Primare A35.8 Amplifier Review Page 2

As a Class D design, I was prepared for it to have that familiar sense of snap and attack, but this amp doesn't come across as all fury and no finesse. It both leaps into transients and keeps a steady hand on the tiller, so that smoother soundtrack and movie moments aren't relegated to also-ran status. Just as vitally, listening to it you get the feeling it has more power to give if needed. Surely playing a part here is the clever engineering of those Hypex NCore amplifier modules, which are designed to maintain the same level of (low) distortion regardless of the impedance fluctuations of the partnering speaker. There's a pure, uniform flavour to its sound across the frequency range.

Beginning with a five-speaker Q Acoustics Concept setup, using single-channel amplification, the A35.8 proved capable of effortless entertainment with the bombastic soundmix of The Suicide Squad (4K BD). The DC gang's beach landing on the island of Corto Maltese, and subsequent firefight/massacre, benefitted from the amp's fast, lively and powerful delivery. Gunshots gained a dramatic leading edge, each effect sounding punchy and precise. This frenetic sequence was conveyed without slurring, and became all the more immersive because of it.


The front-panel logo doubles as a power button, and includes a small status light

The soundtrack here starts off with driving drums and guitars, and it pounded purposefully from the front soundstage. Yet when Savant (Michael Rooker) decides it's time to retreat, composer John Murphy segues into a more traditional orchestral score with strings and brass, which revealed the musical bent of the A35.8. The instrumentation swelled with a gorgeous, unfettered tonality.

The impact on the system performance from bridging the L/C/R channels was impressive. The same speed and transparency was there, now joined by extra heft and a more fulsome feel to lower-frequency details, such as the timpani drums accompanying Peacemaker and Bloodsport's infiltration of the rebel camp, and the throaty roar of Starro the Conqueror.

Likewise, the sheer sense of scale and drama this amp wrought from its full eight channels with the blockbuster audio of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (Sky Cinema) was a delight. As the various robots (they really need name tags) do battle in Giza, the huge, bassy metallic tone of their mechanical whirrs and clanks, plus the portentous baritones of their bickering dialogue, emphasised the effect of being a tiny human dwarfed by Autobots and Decepticons.


This 15kg amp is supported by a trio of feet – two at the front, one central at the back

The A35.8's available power is arguably even easier to discern during music playback (and I suggest anyone investing in this amp should use it for this too). With the unit focusing its energy on just two of its amplifier pairs, and feeding a set of Bowers & Wilkins 705 S2 speakers (standmount models, but not an easy drive), it brought a thrilling energy, plus revealing transparency, to a playlist ranging from blues and rock to electronica and jazz. The crunchy riffs of AC/DC's Back in Black (CD) almost pinned me to my seat, accompanied by thunderous kick drum and snare, while the more mellower beats of Bob Dylan's theme to Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (Tidal Master) showed a sweet side to the A35.8, as it presented the resonant guitar strings, delicate percussion and gentle basslines without harshness.


Making The Grade
Overall, Primare's A35.8 is a classy bit of kit, with a performance (plus a luxurious design and build) that feels commensurate with its not inconsiderable asking price. It's more than capable in terms of power output to handle hungry speakers, and does so while keeping distortion or unwanted colouration at bay. Being able to bridge its amp channels to suit your requirements is another feather in its cap, as is its refined and insightful nature with music. I rate this an A-grade amplifier.

HCC Verdict

Primare A35.8

Price: £4,500

We say: Primare marks a return to multichannel with a highly impressive, and cleverly configured, power amplifier that brings pure, potent, fleet-footed grunt to your movie room.

Overall: 5/5


POWER OUTPUT (CLAIMED): 8 x 150W (8ohm); 8 x 300W (4ohm); bridge pairs rated at 740W (8ohm) CONNECTIONS: 8 x phono inputs; 8 x balanced XLR inputs; 8 x speaker terminals; 12V input; 12V output; RS-232 DIMENSIONS: 430(w) x 145(h) x 400(d)mm WEIGHT: 15kg

FEATURES: Hypex NCore 500 Class D amplifier modules; bridgeable channel pairs; maximum 1,500W total power output across eight channels; Auto Sense mode on/off; Auto Standby (defeatable); status LED; 6dB gain selector (bridged mode); clipping sensor