Author Topic: The Line Magnetic LM-502CA Dac  (Read 51847 times)

Offline stevenvalve

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The Line Magnetic LM-502CA Dac
« on: September 25, 2014, 05:54:56 PM »
Bryan rang me to rave about the sound of this new DAC. Its cheap in a way and has valve output. Bryan said you can change from valve output to transistor with a flick of a switch. The caps they use look interesting. Anyone know about this machine.

 The Line Magnetic LM-502CA 
« Last Edit: September 25, 2014, 06:02:00 PM by stevenvalve »

Offline Tuyen

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Re: The Line Magnetic LM-502CA Dac
« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2014, 06:11:17 PM »
looks good!    ess sabre 9016 chip    with tube rectification and output stage. 

Not exactly that cheap though..  would be around $2k rrp.


EDIT: only around $1k (shipped) with aliexpress - http://www.aliexpress.com/item/Line-Magnetic-Li-magnetic-LM-502CA-digital-audio-decoder/1639921542.html

EDIT 2:  doesn't support DSD which is a bummer.  Well the sabre chip does, but the included usb module doesn't.   wouldn't be difficult to replace the usb module with something that does though.. just the i2s wires and power.



« Last Edit: September 25, 2014, 06:16:27 PM by Tuyen »

Offline Tuyen

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Re: The Line Magnetic LM-502CA Dac
« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2014, 06:33:16 PM »

Offline omodo

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Re: The Line Magnetic LM-502CA Dac
« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2014, 08:31:21 PM »
it's been around for a while, and yes cheap direct from China

... but must admit I am honestly surprised he is raving about the sound of it compared to the KDAC?!?!?!


Offline ozmillsy

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Re: The Line Magnetic LM-502CA Dac
« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2014, 09:26:35 PM »
... but must admit I am honestly surprised he is raving about the sound of it compared to the KDAC?!?!?!
Bryan has the earlier version Scott Thompson 1541 dac,  with subsequent tube rectification mod.   It sounded amazing to my ears when I heard his system.   So this LM dac warrants some investigation based on his initial impressions.

Ultimately we do need to land on a hi-res dac with computer front end,  that exceeds our current baseline.    It is only a matter of time, before someone produces something that gets us there.    ::)

I honestly reckon the PC front end is a real bottleneck,  based on the stuff I have heard to date.   There is just something so organic about a modded CDM1 based transport.    Maybe some of these hardcore dudes over on diyaudio are going to keep pushing the (pc) boundaries?
« Last Edit: September 25, 2014, 09:29:37 PM by ozmillsy »
It's all about the music,, not the equipment.

Offline kajak12

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Re: The Line Magnetic LM-502CA Dac
« Reply #6 on: September 25, 2014, 10:22:31 PM »
it's been around for a while, and yes cheap direct from China

... but must admit I am honestly surprised he is raving about the sound of it compared to the KDAC?!?!?!
Bryan also thought his electrostatic panels where better then his golden horns,i dont think so golden horns are the ones to beat electrostatic panels are thin.........
still discovering the link between electronics and audio reproduction.so much to learn and so little time

Offline ozmillsy

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Re: The Line Magnetic LM-502CA Dac
« Reply #7 on: September 25, 2014, 10:32:47 PM »
Bryan also thought his electrostatic panels where better then his golden horns,i dont think so golden horns are the ones to beat electrostatic panels are thin.........
Did you hear Bryans panels when setup in his room (in Melb)?     I havent,  but I know Bryan goes to extra ordinary lengths to dial in his systems.  I cant imagine them sounding thin (based on Grahams and others comments).
It's all about the music,, not the equipment.

Offline stevenvalve

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Re: The Line Magnetic LM-502CA Dac
« Reply #8 on: September 25, 2014, 10:59:02 PM »
it's been around for a while, and yes cheap direct from China

... but must admit I am honestly surprised he is raving about the sound of it compared to the KDAC?!?!?!
I think he is saying its real good, but so is his KDac, Plus his system is not optimal for comparisons  yet.

Offline vitavoxdude

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Re: The Line Magnetic LM-502CA Dac
« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2014, 02:28:54 AM »
:) Well the case looks better than the KD but the insides I have to say does not inspire confidence.  They are using bog standard parts in the scheme of things, cheap valve bases, vanilla resistors and smallish mains transformers.  The rectifier valve is also small in comparison the the KD and no chokes to be seen.  This does not mean to say that it can not sound any good as the skill is in the design implementation.  No idea what the coupling caps are, too hard to see form the pictures, maybe Bryn can say.

As Tuyen said, it does not support DSD in current form which is a shame, it still looks a versatile unit and it has a display!!!!  Maybe some one in WA will get one so we can all have a listen.  ;D
We all like different things so lets all agree to disagree and if any common ground is found then worship it.  Mine is the KD hence being present on this forum.

Offline zenelectro

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Re: The Line Magnetic LM-502CA Dac
« Reply #10 on: September 26, 2014, 01:10:15 PM »
Uses ES9016 Sabre DAC and 12AU7 OP stage.

Not a bad match actually, 12AU7 is a pretty rich sounding tube that would offset nicely sound of Sabre.
I'd even go for a 12BH7 or 6CG7.

Agreed that no DSD is a bummer. Also as I have pointed out previously, IMO you can get Sabre sounding good, just needs
attention to (many) details and the right (tube) OP stage..... doesn't surprise me that someone's done it. Good luck to them!

Edited....   These are Chinese made, that explains the price point.   

I wonder when we will see a Chinese knock off of a Kirra DAC.... Ooops.... LOL.  :)


T
« Last Edit: September 26, 2014, 01:17:39 PM by zenelectro »

Offline stevenvalve

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Re: The Line Magnetic LM-502CA Dac
« Reply #11 on: September 26, 2014, 01:22:36 PM »
Uses ES9016 Sabre DAC and 12AU7 OP stage.

Not a bad match actually, 12AU7 is a pretty rich sounding tube that would offset nicely sound of Sabre.
I'd even go for a 12BH7 or 6CG7.

Agreed that no DSD is a bummer. Also as I have pointed out previously, IMO you can get Sabre sounding good, just needs
attention to (many) details and the right (tube) OP stage..... doesn't surprise me that someone's done it. Good luck to them!

Edited....   These are Chinese made, that explains the price point.   

I wonder when we will see a Chinese knock off of a Kirra DAC.... Ooops.... LOL.  :)


T
They could not afford the parts.

Offline zenelectro

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Re: The Line Magnetic LM-502CA Dac
« Reply #12 on: September 26, 2014, 04:20:17 PM »
They could not afford the parts.

They would make a KD for half the price with the same parts - if they knew which bits to use and what design to use.
Don't think for a second that they are not capable of this.

They don't have much of a clue WRT combination of bits and which bits to actually use,
it usually takes some seasoned designer to guide them. AMR is a good example, all Chinese but to Thorsten Loesch's specs.

FWIW, they are very good at software, custom filters, FPGA programming etc etc.

T
 

Offline kajak12

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Re: The Line Magnetic LM-502CA Dac
« Reply #13 on: September 26, 2014, 07:24:04 PM »
Did you hear Bryans panels when setup in his room (in Melb)?     I havent,  but I know Bryan goes to extra ordinary lengths to dial in his systems.  I cant imagine them sounding thin (based on Grahams and others comments).
Yes in Melbourne last year before stevem bought them.................i would not buy them
still discovering the link between electronics and audio reproduction.so much to learn and so little time

Offline vitavoxdude

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Re: The Line Magnetic LM-502CA Dac
« Reply #14 on: September 26, 2014, 08:44:48 PM »
Quote
electrostatic panels are thin.........

Hmmmm, well if by thin you mean as fast as grease lightning with no overhang (ringing) and the ability to hear deep into the mix then yes, some may be thin. IME most do not know how to set them up within a room and place them too close to rear walls which robs them of body and bass.  This would account for a thin- devoid of body result, poor placement.  I love big electrostatics and much like the peerless Plasma tweeters, think they are the real deal when you don't need masses of bass or extreme loudness.

One of the reasons I went to horns is that the vast majority of standard moving coil bass units have high mass and high inertia which all slows down the output and adds to the muddle and sluggishness / lack of dynamics.
We all like different things so lets all agree to disagree and if any common ground is found then worship it.  Mine is the KD hence being present on this forum.

Offline kajak12

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Re: The Line Magnetic LM-502CA Dac
« Reply #15 on: September 26, 2014, 09:35:53 PM »
Hmmmm, well if by thin you mean as fast as grease lightning with no overhang (ringing) and the ability to hear deep into the mix then yes, some may be thin. IME most do not know how to set them up within a room and place them too close to rear walls which robs them of body and bass.  This would account for a thin- devoid of body result, poor placement.  I love big electrostatics and much like the peerless Plasma tweeters, think they are the real deal when you don't need masses of bass or extreme loudness.

One of the reasons I went to horns is that the vast majority of standard moving coil bass units have high mass and high inertia which all slows down the output and adds to the muddle and sluggishness / lack of dynamics.

post 128 is the setup
still discovering the link between electronics and audio reproduction.so much to learn and so little time

Offline ozmillsy

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Re: The Line Magnetic LM-502CA Dac
« Reply #16 on: September 27, 2014, 09:43:32 AM »
Yes in Melbourne last year before stevem bought them.................i would not buy them
Yeah, I forgot about that trip.

I didnt hear Bryans panels, so cant comment.

1 of the biggest challenges in audio, is in the language we use.    Ribbons/electrostatic panels have a certain character that you either love, or don't.   The upside is a great sense of naturalness.  Some downsides are really narrow sweet spot (tilt your head and you can lose it), but also flattish soundstage (front to back flat I mean),  for me, you dont get the same sense of 3 dimensionality as a front loaded horn system.   This latter aspect has a direct correlation to the sense of flesh/meat on the bones.

Doesnt mean you cant get it. Its just hard work to give the system those things it needs. 

Everytime I listen to Quads, I like them.  But I couldnt live with them.

The panels were reported to deliver everything good about electrostats,  with all the things that were lacking in traditional panel/ribbon speakers.   I have to hear them sometime.
It's all about the music,, not the equipment.

Offline Jehuty

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Re: The Line Magnetic LM-502CA Dac
« Reply #17 on: September 27, 2014, 08:50:09 PM »
Bryan also thought his electrostatic panels where better then his golden horns,i dont think so golden horns are the ones to beat electrostatic panels are thin.........

I like the look of his golder horns too, especially when they're compared to the electrostat panels.
Not all that matters can be measured, not all that can be measured matters.

Offline Lansche plasma guy

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Re: The Line Magnetic LM-502CA Dac
« Reply #18 on: September 28, 2014, 12:35:40 AM »
Hi Guys,

It's been a while.  I've been super busy with business and moving but thought I would check in and say hello when a fellow member mentioned there was some talk of my experience of the LM dec.

Oh and just to set the record straight.  The direct drive electrostatics I owned to my ears where definitely not 'thin' by any stretch of the imagination. 

They may have sounded that way to others but that is for them to judge.  In fact I purposefully tuned them to have two little bumps in the response to make them sound full and rich which I think works particularly well with all dipole speakers to lessen this possible quality.

I absolutely loved them.  I would very happily still have them now if my new business at the time did not need funds.

They were also tuned for me in my room.  The tuning will not work no matter what anyone says in another room.  They will work in a fashion and perhaps very well but my delay line was designed by me to have a very tailored response for my room.

The were nowhere near the rear wall.  They were something like ten feet from the back wall.

When Mario and the boys heard them I mentioned many times that what they were hearing was a small approximation of how good they can actually sound because my CEC was being modded and another particularly crap sounding transport was in its place.

Mark another member here heard them with the CEC when it came back as did Rab and Greg and each person was in awe of the sound.  Valve direct drive full range electrostatics done right as these where are absolutely one type of state of the art and sounded truly incredible.  They had a couple of weak points and a particular sound like all systems.  Lets not fool ourselves into thinking everything is perfect.  It's all about crafting a system to get the result we want.  Bras were invented for a reason!

Now back to the Line Magnetic Dac.

We all know about the Killerdac after all this is the Killerdac forum.  Not all killerdacs are created equal.  I have no doubt that Steve being the originator of the final iteration of the Kusonoki circuit which I got Scott Thompson to do has I would think a Killerdac which is another league to all of ours (if it had a 6c45 pi tube in it anyway which is another story).  So we aren't really comparing apples with apples.

I can say compared to my killerdac and Marks killerdac there was absolutely no contest.  It was killed.  Sorry guys if i'm stepping on any toes and telling them they're girlfriend is ugly but its the truth.

Now i'm not talking about the standard Line Magnetic Dac.  I'm talking about my modified Line Magnetic Dac.

Let's wind back a little. 

I've been reading about WE 555 field coil compression drivers and researching permanent magnet alternatives as a possible future Azurahorn ah160 mid bass candidate to replace the Fane 8m.  I noticed on a few websites many of these setups using some very expensive Line Magnetic replica 555 drivers used by some German audiophiles.

I reasoned that some of these systems being super expensive could have used any dec but time after time I saw systems with this dec in place.  I then spoke with some people about the Line Magnetic story and got more curious about they're dec.  They seemed to be a company that didn't f…k around.  They seemed to do stuff properly.  I was told that they may have a factory in china but they were Korean and very serious audio maniacs and made some amazing stuff which made me more curious again.

I've often said to Steve that in an ideal world none of us would be f….g around with the old schools tda1541 and that we would do the same sort of mods that I originated and then Steve greatly improved and perfected when i got bored and stopped playing with it to a newer chipset that could deal with higher sampling rates etc (yes the no dsd is a bummer but not a deal breaker……for me).

When I read all the stuff about the Line Magnetic I thought it would be fun to explore.  Cheap, current dec chip which plays high res too through usb, valve rectification and output tubes.  Potentially interesting stuff.  The negatives where that i've heard quite a few sabre dacs and they all sucked big time.

I was hoping that it would sound ok stock and could pretty great modified.  Probably not as good as the killerdac but would be good to use for the vinyl rip and reel to reel style files floating around.

I was very surprised that right out of the bat with no mods it sounded really good.  really really good.  Let's open this puppy up and start to mod her and see what she can do says me.

Asking a few knowledgable friends about parameters of the dec started me on a path.

First to change was the 12au7 stock chinese crap to some very very nice 12au7's.  Wow pretty big improvement.  Nice.  Next was changing the rectifier from the fake chinese 6x4 to a proper gun brand new vintage version.  Wow.  Massive improvement.  Like really massive.  Hey I think this thing is very responsive to tweak i think.  Lets do some more stuff.

Next to change was the wiring.  Out goes very nice but stock wire to the sockets and in goes my beautiful 1930's/ 1940's hair thin German Nazi wire.  In goes some of my Yamamura wire.  This resulted in another really great improvement more in line with the 12u7 change.  Next i changed the coupling caps from the pretty average german caps to some Silver/ Gold in oil Mundorfs.  Wow really amazing now.  I'll put my Duelunds in soon.

So i'm only partly through mods. There is way more to do.  In the next week or so I will be doing some pretty serious power supply mods and resistor substitution and some other stuff.

But as it stands stock its very good.  With the above mentioned mods it was in a different higher league to everything its gone against so far including the 48kg 14.5k dollar AMR and both Killerdacs.  Now just in case someone wants to talk about these killerdacs being poor examples I can tell you that mine is at the top of the tree next to or maybe slightly behind Steves.  Marks also cost him $6k has all the mods and is a very late model unit which Steve himself said to me are better than the older units.  So we are not talking grandmas knickers here.

The Line Magnetic with the mods above was not just a little better, it was in a different league.  It really was.  Each of the guys who's' systems we have heard it in has either ordered one or is about to.

Steve has created an incredible dec.  Something which is much better than what Scott started and I subsequently tuned for a while.  Its a real credit to him.  But I believe after hearing these new chips they have the potential to play at a much higher level. 

LETS GET MODDING AND HAVE SOME FUN WITH SOME OF THE NEW CHIPS!!

Lansche Plasma Guy.

Offline vitavoxdude

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Re: The Line Magnetic LM-502CA Dac
« Reply #19 on: September 28, 2014, 10:55:01 AM »
Interesting post regarding the kings new clothes in DAC's.  Good to know it can be purchased for a relatively low price in the audio candy shop.  We will have to get Tuyen to buy one so we in the West can find out for ourselves. ;)

Having an audio habit that resides just behind having to eat, there are many many DAC's out there all vying for our pay checks and many, much like bits of skirt attract your manly attention, and at first it's lust and fantasy, however once the initial newness has worn off and the additional detail and sharpness around notes wears off, you yearn for not having to keep trying to impress. :-X

The KD for me is like a comfy pair of slippers, something you don't worry about if it's going to impress your friends as you know in the long run it will continue to provide enjoyment of the honest kind without having to look over your shoulder for the presence of the Wife. :o
We all like different things so lets all agree to disagree and if any common ground is found then worship it.  Mine is the KD hence being present on this forum.