Honestly. The Primare Prism I15 amplifier was smaller than expected. We had seen some pictures but when he was actually put on the furniture the first word that came to mind was… cute. John Darko calls it Kallax-fi and considers these more compact components to be added value. We see more and more components that are smaller than the standard, but that doesn’t matter much to us. As long as the performance is there. Although, the smaller the finer, right?
The ‘small’ integrated amplifier we are talking about is the Primare I15 Prisma, the starter of the new Prisma series. It had been a while since we had tested something from this Swedish manufacturer at Alpha and we were very curious about the performance. In any case, their philosophy and way of working really appeals to us. The company has been in existence for thirty years and since their inception they have sought harmony and balance in the reproduction of music. Whether we hear those key words again during our test, you will hear in a moment.
Construction and appearance
At the front we see a narrow, elongated oled screen with white letters that clearly show the volume and input. The aluminium front is very tasteful with tactile, small buttons that work well. The screen is separate from the amplifier to avoid possible interference with the rest of the components. The I15 stands, to reduce vibrations, on three feet and that takes some getting used to. Because we often have to change cables it happened several times that we lost our balance and that the amplifier tilted to one side. But when you lift the amplifier, it weighs well and you feel that everything has been put together properly. Typical Primare.
Inside we see that everything is built with Swiss, um Swedish precision. There’s even some space left in the little box! All connections run via short signal paths, making it possible to work in a very compact way. It all looks neat and the used components are of high quality which we also see in the more expensive I35 series.
The I15 may be a compact amplifier, but it is full of technical tours de force. Think of a Class D amplifier, dac and Google Chromecast streamer! It’s a little bit of an all-rounder. The Class D amplification uses a Hypex module (type UCD 102) that is equipped with an in-house designed switching power supply in combination with a fully analog input stage.
The built-in dac is based on an AKM AK4490 chip that has proven its worth. This dac can handle up to 192kHz/24bit via coaxial and optical PCM and up to 384kHz/24bit via USB. The built-in streamer is – as it were – a modified version of the Chromecast audio. This is also a Roon Endpoint. Just like the regular Chromecast. Furthermore, Airplay and Spotify Connect are included as standard and Bluetooth is one of the possibilities.
We download the Primare Prisma app and see a very clear and user-friendly layout. After a few hours we are already very familiar with it and the fact that the app is available for both IOS and android makes us very satisfied. The first days we use the normal functions such as switching between sources and creating playlists. But with the settings box it is possible to adjust a lot more things.
You can name each input, disable unused inputs, dim the screen, adjust the balance, disable the standby function and so on. There is also a fully-fledged slimline remote control that we used mainly as a volume control or to switch between inputs.
Besides all these functions, it is also possible to use this amplifier as a basis for a number of multi-room applications. With this, Primare wants to take a big step towards the future and make products that are not only soundproof but also have the latest home automation gadgets at their disposal. For today we mainly focus on the audio performance because we already have our hands full with that.
In order to keep an overview, we have made a neat list of all connections for you: (1x analog in, 3x optical in, 1x coax in, 1x USB W in, 1x 3.5 mm in, 1x analog off, 1x coax off). Let’s just say that in addition to the app comes a slim, fully-fledged remote control, which we used mainly for volume control and switching between inputs.