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Audition report: Line Magnetic LM-218IA, KEF-XQ10, Chario Lynx

Wharfedale Evo 4.2

ranjeetrain

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Long day, too tired to write a detailed report. But want to jot down my thoughts rather than putting it on my ever increasing wish-i-could-do-that list.

Today, I made a trip to the town, hunted down the addresses and managed to do some serious auditions. First audition was at a dealer who perhaps started out as a Jamo dealer. What a day, long but fun. When I contrast my day today with my day last weekend I just get shocked by the contrast.

Last weekend I visited a dealer who wouldn't want to let me audition anything. Was reluctant to connect things that were not connected but would like to know everything about me and my wallet. Wished I would give him a blank cheque and he would send me some stuff from his holy den which will make my living room a hifi heaven.

This time I met a dealer, who made seat for me, taking stuff off the sofa. Asked me politely what would I like to hear, ask me if I have my own CDs, put my CD in the transport and let me get lost in music at my pace.

[IMG2]http://www.eugenehifi.com/Line_Magnetic/218ia-600x400.jpg[/IMG2]Cutting to the chase: I had spoken to the dealer over phone so background was already there. Audition started within 10 minutes. I had planned to hear the Line Magnetic amps (LM 218IA and LM-211IA amps). However, as it turned out, time just flew by and I couldn't get to the LM-211IA.

Line Magnetic LM-218IA: the look and feel - I usually equip myself with the knowledge of the gear I am going to audition. I did the same with Line Magnetic LM-218IA, but failed to notice it's weight. I thought the guy was kidding when he said he needs help to lift it and place it on the rack. He was not joking. The amp is a 35 Kg beast. Don't know where the weight is. The amp looks unassuming, not at least so intimidating as to weigh 35 kg. I am used to lifting heavy amps and putting them in the rack/cabinet but I couldn't lift it easily. Looks like mass loaded. Or is it the extra heavy duty transformer cores?

Fit and finish of the amp was top rate. Didn't look like usual made in China stuff. Specially the cast-aluminum remote control. That was a beauty, to look, to hold. Just three button on; Mute, Vol+, Vol-. But enough for any 2-channel junkie. The remote was meant to operate the motorized analogue volume control, which, by itself, was no less of a pleasure to operate.

Powder coated industrial look, neat shut lines, overall a great looking no-nonsense amp.

Line Magnetic LM-218IA: the inside - The amp uses the ubiquitous 12AX7 in the pre stage and the glorious Line Magnetic branded 845 tubes in power stage. It is capable of producing 22 wpc in SET mode. The best part is the this amp is a tube-rollers' dream machine as it accepts tons of variations in the pre as well as power stages.



[IMG2]http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8336/8353444771_dc973e536f_b.jpg[/IMG2]Line Magnetic LM-218IA: the sound - So, after all is said and done, how does it really sound like? Not like a $3500 amp, but very good, specially with right speakers. I had the opportunity to audition it with three very different speakers, with different luck. The first speaker was Chario Lynx. Now, this speaker wasn't totally new to me. I had heard it briefly earlier, but dismissed it very easily. Perhaps the reason was poor electronics it was matched with and poor acoustics of the place. Here in this room, they pair was making sweet music together. A sound nearly free of coloration (except a very sight coloration in the mid-bass region, which I attribute to the cabinet design of the Chario). The sound was fairly detailed, good sound-stage, great tonal-balance, could play decently loud without stress in medium sized rooms. Driving the Chario, the Line Magnetic seemed to be having no power concerns. Like I said, together they made sweet music. And that pretty much is the crux of this audition. If someone is looking to build a better than entry level system without breaking the bank, Line Magnetic + Chario Lynx might just be what the doc ordered.

Coming up:

  1. 1. Listening impressions with KEF XQ-10
  2. 2. Listening impressions with DynAudio C1
  3. 3. Thoughts on room acoustics and treatment
  4. 4. Thoughts on cables
 

Hiten

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Don't know where the weight is. The amp looks unassuming, not at least so intimidating as to weigh 35 kg. I am used to lifting heavy amps and putting them in the rack/cabinet but I couldn't lift it easily. Looks like mass loaded. Or is it the extra heavy duty transformer cores?
I guess mainly transformers and heavy chassis, and whatever I have read it is a good thing.
Regards
 

captrajesh

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I guess your auditioned this stuff in China. How much does it cost in USD?
 

Rajiv

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Hi,

Ranjeetrain, thank you for the report on the Line Magnetic amplifier. Did you get a chance to listen to the Line Magnetic speakers?

Regards
Rajiv
 

odyssey

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Ranjeet
are these the speakers that the dealer uses to demo the LM amps? The chario doesnt seem the ideal match on paper as well...

Did you hear the 755 speaker as Rajiv asked?

cheers
 

ranjeetrain

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I guess mainly transformers and heavy chassis, and whatever I have read it is a good thing.
Regards

I was guessing the same. Bulk of the weight seems to be in the transformers. And this amp has a good rep for sure. I will get to the detailed assessment when I get to the next write up, its matching with KEF XQ-10, as I did bulk of the listening with the KEF.

I'm quite curious to hear your account of kef XQ10. It's below the reference line and above the IQ and Q line.

Soon! Going to get to that. Spent a lot of time with the KEF. Will jot down my impressions.

I guess your auditioned this stuff in China. How much does it cost in USD?

1800. And good folks at a popular American etailer sell it at double the price. At 2 grand it's a nice amp.

Hi,

Ranjeetrain, thank you for the report on the Line Magnetic amplifier. Did you get a chance to listen to the Line Magnetic speakers?

Regards
Rajiv

Hi Rajiv,

No, I didn't. This was not a Line Magnetic specialist dealer. Only had two of the most popular Line Magnetic amps. I need to travel to either Beijing or Shenzhen to audition the whole line of Line Magnetic. I don't know when exactly may that materialize, but I will do it for sure.

Regards,
Ranjeet

Ranjeet
are these the speakers that the dealer uses to demo the LM amps? The chario doesnt seem the ideal match on paper as well...

Did you hear the 755 speaker as Rajiv asked?

cheers

No Sridhar, I couldn't. It was not a Line Magnetic dealer.

Don't know what they say about the Chario. Even I didn't think very highly of Chario earlier. Thought of just-another-speaker from Italy. But no, there is some substance in them. Allow me to elaborate on their sound.

IIRC, Chario Lynx is a sealed design. Solid cabinetry. Weighs a lot. Rooms where there is no boundary gain, the speaker sounds VERY good. But they need to be away from walls. To describe them briefly, they were very detailed for the price, the tonal-balance was spot-on. (Disclaimer: tonal-balance can be a very personal thing. What's perfect to me, may not be perfect to others. but I liked the tonal balance to pieces.) They threw a very good sound-stage, went fairly low, and went loud driven by a 22 wpc tube amp. I don't know what more to expect from a speaker that size and that price.

To be honest, some day, I would like to do an A/B between the Chario and other established names such as ProAc tabelette reference, Dali Mentor Minute etc. Those all cost more than the Chario, will be nice to see how much of further refinement is on the offer for the extra money.

To my ears, they sounded like a lot of speakers for the money and a very good option for mid-sized rooms specially if driven by tubes.

If you ask their flaws, here they are. They won't play very loud without losing grace, they will ask some space around them and would ask very good stands. But then, these are fair requirements I guess.
 
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