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LINE MAGNETIC LM-88IA upgrade to LM-150IA


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Hello All from Singapore.

 

This is my first post on this forum though I have read a lot of posts but I decided to become a member because I am on my way to starting my Tube journey and I believe this forum is the bible for tubes!

 

My setup is as follows

 

Speakers - Elac Adante AF61 (87dB/6 ohm)

SS Amplifier - Peachtree Nova 300 Integrated with Phono

TT - Rega Planar 3 with Elys 2 cartridge (Using the built in Phono)

Music Server - Elac Discovery with Tidal.

Speaker Cables - Tellirium Q Black 2

Power Cable – Shunyata Venom HC V2

Power Conditioner – AQ Niagra 1000

Music Taste – Hard Rock, Slow Rock, Acoustic Rock, Indie, Country, Smooth Jazz (Night Time) and Electronic ( House Party)

 

I started my journey with the Andrew Jones designed 99 dollar Pioneer speakers and found my way to the Elac UniFi UB5 before settling for the Adantes. At least in Singapore, I find the price to performance ratio to be excellent for the Elac range of products. I really enjoy the Elac Adante with the Peachtree Nova 300 but I have been toying with the idea to bring in a warmer Amp to sweeten the sound a bit. I got an Ifi tube buffer and that was the first time the idea of tubes struck me but I was always told that for solid state gear is what gives you the dynamics and the details and I was getting all that from my system. However the idea of Tubes were always in my mind. However time went by and I was ready(saved enough money) to upgrade my amp to chase the ultimate sound. I was evaluating the Luxman  Class A and AB flagship integrateds. My mind said Class A was not going to drive my speakers so the 509LX was kind of the ones I had my eyes on. From reviews and forum talk and dealer information, I was sure that the Luxman 509 would give the sufficient sweetness to my speakers which will give me the sound that I was chasing. I had also auditioned the Mcintosh MC252 with the Elac Adantes. I honestly had a lot of expectations from that pairing but it let me down. The MC252 just could not tame my bass and it was all over the place.

 

I then started reading about tube amps and I felt that instead of buying another solid state, why don’t I keep the peachtree as my SS driver and then look for a tube driver. I can divide duties between them. I also use my speakers as fronts for my tv so the peachtree can handle that and when I want to just listen to music, I can fire up the tubes. Line Magnetic is a well known brand in Singapore and I have dealt with the dealer before as he also deals with Mytek and I have had the Mytek Brooklyn in the past.

 

805IA vs 150IA

 

I have read every article about these amps in forums and reviews alike and I have narrowed down my choice to these two. 805IA seems to be a very popular choice and 150IA seems to be a powerful beast. Since both cost the same, cost is not a deciding factor. I have an audition in a few days but I cannot take my Adante to the dealer nor can the dealer bring the amps to my house due to the weight!  So I am going to take my Elac UniFi UB5  85db@4 ohms )book shelves to audition because I feel that they are the starting point of development for the Adantes.

 

I have written to a few LM dealers across the world and they have been super helpful but the opinion has been mixed. Some suggest the 150iA as it will be a better match for my speakers and future speakers since they can drive almost anything. Some was eloquent about the 805ia and that it is just magical and has enough power for my speakers. My dealer also has the ATC SM40 and he says that the 805 can easily drive them to decent sound levels without losing out on bass control.

 

What do you think?

 

Can current owners or tube gurus suggest based on my above description which amp would be a better match? I sit at about 9 feet from my speakers and I will not listen to them above 80 db loudness. My room size is a rectangular open plan about 16x12 will be the listening area. Do I need the 100 watts? Or will the SET amp do the job?

 

Thank you so much.

:)

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it is quite difficult to advise you as you have been a solid state user and tube amplification is a different ball game in terms of lushness, spatial layering, second harmonics and tonal charateristics.  As a conventional guide, a tube preamp partners a solid state power amp.  You will get the warmest of the tube and the speed of the solid state.  Reviews and recommendations are subjective based on individual preferences. I would suggest you go listen with an open mind, nevermind the speakers; tube pre + ss power, vice versa and full tube pre + power. Bring the source music that you are very familar with for a listening test rather doing piece meal upgrade. Your current interconnects play a part too. Home trial is best if possible as this is your listening environment that you are most familar. Tube power amp are usually high current and don't be fool by the low wattage sometimes as it can drive difficult load. But if you are into classicals, then a 18-tube at 100W/ch jadis defy 7 that i have will be a wonderful surprise. As for the bass, it often is the treatment of the listening area too.

 

I hope this is helpful.

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Thank you so much. I actually spoke to Robert Lai from Live Accoustics and he was very honest. I had two major issues which I did not consider since I have very limited idea about Tubes.

 

1) Space - My SS amp is on a rack below my wall mounted TV. I was thinking that I will keep the tube amp in the same spot but I  realised that the Tube Amp is very large and which means I will have to lift my TV considerably higher which will ruin the TV viewing experience.

 

2) Heat - I had no idea that the tube amp that I was short listing produces a really high amount of heat (which I later realised is very common with most tube amps). If I was able to place the amp in a safe place, I would not be bothered about the heat. But since I also have a toddler at home, many have strongly advised me against having a Tube amp which can harm if a child accidentally touches it. I can be very very careful but I did not want even .01% chance of some harm. So I have parked my Tube Amp idea :-(

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It's also depending on the types of music u are listening. Tube amp gives a warm sound and more suited for vocal. Most tube amps come with a metal cage to prevent children touching on the hot tubes. U also need to warm up the tube amp for about 30 mins before any serious listening.

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What is the highest that you stretch your integrated amp budget to?

 

There are good SS and hybrid integrateds out there that can churn out a strong 100W or more of power. But the cost will not be small change. 

 

Looking at the speaker specs, capability of your Elac, your taste in music. My guess is that you will need to spend as a minimum, roughly the same for the amp, as you did on the speaker. 

 

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One more thing to add. If you require an on-board phono, it will limit your choices. If you are prepared to get an external phono like those from Rega/MoFi/Lehmann/Whest/Gram Slee/Project/Clearaudio, you will free yourself from the phono constraint.

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It's also depending on the types of music u are listening. Tube amp gives a warm sound and more suited for vocal. Most tube amps come with a metal cage to prevent children touching on the hot tubes. U also need to warm up the tube amp for about 30 mins before any serious listening.

 

Thanks Hanks! I have heard a lot about the tube sound and I wanted to experience it myself. Yes I surely was planning on using the metal cage but I was advised that the 805 tubes even with the cage will be very hot and also my TV being near the amp was an issue.

 

What is the highest that you stretch your integrated amp budget to?

 

There are good SS and hybrid integrateds out there that can churn out a strong 100W or more of power. But the cost will not be small change. 

 

Looking at the speaker specs, capability of your Elac, your taste in music. My guess is that you will need to spend as a minimum, roughly the same for the amp, as you did on the speaker. 

 

 

I had a budget of 5k for a tube setup including Phono and Cables. I already spent about 5k for digital setup for the solid state amp and music streamer. I intend to have a solid state and a tube setup.

 

One more thing to add. If you require an on-board phono, it will limit your choices. If you are prepared to get an external phono like those from Rega/MoFi/Lehmann/Whest/Gram Slee/Project/Clearaudio, you will free yourself from the phono constraint.

 

I have a built in phono in my SS but I will surely need a separate phono. I was thinking of a Rega since I use a Rega TT.

 

Can anyone advise if EL34 tubes would be better from a heat perspective?

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So today I audition the LM88IA and the LM805IA. I carried my old pair of Elac UniFi UB5 so that I use something that I am familiar with.

 

We started with the LM805IA - It was my first ever tube experience and what I heard from these 500 dollar speakers were something special. I was able to relate to things that was described in reviews and forums. The treble sparkled and the mid range was so good that you could think that the sound was live. The only area where I felt the 805IA didnt do very well was probably the bass. I felt that it was a little wobbly for the lack of a better word. You could say that it was not tight compared to my peachtree nova 300 since I cant compare it with anything else. I would think that it could be due to the fact that my speaker was 85db@4 ohms. When I raised this point with the dealer, he mentioned that the 805IA will work best with something in the 89db and above. I will take his word for that since I could not verify that. The 805IA tubes are big and get hot. I surely could not consider it given my curre

 

We then moved to the 88IA because that was what I thought would work well for me. We started in the ultra linear mode. We played the same tracks that we played on the 805IA. My first reaction was that this doesnt sound like tube. It sounded like a good solid state. It did most of the things right but that mid range magic was missing. Then we switched the Triode mode and then the sound changed quite a bit. The lushness was back and it sounded a lot creamier like the 805IA but the bass was well controlled. I still think that if matched with the right speaker, the 805IA would be the better sound for me if I had the room and a rack that was child proof.

 

The 88IA is cheaper, the all rounder and works well with harder to drive speakers. Both the amps played loud enough. The volume was at about 9 o clock and plenty of room to move up so I dont think that it would be an issue for most rooms. I think the 88IA is a great way to get into tubes, get a slice of the SET magic and friendlier option for those with kids and pets. I have paid for the 88IA. The dealer will be upgrading amp and delivery will happen in 10 days.

 

Thanks everyone for your guidance. I appreciate it. Enjoy the music. Cheers

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I am glad you found what you are looking for.

 

The two designs you looked at, are very different with a high powered SET (single-ended triode) and a push-pull tetrode amp. The limited damping factor from the SET will have an effect on the bass as you have found out.

 

Heat wise, some large tubes like the 805 / 845 put out a lot of heat. The KT88 runs cooler in comparison.

 

SET amps sound best with sympathetic loads. Try them with high-efficiency speakers and your concerns on the bass control will be addressed. For your current speaker though, I think you are definitely going in the right direction.

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I am glad you found what you are looking for.

 

The two designs you looked at, are very different with a high powered SET (single-ended triode) and a push-pull tetrode amp. The limited damping factor from the SET will have an effect on the bass as you have found out.

 

Heat wise, some large tubes like the 805 / 845 put out a lot of heat. The KT88 runs cooler in comparison.

 

SET amps sound best with sympathetic loads. Try them with high-efficiency speakers and your concerns on the bass control will be addressed. For your current speaker though, I think you are definitely going in the right direction.

 

Thanks watchdog. I surely will consider a SET and Horn setup down the line. I wish Klipsch Heritage had a dealer in Singapore.

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Anyone listening to the 805, 219 in non air con roo.m in SG?

 

From my experience with while auditioning the 805, I do not think AC would be necessary. The tubes get very hot but the heat also gets dissipated quickly. However it is very important that there is a lot of space around your amp. Placement is important for good ventilation. I decided against the 805 even thought it only slightly more expensive than the 88IA. If you have a safe space to keep these big tubes, you will be well rewarded.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Thanks to all the advice. I had decided on the LM88IA.

 

So my amp was delivered in all its shining piano black glory ( it is also a dust magnet) last week. The dealer personally delivered the amp and he gave me a 15 min dos and donts.

 

This tube amp has 0, 4, 8 and 16 ohm. I was educated that the black speaker wire goes into the 0 ohm (ground) tap and then the red wire goes into a tap of your choice. I put into the 4 ohm tap because my speaker Elac Adante AF 61 was rated for 6 ohms. I am yet to experiment with other taps.

 

The sound out of the box was not what I had in mind. I was not very concerned either because in the few years that I have had a decent system, I knew that things need to settle down. The dealer told me that he had about 5 hours of running he did on the amp since he had made some upgrades as well. He told me that it would take 50 hours for things to settle down. The first track I played right after the 30 second blinker stopped was from Tidal and it was Down in the Hole by John Cambell and while the vocal was very raw. This was right after the amp was turned on. My wife who has a sensitive ear also told me that it was very raw and she described it like the singer was practising instead of performing. The bass was also wobbly. Within an hour, I felt that the sound was improving in the mid range. The highs were still quite sharp in some tracks but the signature of the treble was more crisp than bright. I never felt that this could be a bright amp and I was right. I played all sorts of tracks. I tried some infected mushroom and I dont think this amp had any issues with mid bass. One of the things that I noticed was on the strings. The strings for the lack of a better word felt real. The decay was longer..not sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing but to my ears it was nice.

 

After about 3 hours of listening, it was quite late in the night and I had the entire space for myself and I tried some Sinatra and it was very nice. I have no doubts that the amp will shine in the mid range, I need to find out how they settle down in the upper and lower registers.

 

Update at 25 Hours

 

The mid range has improved quite a bit. The vocals are sounding more natural and airy. The bass seems fine to my ears. I dont see them lacking compared to the solid state. Slow music sounds very good in Triode mode. I have been using Ultra linear for Rock music. when playing Dreams by Fleetwood Mac, the cymbals sounds are edgy/grainy. I noticed the same when there is a distorted electric guitar. The dealer and I have been exchanging notes and his advise is that I need to run it in for a longer time to see if this goes away. I read that capacitors that need to break in and Mundorf capacitors take longer to settle than usual.

 

I also experimented with the taps and I feel that the 8 ohm tap seems to be an easier listen. The bias on 1 tube is slightly off so Ive just ordered a screw driver that is small enough to get through the bias adjustment slot.

 

Input stage: 2x 6CL8A (Mullard) et 2x 12BH7 (Electro Harmonix)

Power stage: 4x KT88 (JJ)

 

I am not able to find much information about the 6CL8A tubes on the internet. Are these the tubes that are responsible for the sound signature? If I were to sweeten the treble, is this the one that should be rolled? I am going to probably get about 200 hours before I think about tube rolling but Ive been trying to understand what tubes do what and what happens when you roll any of them.

 

Hope to hear from LM users and other Tube users.

 

Thanks again.

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The 6CL8A tube is rarely used in audio applications. All of the tubes have an effect on the sound signature, although I am guessing that the 6CL8A and to a lesser extent the 12BH7 could be changed. The amp is still breaking in and I would leave all these tubes alone until you understand the amp better.

 

I would also resist the urge to keep fiddling with the bias unless your readings are very far off. The bias will continue to drift as the tubes burn-in. Excessive bias fiddling will wear out your bias pots. Once your tubes are run-in, you should not need to adjust bias except to check every few months to make sure everything is good.

 

Your Furutech Nano power cable and the choice of upgraded parts in this amp are already tuned towards a sweet midrange and gentle top-end. Mullard tubes are also midrange centric and warm. Once the amplifier is run-in, I would look towards using a better 12BH7 tube and possibly other KT88 tubes such as the Genalex reissues or the Shuguang Treasure.

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Update at 50 hours:

 

I am happy to share that the top end grain which was annoying me seems to have gone away. I am not sure which tube was the grainy one but the burn in seems to have made it go away. I am still not listening to it critically but I get the feeling that I can extract good sound from the amp. The speaker positioning needs to be re done for sure. The bass delivery is different to that of my Peachtree Nova 300 amp. The peachtree had a better grip on bass heavy tracks. I am referring to the lows and not the mid bass. I feel the mid bass is not affected at all but the bass does feel a little slower but I would not call it as a weakness..just a different presentation.

 

I changed the polarity of the speakers at the speaker end and to my ears, it seemed to have improved the SQ. Not night and day but surely few things are slightly clearer. It could be a placebo but I will keep experimenting since it causes no harm. The amp has good extension in the mids and highs. Good recordings sound good. Bad recordings sound horrible. The peachtree did not extend as much so rounded highs helps with poor recordings ( lots of 70s rock on tidal is not the best of recordings). My elac Adantes are extremely revealing speakers and very unforgiving on bad recordings with this amp. I have to live with it as a wise man said "In a high fidelity setup, garbage in is garbage out".

 

The amp for these speakers work best when I listen to them at about 70 to 75 db. Music loses its vitality at lower volumes. The amp shines with vocals and less instruments. Strings sound great especially acoustic guitars with vocals. I feel when there is a lot of instruments, the amp is not necessarily able to hold all of it together. Noticed only on some complex symphony. This again could be due to my speaker being harder to drive in general. I am yet to do any critical listening. I will give it about 200 hours.

 

I am yet to try Vinyl on them yet I am waiting form my Tellurium Q Black II phono cables to reach me. Bought from Ray of Rain Drop audio.

 

Big thanks to @watchdog who helped with troubleshooting and knowledge sharing.

 

I will update post the 200 hour mark. On a separate note, who are the reliable dealers for buying tubes? Local or Online? Can I also know what pre amp tubes that you recommend for rolling. From what I have read, RCA Black Plates NOS  are quite popular and are in line with my preference in sound signature. I like a romantic sound with decent amount of detail. Rich/Dark/Warm are terms that work well with this speaker. Ideally should also work if I were to have a separate horn loaded speaker (think heresy/forte) down the line. I do not want to change the KT88 right now since I guess they have a shorter life and will need a change sooner than preamp tubes.

 

Thanks

 

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Here is a quick list from the top of my head with some commentary :-

 

Local Shops

1. Well Audio Lab, Burlington. Best source for NOS / used vintage tubes. Good selection of new tubes too

2. Martin Electronics, Burlington. Auntie Martin seems to have very little NOS tubes left. Small selection of new tubes

3. Larry Hi-Fi. Never tried them but I believe that they have a small range of tubes too.

4. Live Acoustics. Robert Lai brings in a small selection of tubes, mostly to compliment his Line Magnetic amps. Seems to be concentrated more on directly heated tubes.

 

Overseas

1. Jim Mcshane. Fantastic guy and very reputable. I've exchanged e-mails with him before and he is a true gentleman.

2. Brent Jesse. Formidable range of tubes, at a premium. Very knowledgeable too.

3. Parts Connexion. Decent range of new tubes, but with very little NOS stock. Has good deals once in a while.

 

E-bay ? Luck of the draw. I've got both very good tubes and absolute rubbish. My recommendation is not to buy tubes off E-bay unless you are very experienced and have your own tube tester to verify the seller's claims. DISCLAIMER - I trade in tubes as a hobby. 

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  • 1 month later...

Just wanted to share an update on my journey.

 

The more I listened to the amp, I was convinced that it did a few things very well with my speakers and a few things which left me wanting for more. This is not the problem with the amp but rather it was the nature of my speaker. The pairing was restricting my choice of music and I was listening to slow/easier music. Fast rock music was not something this pair seemed to do well with. I did not want to go down the rabbit hole of trying to tube roll since it was not going to change the power demands of the speaker.

 

After a lot of discussion with the dealer, I have decided to move up to the LM-150 IA amplifier. I feel this is a better match for my speakers. I heard the LM-150 with ATC SM50 and I liked what I heard. I will share my updates once the new beast comes home this Friday.

 

For those who reading this thread, I recommend using the LM-88IA with relatively easier to drive speakers and it would do a phenomenal job.

 

If there are anyone who have experience with the LM-150IA please do share your feedback.

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Hello Malsound! That was something that I would consider if I had to change my speakers. I do not think the 805 would work with my speakers. The 150 and the 805 cost the same so it was an easier decision to make :-)

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