The VOLUMIO Primo Music Streamer - Review 2019

Discover the compact Volumio Primo Music Streamer

The Primo is the new music streamer from Volumio. From out of the box it looks very discreet. No functioning lights, not even on the front of the unit. No buttons either so as you can see, it's very minimalistic.

Volumio Primo


Out of the Box

At first glance I thought it was a bit too bereft of lights n buttons but then realised that this matt black box simply doesn't need anything.

The finish on the unit is really nice indeed. It's matt black finish is really well done with no fiddly corners, lips or very bits to gather dust. Just how I like it.

The rear of the unit is also very neatly arranged which includes:

x1 HDMI port
x4 USB
x1 Network socket
x1 High-quality gold plated RCA sockets
x1 High-quality digital out socket
x1 Wireless aerial socket.

Again, it's simple... Love it.



Setup

Set up was a breeze too. I did however found an error in the easy setup guide which suggested an IP address to use to get the start-up screen up. This just didn't want to connect so I simply used the normal 'volumio.local' and 'Ping..' we were cooking.

Existing users of Volumio certainty don't need to worry about using this unit. It's the same interface so very easy to use.

After the unit browsed my USB drive I set it going with the following:

The Sound

From the off it was a very nice sound indeed. Smooth, no harshness, no brittleness. Just a very natural sound.

This is very early days but I can say that the sound is really quite astonishing and this little cute discreet black box matches its performance beautifully. The bass is full and is certainly tight. It's focused and powerful and in my experience with these things if the bass sets off on good footing things can only get better. This is what makes my booty shake.

The mid-range is so natural, no overemphasis. Beautiful and smooth. It does however have a laid back feel which could be more defined but I always hold judgment on this as things burn-in.

The high-frequency range is also a little laid back but this I think will change as things get more established. This is not a bad thing though because the sound is so well put together that the stage is full and very precise. Nicely spaced instruments with a bottom that makes the whole picture dovetail.

This is very quickly turning in to one of the best bits of hardware I've had the pleasure to review.

Resampling

Okay... just had a little play with upsampling but if I wanted to then I'd have to say that I've always found 88khz 24bit to be the best rate IMO but WOW... this thing really rocks and can reach up to 768khz!!!

I've never been a fan of upsampling but trying some of these options on the Primo I'm pretty astonished. This thing doesn't miss a beat. No glitches, no pauses between tracks, simply solid all the way.

DSD playback

YES! - The Primo handles DSD files beautifully and even with the highest resampling using the highest quality algorithm. 

Inside: (taken from the Volumio website)


1. Voltage Isolator
2. 2x Low Noise Voltage Regulators
3. Low Dropout Voltage Regulator
4. ESS90x8Q2M DAC
5. High Precision Clock Oscillator
6. DAC Microcontroller
7. 26B RAM
8. Dedicated USB BUS

Versatility

The Primo is very versatile and would be hard to beat sound-wise in this price range but because it has a digital out I assume this could also be used as a head unit supplying a DAC of your choice especially with a small touch screen which Volumio sell for 229 Euros.

Streaming

You can also stream from these using the Primo:



Pricing

The pricing of this exceptional bit of kit from Volumio ain't cheap. At 479 Euros (around £410). Personally, I think this is a high price when you have what Allo has on offer.

So, if I was in the market the price is the only thing that would stop me from purchasing one of these as I feel that there are other streamers out there that contribute to a similar performance for much less outlay.




After a few weeks of using the Primo I can honestly say that if you are in the market for a streamer then the Primo should certainly be on your list of contenders. It's the ease of setup which is its plus point. A lot of streamers are fiddly to set up for the less technically savvy people who are 'toe-dipping' from more traditional standpoints such as Turntables and CD players. For those people it's a dream to just plug a few things in. No in-depth messing with IP addresses or wifi setup. The Primo plugs in and works.

The sound of the Primo is lush. Its agile signature is a gentle nature. No harshness, a voluminously focused bass, and a nicely spaced sound stage.

How does this compare with the Allo Katana + Isolator? Sound-wise I have to say the Allo has the upper hand with more feeling and a tad more airiness and presence in those highs and transient details. But the one thing this has over the Allo (at the moment) Is that its simple design makes it a joy to use.

As mentioned before, the price will put some off but what you will be getting is something minimalist, well made, adaptable, easy to set up, and performance boastingly good. 

The day Allo releases their DAC which is cased up in a similar way is the day the Primo will really have something to worry about.

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