UPDATE for 2018. The Line Magnetic 219ia returns.
It’s been FOUR years since I reviewed the Line Magnetic 219ia and while I sold it back then due to the huge heat it pumps out in my small room, I have missed it dearly over those four years as I have always remembered it as the best amp I have ever owned in my life (and I am not the only one who has written about how amazing this amp is). I regretted that sale for these last 4 years and when I finally thought I was over it, well, I stumbled onto a used one at AZ HiFi, my Local HiFI shop one day. It was NEARLY half off, and appeared to be new. I have not been in the shop for over 2 years as when I go here I tend to spend money, and that’s not good for my bank account ; ) In any case, I went in and low and behold, a like brand new, with box, 219ia for $4000. That’s $3500 off and they even retubed it with all new tubes. I could not pass this up. It was like a sign…
What did I hear with the little Klipsch Heresy III’s? A large holographic wide (not so much tall) soundstage, plenty of air, a full fluid sound that lacked nothing in my small room. NO sub needed my friends, this amp transformed my already amazing sound (I was using a Yamaha S3000) to pure magical sound. Emotion. Feeling. Liquid. I remembered just how magical this amp was and is but what it just showed me is that deep down, I must be a Single Ended Triode kind of guy. I just love that something that a SET amp brings…it’s the sound I love.
I am sitting here in my listening room in awe at what I am hearing. It actually makes me a bit sick and sad to think in the past I blew money on big dollar brands of speakers like Sonus Faber (whom I feel have lost their way) and others. I have had Gurneri’s and Amati’s in here and with this amp, these little $2k Heresy III’s truly hang in there and stand on their own even though it is a little bit of a different sound…more LIVE and REAL, which should be a good thing right? Has it really taken me 20 years to reach audio nirvana? Maybe. Has it been worth it? Well, with the money spent over the years, probably not… but here I am and I am going to say BOLDLY that this is without question, the best amp, integrated or otherwise, that I have ever owned or experienced. As I said in my original review, this seems like it could be a $20k amp if made by a fancy name brand. If McIntosh made this amp, it would be $28k! No joke, and it would not even sound as good. (I have owned MANY McIntosh products in the past and while I enjoyed them, not all were very good).
FACT: THIS IS A MAGICAL AMP. Pair it with the right speakers and cabling and you will have an END GAME lifetime setup. Even if you have the audiophile disease, this amp can help put an end to it, at least in the amp department. Owning it again reminded me of just how good this dual mono amp is. It is as close to having two class A 845 mono blocks as you can get in an integrated. Of course, down the road I am sure I will experiment with a nice pre amp added to it as this amp can be used as an integrated or a power amp. Have a preempt you LOVE? Add it to this 219ia and you will get your preamp flavor added into the mix as well.
Nothing delivers like a Class A 24 WPC 845 amp like this with high-efficiency speakers like the Klipsch heritage line (Or Devore, or Zu, etc). Even with speakers that are hard to drive, this amp never breaks a sweat. 86DB speakers are no issue for this amp, at all. I know, as I lived with a setup like that for a while four years ago ; ) It was sublime.
But for now I am using Klipsch Heritage speakers and it’s a shame so many associate them with “cheap” or “bright and harsh” when what I am listening to now is quite the opposite of that. Listening to this combo tonight for the last 4 hours has made me feel emotional, as I realized I have it, I have the sound I have craved (yes again, but for much less than before and now it is different..more real and live due to the Heresy III) and it was without spending $20-30-40 or even 50k. $7k total with my cables. If we add in my two sources, let’s say $9k. But it sounds like $75k. No BS here guys. I have heard systems that are insanely expensive. I have heard a million dollar system. I have heard a $200k system, and everything under that. What I have here, and I feel it is due to this amp, is sounding like some systems I have heard that were nearing $75k. It’s part the room and part the amp, part the source and DAC (Now I am using a Cambridge 851C for a DAC as I used to own it when I had this amp before and it was a perfect mate for it) and part cables (yes, they make a difference when you have a system that can showcase the differences). The speakers, these Heresy III’s are panned by so many out there so these may not be the best speakers ever but man this 219ia makes them sound so organic, so lifelike, so fluid, so big and so real. No harshness, no horn wonk, nothing.
I wanted to write this for those who feel they have to spend $20k or more for a true magical audiophile type of 2 channel system. You do not. Some of you reading this may have never dreamed there could be a 420,000 system for 2 channel audio. So this is for those who are into HIFI and know what this world brings. Just like high dollar cameras, like Leica, one can spend a fortune in audio. Audio people are just as passionate, of not more so, about their Audio as many camera people are about their cameras. I have seen some spend $50k trying to change that elusive magical sound. I am here to tell you, audition this amp if you can, and you can get to that sound for much less money than you thought.
Sadly most high end audio today is owned by one company, and the prices have become insane. McIntosh, Audio Research, Sonus Faber and others are IMO no longer what they used to be. They have changed, and I have heard them all my friends…none of them can touch the 219ia for anywhere near $7500. You would have to spend $25k with those brands to get close to the 219IA, which shows just what a HUGE bargain it is, even at full retail. Also, Line Magnetic is not one of those cheap Amazon tube amps that are shoddy in quality. These are made using all premium parts as they are serious about their amps and designs. These are NOT cheap Chinese amps, in fact, scour the internet about Line Magnetic and you will see nothing but praise.
I will state now that this amp is my most recommended of all time for the serious Audio Head. It’s my #1 and if you come across one, and can get a deal it is a no brainer. At full price it is a deal as well, and while not cheap, it will deliver more magic than most $20k amps. It’s just liquid magic. That’s what I will call it, this little combo of speakers and amp.
So while I have run the gamut from uber pricey (all regrets) to uber cheap (which always had something missing) to mid range with the LS50 Wireless (which are great for the money and a small room) to the Devialet and Phantoms, and loved them all (the ones I did not love, I did not write about, and there were quite a few) and the LM 219ia, I GUARANTEE YOU, will never leave my system again unless it needs repair down the road. If it gets too hot for me in the summer, I will set it aside and use solid state until the winter rolls around again. In fact I may buy a Cambridge Audio integrated for summer months, even though the sound will take a hit going from this 219ia, but it gives me something to look forward too during our brutal summers..WINTER. ; )
It’s funny that today I happened to drive to my HiFi Shop, AZ HiFi after not going in there for two-three years (because every time I did, I spent money). I had the thought of checking out the newest LM amps, and there this one was, waiting for me ; ) It was a sign and one I jumped on. No regrets here.
Just wanted to give an update and say that this is STILL the best amp I have ever owned or tried out. I can not imagine anything beating this sound for under $20k, for my tastes. I am talking just about the amp here. Line Magnetic is the real deal guys. With all of this praise on the sound, well, the build quality is insane. Never seen anything like it really, except in insanely high priced gear that reached $20k and up. Do not say I did not tell you!! TIHS AMP IS A DEAL, A STEAL and will be a Heirloom classic one day, sought after when they are no longer sold. It is THAT GOOD.
If you live in AZ and want to see or hear this in the flesh, be sure to visit AZ HiFi, which IMO is the best HiFi shop in town. Central and Camelback. Run by those who care about sound, and your system. That is hard to find these days, so be sure to stop by and tell them Steve Huff said hi ; ) I make no money or have no financial affiliation with them at all, just great people running a great shop with amazing audio gear to look at, demo or buy ; )