Line Magnetic 518IA Integrated Amp and 502CA DAC

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by IanL, Dec 25, 2015.

  1. jkull

    jkull Member

    Location:
    NJ
    Take my word, swap different tubes in and the bass will vastly improve. The bass is a strong point of this dac in my experience. I rolled Mullard 4003 12AU7's, undeniably one of the best 12AU7's if not 'the' best, and a tung-sol 6x4. The 6x4 made a world of difference and brought a good bit of transparency to the sound while the mullards added warmth and richer bass. This DAC embarrases my previous DAC, being an oppo 105. I couldnt stand to listen to digital through that grainy, piercing vile piece of equipment. I now listen to digital 80% of the time, as it is that good.
     
    Snoflo1998, IanL and Rolltide like this.
  2. Mark broadhead

    Mark broadhead Active Member

    Location:
    Newcastle England
     
    Snoflo1998 and Dave like this.
  3. Mark broadhead

    Mark broadhead Active Member

    Location:
    Newcastle England
    Looks like the 518 has same values as 218, in fact outside of the valve rectification the circuit is very similar. Those caps are very expensive and have had great press . I would be very surprised if you don't notice quite a change in transparency among other things. I recently recapped an old Forte class A amp. The output caps made little difference but the ones in the signal path made an amazing improvement. Would like to learn of your thoughts when you have had some hours on them...
     
  4. wwright

    wwright Well-Known Member

    Location:
    San Francisco, CA.
    How would you characterize the sound improvement with the upgraded caps?
     
  5. wwright

    wwright Well-Known Member

    Location:
    San Francisco, CA.
    And how would you quantify or describe the sound improvement with the Mundorf cap? This seems pretty interesting...
     
  6. Mark broadhead

    Mark broadhead Active Member

    Location:
    Newcastle England
    I have quite a few hours on the amp now, so I would like to think I know how it sounds. Firstly I would say there is much greater depth to the sound stage. This is due to the higher resolution of low level details - the kind of things that make you sit up and listen. Brushed cymbals for example have more realism. Changing the valves made a difference too of course, but to my ears this is a bigger upgrade - you are just more 'there'.

    I have had great success with cap upgrades on other gear too including my Lampizator DAC, P17 and Tannoy speakers. I would love to try some Deuland caps. So far I have used Mundorf, Rike ( very good ), Audiocap, Jantzen, Jupiter, Mallory, Solen and Obligato in different places in various circuits and aforementioned speakers. Generally it is easy to do and to my ears has been a very worth while exercise.
     
    Binh Nguyen, IanL, Dave and 2 others like this.
  7. wwright

    wwright Well-Known Member

    Location:
    San Francisco, CA.
    Thanks so much. This seems to be a worthwhile exercise - and yet another interesting upgrade rabbit-hole to tumble into!

    What cap values did you use for the Mundorf in the LM? And which brand would you recommend as a final upgrade in this regard?
     
  8. jkull

    jkull Member

    Location:
    NJ
    Duelands. Not a cheap upgrade, but, they are basically labeled as the best. Was talking to mt local guitar amp go to guy who will not touch audio equipment. I sent him photos of my 502's guts. He replied 'ughh... ya. I can do it for you. But dont tell anyone." I was pretty stoked until i looked up what these caps cost! Lol. Cheapest i could find was about $470 for a new pair
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2017
    wwright likes this.
  9. Metralla

    Metralla Joined Jan 13, 2002

    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    Yeah, those Dueland prices are something.
     
    jkull likes this.
  10. wwright

    wwright Well-Known Member

    Location:
    San Francisco, CA.
    Curious as well - how do you like/describe the effect that the V-Caps have on sound quality?
     
  11. jkull

    jkull Member

    Location:
    NJ

    Right? None the less I plan to get some into my DAC soon enough
     
  12. Mark broadhead

    Mark broadhead Active Member

    Location:
    Newcastle England
    .1 mf and .033mf Mundorfs. 0.022 Rikes if I recall right. Its worth looking up Cap reviews online.
     
    wwright likes this.
  13. roboss38

    roboss38 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Clovis, CA U.S.A.
    I only have about 25 hours on the new caps, but I can hear little glimpses of greatness. Overall, the noise floor is lower, and the sound stage is wider. I will report back with more findings in about 100 hours.
     
  14. triple

    triple Forum Resident

    Location:
    Zagreb, Croatia
    These are going to be a huge upgrade. V-cap Cutf are way better caps than say Ayre ever used in any of their gear. The only problem with these is burn in time. Once you are through with that, you will be a very happy man. Congratulations. I like it when someone goes all the way, without using petty excuses (children need shoes etc). :D
     
  15. wwright

    wwright Well-Known Member

    Location:
    San Francisco, CA.
    Thank you!
     
  16. roboss38

    roboss38 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Clovis, CA U.S.A.
    I listened for about six hours last night, and it's amazing to hear the amp have moments of sheer brilliance at times and then not so much. I've gone through this with many components (ARC Ref 5 SE, 4 Modwright players, etc.), so I know the rewards for my patience will pay off in the end.

    When I started think about this recap, I had three caps in mind. Audio Note Silver Foil, Duelunds, and V-Cap CuTF. Duelund's got ruled out because of simple size constraints within the amp, but I might try some in my Daedalus Audio speakers. AN silver foils would have run me about $3000 for the caps, but I couldn't justify putting them in an amp that only cost me $3500 to start with.
     
    wwright, advanced101 and triple like this.
  17. advanced101

    advanced101 Active Member

    I've wondered about how an external crossover with Duelunds would perform on my set of Daedalus.
     
  18. roboss38

    roboss38 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Clovis, CA U.S.A.
    I thought Lou had start to offer Duelund's as an upgrade option for his speakers builds. I might try doing it myself.
     
  19. advanced101

    advanced101 Active Member

    I believe that is only for the resistors, I have that upgrade.
     
  20. jkull

    jkull Member

    Location:
    NJ
    $3000 for caps lol. What a joke.
     
  21. roboss38

    roboss38 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Clovis, CA U.S.A.
    The price seems reasonable if you put it the context that these are used in a $100,000 Audio Note amp.
     
  22. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hong Kong
    Audio Note can be quite expensive but you tend to get what you pay for. They make many products including affordable caps and resistors.
     
    wwright likes this.
  23. Larry I

    Larry I Forum Resident

    Location:
    Washington, D.C.
    I have no personal experience with Duelunds in Line Magnetic amps. But, I would generally caution that there is no such thing as a "best" of any kind of component that will automatically upgrade a component. It is really a matter of personal taste and what would work well in the particular component in support of a particular kind of sound one is trying to achieve. I know two high-end custom builders of tube gear that have tried, and do not like Duelunds in either their electronics or their speaker designs. That is not to say that Duelunds would not be a perfect match to something else. The same can be said of other premium parts, such as Vishay nude resistors and Blackgate capacitors.

    I heard an amp that a local shop use to build and sell as a house brand. The owner of the shop had me listen to it for an opinion and I thought it sounded horrible compared to his usual products. He then explained that the owner had sent the amp to be "upgraded" by replacing certain parts with premium parts, like the Blackgate capacitors and Vishay resistors. The result was a very lean, dry and harmonically bleached product--the amp was actually built with no cost limitation on parts; the selection was made by voicing the amp, not by pricing the parts. These days, that same shop sells custom-built amps that mostly rely on very old, vintage parts. The only modern parts that are used are Audio Note capacitors (silver foil being really good) and Audio Note wire (for my preamp, they had to also use a motorized pot because I insisted on remote volume control).

    The only course is to try a particular component and accept the possibility that it may not work for you.
     
    wwright and james like this.
  24. Mark broadhead

    Mark broadhead Active Member

    Location:
    Newcastle England
    I totally agree - just fitting expensive components is no guarantee of a better sound. Some of these components definitely have a a sound signature and will either complement or detract from the overall sound. Its been written elsewhere that its not always good idea to use the same caps for example in every situation say in an amplifier or speaker. I guess sometimes you might just strike lucky. However I feel there is a caveat here - I have found that some caps certainly do not sound their best before some considerable time. Many electronics engineers are keen to point out this is nonsense from an electrical engineering standpoint. But then they would claim that if two caps have the same values of ESR, capacitance etc then they should not sound different. Few who have tried this will agree with that stance. Blackgates are known to have very lengthy period before they sound good. It is also true that good components will not make a poorly designed circuit into a good one.

    My biggest success was changing the crossovers in my Tannoy Berkeley speakers. These are a recent acquisition ( an itch I wanted to scratch ). I loved the scale and dynamics but there was a residual hardness that wouldn't go away. I tried various amps I have ( Class A solid state, SET, PP ) but the edginess remained. The replacements do not have the autoformers but use good modern polypropylenes in a modified circuit. Voila - all the benefits of that big Tannoy sound but all the edge gone - but again the sound did not blossom until a fair few hours play. Im writing this listening to Chet Baker on a Sunday morning and it sounds stunning..
     
    wwright, Tlay and advanced101 like this.
  25. wwright

    wwright Well-Known Member

    Location:
    San Francisco, CA.

Share This Page