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On to the auditions. During my first get-to-know-you session I found myself surprisingly stuck on left-wing stuff, be it ethno fare from Marie Boine, prepared piano by Herbert Henk or Stockhausen’s Mantra. If I can enjoy such fare it’s mostly a sign that a component under assessment contributes novel insights into the material which I previously missed.

To apply medias res, I then turned to classics. Liszt’s Preludes with the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Sir George Solti quickly determined that grand orchestral forces are a special fondness of the Primare. Here I first noticed the hall. Particularly impressive was how even during very subliminal passages this venue ambiance was audible – and how the entire orchestra seemed at the ready gathering momentum to pounce. The Primare excelled at conveying both this spaciousness and tension by resolving the very subliminal noises which cue our ear/brain into these attributes.


I also enjoyed the playfulness and drive the machine applied to such material. My favorite movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony is neither the fourth act, the Presto nor the "Ode to Joy" warhorse but the second, the ‘Molto Vivace’ [Karajan and Berlin]. I love the massive voltage swings of the nearly Baroque leit motif which in variations through various instrumental constellations escalates to multiple crescendos with intermittent moments of retardation and repose. The mounting energy is re-channeled to form anew before it once again gushes onto the scene. Here the Swede impressed with its dynamics. From microdynamic finesse which teased out fine nuances of the flute squadron to macrodynamic jumps with the kettle drum interlude, the Primare had push and shove to spare.
Without deliberation I saw the scene of Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange where Alex lies in bed facing a wall of speakers whilst listening to this movement. Incidentally the I32 is one of the few amplifiers where I strongly recommend the XLR inputs. This increases musical freshness over the RCAs.


The spatial perspective was quite classy. My Geithains tend to foreshorten it by nearly depositing the listener between the performers. The Primare maintained greater distance. Its orchestra began behind the speaker-to-speaker line and extended well beyond the boxes’ outsides. This made for a compelling concert hall illusion including lacking the razor-sharp localization focus other amplifiers contribute. I never encounter that during live performances to find it artificial and unrealistic. Put differently, the I32 suited my personal taste.


After classical seriousness it was time to roll up the sleeves. With Fat Freddy’s Drop I attempted to mine the Primare’s talents at depth only to come up slightly short. The infrasonic synth touches seemed rather shy. Extension was in order but heft was lighter than usual. The fat pressurization which usually floods my room reduced to neighbourly friendliness. Thumbs up for speed and control, a minus for lack of meat appeal. Ditto the synth bass orgies on various Madonna albums. Particularly on American Life—for example the quick brief volleys on "Die Another Day"—the amp’s good control shone while the attacks missed heft. Acoustic basses fared likewise. This was less apparent on material which places their upright in the background. In general the lower registers were a good match for the quick and overall lean voicing of this Scandinavian amp.