I am going to make an amature(ish) attempt at reviewing a tube amp I purchased and have been listening to for over a month by Line Magnetic Audio (LM Audio). Mostly I wrote this because I could find no review of LM Audio products anywhere on the net. This amp in my review is the LM Audio 216IA integrated amplifier. I have compared it to a Rogue Audio Cronus Magnum, the Cary SLI80, Musical Fidelity 500 watt and 125 watt SS amps, a McCormack DNA-125 with a Leben preamp and a Parasound A21 and P3 combination among some other combinations less noteworthy. My comparisons were not of the a/b type and not scientific. LM Audio also makes speaker drivers. I had the pleasure to listen to one of their top of the line Class A integrated amps feeding into two single driver speakers recently at my audio dealers home. With LM Audio speakers, Devore speakers and my Vandersteen speakers, LM Audio products sounded tremendous for the money spent on them.
First let me say that the LM Audio amplifier is a Chinese product. It is not like the Primaluna line, which is designed in the Netherlands and made in China. The Line Magnetic Audio company is located in Zhuhai , Guangdong Province, China. I had (wanted) and (intended) to like the Cary or the Rogue amplifier, mostly because I wanted to buy an American made product. In the end, the LM Audio piece that my dealer raved about, sounded better. It has a very quality fit and finish, more that one might? expect from a Chinese product. The LM Audio 216IA is a KT88 push pull integrated amplifier. It is Ultra linear and triode switchable. 22 watts per channel in triode, 38 watts per channel in ultra linear. Remote controlled. Bias adjustable with built in meter. 4, 8 and 16 ohm output taps. Point to point wiring used throughout. It comes with a tube cage.
For everyone out there listening to music, let’s face it, we like different things. So I will NOT SAY, this product is better or worse than the ones listed above. But I will write out (share) the qualities I enjoy, and how well this $1875 amp did with them.
I like a neutral sounding amp that falls on this side of warm and also analytical. I like to hear everything that my modest front end will produce. I don’t like muddy bass, but tight and fast handling of the lower frequencies. Deep bass and mid bass sound best to me as natural to the instrument being reproduced. The LM Audio 216IA did this better than the other tube integrated amps I listed. Since I listen to Eva Cassidy, Diana Krall, Natalie Merchant and other female singers like them I enjoy midrange that is not harsh or shrill. The midrange on the LM Audio does not tire in any way. It’s very close to what you’s expect to a live concert, and not what you’d expect from a 2K amp. Next up the tonal range is the higher frequencies. This amp produced an airy high that was sweet sounding, but not too high or harsh. The last bit of enjoyment I get from the reproduction of music from audio equipment is how well it can reproduce the timbre of instruments such as upright bass, piano, violin, acoustic guitar, and saxophone. On many listening sessions the LM Audio amp did this very well and the decay of sound from these various tones was long and natural. There just was no coloration of tone that I could detect. Of course, there is a tube sound to the amp. But since LM Audio base most of their products of the Western Electric designs of old, the qualities of sound just might reflect that old design. It does this without grain, but a grace and accuracy that the better designed amps displayed.
Also this amp has great transparancy. I have had Odyssey, McCormack and Parasound amps that did not do as well at lifting off veils of fuzziness like the 216IA did.
Lastly is the dynamic range of the amp. Well this is what I often FEEL is the excitement of the amplifier and it was FELT with the 216IA. This amp really kicks when needed. The version of “Walking on the Moon” by the Yuri Honing Trio has a rim shot that will ring out like a cannon with a good amp. It does this with the LM Audio 216IA.
Well I guess that is my review for better or worse. Once again I have had the pleasure of taking in some good information on forums like this about audio products and have learned much, so I am not saying this amp is BETTER than others. Just for my taste it is a quality product that sounds great at an affordable price. If anyone is interested in these products I can give you the contact for my dealer in Shaker Heights, Ohio who carries this line.