Sweden’s Primare is a brand that has forty years of experience producing hi-fi. And it applies delicious Scandinavian sobriety in the process. Focus on the important things. Think of a in house developed, solid power supply, sleek design without bling and use of proven concepts. Think of Hypex nCore. We take a look at their latest creation: an eight-channel power amplifier: the Primare A35.8
We were talking about down-to-earth products, right? And then we arrive with an eight-channel power amplifier? Well… wait a minute. Don’t judge yet, because there is a very interesting logic behind this. Primare has put quite a few multi-channel products in the market in the past. Think of a three-channel power amplifier to complement a stereo model. The three-channel amp was not a success. The seven-channel A30.7 was not so practical, although it was a reasonable success. Eight channels is practical as it offers more possibilities.
Consider: 5.1 with two channels in bridge, 7.1, 7.1.2 with an additional stereo amplifier, or just 2.0 with bi-amping in bridge mode. Then you have four outputs (all eight channels in bridge yields four high-power outputs) that you distribute to two speakers that will bi-amp.
As you can see, there are a lot of configuration possibilities that make this eight-channel much more flexible and practical than you might initially think!
Proprietary Class D… UFPD
Now, Class D is fairly limited in terms of implementation. Everything is fairly fixed, which also partly ensures that many Class D amplifiers sound somewhat similar. Only a handful of brands know how to add their own signature or make real improvements. Primare is one of them. This is partly due to the help of Patrik Bostrom (now CTO at ICEpower). He collaborated on the – for us – famous UFPD and UFPD2 modules that are used in the majority of Primare amplifiers.
What Primare has done with UFPD is the following: the oscillation frequency has been increased (500 kHz), global feedback has been added and tweaked to provide lower output impedance and ‘unnecessary’ hysteresis effects have been suppressed (dead zone, a side effect that occurred with older Class D designs).
Another thing we noticed about Primare amplifiers is that they always use a very heavy duty power supply. Something that is really crucial with Class-D amplifiers, as they directly modulate the power supply (on or off) A substandard or mediocre power supply will therefore always result in a mediocre sound.
For the A35.8, however, a fusion of nCore Class D and their own elements was chosen. This is to keep the amplifier still affordable with eight channels. Making your own modules in small batches is very pricey. Also, the pandemic and supply chain plays a major role in this choice: parts are more expensive and poorly available. So, in order to still come up with an affordable, available, and high-performing solution, Primare used the Hypex nCore modules in combination with their own insights and power supply.
The biggest flavoring – in our opinion – is the power supply. And as you can see from the pictures, it’s a serious specimen. According to the documentation, this power supply can supply 1500 watts continuously. That should really be enough for the majority of applications. In all our tests we never had the feeling of running into the limits.
The strength of the A35.8 lies in the fact that each “stereo pair” can be bridged separately. So it is possible to make four times 740 watts (8 Ohms) from the eight times 150 watts. Those are serious numbers. Although the A35.8 cannot sustain that continuously, since the power supply can supply 1500 watts continuously. But this powerhouse can handle a peak just fine. And that is audible and noticeable, as we will explain later!