated well with a wide open midband. This in turn proffered up copious amounts of detail. Meanwhile, treble was crisp-sounding and measured, having a fair amount of sparkle but no brightness. There's a sense that this combination never makes things sound harsh or uncouth; indeed you might say it sugars the musical pill, slightly.

It can also feel as if the I35 Prisma is direct-coupled to the loudspeakers, so confident is its delivery. Turning to some vintage electropop in the form of The Buggles' 'Plastic Age' [The Age Of Plastic; Island Records UICY-90066] was a joy. This is a really good recording, courtesy of '80s studio-whiz Trevor Horn, and heard with the right loudspeakers sets up a massive spread of sound in a room.

The different strands of the mix were clearly delineated in space, with the kettle drum and synthesiser pads running far stage left and stage right. Considering the amplifier's price there was a decent degree of depth perspective to the presentation too, even if this wasn't quite as three dimensional as I've heard some more costly designs achieve.

So the Primare CD35 Prisma/I35 Prisma goes about making music in a distinct yet most pleasing way, rewarding with a smooth, calm and natural rhythmic gait. Only if one were being picky might one say that the pairing doesn't quite convey the last nth degree of passion.

Skirting The Issue
Chic's 'Happy Man' [C'est Chic; Atlantic 7567-81552-2] is an infectiously foot-tapping slice of late '70s disco, and proved lovely to listen to. Yet there was a sense that this combination could be a little too measured at times. As the saying goes, it never really wanted to pick up its skirts and run. It's certainly a convincing music maker, but didn't exactly quiver with passion over every four-bar phrase of the song. Separating the two units revealed that this trait lay more in the hands of the amp. Regardless of input it appeared to deliver music in a more dutiful, matter-of-fact way than did the slightly racier CD player.

Taken in isolation, the CD player is a highly able performer. Its disc transport gives very good results when tasked with driving a separate DAC, although it doesn't quite have the bass solidity of some more expensive designs. Still, it makes for seriously engaging music.

A Real Rush
Paddy McAloon's 'I Trawl The Megahertz' [from the album of the same name, Liberty EMI Records 7243 5 83911 2 1] is a quasi-symphonic piece that can seem a bit disjointed when heard with the wrong equipment. Yet the CD35 Prisma handled it with aplomb, giving a pacy rendition that kept this listener involved.

Streaming via either the CD35 Prisma or I35 Prisma proved extremely rewarding. Rush's 'Subdivisions' [Signals; Mercury 314 534 633-2] in hi-res sounded detailed, dynamic and engaging. It was an enthralling listen, right down to the silky handling of the ride cymbal and punchy, propulsive kick-drum. Meanwhile, Kraftwerk's 'Tour De France Étape 2' [Tour de France Soundtracks; EMI 591 710 2] was enjoyably fluid, the music softly ebbing around me before it built to a great crescendo.

The CD35 Prisma/I35 Prisma is a highly satisfying combination then, although in absolute terms the latter sounds more euphonic. For example, feed it a classic new wave track such as Nick Lowe's 'So It Goes' [Jesus Of Cool; Yep Roc Records – YEP 2620] and the song's gritty energy and angst seems smoothed out just a touch. The music sounds more polished – airbrushed even – than perhaps it should.

Many will think this to be no bad thing at all, because it ensures that things are always couth – in marked contrast to some similarly priced solid-state amplifiers which scream out at you, in a bid to sound impressive. Primare has engineered the I35 Prisma amplifier to sound as sleek and classy as it looks, so when paired with the CD35 Prisma CD player, you discover a combination that's highly sophisticated in its mix of poise and polish.

Hi-Fi News Verdict
There's something deeply alluring about this streaming CD player/integrated amp combination, in both sound and function. An enjoyable music maker, it brings together a myriad different digital sources under one roof – so to speak – and allows easy control of them all. In turn, this makes it easier to appreciate the music without being distracted by the technology. Now there's a thought for the future...

Primare AB
Supplied by: Karma-AV Ltd, York
01423 358846