Wharfedale Lintons w/ Sugden vs Yamaha vs Line Magnetic amps

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by mahoganydeck, Oct 12, 2020.

  1. mahoganydeck

    mahoganydeck Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    London
    Hi everyone!

    First post here :)
    I've decided to purchase the Wharfedale Lintons and having a difficulty deciding which integrated amp to drive them with. It is even more challenging as I don't really have where to listen to the combos during COVID.

    I have read good things about the Yamaha A-S1200 and it seems to be very powerful and solid, you often see this series online paired with the Lintons, but I am worried it might be too boring, just powerful but lacking character and shine.

    I did get to listen to the Sugden A21 Signature through a pair of JBLs and really liked it, I read in a few places that it's a fantastic amp, but only if paired with the right speakers as it's not super powerful, and can be quite picky. Online opinions as to whether the Lintons are in fact High Efficiency or not are conflicting. It's the least sexy in terms of looks, but I do like the idea of owning a SS SE Class A amp which is manufactured locally, I must admit.

    Finally, I am very curious about the Line Magnetic LM-34IA, probably the sexiest (IMO), but have no idea how it compares to the other two, and whether it would add too much warmth to the Lintons or will actually open them up.

    Would love to hear from people who had an actual chance to listen and experience any of the combos!
     
  2. mahoganydeck

    mahoganydeck Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    London
    Thanks for approving moderation! :)
     
  3. russk

    russk Forum Resident

    Location:
    Syracuse NY
    A-s1200 for the Lintons. The Sugden needs very efficient speakers. That and while it’s great with the right speakers, it would be too warm and laid back for the Linton. Same for the Line Magnetic.

    Personally I really appreciate what Line Magnetics is doing but never been able to get myself to buy one of their products. There always seems to be some design issue or quality control problem whenever I look at buying one. If you go with one definitely buy from an authorized U.S. dealer.
     
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  4. mahoganydeck

    mahoganydeck Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    London
    Thanks russk! I'm in the UK and found an authorized dealer here, but what you are saying about quality control is interesting, as one of my worries was it being a Chinese brand which you can't find too much info about other than the dealer's over-eagerness, which usually has the opposite effect on me. I do see that Tone Imports in the US stock LM, which gives me a sense that it's a legit product as they stock it along Shindos and Sugdens.

    TBF I am a bit meh about the Lintons + Yamaha combo, although they seem to have good synergy power-wise, I'm worried they are just a mainstream audio-store set which I may feel bored with.
    The idea of owning a more interesting style of amp excites me more than getting yet another mega-conglomerate product, but if that's the best match then so be it.
    As I still haven't purchased the Lintons, would you suggest a different speaker + amp config which would work with the Sugden/LM and total at about the same price?
     
  5. Helom

    Helom I'll take the monkey coffins

    Location:
    U.S.
    Yamaha is the brand employing the more unique circuitry these days (circlotron and floating ground) compared most of the boutique names. There isn’t any other make that sounds like them. Build quality is also superior to most in this price class.

    Other amps I’d consider are the Rega Elicit-R, Roksan K3 or Belles Aria.
     
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  6. mahoganydeck

    mahoganydeck Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    London
    That's actually encouraging to hear!

    I see you own a Line Magnetic product, would you recommend the Yamaha over the LM?
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2020
  7. Helom

    Helom I'll take the monkey coffins

    Location:
    U.S.
    I guess you could call my amp an LM since it was designed by the engineers who later founded LM.

    The Yamaha is capable of greater bass extension than most amps, especially tube designs. Its midrange is very tube-like, but it’s not quite as holographic in its soundstaging as my Cayin. I feel the Yamaha is a better choice for someone who plans to own only one amp and doesn’t want to fuss with tube-rolling and maintenance. The 1200 can also be paired with a tube preamp as down the road. The ability to use the Yamaha as either a stand-alone amp or preamp provides a future upgrade path.
     
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  8. Rick58

    Rick58 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Dublin, CA, USA
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2020
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  9. mahoganydeck

    mahoganydeck Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    London
    U
    A quote from the LM dealer:
    "I had a pair of Wharfedale Lintons here until about a month ago and I drove them with the LM-34IA so you've hit the nail on the head. It's a sublime combination. I don't think there is a better speaker for around £1000. It would give you exactly what you're after and the LM would wipe the floor with the Yamaha. "

    Ugh! decisions decisions... I shall post an update here once I've made the decision and listened to the system.
     
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  10. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hong Kong
    Does the LM dealer also sell Yamaha? If not his commentary is somewhat self serving. If you go tubes it is generally advisable to buy speakers that are designed for tubes - that is not really Wharfedale. My Wharfedales are very good with tubes - but my Wharfedales are a completely different animal. The 34 isn't particularly robust in terms of power. Tube amps can sound a lot better than SS IF - key word IF - the speakers are present a relatively easy load and offer higher than average sensitivity.

    Push Pull tube amplifiers don't necessarily sound better than amplifiers like the Sugden A21a that operates in Single Ended Topology. I have heard plenty of SS amplfiifers that beat plenty of Push Pull tube amplifiers. I would take the Sugden over the 211IA (which is the 34IA).
     
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  11. Old Zorki II

    Old Zorki II Storm Watcher

    Location:
    near Tampa, FL
    Unfortunately no one knows what will be good for you.
    To an extent almost any amp can drive any speaker - if room is small enough and volume low enough.. )) The difference between 25 watts and 100 watts is only 6db... (I know that it is not that simple, I know :) )
     
  12. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hong Kong
    Actually I think you have hit on something here that is very important that doesn't seem to get addressed and it is that often times when you listen to SS amplifiers you feel the need to turn the volume up to compensate for a lack of clarity. I just posted a video interview of Peter Qvortrup on page 184 of this thread Strictly for fans of Audio Note UK.. where Peter discusses the tube amp qualities I have heard over the decades around amplifier power. So as to not thread crap I just post the link not the video so those who wish to listen to a SET amplifier maker (arguably the biggest and best of the SET makers) then you can get an idea of how it works.

    But the gist of what he says and my own experience was interesting that when I auditioned a 10 watt SEP amplifier that I was directly comparing to a pre.pro SS amplifier of 170 watts per channel with .0Many zeros 1% THD the SEP could be played more cleanly at a lower dB level and "seem" totally complete while the Bryston set-up I had to keep putting the volume up and up and up to get a sense of reality (which never came). I gave up and ended up with the 10 watt SEP (Single Ended Pentode).

    I have also compared the Sugden A48B a 70 watt non frequency limited class A/B amplifier to a much more power Musical Fidelity and the latter had hi-fi qualities like air and a big stage but it never sounded right to me - it sounded like the equivalent of an airbrished photo - it's "spotless" and "perfect" but in a wholly unnatural way. The Sugden was narrower but had tone, body, better bass depth and altogether better in the vocal band. I also preferred the Sugden to Jolida and Antique Sound Labs El34 amps the store was carrying. The A48B is actually a little more valve sounding than the A21a. The A21a is better while the A48B was more tailored to the intimacy.

    I agree with you but it's awfully hard to convince people who have been bought and sold into the notion they need a kilowatt.
     
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  13. mahoganydeck

    mahoganydeck Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    London
    Thank you Richard, I've read your posts on both Sugden and Wharfedale past threads and was hoping to hear your opinion. The dealer isn't selling the Yamaha and as you say, due to this fact, I find his comment about it unhelpful. You seem to suggest like others that the Yamaha will be more powerful and easily matched with the Wharfedales. However, unlike others, you suggest that the Sugden wouldn't necessarily be more deficient than the LM, and may even be more suitable than the LM. But I take it that your general suggestion is still to stick to the Yamaha if I buy the Wharfedales?

    Would you get the Sugden/LM but with different speakers if your speaker budget was up to £1500, or stick with the Yamaha + Linton setup?
     
  14. mahoganydeck

    mahoganydeck Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    London
    Sounds very sensible. I am fully aware of the futile effort to convey a subjective experience of sound verbally or with numbers from one anonymous person to another through messages. I guess I am trying to get a general sense on whether something is an obvious mistake or not. I don't have parties in my home, but the room is fairly big with 3m high ceilings, so I assume I will need some power to fill the room with sound.
    But yeah, it seems like the number of opinions is as high if not higher than the number of conversation participants, and it's challenging to know who has more "credibility" (if there is such thing) or more correctly, who shares the same sound taste as you. All the aforementioned gear seems like good stuff that quite a lot of people enjoy so perhaps the mistake margin is not that severe...
     
  15. Helom

    Helom I'll take the monkey coffins

    Location:
    U.S.
    Keep in mind the Yamaha has features the LM doesn't offer, including a very nice phono stage that you'd have to spend around $700 U.S. to better. It has two binding post outputs which makes bi-wiring convenient and it does indeed effect to the sound with *some speakers.
    It also has tone controls that are mostly transparent in operation.

    I find that with any push-pull tube design, one has to go through a rolling phase with different preamp tubes to get distortion and noise to an acceptable/pleasant level. The LM34IA has a reputation for transformer noise. This bothers some listeners. The Yamaha is nearly guaranteed to have a silent noise floor.
     
  16. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hong Kong
    I have heard the Linton with different gear and the LM and Sugden with different gear - and Yamaha is often sold in outlets where any sort of real evaluation is speculative at best. And the problem with Sugden is that their prices have risen and risen over the years (so has everything). Here is what my pieced together educated guess would be.

    LM SET amplifier and Sugden A21 best
    LM PP amplifier second
    Yamaha last.

    I think the Linton is good for the money and I have found that with several Wharfedale models - of course these things are highly subjective - ideally you would listen to an entire stereo system - find one you love and then write down all the components and then over time buy those components.

    Have a plan in place. Way back in 2002 - I heard my game altering system and it has taken 18 years for me get there and I am still not done. Along the way you buy stand in components that are competent to get you buy.

    And in a worst case scenario if you financial situation worsens the stand in can be good enough to make you happy forever. For me that was the Audio Note J/SPe speaker which I had for 13 years and would have been quite happy for another 13 years. The OTO integrated was similar - and my Cambridge Audio CD6 was chosen because it had the overbuilt Discmagic Transport mechanism so I could later add a more premium DAC.

    The A21a is one of those kinds of amps IMO where you can live with it probably forever - yes there is better but for the money it is pleasing for life. And they should be able to be resold later being a fairly well regarded amplifier.

    I simply do not know enough about the Linton to know how the Sugden would react - Stereophile seems to suggest it has a difficult load in places. Trouble is there are not that many great alternates around that are around $1k that will give you a fuller range presentation like the Linton - Harbeths and Audio Notes etc cost a lot more. A lot of other speakers use some sort of metalic tweeter - groan.

    I would also seriously consider buying a preamp power amp combination - power amps last decades and have no moving parts and go for 1/2 to 1/4 of a new one. Especially SS amplifiers. You could pick up a pretty competent power amp from Rega, Rotel, Arcam for relative peanuts and then made it to a good preamp - Audio Note M-Zero or M1 (which I am currently reviewing) also purchased second hand and that combo will very likely beat any of the integrated amps so far mentioned by a wide margin cost less and give you more flexibility. Indeed, you can buy older Sugden pre/pro units for peanuts. $350 for a Sugden A48B - you may do even better.
     
  17. mahoganydeck

    mahoganydeck Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    London
    Fair enough, I think I'm moving away from the Push-Pull LM.
    I just found out that the Sugden does have a phono stage though
     
  18. Helom

    Helom I'll take the monkey coffins

    Location:
    U.S.
    Another amp I like is the Rega Elex-R. It should also have a nice phono stage and enough power for the Lintons. IMO, if you’re going to live with 20 WPC driving 87db speakers in a large room, might as well buy a full tube amp. It’s less likely to damage the speakers if it begins to clip and 20 tube watts tends to sound more powerful than 20 SS watts. I haven’t heard the Sugden but IIRC, another member here moved on from the A21 for its lack of authority, despite employing it in a small room.
     
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  19. head_unit

    head_unit Forum Resident

    Location:
    Los Angeles CA USA
    I'm sorry to rain on this parade but I feel you have things backwards. As transducers, speakers make far and away vastly more difference to your sound than any electronics or cables or whatever. Folks may argue over whether amps sound different or not*; NOBODY says that about speakers. To me it makes no sense therefore to spend like 75% of your budget on the part that will make less difference. I listened to the Lintons quite a bit at Audio Element and they are really great for what they are and at a very fair price...but they are not in the same league as say the Focal 936 I listen to in another setup. You would get overall better sound getting say a much less expensive Yamaha, and moving your speaker budget up to £3000 or whatever.

    *Once I swapped a friend's ancient receiver for a pretty new Onkyo I got him off Craigslist as a Hannukah present. It definitely had a firmer, warmer, somewhat stronger bass, it was obvious from the first fire-up. On the other hand, there's this
    Denon vs Parts Express, round 1
     
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  20. RemyM

    RemyM Forum Resident

    What about a (British) Croft Integrated?

    Also what is your budget for speakers?
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2020
  21. Rick58

    Rick58 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Dublin, CA, USA
    It is really a tough choice! Assuming the Lintons are 'it', at 88dB/W/m sens and yes, a bit under 4 ohms at minimum (Wharfedale Linton Heritage loudspeaker Measurements ) and it seems to me (using Peak SPL Calculator ) that sitting 3m away (9') you'll still get >>90dB volume with only 25W, and that's NOT counting any wall/corner reinforcement. The Lintons seem to like being a bit out into the room, and if you're 9' (3m) away you'll get plenty of volume.

    The Stereophile reviewer used a 25Wpc LM amp (Line Magnetic Audio LM-518IA integrated amplifier Measurements ) which goes pretty nonlinear above 10W ...

    Not trying to twist your arm of course but it seems like the Lintons can achieve reasonable even pretty loud volume (if that's your thing) with not that many watts. And as others have said 'punch way above their weight class' in terms of sonics. Not that other approaches aren't valid of course (spending $3000 on speakers etc.).
     
  22. Rick58

    Rick58 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Dublin, CA, USA
    Of course everyone has their opinion ... but the Focal 936 at $5400/pair SHOULD sound better than the Lintons. Yes, also, speakers at £3000 ($4000)/pair may also sound better overall. But the Lintons seem to do something special in their own right, and the (original) intent of this thread (not that it can't evolve) is to discuss getting the best out of them.

    Seems like there are many choices to do even that! The amps originally mentioned are about $3000 ($2000 for the LM) ... so say $4500 total for amps + speakers. Of course stretching this to $5k isn't an issue theoretically. Again, I'm just trying to stick to the original intent ... :hide: :winkgrin: :cool:

    It does seem like (with some reviews) pairing a 'softer' amp with the Lintons may not be the optimal choice, but maybe the LM isn't overly soft sounding. I like some detail over softness, and am hoping my Parasound P 7 / A 21 will be a good match (eventually) with the Lintons. They seem very intriguing.
     
  23. AP1

    AP1 Well-Known Member

    Location:
    TX
    There are peak and average sound levels. If you plan to listen at 90dB average SPL (which is quite loud), you amplifier needs to be capable to achieve peaks at 15-20 dB higher. If amplifier clips before that, you will hear nasty distortion.
     
  24. Rick58

    Rick58 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Dublin, CA, USA
    I'm thinking peak levels ... listening at >96dB SPL for very long ... you won't be listening for very long. Comparative Examples of Noise Levels - IAC Acoustics

    My example is 96dB (peak) achievable with 25W, 88dB/W/m, 9' distance, 2 speakers, away from walls ... Peak SPL Calculator that's PLENTY loud for me.

    Interesting they use 76dB (20dB below 'peak' above) as "Living room music" ... which seems to be decently loud.

    "Passenger car at 65 mph at 25 ft (77 dB); freeway at 50 ft from pavement edge 10 a.m. (76 dB). Living room music (76 dB); radio or TV-audio, vacuum cleaner (70 dB). 70 Arbitrary base of comparison. Upper 70s are annoyingly loud to some people."

    PS: My new A 21 amp is capable of 400W into 4 ohms ... yikes! No, I won't be using all of that. But the first 10W is supposedly Class A, so that would generate 82dB SPL at 9' ... seems like almost all my listening would be using that Class A 10W. Sounds good to me! Whenever I get a chance to set things up and listen that is ... :(

    PPS: Interesting to me anyway, measurements for Linton and Silver 8 (which I presently own)
    Wharfedale Linton Heritage loudspeaker Measurements
    Monitor Audio Silver 8 loudspeaker Measurements
    seem almost 'identical' in many ways, of course there are differences. Seems like for flattest response, one wants to listen on or above the tweeter axis on the Lintons. The Silver 8s seem pretty even above and below the axis up to +/- 10 degrees anyway.

    The Lintons seem to have more bass overall ... I look forward to my listening impressions.
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2020
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  25. Dream On

    Dream On Forum Resident

    Location:
    Canada
    Yeah, it's more about the load than the efficiency for me. My Sugden drives my PMC's (90dB) and my Spendors (86dB) with ease. But it cannot drive my Quad's (88dB) at all. As Stereophile reported, it really struggles into 4 ohm loads. I would look for a speaker that doesn't drop below 6 ohms. Or just be able to try the amp before you commit to buying it, if that's possible. The Sugden is very midrange focused and has a lot of energy there, with sweet highs and very authoritative bass. It has a bit of a thick sound, but is exceptionally clear and detailed. In my experience it does well with speakers that have a bit of a recessed midrange, as it will help fill that in a bit.
     
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