Line Magnetic 518IA Integrated Amp and 502CA DAC

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

  1. roboss38

    roboss38 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Clovis, CA U.S.A.
    After this weekend, I have got about 60 hours of time on my recapped LM 518ia. Things are progressing nicely, and the sound is really opening up.

    I agree with what a couple of the previous posters said. Recapping just for the sake of recapping might lead you down a wrong path. I started this process with a plan, and some knowledge of what a recapped 219 and 518 sounded like. I was able to do a direct comparison between my stock 518 and a recapped 518 and 219 using V-Cap CuTF's. I liked what I heard from both amps, and went for it with the help of Pat Hickman from Classic Tube Audio. Early listening indication are all positive so far.

    I've never had any transformer hum from my 518ia. The stock rectifier got replaced on the first day, and she is plugged into my PS Audio P5.
     
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  2. Binh Nguyen

    Binh Nguyen Member

    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    Just an update. Based on the insights on tubes posted here, I just got the Amperex Bugle Boy GZ34 metal base tube, a pair of ECC83 gold pin Holland made tubes and a pair of Psvane we845 tubes, and plugged them into my LM 518ia. They sound amazingly great, very natural with touch of realism. Thank you all for the insights on these tubes.

    Happy listening!
     
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  3. wwright

    wwright Well-Known Member

    Location:
    San Francisco, CA.
    Very cool! I bet it sounds substantially different - looks like a great combination.
     
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  4. IanL

    IanL Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Oneonta, NY USA
    Sounds great! What are you using in the driver slots? My experience with this amp has shown me that the character of the bass performance is primarily dictated by the combo of rectifier and driver tubes.
     
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  5. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident

    Location:
    U.S.
    After much research and debate, I finally took the plunge on a 502 CA, now just waiting for it to arrive.

    The most highly regarded DAC I've had in my system is the MF V-90 DAC, which sounded identical to my $100 Topping D20.

    I'm hoping the 502 does away with most of the digital "glare."
     
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  6. Binh Nguyen

    Binh Nguyen Member

    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    Yes, it does.
     
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  7. Binh Nguyen

    Binh Nguyen Member

    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    I am using the gold pin Holland made 12AX7 tubes as drivers at the moment. From my experience, the Amperex 5AR4 metal base rectifier has a darker background but bass performance is not as good as the Amperex 5AR4 brown base.
     
  8. IanL

    IanL Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Oneonta, NY USA
    12AX7's are the preamp tubes in front. The driver tubes are in the back row. Several types of tubes are usable here. I use 6L6GC.
     
  9. Binh Nguyen

    Binh Nguyen Member

    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    Oops. I am sorry. I am using 6L6GB as drivers.
     
  10. roboss38

    roboss38 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Clovis, CA U.S.A.
    I've hit the 150 hour mark on the V-Cap CuTF recap break in, and the LM 518 is really starting to open up. All across the frequency spectrum things are starting to sound fleshed out, and it's an improvement across the board. Bass is tighter with more impact, and the soundstage is wider and more 3 dimensional. So far so good, and I'm very satisfied with the results.

    Is it money well spent? For me it is, because it improved the sound quality of the equipment, and the monetary outlay was reasonable in terms of this hobby/obsession.
     
  11. wwright

    wwright Well-Known Member

    Location:
    San Francisco, CA.
    Thank you for the updates!
     
  12. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident

    Location:
    U.S.
    Has anyone here experienced matching issues between their LM DAC and an amp/preamp?

    I bought a used LM 502CA recently and noticed some popping/ distortion when adjusting volume on my Yamaha A-S1100. This only occurs with the DAC in tube mode. I noticed the nominal voltage output for the tube mode is 3 +/- 0.5 volts. Seems quite high by most standards. Max input voltage for these Yamahas is 2.8 volts. I swapped in some NOS RCA clear tops which seemed to help.

    I wonder if I'm risking damage to my amp. I'd hate to have to go with a different DAC, because they mesh well except for the distortion when adjusting volume.
     
  13. GoldprintAudio

    GoldprintAudio Forum Resident

    Location:
    Lexington, NC
    I've not seen this issue on anything I've used a 502 with. Do you happen to have any other preamps (or even an integrated) you can try it out on to see if you can duplicate it with other gear?
     
  14. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident

    Location:
    U.S.
    I didn't experience the issue at all last night, so I'm fairly convinced it turned out to be the tubes it came with. I need to give it a try with my Cayin which is probably the most compatible piece I own. I bought this 502 used and the previous owner modified it with Mundorf caps in the tube section. They had poor solder joints which initially caused intermittent distortion. I re-soldered the joints which fixed that problem but I think the tubes were probably garbage as well. That's what I get for trying to save a few $$.
     
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  15. wwright

    wwright Well-Known Member

    Location:
    San Francisco, CA.
    And does anyone recommend particular loudspeakers with this amp?

    Given the dimensions of my listening room - somewhat small with high ceilings - I was considering the Kef Reference 1, Focal Diablo Utopia, Dynaudio Contour 20 and Dynaudio Special Forty.

    The LM-518IA is actually mentioned in the Stereophile review of the Contour 20 (Dynaudio Contour 20 loudspeaker Page 2 ).
     
  16. GoldprintAudio

    GoldprintAudio Forum Resident

    Location:
    Lexington, NC
    Are you referring to the 518? If so, I might suggest looking at a few other options....the ones you have listed tend to prefer a little more power then what the 518 will provide (especially the KEF's and Dyn's).

    If you can, take a listen to DeVore Gibbon 3xl's.....it's a very good match with the 518. Joseph Audio Prism also does quite well. (these are at similar price points to the ones you listed)

    I'm sure others on here will give additional options as well.
     
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  17. Rolltide

    Rolltide Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vallejo, CA
    There might be better small-room, tube-friendly speakers then the 3XL, but I can't name them.
     
  18. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hong Kong
    The KEF will probably be okay if your room is small but in general I recommend you buy speakers that were specifically designed for high efficiency because SET amplifiers tend not to like speakers that are all over the impedance map/and or low impedance. The Reference 1 is $7500 and personally I don't hear that. It's an 85dB sensitive speaker so probably 83dB real world - it's basically an LS-50 with a bit more bass and a bit more volume but same sounding "metallic aftertaste" treble.

    Dynaudio's are not exactly easy to drive either - I prefer not trying to stick square pegs down round holes. You buy a SET then buy SET friendly speakers - KEF, Dynaudio, and in general slim multi-way designs with small woofers ain't it.

    I think the Audio Note K/Lx ($2,490)would be a nice place to start and it is considerably less expensive than the DeVore 3xl ($3700). Plus you get 40 finish options with the K/Lx. I prefer the sound of the K/Lx as well.

    Heck you can get the J/LX (which IMO is considerably superior for the same $3700 ($4000 for the Hemp woofers) and now we're into full range speaker territory below 30hz and 93dB sensitivity and an easy load. I had the AN J/Spe for 13 years and moved to an E and then another higher end E. The K and J are more than fine with 7 watts in a medium sized room. Of course these aren't as compact - but then they are fine in smaller rooms and you can shove them in the corners or right up against the side and or back wall. So they actually take up less space than a smaller speaker that needs to be 3 feet from rear and size walls. It's how much space the speaker takes up in the room that matters not the physical size of the speakers!

    I have other speakers in mind that would work well but they will cost more and they are considerably larger loudspeakers/and or take up way more space. AN J speakers

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The 219IA amp I owned for a few years was a very nice match for my AN E and AX Two speakers.
     
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  19. james

    james Forum Resident

    Location:
    Annapolis
    there are also vintage Snells. the J's work fantastic with the 518
     
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  20. wwright

    wwright Well-Known Member

    Location:
    San Francisco, CA.

    Thanks so much for directing me to these speakers. I just took a deep dive reading about them - the AN J and AN K seem to be about the right size for my room, and the finish options are amazing. People seem quite taken by them, and I had previously heard about their high quality caps.

    I can tell there's likely a wide range of price, based on the subcomponents selected. Do you feel the price/performance ratio is worth the extra spend, or at what point would that ratio begin to level off (SPe vs. SE Silver, etc.)? It seems clear the lowest end J and K models must sound quite good, given what everyone has said in various favorable comments.

    I've learned the hard way that at a certain point on the upgrade path, the returns in sound quality begin to diminish, and all that extra cash only buys you a marginal improvement on an already-superb design.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2017
  21. Rolltide

    Rolltide Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vallejo, CA
    @Richard Austen , does that Audio Note speaker need to be positioned in corners, or am I thinking of a different one (or just wrong)? I've been curious about that range, but corners would sadly be a non starter for me.
     
  22. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hong Kong
    The copper wired versions IMO are more forgiving of lesser stereos. Silver has more resolution. The LX models are the minimum model to get due to their superior cabinet over the D models. The HE (High Efficiency) and Hemp would be the most important upgrade. The E/SPE HE Hemp is considered the sweet spot in the lines at $7400 - The AN J/Spe Hemp is $5100. The J/LX Hemp is $4050. It's kind of a lot to pay for the silver wiring but then there may also be more room to negotiate on the Spe model. The AN speakers are made for the company's own electronics as part of a "level system" so silver wired speakers are basically (AN silver component ready). So should you come into huge funds you can built an all silver system.

    But most people won't or they won't have an AN system - so the copper line does make some sense and is less expensive. I run the E/LX Hemp (not HE) speakers just fine. I was actually not out to sell the 219IA or buy new AN E speakers - I went to the store looking to buy the M3 or M6 preamp because the 219IA while very good is vastly better operating as a dedicated power amp. But while I was in the shop the dealer was selling his demo pair of E/SPx Alnico speakers and they phoned around to audiophiles on a waiting list for the E/LX - found a buyer (I got full trade in value - plus a lower price on the demo and so I struck while the iron was hot. But it's not like I needed to do it.

    The J/Lx though seems to be the best value in the line. I mean this is the J/D Hemp at $3200 (lower than what was stated in the video - although the dedicated stands are around $500. And you should use their stands because they are the correct height and designed specifically for the speaker. A $3200 speaker good enough to get a best sound of show is not too shabby - the LX though does have an all Russian Birch cabinet where the D I believe is Russian Birch front and back but uses an MDF wrap on the sides and the D copper instead of LX copper.


    You are correct there are many different J models ranging from a hair under $3,000 to $32,000. In theory you can bring them back to the dealer and have them upgraded as well down the line. But I would imagine that to be costly.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2017
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  23. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hong Kong
    Snell's were free standing designs and some used rear firing tweeters - Audio Note changed the ports among other things for use in corners. Corner loading adds both to the bass depth and sensitivity (theoretical gains of 9dB per speaker depending on what the room walls are made from).

    Audio Note wants their speakers in corners - I

    I took this photo from the dealer in Hong Kong - this AN's number 1 dealer in terms of sales the speakers in this room or the big room do not have them in corners. As great as corners are - if the walls suck they're going to boom or sound smeared. So they may have to be pulled away from corners anyway - not a lot but enough - as you can see in this photo the J/LX paper woofer are well away from back and side wall - still sounded very good with plenty of bass. The tune port is still 29hz. But away from corners the Js would be 90dB sensitive.

    [​IMG]

    You could also do what Warren Jarrett has done and make your own corners - Although probably not high on the WAF.

     
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  24. triple

    triple Forum Resident

    Location:
    Zagreb, Croatia
    Hello roboss38,
    How's the sound of your upgraded amp? I have recently had installed a pair of Cutf caps as bypass to output capacitors in my dac and I am quite happy with them now. I had already had (Relcap TFT) teflon caps in that place, but the Vcaps are better. The Cutf caps being now the fourth type of teflon caps I have used, I think I have a good grip on what to expect. The thing is, they all asked for 900 hrs of burn in time, unless previously conditioned. This process however halves the dreadful burn in to about 450 hrs. This is still pretty bad, but manageable if you are able to run the piece of gear 24/7 like I just did with my dac. However, I am about to redo my integrated amp with (among other things) 6 teflon capacitors and I am not looking forward to going through a 500 hrs burn in ordeal which will take 2 or 2 and a half months of having the amp work 10 hrs a day while I am not at home. Can't imagine doing it for 5 or more months like you, or anyone else with new teflon caps, but what can you do. It's still worth it!
     

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