I thought this would be one of the easiest reviews to write, and in a way it is. Having already extensively covered the base Primare I35 integrated amplifier in Issue 163 and the Prisma network and DAC concept in both reviews of the award-winning I25 (in Issue 172) and as a part of the 15 system (in Issue 187), joining all the dots to make the Primare I35 Prisma integrated amplifier shouldn’t be too difficult?
In a way, I was right. But only in a way. What I didn’t expect was just how significant the effect of the combination is on the perception of the I35. If ever there was a product that exhibits the notion that ‘the whole is greater than the sum of the parts’ it’s the Primare I35 Prisma.
We’re getting ahead of ourselves. First, a quick recap. The I35 was the first amplifier from the brand to feature its UFPD 2 amplifier modules. UFPD stands for Ultra Fast Power Module. This Primare designed and exclusive to the brand Class D module has long provided instantaneous current delivery and extremely low distortion, but in its new UFPD 2 guise has more linear amplification across the entire audible bandwidth than previous modules. It also means Primare can make a true 150 watt per channel amplifier in a relatively small chassis without heat issues.
The I35 is an extremely modular design, allowing a series of add-on board options to bring the amplifier from base model, through I35 DAC (with modular DAC board added) right through to the I35 Prisma tested here. Prisma adds a wired and wireless streaming board to the I35+DAC option. However, there are a significant number of other avenues to get access to that Primare streaming option, including using the matching CD35 CD player with its own Prisma option as a digital hub, and connect via the analogue inputs to the I35, or take that player’s digital output to the I35’s optional DAC. The core I35 sports two sets of XLR balanced inputs, three RCA single-ended line inputs, and both fixed and variable outputs for a home cinema processor or tape loop.
Adding both DAC and Prisma makes the I35 one of the most comprehensively specified integrated amplifiers out there at the moment. The DAC board alone adds four S/PDIF Toslink connectors and two coaxial RCA links, as well as USB input and S/PDIF/RCA output. But no AES/EBU link.
Adding in the Prisma section brings two Ethernet connections, provision for an external USB hard drive and two antenna for connection to a smartphone for (Apple and Android chummy) Bluetooth music replay (Apple and Android chummy) or controlling the Prisma section via the Prisma app.