If ever there was a “High Fidelity Hall of Fame,” Herman van den Dungen would be a certified member. Hi-Fi News‘ Ken Kessler called him “… the closest that audio has come to producing its own Keith Richards,” a testament to both his ability and longevity in the field.
His path to such stature was charted when the adolescent van den Dungen started to take apart old radios, turntables and tape recorders, which he then - sometimes in vain - tried to put together again; picked up momentum when the 25-year old opened his high-end import company; raced to prominence with the creation of Kiseki and Milltek cartridges; and is reaching the pinnacle with the release of his own components: first, the AH! CD players and now, the PrimaLuna line and more to come.
Now in 2020, Herman brings 45 years of high-end experience to the PrimaLuna project. Throughout his audio career, the Dutch-born distributor and manufacturer have emphasized two key elements: offering an affordable, reliable product that provides the customer with a joyous cost-value surprise and amazing the rare customer in trouble with rapid, effective after-sales service.
Graduating from college in 1972, van den Dungen spent some years as a teacher before starting Durob BV, one of the first high-end import companies in the Benelux. Several years later, he opened five stores where he honed those key, customer-related principles. He also developed a keen ability to sense needs in the market and how best to fill them. In some cases, Herman simply brought an existing product to the market. However, at other times there was a void, in which case Herman and his team created and/or manufactured the product. (Consider that his first foray into design and manufacturing was the exquisite Kiseki phono cartridge – an exceptional start in the production business). Either way, always guiding the process were those key principles: quality, affordability and reliability, and it was those earlier experiences that prepared him for PrimaLuna.
In the early 2000s, van den Dungen recognized a growing interest in affordable tube equipment, however, the existing gear on the market often faced reliability problems, and consumers new to hi-fi hesitated to buy. The then 53-year old entrepreneur wanted to bring those prospective customers into the fold with a product that would stimulate the European and US markets. His friend Kevin Deal, an expert in the field of tubed audio components, provided essential advice regarding potential pitfalls and the necessary technologies that would help make PrimaLuna a success.
In 2001, van den Dungen assembled a team of engineers to design PrimaLuna’s first line, the ProLogue Series. Years of extensive experimentation and design revisions yielded a structurally beautiful, sonically gorgeous, highly dependable product. However, to produce it affordably, it would have to be manufactured outside of Europe – in China. Herman investigated for months before settling on the right manufacturer, and although they require constant supervision, the results far exceeded expectations. The ProLogue components garnered more acclaim and awards from critics than any new manufacturer ever has before. And of note for dealers and consumers, they have a negligible defect rate of just one-half of one percent - unheard of in the industry - which makes it more reliable than a lot of solid-state gear.
However, his story doesn’t end there. Motivated by the success of AH!, Kiseki, PrimaLuna and armed with a long-term vision, van den Dungen and his team have been working on new brands and products to introduce to the market. Brands like Thule Audio, Bow Technologies, AudioMéca were acquired, own brands Mystère, FLOYD Design, MiMi, AC ♪♫ DC added and developed. Each brand, each model, represents a step up on what’s available on the market and are loaded with technological advances found on competitors’ products costing three to five times as much, or often not found at all on competitors’ products. We hope our new DUROB brands and products will capture as much critical acclaim across the globe as our existing brands Kiseki and PrimaLuna.