We have tested the Primare SPA23 AV amplifier!
The products of the Swedish company Primare are very popular and well-known among audio and hi-fi enthusiasts all over the world. Founded in the 1980s, the company is a guarantee of high quality and perfect sound. Several of their products are award-winning – which is not surprising, as the primary considerations for the company’s designers and sound engineers are ideal sound and satisfied users.
The Primare SPA23 amplifier is 5.1 channel and has a power of 5 x120 Watts. The external design of the amplifier is decorative and sophisticated, the aluminium housing is large and rugged, which provides stability against vibrations. Thanks to the shorter signal paths, a clearer and more precise sound is achieved in the metal housing. The weight of the device is 15 kg. The extra-thin remote control has a logical layout and is clear. The front panel has two dials, a control knob and four additional pushbuttons. The letters on the display are a bit small, but it can still be read from distance. The look was given the style typical of the Primare brand.
The back panel looks quite puritanical, not battery packed with connectors and sockets. Optical and coaxial digital sockets can be found on the back, the device has five 1.4 HDMI inputs and two HDMI outputs. In addition, the device is equipped with 4 pairs of analog RCA inputs, a subwoofer output, 3 trigger outputs, 1 trigger input, RS232 port and infrared input on the AV amplifier.
The menu is informative, easy to navigate, the crossover frequency and the sound pressure level can also be adjusted, but all settings must be made by ourselves. Speaker settings are extremely easy to make, as are subwoofer settings. The amplifier can also process 1080p, and surround sound can be output from Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital EX, Dolby True HD, DTS…, and more features. The power is rated at 8 Ohms, 120 Watts. Primare has 24-bit / 192 Wolfson DAC and Burr Brown by Texas Instruments operation amplifiers, which are characterised by linear and low cut-off frequencies. The Class “D” amplifier is quite efficient and operates with little loss. Thanks to the Ultra Fast Power Device, an equivalent value of 26 decibels of negative feedback is used over the entire audio frequency range; thus, the rate of feedback changes as the load at the filter output changes.
What is UFPD, or Ultra Fast Power Device?
Class “D” amplifiers may sound vivid and dynamic at first, but ear fatigue may occur over time. The SPA23, with the help of the UFPD, also performs two operations: both control and feedback, thus influencing the output signal more directly and precisely. The amplifier detects changes and the output filter controls the amount of current relative to the feedback rate. For this reason, the amplifier provides excellent performances. These new system amplifiers handle all output signals in the same way, regardless of their frequency, and are also able to completely suppress resonance, so the distortion will be extremely low and the frequency transmission will be wide and independent of the load. This allows this type of amplifier to power any type of impedance speaker. It also uses little energy and optimises performance, moreover, guarantees smooth sound and minimal distortion and optimal heat treatment.
PFC-Power Factor Controller
With Power Factor Control technology, we can expect a stable power supply. The purpose of Power Factor Control is to not only draw power from the mains at the peaks, but to be able to do so virtually continuously. The advantage of this is that the current consumption is not concentrated at the peaks of the incoming mains voltage, which means that the voltage drops to a lesser extent and the voltage peaks will not be cut off than in the case of amplifiers without a PFC power supply. That is, the DC voltage produced depends only to a small extent on the incoming mains voltage. So for an amplifier equipped with an PFC power supply, it practically doesn’t matter that the mains is 230 volts, or let’s say 160 volts.
The amplifier has no network function or USB input, nor does it have a built-in automatic room sound optimisation system or a microphone for taking sound measures. However, these features are not absolutely necessary, although the rather high price of the device might have been a reason to include these few extra features almost basic in all latest amplifiers.
As a matter of fact automatic room calibration programs are now almost a basic function of home theatre amplifiers. But it must be taken into account that these sound optimisation software can only work really effectively if the acoustics of the room are already adequate.
We first tested the amplifier for music. We listened to Linkin Park’s hit Numb. We had a dynamic, precise and clear musical experience courtesy of SPA23, and it can even be said that the instrument really provided a premium sound production. The basses were in place, they sounded intense and powerful, the other ranges were absolutely fine too, the music sounded beautiful, even and harmonious.
We then watched the 2015 action comedy, the Spy. We got an extensive stage image and realistic, detailed sound. We can’t complain about surround sound at all either. Clarity remained even at higher volumes. We tested the Primare amplifier paired with the Danish-made Dynaudio Confidence 20-stand speakers. The collaboration between the High-end speakers and the high-quality amplifier resulted in a fantastic and truly flawless production of quality sound.
The Primare amplifier boasts a premium quality design and flawless sound. It can reproduce detailed, precise, realistic and distortion-free sounds. Thanks to the integrated advanced amplifiers, energy consumption and performance are also optimal. It is very important, of course, to pair the amplifier with good quality speakers and a subwoofer, as this is the only way to get a satisfactory end results. The acoustic treatment of the walls, ceiling and window surfaces of a given room is not to be neglected either. The SPL23 AV amplifier is suitable for both home theatre systems and music. But to remain a little critical, I would note that more features would be expected in this price range.
Written by Róbert Polgár